Getting Married Abroad

Many Irish couples marry abroad. It is essential that all the legal requirements for a valid marriage in the foreign country are complied with. Ireland will only recognise a foreign marriage if it is done strictly in accordance with the local legal rules.

This situation was highlighted in the case of Jerry Hall v Mick Jagger. They had a beautiful wedding on a beach in Bali in 1990 but it did not adhere to Indonesian law and the UK courts held it was not a valid marriage. A costly mistake for Jerry Hall.

An Irish version of this situation was the numerous Irish couples who married in the Basilica in Lourdes France in the 1950’s and 1960’s but failed to go through the civil legal ceremony at the Local Mayor’s office which is an essential part of marriage under French law. So all these marriages were not entitled to recognition under Irish Law. The situation was considered so serious that Section 2 of the Marriages Act, 1972 specifically provided that Irish citizen or citizens who went through a religious ceremony of marriage in Hautes Pyrenees (where Lourdes is situated) prior to the Act would be considered legal as if celebrated in Ireland.

So the lesson for brides and grooms to be is to check out the law of the country where the marriage will take place.