There is so much confusion in Ireland about what a Civil Ceremony really is. This confusion is mostly caused by wrongly comparing the Irish civil ceremony to the civil ceremonies in Australia, without realising the Civil ceremony here in Ireland is very different to that in Australia.

In Australia a Civil Ceremony is a wedding ceremony conducted according to the wishes and beliefs of the couple rather than the rules of a Religion. The confusion is also compounded in Ireland by the use of the job title “civil celebrant” and “civil ceremony” to describe a non-church celebrant leading a funeral service, where the term civil ceremony has already been in use for a very long time. But the terms “civil celebrant” and “civil ceremony” here in Ireland when used to describe weddings is very different than when used to describe funerals.

A civil marriage ceremony here in Ireland, is another name for a registry office marriage. It gets its name from the fact that the ceremony is conducted by a Civil Registrar, who is an employee of the HSE Civil Registration Office. A civil ceremony (registry office marriage) in Ireland therefore is the strictly non-religious, non-spiritual but traditional registry office marriage.

This may either be conducted at a HSE Registry Office if you wish, or at your choice of venue for an extra fee. This fee includes the Registrar’s venue inspection and approval fee, as the venue must be approved for your marriage, along with the Registrar’s ceremony fee. This means the cost of a civil ceremony at your choice of venue will vary depending on the distance of your chosen venue from the Registry Office.

The days of the week you can choose for your wedding day can vary greatly from one HSE Office to the next, as some Registrars will only conduct weddings at your choice of venue during business hours Monday to Friday. While others are happy to conduct marriages outside office hours too.

If a civil ceremony (registry office marriage) is conducted at your choice of venue you can choose your own ceremony music, but you can’t choose anything which may be considered spiritual or religious.

The ability to personalise your own ceremony wording is also limited to an extent as most of the ceremony is already pre-written and can’t be changed because it’s part of the standard registry office marriage ceremony. You may be permitted to personalise your own wedding vows, add some readings and sometimes you may be permitted to include spiritual or religious wedding ceremony traditions (but without any spiritual or religious wording) such as lighting candles to create the sacred space, or a handfasting ceremony ritual.

If any of the following are important to you then an Irish civil ceremony wouldn’t be the right choice at all:

  • Choosing your own ceremony officiant/solemniser.
  • Being referred to by your first names in certain parts of your marriage ceremony, instead of “bride and groom”.
  • A unique & personalised ceremony written for you and about you, that nobody else will ever use.
  • Choosing your own ceremony style to suit your beliefs and wishes of any kind
  • Including your own ceremony design ideas and traditions, regardless of their spiritual or religous or mixed faith origins or meanings.
  • Including any spiritual or religious wording or prayers to respect your beliefs and/or that of your beloved family
  • Making the final decision on all ceremony wording options and music choices and being able to include your choice of lovely wording for certain parts of the ceremony you have found on the internet.
  • The ability to phone your ceremony officiant any time day or evening 7-days a week with your questions.

You will get all of this and more by booking your choice of ceremony officiant who is HSE registered to solemnise legal marriages in Ireland. All of our recommended favourite ceremony officiants and solemnisers are HSE registered to conduct legal marriages. They may belong to Secular or Religious organisations but this again is very confusing as it doesn’t mean your ceremony will necessarilly be secular or religious as this depends entirely on the philosophy and rules of the organisation a solemniser belongs to and if they have any strict ceremony rules (or not).

Rev. Sharon Q. Interfaith Minister & Solemniser
at Blackwater Castle, Co.Cork

The best way to find a fully flexible ceremony officiant/HSE registered solemniser for your legal wedding is to find someone who is highly recommended. We have made this easy for you by providing you with our own collection of trusted and favourite ceremony officiants and solemnisers, who can each create beautiful personalised non-denominational unique & personalised ceremonies of any style to suit your beliefs and wishes, the closest thing to the civil ceremony you will find in Australia. No matter if you want a simple ceremony but meaningful and without all the fuss, or a fairytale ceremony with all the enchantment and magic, our preferred ceremony officiants and solemnisers who are all HSE registered, will be the right choice for you.

We have provided you with our favourite ceremony officiants/registered solemnisers in the Leinster, Munster, Connaght and Ulster regions and many of them love to travel nationwide.

However having if a unique & personalised ceremony is NOT important to you at all, and you just want to be married with the shortest and simplest ceremony possible, maybe its your second marriage or for whatever reason you can’t be bothered with a custom designed marriage ceremony, then a civil ceremony (registry office marriage) may be just perfect for you after all, and because the ceremony is not custom designed for you it will also be around half the price.

Ceremony Fees:

The fee for a Civil ceremony (registry office marriage) at the registry office is the cheapest, where it is usually a small cash payment on the day to the Registrar, which can be around €40, but depends on the Registrar as each has a different fee. A civil ceremony at your choice of venue ranges from approx €170-€300 depending on distance travelled to the venue.

A unique & personalised legal marriage ceremony with one of our favourite ceremony officiants and solemnisers, is in the range of €295-€695 for a legal marriage ceremony, depending on the optional extras chosen and distance travelled to your ceremony as a modest travelling allowance may be included in their fee. The fee varies from one ceremony officiant to the next, and some have special rates for micro-weddings, and some don’t.