We had been advised a few months back that we would need to register to marry, but didn’t realise quite how complicated the process would end up being.
By law in Ireland, regardless of whether you intend to marry in a church or a registry office, you need to give 3 months notice to the local registrar’s office of your Notification of Intention to Marry. Without this notification, you cannot legally marry in Ireland.
The process to give your notification involves both the prospective Bride and Groom attending a meeting with the registrar – and for that meeting you need an appointment, which you apply for using an online appointment system. At the appointment you have to hand over a €150 fee (another wedding expense!) and various documents – your passport and your birth certificate (plus related divorce/annulment/death documentation if previously married).
If either the bride or groom were born outside of Ireland (in our case, that’s both of us), then your birth certificate needs to be validated as being genuine by the country that issued it, with the affix of an Apostille Stamp. To get this Apostille Stamp, you need to either contact the embassy or government of the nation, and send them your original birth certificate for legalisation.
Because I was born in the UK, I need to send my birth certificate to the Legalisation Office of the UK government. They charge £30 (plus £14.50 return postage) to check the birth certificate and affix the Apostille stamp. The web site says they turn around most applications quite quickly in a few days, but if they have difficulty validating the document, it may take several weeks.
My fiancee, although she’s Irish, was born overseas as well – in South Africa. So she had to apply for the Apostille stamp from the South African authorities, and we were warned that that might take up to 3 months to be processed.
I’m glad we decided to start this process nice and early; otherwise we’d be panicking about getting everything done in time!