Getting Married for the Second Time

Articles, Legal & Ceremony

If you are getting married for the second time, you are in the right place! You’ve probably got lots of questions about what this means for you both legally and religiously. So, we went to the pros and got some expert advice. We’ve asked our celebrants and solemnisers to answer your burning questions about getting married for the second time. They’ve laid out exactly what documents you will need, what you are and aren’t allowed to do, and they’ve even given some fun ideas for you to think about!

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Are there any legal implications couples need to think about when getting married for the second time?

“When you apply to the HSE for your Marriage registration form there are several things they require from any couple. The only extra thing if you are divorced would be that you will need an original or certified copy, and photocopy, of your divorce decree. If there is a stay on the divorce decree, bring this too.

If either party is a Widow or Widower –  original and photocopy of the civil marriage certificate(s) original and photocopy of the civil death certificate(s) of late spouse(s). All couples will need a Passport or refugee card/asylum card issued by the Department of Justice and Equality, a national identity card from an EU country accepting them as a travel document, Photo ID documents must be in date.

You will also need: the original and photocopy of your birth certificates, proof of address – original and photocopy dated within the last 3 months, your PPS numbers. If any of those documents are issued by another country you may need an “Apostle” Stamp on the document certifying its legality. Check with your registry office they are glad to help with any questions.

For the ceremony details you will need to provide the following information:  the type of service, the options are Civil (HSE registrar) Secular (HAI Humanist Celebrant) or Religious (All other registered Solemnisers) the name and address of the proposed venue, name of registered solemniser, name, and date of birth of both witnesses.

Lots of additional information is available on either the HSE website or The Citizens information website is also a great resource.” – Pat Clarke-Browne Humanist Celebrant and Solemniser

“There are no main “implications” for a couple getting married for a second time. As with all couples, they must give the usual Notification of Intent to Marry to the HSE.  And, as usual, that must be done no less than 3-months prior to their intended wedding date.

Along with all the necessary supporting documentation (Birth Certificates, Passport, Proof of address etc) – the couple must also have the following;

In the case of being divorced – they must show their original (or authenticated) divorce decree.

In the case of a widow/widower – they must have the original of their first marriage certificate plus the original or their late-spouse death certificate.” – A Beautiful Ceremony – Registered Solemnisers

“Getting married for the second time can be an extra special experience for many couples. Having learned from past experiences, couples enter into second marriages with a new-found perspective on marriage. In order to marry legally for the second time, you must make sure that your divorce is final and recognised under Irish Law. If your divorce was in another country, you will need to check if it is valid in Ireland. If the General Register Office decide it is not valid, you will need to get a divorce under Irish Law in order to remarry. When you are attending your Marriage Notification appointment you will need to bring an original
or certified copy and photocopy of your Divorce Decree.” – The Celebrant Andrea Hall

“I know it’s probably boring, but increasingly I have been finding couples getting married for the second time distressed to learn that their foreign divorces are not recognised in Ireland. Generally, a foreign divorce is only recognised in Ireland if at least one spouse was domiciled or habitually resident in the State that granted the divorce when the proceedings started (a person is domiciled in the country where they are born or, having emigrated, where they are resident and intend to reside permanently or at least indefinitely). On the lodgement of their Intent to Marry with the HSE, they may be required to provide solid evidence that this was the case and, therefore, that the divorce is valid under Irish law.

If the General Registrar is of the opinion that the foreign divorce is valid, then the new marriage can go ahead. If not, there is an opportunity afforded to the couple to provide additional information to, or else the couple can apply for a hearing before the Circuit Court to determine the validity of the foreign divorce in Irish law. If the Court decides that the foreign divorce is not binding, the only option to remarry in Ireland may be to get a divorce under Irish law.

The rules regarding the recognition of foreign divorces under Irish law are complex and I always advise couples getting married for the second time to make timely contact with the Marriages Unit of the General Register Office and take their advice.” – Brenda O’Grady Wedding and Family Celebrant – Registered Solemniser

Ceremony venue: Dublin City Hall | Photographer: TLC Photography

Are there any religious implications couples need to think about when getting married for the second time?

“I am a Humanist Celebrant so we have no issues as long as the couple has fulfilled the legal requirements of the HSE.

However, if they wish to have a Religious Ceremony in a church it can be a lot more complicated. The best thing is to approach your local Priest and layout the circumstances, some are more accommodating than others, however.

The previous civil marriage would have to be investigated for what is called a “lack of canonical form” i.e. when a baptised Catholic marries he/she must marry before a priest and two witnesses. When a Catholic marries in a registry office this “canonical form” is usually missing. However, this has to be investigated by the local diocese either through the bishop’s office or the local ecclesiastical tribunal. They must ensure that there was no dispensation given or that the marriage was not sanated or convalidated at a later stage i.e. that the bishop didn’t heal or rectify what was lacking in the civil marriage. This process can vary from diocese to diocese. When the investigation is completed and if the dioceses are satisfied that the marriage was in fact invalid from a catholic point of view it will usually issue a letter to that effect. It is best to talk to your local priest who should be able to put you in touch with the person or office who deals with it in your particular diocese.

Unfortunately, if somebody chooses to get married in a civil ceremony it is not then possible to have a blessing and readings carried out by a priest afterward as this could lead to the mistaken impression that the priest or Church was in some way being part of one of its members being married in a purely civil ceremony. This is to be distinguished from the practice in certain countries where a couple must marry civilly before their Church marriage to fulfill civil requirements. For a Catholic, the place of marriage is the church so if you wish to have your marriage in the Catholic Church you should talk to your local priest.” – Pat Clarke-Browne Humanist Celebrant and Solemniser

“This would depend on what type of Religious ceremony they were planning for their second marriage.  Some religious organisations are quite strict with allowing (or not allowing) a second marriage to take place. Perhaps an Annulment of the first marriage must be sought (along with the civil divorce), and/or special requests and agreements by the Clergy & Bishop of the church.

Other Religious organisations, for example, more “multi-faith” based religions, would not have any hesitation with welcoming a couple for their second marriage (again, once the civil requirements through the HSE are all completed so that the marriage can be legally solemnized).” – A Beautiful Ceremony – Registered Solemnisers

“In Ireland, the Catholic Church does not allow you to remarry in the Church. However, there are now numerous options in Ireland when it comes to getting married so couples will have a choice as to the type of ceremony they would like. You can choose a Civil Ceremony, a Religious Ceremony such as a Spiritual Ceremony, a Secular Ceremony such as a Humanist Ceremony. Or a couple also have the option of signing their legal papers at the Registrar’s office with their two witnesses and then have a ceremony performed by an Independent Celebrant. This option is perfect for couples who wish to have their ceremony in a
private location such as their own home, or at a location that is special to them such as the beach where they got engaged or their favourite woods where they have spent many days walking hand in hand.” – The Celebrant Andrea Hall

“As an Interfaith Minister, there are no religious implications couples need to think about when they are booking me to hold their Wedding Ceremony. I celebrate legal weddings for people of all beliefs and none and I will guide the couple through the process of creating a Ceremony written just for them that expresses their love and commitment to each other in a unique, personalised and meaningful way.

The ceremony will reflect their beliefs, personal stories, philosophy of life and personality and their Ceremony can be as spiritual, secular or atheist as the couple choose and may use any language, music and readings of their choice.

I have taken a vow of inclusivity and welcome diversity of gender, orientation, colour, nationality, ability and culture within the bounds of Irish law. I will help make the planning through to the delivery of the ceremony as stress-free and simple as possible.” – Brenda O’Grady Wedding and Family Celebrant – Registered Solemniser

Wedding location: Ashley Park House | Photographer: Sean Sharpe Photography

How do you help couples create a magical wedding day experience the second time around?

“I work with many couples who are getting married for the second time often because of the restrictions on Church weddings. We try and include their existing family if they have kids, for example, as much as possible. Depending on the ages, a sand ceremony is a nice way to include them and to show the blending of the two families into one new one. If the kids are older they can help with other things like the Handfasting as the couple “Tie the Knot” or perhaps reading poems. There is a rule to “Never work with kids or animals” so we always include a backup plan for the occasions where kids turn shy or don’t cooperate. It can be a truly beautiful thing to see the new bonds being established from different strands into one new stronger one.” – Pat Clarke-Browne Humanist Celebrant and Solemniser

“For our couples, we wouldn’t make changes to any of the types of ceremonies that we offer, just because it’s a “second” marriage. All our couples want a beautiful, magical experience, and so no matter if it’s the first, second, third or tenth! Their wedding is going to be unique and very special. There is, possibly, a misconception that a second marriage would be an older couple, but this isn’t necessarily the case. A second (or any number) marriage can be with any demographic of people.

We do find that many times, especially for a bride, that they want a lot more input into how and what is being done and said in their ceremony. Perhaps they felt that their previous marriage was not exactly how they wanted, and a little out of their control with how it all happened. So there definitely does seem to be a more predominant yearning to be fully in control of everything that is happening. This is why we always have all our couples being the driving force as to what we do and say in our ceremonies.

So don’t have any doubts about your plans. Do things the way YOU want. There is no rule against wearing a beautiful white wedding dress or an edgy tailored pant-suit. There are no rules about how big or small your wedding should be. If you want it, have ALL the bells and whistles!” – A Beautiful Ceremony – Registered Solemnisers

“Second marriages are usually more relaxed and more focused on affirming the beginning of their new relationship in front of their existing children, family and friends. Couples feel lucky to have a second opportunity at marriage and enter into their new marriage with more realistic expectations. There are many beautiful ceremony enhancements that can be included in the ceremony for a second marriage. If there are existing children from one or both parties, a Sand Ceremony can be a magical way of symbolising the blending together of the two families into one.

Second marriages are a new chance at happiness. Couples may want to have a smaller more intimate ceremony the second time around and do things a little differently. Perhaps one of their children could walk them down the aisle this time. Some couples may want to go all out and have a big wedding the second time around and that’s ok too! Including family and friends in the ceremony, perhaps to do a reading or recite a poem, can be a lovely way of making everyone feel included and perhaps distinguishing your second wedding from the first.” – The Celebrant Andrea Hall

“The couple’s ceremony is created with and for them and it is a very special and important part of their big day. My aim is to reflect their personalities, reflect on their journey, hopes and dreams for the future and make it an enjoyable and stress-free experience. 

They may wish to include personal vows, selected readings, enhancements or mini ceremonies such as handfasting, sand ceremony, ring warming, the ceremony of light to name just a few. They may want a ceremony full to the brim with pizazz or something more low-key and meaningful, the choice is theirs. 

We would meet virtually or in person (once Covid restrictions allow) so that I can get a sense of the type of ceremony the couple would like. I give them sample readings/verses, vow, and ring exchange reflections, enhancement suggestions, etc. This is how their bespoke ceremony develops and over time our meetings will result in a ceremony that will be relaxed, enjoyable, fun, and something both they and their guests can look back on with fond memories for years to come.” – Brenda O’Grady Wedding and Family Celebrant – Registered Solemniser

Wedding location: The Station House | Photographer: Renata Dapsyte Photography

How would you encourage couples to prepare for their second wedding/marriage ahead of time?

“As a Humanist Celebrant, we don’t require any pre-marriage course from our couples. We normally (these days) chat with couples on Zoom, we would have previously met in person. We discuss the ceremony and in one or more meetings go through options they might like or work with them on new ideas they may have come up with that are special to them. The bid advantage of our ceremony type is that it is more about the couple than the process, as long as they meet the legal requirements as outlined for a legal ceremony (if it is a legal one) we try and offer flexibility in ensuring the couple has their day the way they want it.” – Pat Clarke-Browne Humanist Celebrant and Solemniser

“First and foremost, don’t put off the legalities! That’s VERY important to ensure you have all your documentation (which can take a long time if in the process of divorcing) ready for the HSE. So that would definitely be the absolute FIRST thing to prepare.

Aside from that, all the usual wedding preparations, we wouldn’t feel that there is anything “extra” you need to do for a second marriage. Take time to think about your budget, needs and wants, time-lines, and – of course – finding your exceptional suppliers to help you put all your ideas and plans into action!

As mentioned above, a lot of couples go into more detail the second time around. So definitely give yourselves plenty of time to make sure you get exactly what you want.” – A Beautiful Ceremony – Registered Solemnisers

“Preparing for a second wedding and preparing for a second marriage are quite different things. Preparing a second wedding, will in many ways be like preparing for your first wedding with a few exceptions. You may have children going into your second marriage so you will think of ways to incorporate them into your special day.

Preparing for your second marriage is what is more important. While it is not my job to prepare people for marriage, I would advise any couple entering into their second marriage to take their time, effective communication will be key in making this second chance at happiness be a successful one. Talking and listening to each other, speak about your previous marriage openly and have realistic expectations about this new marriage. Be open and honest with each other and begin your new marriage with appreciation and respect for each other.

I would encourage couples preparing for their second wedding to relax, have fun and enjoy the planning together. As a celebrant it is important to work closely with your couple, whether it’s their first or second wedding, to make it a day to remember and to make the ceremony reflect them and celebrate their love story in front of their family and friends.” – The Celebrant – The Celebrant Andrea Hall

“As an Interfaith Minister, when I help couples prepare for their second marriage I have no requirement for them to undertake a pre-marriage course and during our consultations, I always encourage couples to reflect deeply on the journey they are about to embark on. I have developed a detailed questionnaire for couples to complete which entails reflection on their journey to date and their future life together. I create a safe space for couples to totally engage in the process of creating their bespoke ceremony their way for their special day.” – Brenda O’Grady Wedding and Family Celebrant – Registered Solemniser