According to the Marriage Act and the Civil Registration Office, there are three types of bodies who are permitted to register marriage solemnisers in Ireland:
- Civil Registration Office
- Secular body – may include Religious body without any belief in God.
- Religious body – must have a belief in God. This includes all Churches but also includes other organisations registered as Religious in order to conduct marriage ceremonies according to their beliefs and/or to teach their spiritual philosophy and practice.
The confusion arises when these 3 solemniser registration body types are also used to describe the ceremony itself, eg. Civil ceremony, Secular ceremony or Religious ceremony.
There is a 4th type of ceremony which isn’t mentioned in the Marriage Act because it can cross the boundaries of both Secular and Religious without being a Religious ceremony at all.
The 4th ceremony type is a non-denominational ceremony conducted by an interfaith Marriage Solemniser, who belongs to either a secular or religious body with interfaith principles and beliefs.
A non-denominational marriage ceremony is a ceremony created to your own wishes and beliefs instead of the rules of a Religion.
If you are among the many modern couples who don’t want a religious marriage, a non-denominational marriage ceremony will provide you with the most flexibility for a unique & personalised legal marriage ceremony. This is because with a non-denominational marriage ceremony you can include your own choice of ceremony ideas, traditions and music, such as lighting candles to create a sacred space, blessing of the wedding rings, celtic handfasting etc. regardless of any spiritual or religious origins.
An interfaith marriage solemniser is your most flexible choice for a unique & personalised legal marriage ceremony as a non-denominational ceremony is uniquely designed & personalised to suit the beliefs and wishes of the couple, whatever those beliefs are and without any restrictions on what you can and can’t include in your ceremony wording and music.
Most interfaith Marriage Solemnisers will belong to a Religious body because that gives them the most flexibility with the style and types of ceremonies they are permitted to conduct.
An interfaith ceremony is a truly non-denominational ceremony uniquely designed & personalisd to suit the beliefs of the couple, including non-religious ceremonies, spiritual ceremonies, mixed faith ceremonies.
If you’d like to include a prayer to keep granny happy, or a memorial candle to remember a departed loved one, a non-denominational ceremony will allow you to do just that.
Next here are the 3 marriage types from the Marriage Act explained:
Civil Marriage Ceremony
The definition of a civil marriage ceremony varies from country to country and this is where the confusion lies. In Australia for instance, a civil ceremony means a ceremony conducted according to the wishes and beliefs of the couple instead of the rules of a Religious body. But this is not the case at all here in Ireland.
Here in Ireland a civil marriage ceremony means something completely diffferent. It does not mean any non-church marriage. A civil ceremony is strictly non-religious registry office marriage and can only be conducted by an employee of the HSE Civil Registration Office.
If you are one of many couples who just want to be married as simply and as cheaply as possible without any fuss, a basic Registry Office style non-religious and non-spiritual Civil ceremony may be just the right choice for you.
A civil ceremony or registry office marriage will usually be your cheapest option too, it is a no fuss straightforward basic marriage ceremony.
Due to the number of ceremonies conducted per day at the registry office you can’t ever be late for a civil ceremony either, your marriage will never be the only ceremony of the day.
Secular Marriage Ceremony
A secular marriage ceremony may be conducted by a secular solemniser or by a relgious solemniser from an organisation with interfaith beliefs who is permitted to conduct non-denominational ceremonies for people of all faiths or none.
I hope some of the terminology in the Marriage Act is beginning to get much clearer for you.
Religious Marriage Ceremony
A Religious marriage ceremony can only be conducted by a Registered Solemniser who belongs to a Religious body or an interfaith religious body.
A relgious solemniser from an interfaith religous body is your most flexible choice as they are permitted to conduct non-denominational ceremonies of any style to suit your beliefs and wishes.
No wonder there is so much confusion online. Once you know the difference between the 4 ceremony types, it makes perfect sense really. It all comes down to choosing a Marriage Solemniser who matches your beliefs who will create & conduct your unique & personalised non-church ceremony to suit your requirements.
To find the right Marriage Solemniser for you, be sure to checkout not only their work, including testimonials from their clients, but also the work of the organisation they belong to, to ensure that their beliefs align with yours.