Are you recently engaged and planning to get married in Ireland? Then it’s very important that you are aware of the many options for your ceremony.

Firstly, you must decide between the following two options:

1. A traditional Church wedding or

2. A non-Church wedding with a marriage solemniser of your choice to suit your beliefs and wishes.

Traditional Church Wedding

For those with their heart set on a traditional church wedding, the occasion can certainly be one to remember. Planning the ceremony is very easy because you already know exactly what to do. Visit your Priest for a chat and agree on your wedding date – subject to their availability, then lodge your “Notify your Intention to Marry” or NOIM with the HSE.

Non-Church Wedding

If you are one of the many couples getting married in Ireland who would like to do things your own way with a non-church wedding, times have certainly changed in Ireland in the past 10 years. There are now so many choices to make regarding your non-church legal marriage ceremony it can be very confusing to know where to start.

First things first – there are two options with a non-Church or “alternative” legal marriage ceremony:

1. A registry office marriage ceremony (also known as a Civil Ceremony) conducted at the registry office – or for an extra fee, at a venue of your choice, or

2. A unique & personalised marriage ceremony with your choice of ceremony officiant/marriage solemniser.


Depending on what kind of ceremony you want, there can be many advantages of a Civil Ceremony, including:

1. You don’t have to be concerned about the ceremony design or the ceremony wording, because the ceremony has already been written for you. This can save you a lot of time and fuss.

2. Because of this, a civil ceremony/registry office marriage is very short, around 10-15 minutes – so if you don’t like being the centre of attention you don’t need to worry. Your ceremony can be all over in less than 10 minutes if that’s what you want, and you can spend more time celebrating your marriage afterwards with your guests.

3. Many couples choose a civil ceremony / registry office marriage because it is a no fuss option.

4. Because of this, the civil ceremony / registry office marriage is most likely to be your cheapest option. (But not always) This can be very appealing to couples on a strict budget, who also don’t want their ceremony to be unique & personalised.


A civil ceremony / registry office marriage must be strictly humanist / non-religious. This means that spiritual or religious ceremony design elements are forbidden, including music.

If you would like your legal marriage ceremony to be unique & personalised, please read on ..


1. For couples who would like their legal wedding ceremony to be unique and personalised, individually designed to their exact requirements, you will need to engage a registered solemniser of your choice to create & conduct your ceremony for you.

Our own list of recommended Marriage solemnisers who we have worked with over the years will save you a lot of time, we have hand-picked each one based on their kindness and caring, their dedication to their work and the great service they provide for the couples they work with. Each can help you create a beautiful unique humanist style, spiritual or mixed faith marriage ceremony, or even a civil ceremony style with prayer or two, designed just for you, no matter how big or how small your requirements are.


For a registry office marriage/civil ceremony when conducted at the registry office there is generally no charge. There could be a cash payment required on the day, from €40 or more, but this will depend on the Registrar allocated to you. Most do not require a cash payment. A registry office marriage/civil ceremony at your choice of venue can be in the range of around €170 to €300 or more, depending on the distance required to travel to your wedding venue.

Prices for a unique & personalised ceremony with your choice of secular or religious solemniser range from €250-€750+ depending on the solemniser chosen. Some solemnisers will have a tiered approach to their fee structure with a price to suit your needs, with a cheaper price for a simple traditional ceremony without any great deal of customisation, while will some will have a one-fits-all fixed price no matter how big or small your ceremony requirements are, plus additional travel charge. The price will depend enitlrely on your choice of solemniser, but – interviewing your soleminser at least on the phone, is essential for your re-assurance in their character, their sincerity and genuine desire to put your wishes ahead of their own, and their ability to provide you with the ceremony you want. The price charged does not always indicate the level of service provided or the quality of the ceremony.

If you would like a unique & personalised legal marriage ceremony created especially for you, you should choose your own Marriage Solemniser from a managing body/organisation which aligns wth your beliefs.

Our own list of recommended Marriage solemnisers who we have worked with over the years will help you take the worry out of finding a great marriage solemiser. Like all of our preferred suppliers we have hand-picked each marriage solemniser based on their genuine kindness to others, their dedication to their role and the great service they provide for the couples they work with. Each can help you create a beautiful unique humanist, spiritual or mixed faith marriage ceremony designed just for you, no matter how big or how small your requirements are, to create your own unique ceremony.

If you prefer to make your own choice, there are many other registered solemnisers in Ireland who belong to a range of organisations, or managing bodies who set the ceremony standards and level of professionalism they must comply with. Some organisations require that their solemnisers give a short speech about the beliefs of the organisation, some require that your ceremony is all about you and nothing at all mentioned about the organisation the soleminser belongs to. Some solemniser’s managing organisations don’t have any belief in superstitions of any kind which means you are forbidden from including any ceremony ideas or traditions in your wedding ceremony with any spiritual or religious origins including for good luck or any other superstitious meaning.

You will find all marriage soleminsers listed in the public document titled “Register of Solemnisers” along with the names of the organisations they belong to so you can do your research thoroughly before contacting them. The current Register of Solemnisers is publicly available from the government website here:

Your Guide to Marriage Solemniser Organisations/Managing Bodies

Here in Ireland the Marriage Act defines three types or organisations/managing bodies which Registered Solemnisers can belong to.

  • 1. Civil (Registry Office)
  • 2. Secular or
  • 3. Religious.

The biggest misconception about secular or religious solemnisers is that they can only create either secular or religious ceremonies. This is only true if they belong to an organisation with strict rules and certain rites for the ceremonies they conduct. Choosing a Secular or Religious solemniser doesn’t necessarily mean that you will have a Secular or Religious marriage ceremony either. This will depend on your choice of solemniser.

The diversity of secular and religious bodies in Ireland and around the world, means that their belief systems are very different from each other and cannot be generalised. A secular body really could be an atheist Religion, a Religion with strict beliefs and rules to follow but without any belief in God. Likewise a Religious body could have secular beliefs without any strict rules along with an interfaith and inclusive philosophy which welcomes everyone.

What this means is that you really need to do you research regarding the beliefs and goals of the secular or Religious body your solemniser belongs to, to find out if the ceremonies they conduct are truly non-denominational. If you fail to ask what organisation your solemniser belongs to – you could be in for a big shock if you wanted a strictly non-church wedding and you discover that the name of the Church they belong to is printed on your legal marriage certificate.

If you choose your marriage solemniser based on the philosophy and beliefs of the organisation they belong to and their willingness to put your wishes first along with the level of service they can offer, and how confident you are that they can provide you with the ceremony you wish for, you are on the right track.

Our own list of recommended Marriage solemnisers who we have worked with over the years will help you take the worry out of your unique & personalised, fully customised legal marriage ceremony from start to finish. All of them create ceremonies of any style to suit your wishes and their ceremonies are truly non-denominational.


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