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Church, civil ceremony, humanist ceremony, celebrant led, spiritual... Which type should you choose?

Updated: Mar 21, 2019

There are so many options available to couples getting married with regard to their wedding ceremony. What exactly are the differences and which one is right for you? Read on to find out more.

wedding ceremony, humanist, civil, church wedding
wedding ceremony, humanist, civil, church wedding

Church wedding, civil ceremony, humanist ceremony, spiritual ceremony…. There are endless options when it comes to wedding ceremonies. But what is the difference and how do you choose music for each?

Church weddings are still the most popular form of wedding ceremonies in Ireland to date. The latests figures from the CSO show that in 2017 50.9% of weddings in Ireland were performed in the Catholic Church. However trends have changed greatly over the last 10 years. For instance in 2014 59.3% of weddings were held in the Catholic church. More and more couples are turning towards ceremonies in venues whether this be humanist ceremonies, spiritual or celebrant led. We’ve played at many of each over the years and each despite being so unique have had some common threads. Some ceremonies include the legal element of marriage, whereas others are a celebration of marriage and require the legal signing to take place separately.

Church weddings:

Church weddings, in general, follow the same format. Although each priest delivers a slightly different mass and sermon the format remains the same. Although many people may not realise it communion is optional in a wedding mass. In our experience however it is very rare that couples leave it out. We have a step by step guide for all our clients to help when choosing their church music. (Log in here to view

Humanist ceremonies:

Humanist ceremonies are delivered by a humanist celebrant. Although many celebrants may be humanists only the Humanist Association of Ireland (HAI) accredited celebrant can perform a legally binding wedding ceremony. Humanist weddings are for humanists i.e. have no belief in a god or the supernatural, relying on scientific evidence and appreciation of the world around us and the achievements of humans.” ( Humanist weddings are secular and non-religious occasions this should be considered when planning the ceremony including your music. if you believe in God or the supernatural then perhaps this isn’t the ceremony for you. Often humanist celebrants will require this to be reflected in all the music also, so a song with lyrics that includes angels for examples, would not be appropriate. Humanist wedding ceremonies are very positive and personal ceremonies. For recommendations of suitable humanist celebrants in your area please contact us.

Civil ceremonies:

Civil ceremony weddings are performed by a civil celebrant/registrar. There are some restrictions with this type of wedding. Civil ceremonies can only take place Mon-Fri (bank holidays and weekends are not allowed). Not every venue is suitable for a civil ceremony. Ceremonies are held in a registry office or a venue which must be inspected and approved before your wedding. Since 2014 this can now include outdoor venues. Although many independent celebrants call their ceremonies civil ceremonies most independent celebrants cannot carry out the legal elements of the wedding ceremony.

Independent wedding ceremonies:

Independent wedding celebrants carry out a wedding ceremony designed by the couple and the celebrant together. This is a celebration/ceremony but these celebrants cannot solemnise your marriage i.e. cannot perform the legally binding parts. To become legally married you will need to contact the HSE. Because this ceremony is not legally binding and is a symbolic ceremony there are no particular rules with regard to the ceremony itself or where it can be performed. You can include any type of music you would like, including hymns, however independent celebrants cannot include any sacraments or religious rituals in the ceremony.

Spiritual ceremonies:

Spiritual wedding ceremonies are non denominational ceremonies and don’t conform to the religious aspects of the mainstream religious beliefs. Spiritualism is a religion in its own right, however it does not have any particular God, unlike other religions. states: “A Spiritual Ceremony solemniser can legally perform the legal part of the wedding ceremony within the ceremony content allowing the couple to have one official date for the wedding day, providing the couple have followed the guidelines set out by the civil registrations act.”

D-strings have performed at all these types of weddings and are happy to give you recommendations on each type of celebrant who can perform your wedding ceremony.

For guides to help with choosing your wedding music please follow the relevant guide in our clients section

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