“So you’re not getting married in a church?”

My family don’t approve of my Non-Church wedding.

Dealing with the naysayers in a productive and calm way.

Getting Married in Ireland

Tying the knot does funny things to people and not necessarily the couple getting married, but relationships with those around them can become strained once a wedding is announced. For so long the church wedding was the most popular choice with a civil wedding in the registry office coming in second place.  But now couple’s choice in how and where they make their wedding vows is wider and more open to suit their needs than ever before.

Statistics on marriages in Ireland

Statistics from the General Registers Office of 2017 Statistics show us that as the years go by the church weddings are on the decrease with an increase for non-church weddings. No longer are couples confined to having only a church or registry office civil ceremony but rather they now have what some would call as the right option for them that fits with their beliefs and lifestyle.  The last decade in particular has seen changes that demand more options, divorce and the passing of equality marriage referendum for same sex couples means there are more people to marry that will not be catered for in a church wedding.

Why couples opt for a Non-Church wedding ceremony

  • They are not church goers and do not want to be hypocritical
  • The couple are from two different religions and the Non-Church wedding is better compromise
  • For people who are divorced means people getting married for the second time cannot do so in a church.
  • Now that same sex marriage is possible having non church weddings is their only option
  • Couples want something personal, meaningful and about them celebrating getting married and the Non-Church wedding allows for their wedding ceremony to be just that

And while civil marriages performed in the registry office or indeed have the registrar come to your venue cater for  people who are divorced and or in a same sex relationship the civil ceremony wedding holds little appeal because of the limitations to include anything spiritual that is meaningful to the couple.

But for those who are not in a same sex relationship, divorced or go to mass at Christmas, other people’s weddings and funerals who choose a non-church wedding this can be met with what sounds like a question “So you are not getting married in a church” but is really a statement tinged with a tone of judgement. So how do you respond to this?

Couples have said they try to justify their decision which reveals they no longer are regular church goers. They also have to contend with peoples misconceptions of what a Non-Church wedding actually is. And they have to get over the hurdle of the keeping the specialness of their wedding ceremony in tact when others think it’s just a new fad or worse still not a real marriage.

So how do you get over this hump and still ‘stay friends’ with the disgruntled? There will be no winning over some people but you can reduce the risk of a serious falling out by thinking about things from their point of view for a moment. Yes it is still your wedding and this is not about making other people more important than you two. It is rather being very clear about what your choice means to you.

So let’s dive right in. If the tone of voice of the person is

 Quizzical  – Then happy days you can bowl them over with all the advantages of having an non-church wedding, how personal it will be and all the elements that you can do to symbolise your union.  Although keep some of the surprises for the big day itself. They may genuinely not know anything about them and will be delighted to hear all about it.

Judgmental  – Well this is a tougher one. This person may have some deep seated beliefs about religion and getting married in a church. They may think a non-church wedding will not hold the sanctity of marriage in a respectful way.

This is a real opportunity to show them what the similarities are between the two types of ceremonies.  Symbolically your union is demonstrated in similar ways, lighting of candles, joining of families, readings and music will all take on a similar vein and of course the signing of the register. Very often when something is unknown to people they fill in gaps of knowledge with misinformation.  For a lot of people having their loved ones there to celebrate with them is THE most important thing so this is a real opportunity to stress that and make that the priority topic of conversation.

The die hard church goer – Now you have a bit of a challenge on your hands here. They will no doubt fully believe that there is only one way to get married and there is no other way full stop! In fact they may even believe that they are doing something wrong if they go. This is quite extreme but it happens.

Sometimes a little empathy might go along way here. You might start off by saying that you know they have strong faith and reassure them that your wedding ceremony will be respectful and no mad cap antics will happen at it. Your ceremony may be conducted by a Solemniser whose licence is a recognised religious group so you can speak to the similar values they have of respect and honouring the process.

This does two things firstly it puts you in control of the conversation by acknowledging their unhappiness at your choice and secondly it keeps the control with you when you are strong about it is you who inviting them to share your day with you.

Your Big Day

The main thing is to remember it is YOUR big day and something huge will take place emotionally and legally on the day. As much as your guests are important to be there to celebrate with you, you can’t please everyone. It might just help you to please the two most important people on the day, you and partner. Best of luck.