Figures released to RTÉ News by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection show that 82 marriages were registered with a ceremony date since the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic in Ireland.

The marriages took place during the strictest Covid-19 restrictions time-frame between 28 March and midnight on 7 June, the day before we entered phase two in the easing of those restrictions.

By way of comparison, 3,949 marriages took place between 28 March and 5 June in 2019.

Father John Bracken, co-Parish Priest in Dundrum, Dublin, solemnised two of the 82 marriages.

"The couples checked with the registrar to see if it was possible and then I checked with the diocese," Fr Bracken told RTÉ News.

In each case, fewer than ten people were in the church for the marriage ceremony, in line with the guidelines for funeral attendance at the time.

In both cases, parents also stepped in to act as witnesses as the original witnesses could not be there.

"The couples choose to get married because that was the date they had planned ... it was about their love, they wanted to get married on that day and to be married," said Fr Bracken.

"They were sad that everybody couldn't be with them, but in both cases people were able to join on the webcam, which was great."

The Dublin Archdiocese confirmed that the number of marriages celebrated in the Archdiocese in the past three months was in the single digits and that "the small few that went ahead did so observing the same guidelines for funeral attendance at this time".

The guidelines for funeral attendance have since been changed and now allow for 25 people.

It has largely fallen to religious and secular solemnisers to interpret the guidelines in order to determine if, how and when marriage ceremonies can take place.

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The HSE has confirmed that, with the exception of one or two marriages where a party had a terminal illness, no civil marriages were carried out by the HSE Civil Registration Service since 27 March, and services have not resumed yet.

The Government's original road map out of Covid-19 restrictions saw small weddings resuming in phase four, originally set for 20 July.

Yesterday, Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan confirmed that updated advice on weddings will be passed onto Government by NPHET next week. 

However, there was no reference in the guidelines to marriages specifically and the Department of Health has confirmed that marriages were not prohibited. 

This week, the Spiritualist Union of Ireland started to hold marriage ceremonies again.

It was waiting for last Monday's further easing of restrictions, which would allow social gatherings of more than four people.

This is because the minimum number of people needed for a legal marriage is five: a solemniser, a couple and two witnesses. 

"What we are focusing on this week is marriages, loosely termed it wouldn't necessarily be a wedding, a wedding would be the celebration that occurs afterwards," explained Solemniser Miriam Fitzgerald. 

"Because marriage is protected by the Constitution, we have been facilitating marriage ceremonies here, micro marriages."

Sharon Dowling and Keith Connolly got married today at the Spiritualist Union of Ireland's sanctuary.

Their three children were permitted to attend as together the family constitute a household.

They were also permitted four guests, Sharon's parents, and her sister and Keith's brother-in-law, who were also their witnesses.

It meant that Sharon's two aunts Bernie Fox and Mary Rafferty and her cousin Anne Marie watched from outside, but they also followed the ceremony on Zoom.

"I wouldn't change a thing it was lovely," Sharon told RTÉ News moments after getting married. 

"I know that for brides it's very hard because they want the big party and they want the big day," she said.

But she said it was "still exciting, it's still fun, its still nerves ... so it's all still there, its just smaller".