Wedding Wednesdays: Answering Your Most Common Wedding Ceremony Questions – part 1 [Episode 106]


If you’ve ever had a question about wedding ceremonies in Ireland, this is for you! Join us for part 1 of 3, where guest experts are answering your most common wedding ceremony questions.

THANK YOU to this week’s guest experts:

It’s Your Day, Edel O Connell, Geraldine Bown, Mary O Mahony, and Fearghal Curtis.



Episode breakdown

Do we need to do a ceremony rehearsal?

Answered by Sheila Moran of It’s Your Day:

In Sheila’s experience, she doesn’t think it’s necessary to have a rehearsal for your wedding ceremony. Whatever’s going to happen on the day is going to happen! You can rehearse and it won’t make a difference – whatever will be will be. In saying that, perhaps if you’re having a very large bridal party, it may be no harm to do a quick runthrough so everybody knows where they’re going and where they have to be. She really thinks the night before the wedding would be far better spent enjoying the evening! Get a good night’s sleep, leave the logistics of your wedding ceremony in the capable hands of your wedding coordinator and your celebrant. 


What types of wedding ceremonies are there in Ireland? 

Answered by Edel O Connell:

All of the following categories are legally binding:

  1. Religious – these include ceremonies conducted in a church by a member of a religious order. Within this category are celebrant- or solemniser-led ceremonies at a venue of your choice with all faiths or none. These can be held 7 days a week, including bank holidays. 
  2. Spiritual – these are non-denominational. These can be held any day of the week. 
  3. Humanist – these are civil, and as such non-religious. They cannot include any religious references whatsoever (readings or music). 
  4. Civil – conducted by a civil registrar who is an employee of the HSE. The ceremonies are conducted at their offices or approved venues, on a Monday to Friday which rules out weekend or bank holiday dates. 


What do you mean by a ‘spiritual’ ceremony?

Answered by Geraldine Bown:

It’s not religious. Religious ceremonies are usually in a church and often follow a set format. A lot of people can’t have a religious ceremony even if they want one, but the alternative to a church wedding is not just a civil wedding (in a civil wedding, only the HSE can conduct this on a Monday – Friday). 

There is another way; a spiritual ceremony which bridges the gap between a religious ceremony and a civil ceremony. You’ll have a sense of the sacred in the ceremony, with words like sacred, divine, God, and you’ll want that reflected in the ceremony. You’ll have a lot of input into the content, reflecting your beliefs, not the beliefs of the celebrant. 


What are the basic elements that must be included in an Irish wedding ceremony?

Answered by Mary O Mahony:

To get married in Ireland, you need to have a marriage license. Irish and European citizens can apply 3 months prior to the date of the marriage. You can do so at any HSE office in the country, it doesn’t matter where you live or where you’re getting married. If you’re a non-EU citizen, you must get a special marriage visa license, through an HSE office and takes longer. 


How long is a wedding ceremony?

Answered by Fearghal Curtis:

Two answers: the sweet spot is 30 – 40 minutes, which feels like a gorgeous amount of time for the couple and for everyone who’s there. You can also fit in the right amount of things, like readings, poetry and vows. 

However… Put the expectation of timings aside and let’s focus on what you would like the ceremony to look like. What would you like to be included? Think of this as a jigsaw which only needs the parts that you really really love!

Create the ceremony, see how it flows and if it feels right to you. After that, you can put a little bit of time on it. 

No-one is going to be sitting there thinking it’s too long or too short if it feels authentically like the two of you!