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July 1, 2010 12:46 PM   Subscribe

Help me plan a cheap as possible wedding in Ireland.

My fiance and I live in Prague, Czech Republic. I am American and he is Irish. The cheapest possible civil ceremony we can have here is 1000 euro at town hall. To be married in a nice garden with a civil ceremony and about 40 guests is about 2200 US dollars. 730 dollars of that is just for the Czech paperwork and translation.

All of this fits well into my very small budget. The problem is that the crazy Czech laws require that a civil ceremony be in Czech (with a translator) and there can be no changes to wording and nothing added! My fiance and I want to say our vows in Irish and this is not allowed. The only way to have an English language ceremony is for Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish ceremonies. Anything else is not allowed. We are not religious and would prefer a civil ceremony.

I'm now considering getting married in Ireland or any other country in western Europe that will allows us to have a simple civil ceremony in a nice garden location in English. His family lives in County Leitrim, Ireland but travel to anywhere in Ireland is not a problem for them.

Ireland is expensive. Help me! I just need a small wedding in a pretty garden without spending more than 2000 US dollars. My biggest expense is going to be the reception/dinner so the ceremony and paperwork can't be more than 2000.
posted by Ariadne to Travel & Transportation around Ireland (11 answers total)
Do any said relatives have pretty gardens? Or have friends who do? Assuming the reception will be elsewhere, if you can find someone who will lend you their garden, rather than pay to use one, that will decrease your costs considerably, I'd think.
posted by ocherdraco at 12:54 PM on July 1, 2010

A basic civil marriage (15 mins) here in the UK will cost you £40 - about $60. If you have the ceremony at a registry office you can then follow that up with a celebration just about anywhere you like, with whatever readings, speeches, etc. you like.

A village hall is an ideal cheap venue. Most villages have them, and a large number of them are for hire. Some cost just a few hundred pounds for the day, and many have a pleasant garden area, toilet facilities, an area for food preparation and so on.

I'd imagine that the situation in Ireland is reasonably similar.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 1:10 PM on July 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Two words: guerrilla wedding.

Find a nice park with a decent bit of parking. 40 people in a park is a large picnic, and I doubt anyone would care if anyone had a picnic in a park. I know folks who snuck into a private park and did just this, but they were a bunch of young folks, agile and willing to run if someone yelled at them, so I'd say stick with public areas. As long as you're not planning on setting up elaborate rigging for flowers / lighting / speakers / whatnot, or hiring a big band that would attract more attention, no one should bother a small wedding in a park.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:33 PM on July 1, 2010

To be married in the Republic of Ireland you need to select a licensed civil venue. There are many lovely venues; none of them are gardens, although lots are in hotels with lovely gardens. The ceremony can only be conducted by an official registrar, and you must book this (ie, register your intent to marry) in person, three months in advance. Because you must use a registrar, and because they work for the government, this means you must get married between 9 and 5, Monday to Friday. I believe all civil servents in this post must be able to marry you in Irish.

So, it isn't un-complicated - here are all the rules - but it's possible. People do this all the time.

The good news is that a weekday luncheon or even dinner is very affordable. Feeding 40 people nicely can be done for €2000 total, well within your budget. A hotel should not charge you for the space you use to get actually married in; this is usually thrown in as part of the reception package. The registrar gets €150.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:36 PM on July 1, 2010

The only problem with having the ceremony on family land is that if we invite 10 Mcguinness family members to a ceremony, another 50 will be offended that they weren't invited. I just can't afford the typical big, Irish wedding. A private space is best because we can give the excuse that seating is limited.
posted by Ariadne at 1:36 PM on July 1, 2010

flithy light thief, if you want to be legally married, that just doesn't work outside the US in most western European countries. Sorry.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:38 PM on July 1, 2010

PS: If you need advice on venues, let me know - I have been to what feels like every one of those venues and have or can get you the low down on what its like.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:03 PM on July 1, 2010

Perhaps you could consider Northern Ireland, it's significantly cheaper than the south.
posted by knapah at 2:41 PM on July 1, 2010

Do the official thing, but make your "real" vows to each other in Irish in front of your guests in the setting of your choice. You can presumably get a friend (or even a parent) to lead you through the vows, or just learn them and say them without a "celebrant". If you want more non-religious formality, humanists may be able to help.
posted by Idcoytco at 3:28 PM on July 1, 2010

Thank you, thank you to Idcoyto, that is a very useful link! I'm still open to any civil, legal ceremony in eastern or western Europe (EU) but I'm pretty sure I know now how we will do the real friends and family ceremony.

Please, I now just need a very cheap place to have the legal side of everything and we will do our real wedding as we want. Thanks so much!
posted by Ariadne at 5:34 PM on July 1, 2010

The Fly Away Weddings site I linked you to has a list of European destinations with legal requirements. You need both cheap and no residency, so... Gibraltar? Cyprus? Scotland?
posted by DarlingBri at 8:04 PM on July 1, 2010

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