While a large part of planning a wedding is planning the reception, you shouldn't forget about the ceremony. Amidst all the cake flavours and DJ setlists, it can be easy to just pick your readings and music and tick the ceremony off your to-do list, but we hear it time and time again from couples after their big day that their favourite part of the day was actually their ceremony.

While a Catholic wedding ceremony would have been the norm for most people traditionally in Ireland, it's becoming more common for couples to have different types of wedding ceremony, and with that in mind, we thought we'd take you through the main types.

As a side note, no matter what kind of wedding ceremony you choose, you still need to fulfil all the legal requirements in order to be, well, legally married. You can find our complete guide to the legal requirements for weddings in Ireland here - so make sure you're ticking all those boxes, as well as any additional requirements that come with your chosen ceremony type!


Civil wedding ceremony

Civil ceremonies are performed by civil registrars from Monday to Friday. Registrars will only perform ceremonies outside the registry office on certain days at certain times, and it may come at an extra cost - it varies from county to county. You’ll register with the registrar of the county in which you intend to marry. If you wish to marry at your reception venue, make sure to check that it’s licensed for civil ceremonies - most are now. Your venue will need to be a fixed structure (or part of), so you cannot marry on a beach, cliff or in a forest, unless it’s part of the grounds of your chosen venue. For more information on civil ceremonies, see Citizensinformation.ie

For our complete guide to planning a civil ceremony, click here.


Religious wedding ceremony

Image: Corbin Gurkin

Religious ceremonies typically must take place in a church of the religion, and each religion will have their own policies on marriage ceremonies. In Ireland, Catholic wedding ceremonies are most common, and even each bishop, priest and parish have different approaches to what they'll allow, so contacting the authorities of the church or religion to discuss their requirements is the first step. There's often quite a bit of paperwork you need to provide to the church in order to get married, usuaully including proof of your membership of the religion, so it's best to get a list of these from whoever is performing your ceremony from the church to get organised. Most religions will have a specific structure your ceremony must follow, and you can then choose your readings and music from their catalogues. For more information on religious ceremonies, see Citizensinformation.ie

For our complete guide to planning a Catholic ceremony, click here.


Humanist wedding ceremony

Image: The Lous

A humanist wedding ceremony is a secular celebration with a flexible format, influenced heavily by the couple. You have the option of including poetry, music, personal vows, readings, and personal traditions. Celebrants will provide templates that you can alter to suit you both and your vision for the day. You will still need to give the Civil Registrar of Marriage a minimum of three months’ notice before you marry. To discuss arrangements and the details of a humanist ceremony, you should get in touch with a celebrant directly. For information on celebrants, see Humanism.ie.

For our guide to Humanist wedding rituals, click here.


Spiritual wedding ceremony

A spiritual wedding ceremony is a non-denominational ceremony that doesn’t conform to any one set of mainstream religious beliefs. Everything in a spiritualist ceremony can be tailored to you and your partner, making it a personal celebration about the two of you. It is a spiritualist’s belief that you can invite those from the spirit world to be present on the day, and they will remember those who have passed. There are various elements you can incorporate, such as the lighting of candles, traditional hand fasting, a rose ceremony and sand ceremony - where each person has an individual vessel of sand which they pour together into a larger vessel to symbolise the unity of two families. For more information on spiritual ceremonies, visit Spiritualceremonies.ie.