Humanist, Spiritual, Civil and Religious Wedding Ceremonies Ireland

Article Contents:

There are many different types of marriage ceremonies in Ireland. We are going to cover Humanist, Spiritual, Civil and Religious wedding ceremonies and more.

Marriages in Ireland fall under Civil, Secular and Religious; we will break done each and who performs which type of marriage ceremony. Importantly for a wedding to be legal we will address Registered Solemnisers.

Registered Solemnisers

The General Registration Office maintains a Register of Solemnisers. It is available on

A marriage ceremony held by a Registered Solemniser is legally binding (once preformed correctly and filed correctly).

There are 3 categories of organisations that nominated solemnisers: Civil, Secular and Religious.

The main common confusion and question is: what the difference between Civil and Secular weddings. A lot of people presume non-religious ceremonies are under the category of civil. That the weddings are hosted by different officiant groups and held in different locations. However, Civil weddings are performed by the bodied nominated by the State to officiate weddings (HSE in Ireland). Traditionally the marriage ceremony is held in the marriage registration office and in more recent times Civil Celebrants will go to approved locations to host the wedding ceremony.

Similarly, people commonly call non civil ceremonies humanist due to humanist ceremonies being one of the first non-religious and non-civil alternatives. However, Secular is the term. Humanist weddings fall under the Secular category. Secular weddings refer to the category of organisations that are not religious and host ceremonies in a similar way to Civil but are their own group (independent of the state).

Historically, it would be common to either have a Religious or Civil marriage. Religious marriages happening in the place of worship with the Religious figure also a Registered Solemniser. The religious ceremony takes place and then the legal paperwork is completed and filed. Now in addition to the Civil option there is a Secular option.

We will go through various organisations of each type to help you understand, first let us look the 2 Secular group existing in Ireland.


Aisling Árann Teoranta

An organisation located on Inis Mor, which promotes alternative way of living in harmony with nature and other people, deriving from Celtic spirituality and culture. Dara Ó Maoildhia is the only Registered Solemniser for the organisation. A small secure group that focus on historic ways of life and fosters the Celtic culture for the region. You can find out more at

Celtic Wedding Ceremony - Laura and Benny Photography
Celtic Wedding Ceremony

Humanist Association of Ireland (HAI)

The largest independent secure group with 34 celebrants that are Registered Solemniser. People. The officiants host marriage ceremonies at venues the wedding couple choose (legal rules apply). The Wedding Couple do not need to be a member of the Humanist Association to have a wedding ceremony. The list of celebrants is available by region on the Humanist Association website.

The ceremonies are not religious and can take any form. As a secure group Humanism does not itself represent any religious beliefs but is tolerant, and therefore permits a person to say, read a religious blessing at a ceremony (the celebrant themselves will not).

Humanist aim to facilitate a secular society that is fair, balanced, ethical, responsible and inclusively tolerant. You can find out more at

You can see photographs from a featured humanist wedding here.

Humanist Wedding Ceremony - Laura and Benny Photography
Humanist Wedding Ceremony

Currently Humanist, Aisling Árann and the HSE are the only non-religious bodies registered for legally binding marriages. All others are registered as religious.


The Spiritualist Union of Ireland

Trading under the name Spiritual Ceremonies, The Spiritualist Union of Ireland are a religious organisation. With 47 Registered Solemnisers they are the 6th largest religious group on the register, and they perform the 4th largest amount of marriage ceremonies in Ireland behind the Humanist weddings (HAI), Civil Ceremonies (HSE) and the Catholic church (RCC).

Wedding couples do not have to be a member of the religion to use a Spiritual Ceremonies officiant/celebrant. Spiritual Ceremonies are open to all and any beliefs during wedding ceremonies. Spiritualist Union of Ireland aims to facilitate Spirituality, Mediumship, Healing and Enlightenment. Spiritual Ceremonies is often mistaken with secular humanist ceremonies but is religious. You can find out more at

Spiritual Ceremonies Wedding Ceremony - Laura and Benny Photography
Spiritual Ceremonies Wedding Ceremony

Here are some more photographs from a Spiritual Ceremonies Wedding.

Roman Catholic Church

The historical tradition of Catholicism in Ireland sees around 40% of weddings take place in Catholic Churches each year.

The Catholic Church is divided into Parishes and there is procedure for getting documents from your parish to show your membership to get married in an alternative Parish. They can be accommodating allowing a religious person and non-religious person to marry in a church. The Catholic organisation have a marriage course that is part of the process to getting married in the church. Depending on the Parish Priest he may or may not insist on the formality of the entire course.

The wedding ceremony takes place during a mass and the legal paperwork is signed at the end of the religious service. You can find out more at your local parish church.

Roman Catholic Church Wedding Ceremony - Laura and Benny Photography
Roman Catholic Church Wedding Ceremony

Church of Ireland

A Christian religion, an autonomous province of the Church of England, Anglican Communion. Protestant members can get married in the church. The victor hosts the ceremony, preforms a mass and completes the legal paperwork require to Solemnise the marriage. Church of Ireland is welcoming and will permitted a religious member and non-religious person to marry. you can find out more at

Church of Ireland Wedding Ceremony - Laura and Benny Photography
Church of Ireland Wedding Ceremony

Other Religions

There are many religions that host marriage ceremonies in Ireland. Once the religious figure hosting the marriage is a Register Solemniser the marriage can be legally binding. If there is not a Register Solemniser present to preform the legal requirements the wedding couple will have to contact the Civil Registration Office and arrange for the legal process to take place.

Of the other religious in Ireland some a steep in traditions, values and ethics such as Judaism, Islam and Orthodox Christian. They adhere to their beliefs and perform ceremonies in accordance with their practices. There are also a growing number of groups under the religious category that do not hold to a tradition of practices and will allow for any person or practice under their religious ceremony.

Not Registered as a Solemniser

There are celebrants offering their service as wedding officiants that are not on the Register of Solemnisers. Such a wedding is not legally binding. So if you want a legally binding ceremony at the moment of your wedding day ceremony make sure you check that they are Registered Solemnisers.

That said we have photographed weddings where a friend was the master of ceremonies. The legal paperwork was done separately at the Civil Register Office but on the day a totally unique ceremony took place in accordance with the most extravagant powers invested in their pal and the culture they exuded.

Non Legal Wedding Ceremony - Laura and Benny Photography
Non Legal Wedding Ceremony


With more than 100 officiants and registration offices to cover each district, the HSE have you cover for Civil Ceremonies in Ireland. You can either have a Civil Ceremony in a registry office or in a public venue with a fixed address. The fixed address permits outdoor weddings within a certain distance of a location. For example, on the hotel grounds. Private homes as in your private residence is not permitted for Civil Ceremonies.

The Civil Ceremony will accommodate a lot of requests regarding the content of the ceremony but will not permit any religious or spirit references or literature.

More than 30% of marriages in Ireland are performed under Civil Ceremonies. you can find out more at

Civil Wedding Ceremony - Laura and Benny Photography
Civil Wedding Ceremony

While we are at it, here is briefly some rules if you plan to legally marry.

First the wedding couple must have the capacity to marry; be of legal age (18+), be able to understand nature of marriage, no be related by blood or marriage, not previous still married.

You must give notice of intent to marry, involves a brief meeting, an basic interview, a form and identification documents. There is a fee, normally €200.

You be sent documentation for your Registered Solemniser to use on your wedding day

Full details are available of Citizens Information website.

Same Sex Marriage

Since November 2015 Same Sex Marriage could be legally binding, performed by a Register Solemnisers. A same sex marriage can take place under Civil, Secular or Religious ceremonies. Some religions do not permit same sex marriage.

Laura and Benny Photography equality service provider and will photograph weddings regardless of religious creed, race, sexual orientation or any other characteristic. See our Packages for full wedding day coverage.

Ceremonies in Practice

In reality or in action, many ceremonies are very similar with vows, declarations and I do’s. Readings of love, family and friendship. Elements of symbolism whether secular or religious. Elements like candle lighting, ring exchange, ring blessing. Stories or Preaching from a celebrant. Music setting an atmosphere and celebrating.

Humanist Ceremonies and Spiritual Ceremonies are so similar that you may not know the difference unless the celebrant declared which it was. Religious Ceremonies contain many of the same rituals and have added components of faith.

All in all, you may a strong believes for or against one or the other ceremonies. You may not mind that a new religious organisation is performing your nonbelieving ceremony. The key thing to remember is that you are in love and want to declare the connection and commitment to each other (and may be to a few people looking on). If you want to make sure the marriage ceremony is legally binding get a Registered Solemniser to preform it.

Many of the figures relating to marriages are available from the central statistic office at