Working life: Ber Caulfield-Waugh

Ber Caulfield-Waugh describes her day working as a civil marriage registrar for the HSE.

Working life: Ber Caulfield-Waugh


As a marriage registrar my first task when I arrive at the office on Adelaide St, Cork, is to go through the list of notice appointments for the day, prepare files, and ensure everything is in order for any ceremonies due to take place.


There are notice appointments every half hour where we meet couples to complete their paperwork and issue the marriage registration form. I go through the order of service and discuss any personal touches they would like to add to their ceremony.

12 noon

A couple of ceremonies take place in the Grattan St registry office before lunch. More than 50% of marriages in Ireland are civil marriages and increasingly young people are choosing this option, particularly since we were permitted to perform ceremonies outside the registry office in 2007.

I find younger couples don’t want the church but do want a lot of the trimmings. Religious content is not allowed in a civil ceremony.


I normally arrive in the venue an hour before the ceremony where I meet the groom to confirm the order of service. He’s usually a little nervous and I chat with him to try and keep his mind off the pending nuptials. Venues vary widely — from hotels to an art gallery in the city, to a castle in the country to a cliff-top military fort. Even the city Gaol.


The ceremony gets under way. The best thing about the job is witnessing the wonderful reaction when the couple see each other after the bride has walked down the aisle. I feel part of a very special moment in their lives.


I return to the office to register the marriage and file away the paperwork and get ready for the next wedding. Needless to say I’ve married more men than Elizabeth Taylor. Ceremonies vary from the low key with the bride, groom and two witnesses in attendance, to 200-plus.


On Thursdays I meet with couples to serve their notice, Thursdays are by appointment only.


I’ve three children ranging in age from eight to 18. I’ve plenty to occupy me when I’m not working. I also do a bit of running.

* Ber Caulfield-Waugh, is a civil marriage registrar, HSE. To contact the office phone 021 4275126 or email

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