From a garden overlooking Lough Mask to the manicured lawns of a stately home, or maybe even at the foot of Croagh Patrick, couples in Mayo could soon be reciting their marital vows in the great outdoors overlooking some of the most romantic vistas in the county.
Heretofore, there was great uncertainty surrounding the legality of an outdoor civil marriage ceremony so all ceremonies were conducted indoors.
However, this week the Attorney General determined that outdoor ceremonies are in fact legal.
Bridget Carlin is a humanist celebrant who performs non-religious ceremonies in Mayo, such as weddings, baby namings, and funerals.
She said the news would be very welcome for couples who want to tie the knot at an outdoor location.
However, she advised there were some important provisos for brides and grooms-to-be to note.
“It can’t exactly be on the middle of a beach,” she advised. “It has to be at an identifiable address. In other words, somewhere a letter can be delivered.
“It also can’t be a private home and it has to have public access.”
However, the grounds or gardens of a hotel, museum, stately home, or other public building or address are all potential locations.
Ms Carlin said a number of couples had been disappointed in the past to learn that their ceremony could not be performed outdoors.
“Many people were disappointed and upset,” she said. “But the legislation is not as clear as it might be. As a celebrant, we had to be absolutely certain that we were covering our clients in every way.”
Tanaiste and Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton said the Attorney General had now clarified the matter.
“This will be welcome news for couples wishing to celebrate their wedding day in a way that is most meaningful to them,” said Minister Burton.
“I believe that solemnisers will take a common sense approach to this determination and ensure that the outdoor venues selected are readily accessible to the public,” she added.
While an outdoor wedding may be many couple’s dream, Ms Carlin also warned that Ireland’s unpredictable climate unfortunately means it is always “absolutely necessary” to have an indoor back-up plan no matter the season.