New figures suggest church weddings are dropping in popularity – but why do more couples prefer to get married in a civil ceremony now?
While a Roman Catholic wedding remains the most popular in Ireland, only 40% of weddings in 2022 took place in a Catholic church, according to the CSO.
Some 64% of Irish weddings are religious in some way, while a third of Irish people are opting for civil or Humanist ceremonies.
While there was an 8% drop in civil ceremonies compared to 2021, those opting for a non-religious wedding have strong reasons for doing so.
More unique and personal
One couple told Josh Crosbie on Newstalk Breakfast neither of them wanted a religious ceremony.
“We've been to a few that we didn't love and we just kind of wanted a civil one ourselves,” the groom said. “Something a bit more unique and personal to us.”
The bride noted the decrease in religious she has attended: “When all of our friends in their twenties got married, it was religious and now we're in our thirties and it's mostly civil ceremonies.”
Another man said he wanted a “relaxed, less formal” wedding.
“[A civil ceremony] suited our circumstances because we’re a blended family,” he said. “This option gave us the most space to include the kids on the day.”
Another woman said she enjoyed adding more unique twists to a civil ceremony.
“The best part of it was that I arrived by boat,” she said. “Which I definitely wouldn't have been able to do if it was in a church.”
Culture of weddings
Director of Entheos Ireland Karen Dempsey said “the culture of weddings has totally changed now”.
“I never held a wedding on a Monday until last year,” she said.
Miss Dempsey said more couples are interested in unique ceremonies.
“Very often people will come and say, ‘I heard about a sand ceremony, I heard about using candles I heard about a wine box ceremony, all of these different things,” she said.
“The essence of all of those extra inclusions is to symbolize what it is that you're bringing to the ceremony,” she explained.
“These are various different ways of symbolizing unity and union and coming together.”
Roman Catholic weddings still account for the most marriages in Ireland, and many people still prefer a traditional ceremony.
“It’s not about the party,” one woman said. “It's about two people becoming one.”
Another couple married for 24 years said they might have held a civil ceremony, but "the option wasn’t there”.
“We wouldn’t have been let at the time,” the wife said.
The husband said it might have been easier not to send guests to the Church and then “all the way to the hotel”.