Last year nearly 8,400 marriages took place, one third of which were civil ceremonies, figures released by the NI Statistics and Research Agency show.
Forty years ago, when the couples getting hitched were nothing more than a glint in their parents' eyes, only one in 12 marriages took place outside a church.
Sara Gunn-Smith married her husband in a humanist ceremony in boutique Belfast cinema, the QFT.
However, humanist marriages are not legally recognised in Northern Ireland, so Sara and her husband had a civil ceremony at Belfast City Hall the day before.
"But it was very small and we didn't exchange rings or anything, we just signed on the dotted line," she explained.
"The humanist ceremony was better for us, we don't believe in god and we wanted to do something different from the generic City Hall wedding.
"We go to the QFT quite a bit, so it was special to us and we worked with the lady from the humanist society to pick the vows that were closest to what we wanted to say," Sara said.
"We only got married last month, so we haven't been back to the QFT since, but we are going on Saturday night and I'm quite excited."
A family history to a former ballroom on the north coast led Charlene McLean to get married by a minister at the Arcadia in Portrush
I don't feel tied to any church, and I didn't want a civil ceremony. Being married by a minister, who was a friend's dad, felt more personal to me.
"I had always been drawn to that building, but it was boarded up for many years," she said.
"My granny and granda used to dance at the Arcadia and when my dad was younger his summer job was selling ice cream there."
There was a last minute panic when Gavin Moffitt and his wife Susie Millar became the first couple to get married on board the SS Nomadic at Belfast.
The ship carried passengers to the Titanic in 1912, before the liner sank, taking with it more than 1,500 passengers and crew including Susie's great-grandfather.
"We investigated the idea of getting married on board, and the organisation taking care of the Nomadic were keen and said they would sort everything out," said Gavin.
"But a fortnight before the wedding was due to take place they contacted us to say they hadn't sorted out the licensing so the ceremony couldn't happen.
"We eventually contacted the Presbyterian moderator Norman Hamilton who agreed to marry us.
"Our wedding was unique. We were the first, and thus far the only couple, to get married on the SS Nomadic in Belfast," he explained.
Before 2004 people had to get married in either a church or a registry office, but new legislation means marriages can be conducted in a number of approved venues.
There are 40 different locations across Northern Ireland where couples can tie the knot, and Dr David Marshall from NISRA said the rise in civil ceremonies is due - in part - to the increase in approved venues.
Could civil ceremonies take over from religious ceremonies? It's possible, but not in the near future.
Dr David Marshall
"It is also partly due to a decline in the number of people going to church. Civil ceremonies are also popular for those who have been divorced," said Dr Marshall.
But with 15 marriages on the books this year at St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast, Reverend Campbell Dixon said for them, church weddings are still big business.
"I think people want to solidify their relationships, they feel that this is an affirmation and it confirms their relationship. For some people, a church wedding seems to mean more to them.
"We would have a lot of mixed marriages, and I think people see the cathedral as a shared, sacred place.
"You can't force people to come to church to get married but we encourage them to have a church wedding and to have some association with a place of worship," he added.