Marriage backlog forces couples to postpone or move weddings

A record number of weddings are expected this year as couples forced to postpone their nuptials jostle to get married. Increased demand for public marriage registration services means some may not be able to marry this year, or do so in the county of their choice.

“There has been a substantial increase in demand and delays for civil wedding ceremonies,” said a spokesperson for the HSE Mid West region. The delays, attributable to two-year Covid-related restrictions, are however not unique to the Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary area and are hitting ‘all registrars’.

The delays impact not only those getting married in a registry office, but also the HSE appointments required to give notice of marriage at any type of ceremony. All couples intending to marry must give three months notice to a Registrar from an HSE Civil Registration Service. But notification appointments at some of these services are booked for months, meaning some couples may have difficulty giving the notice required to get married this year.

Number of weddings more than halved during pandemic, figures show

In the city of Limerick, for example, no notification appointments are available until September. Couples are facilitated where possible with earlier notification appointments in Newcastle West, Clare and North Tipperary. But couples hoping for a civil ceremony in the treaty city will have to wait until the end of the year because the city’s registry office is now fully booked until November. Civil ceremonies at the Limerick City Registry Office take place on Fridays only, where typically four to six couples are married per week. The Nenagh Registration Office holds ceremonies only on Thursdays and is not available until September.

In the HSE West region, couples wishing to give the required notice to marry are waiting up to eight weeks to do so, a community health spokesperson for the region has said. The current waiting time for a notification appointment in Galway is eight weeks. In Mayo, the wait time is six weeks. As a marriage may take place as early as three months after the notification appointment, this is likely to put pressure on civil registry ceremonies and other types of ceremonies in the last three months of marriage. ‘year. Wait times for registry office ceremonies in the HSE West region are currently five to six months.

The Cork and Kerry Civil Registry is experiencing “a high level of demand for marriage records”, according to an HSE spokesperson for the region. Marriage notification appointments at HSE offices in Adelaide Street, Cork and Killarney are available by appointment only, but the online booking system says there are no time slots available this year . Couples are asked to contact these offices by telephone; the HSE says that “every effort will be made to accommodate them”.

In Dublin, a couple who in February sought to book a marriage notification appointment received a booking for around 14 weeks later in May at the Joyce House HSE office. One of the first dates proposed for a wedding at the registry office on Grand Canal Street was the end of September.

The number of weddings has more than halved during the pandemic, figures show. In 2020, there were only 9,523 marriages compared to 20,683 the previous year, according to the CSO. Provisional data for 2021 shows there were just 4,823 marriages in the first six months of this year, compared to an average of 10,340 in the first six months of 2019.

Wedding planners estimate there is a potential demand for 35,000 weddings this year, based on the number of ceremonies postponed over the past two years.

The type of wedding ceremonies that have taken place during the pandemic have also bucked decades-old trends. In 2020, the first year of pandemic restrictions, civil weddings accounted for 42.1% of all ceremonies, up more than 10% from the previous year, according to CSO figures. The number of Catholic ceremonies in 2020 accounted for 34.6% of all marriages, down 10% from the previous year. The drop in Catholic weddings as a percentage of all weddings in 2020 is likely due to pandemic restrictions on large gatherings. The breakdown of weddings by type of ceremony for 2021 is not yet available.

Bookings for marriage classes increased by 30% in January and February this year, reports Accord, the provider of Catholic marriage preparation classes. “It has been difficult to meet the demand and our facilitators have doubled their offer of programs”, explains Anne Coleman, specialist in marriage education.

Accord has adapted to pandemic restrictions by delivering its classes using Zoom. This has had the welcome result of attracting foreign couples from Texas, Sydney and Dubai, Coleman says.

The Humanist Association, which organizes secular ceremonies, says its wedding officiants are in high demand. “At the moment, we have 1,600 bookings for weddings so far this year. Some 300 of those bookings have been made since January,” says Kilda Taylor, company director and secretary. ceremonies we did in 2019.”

The Association increases the number of its celebrants. “We have 10 newly trained celebrants who have only recently come onto our books and they have a lot of capacity, so at the moment we are coping well with demand,” says Taylor. Ten other celebrants will complete their training by the fall. “There is a growing demand for less traditional weddings. We think we’re in a pretty good position to meet the demand. The Association arranged nearly 8% of all weddings in 2020.

Flipping another norm, December was the most popular month for weddings in 2020, records show. Over the past decade, August and July have respectively been the most popular months for couples to get married. The move to December of that year reflects the postponement of the start of the year ceremonies and an easing of restrictions that month.

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