How Independent Celebrants Make Your Wedding Ceremony Meaningful

Many marketing gurus tell us that we need to find our unique selling point if we’re to attract customers. In plain English, that’s the thing that helps you stand out. This can be a bit of a challenge when you’re an independent celebrant.

There are many types of celebrants, and we all promise a ceremony with a personal touch, a ceremony that’s outside of traditional religious norms. All celebrants also promise that you can have your ceremony anywhere, at any time.

My unique selling point is this. You can have prayers at your wedding ceremony if you want.

This might not seem like a big deal to you. But you may be surprised to discover that some celebrants or officiants don’t allow any mention of religion or spiritual belief in their ceremonies. And some celebrants follow certain belief systems that shape the wording and structure of the ceremony.

You might not share in these belief systems. Maybe you don’t go to church anymore, but that doesn’t mean you have no belief. You may have particular beliefs of your own. Or you may have relatives with strong traditional religious beliefs and you don’t want them to be alienated by a ceremony with no reference to spirituality whatsoever.

Independent Celebrants Support Your Beliefs

Independent celebrants put you at the centre of the ceremony, not a belief system. It’s your beliefs, your values and your personality that decide the shape of your ceremony. You can indeed make no mention of God if you want. You can have spoken word poetry performances, death metal music and vows in Klingon. You can mix it up, with a Bible reading and a Seamus Heaney poem. And of course, you can have a ceremony with prayers and hymns at the centre.

You can invite your religious relatives to say prayers or do a religious reading at the ceremony. This will help them feel included. Lots of independent celebrants say that people come up to them after their ceremony telling them that they hadn’t expected it to be so spiritual or moving, which is a great endorsement to get. If you go down this route, I’d encourage you to ask one of your guests to say the prayers, as I don’t want to take over the role of a person who has strong religious beliefs.

Time and Place of Ceremony

Then there’s the time and place of your wedding. Again, all celebrants give you freedom in this regard. Even the civil registrars will travel to your wedding venue if your wedding is on a weekday. And if you’re not doing the legals, i.e. signing the register, you can have your wedding anywhere, at any time.

But if you do want to sign the register, your wedding has to be in a venue approved by the registering body. Independent celebrants are the one group of celebrants who can guarantee that you can have your wedding in any place, at any time. If you want your wedding in a lighthouse at midnight, we’ll make it happen.

To get a flavour of the type of ceremony I can deliver for you as an independent celebrant, have a look at my Weddings page.

Independent Celebrants Are There For You

I’ve said that independent celebrants put you at the centre. That isn’t just on the day of your wedding; it’s at every stage of planning your wedding ceremony. We’ll listen to you and find out what you want, and we’ll go above and beyond to make sure you get it. Our goal is to make sure you don’t have a moment’s worry, in the run up or on the day itself.

This picture shows the kind of atmosphere an independent celebrant creates at a ceremony, full of colour and passion.


This is a picture of me at a wedding ceremony in my pink celebrant suit. I’m holding a microphone in one hand and a black folder with pages inside it. To my left, here’s a group of people in colourful clothes sitting on chairs, and there are trees behind me. Photo Credit: Lopez Photography

Then when we deliver our weddings, we commit 100% to the delivery. People who become independent celebrants tend to have big personalities and to be confident in front of a crowd. That helps us to deliver ceremonies full of colour, passion and character.

Two Separate Wedding Ceremonies

Independent celebrants can’t legalise your wedding ceremony. That means that you’ll need to make a separate appointment to sign the registry. This is how weddings are done in various parts of the world. I know Irish couples are used to doing both the legals and the ceremonials in one place, but it’s easier to organise than you think. I’ve put together this blog post showing you how the process works. If it means you get the ceremony you want, I reckon it’s worth it.

As an independent celebrant qualified with the IIOC, I’d be delighted to help you organise your wedding ceremony. Please give me a call on 087 6959799 if you’d like to find out more.

Ceremonies For You

When you think of a ceremony, you think baby naming, wedding, vow renewal. As an independent celebrant, I deliver all those ceremonies and I’m delighted to do so. But what if you don’t get married? What if you don’t have a child? Does that mean you don’t get to have a ceremony?

Yes, you can have a ceremony. Not only that, but you deserve to have a ceremony. You deserve to celebrate you. That’s why I’ve created Ceremonies For You – to help you celebrate who you are, what you’ve achieved and the positive choices you’ve made. You decide what life event you want to celebrate, and I’ll create a ceremony especially for you and the people who matter most to you.

The beauty of Ceremonies For You is that you can celebrate whatever you want.

Here are a few ideas for moments you might want to celebrate.

Milestone Ceremony

Have you beaten cancer? Did you finish a college degree later in life? Have you started the career of your dreams? You can celebrate these and loads of other great life events with a Milestone Ceremony. In this ceremony, you’ll have the chance to reflect on your achievements with your loved ones and look forward to a brighter future.  

Friendship Ceremony

For many of us, our friends are as important as our family. If your friendship group is celebrating a special anniversary, say 20 years since you met at college, or just want an excuse for a party, you can have a ceremony to celebrate your friendship. You can share memories of fun times and celebrate the wonderful qualities that have held you together as a group.

This picture shows nine boxes, with nine women in each box. I'm in the second row on the left, wearing a tall grey hat and a red cape.
This is a group of women that I created a special Ceremony of Transformation for. It would loosely come under the category of Friendship Ceremony. All the action happened on Zoom and it felt just like the real thing.

Commitment Ceremony

If you’ve found someone that you know you can commit to for the rest of your life, that’s worth celebrating. You can have a commitment ceremony which allows you to come together in freedom and promise to commit to each other forever. In your commitment ceremony, you can do rituals that strengthen your bonds and celebrate the family unit you’ve created.

If you want a ceremony that’s outside the box, please get in touch on info@celebrantderv.ie or 087 6959799. This is a ceremony for you, so feel free to come to me with any ideas you may have. I’m looking forward to helping you create a ceremony that celebrates you.

What Type of Celebrant Am I?

When you pick a celebrant for a ceremony, you’re probably not thinking too much about what type of celebrant they are. For most people, a celebrant is a celebrant. And generally, all celebrants have the same aim – to deliver a ceremony that’s personal and that shows respect for your beliefs and life choices.

But there are subtle differences between the types of celebrants that offer their services to couples and families. You might want to bear these in mind when you’re choosing a celebrant for your ceremony. I’m going to lay out the different types of celebrants you can choose from, so you can make an informed choice about who you want for your ceremony.

Humanist Celebrants

Humanist Celebrants are people who have been members of the Humanist Association of Ireland for more than two years. Humanists believe in being ‘good without God,’ the idea that you can live a moral and ethical life without the influence of a supernatural power. Humanist celebrants offer ceremonies that are completely secular – there are no hymns, payers or spiritual readings. So, they’re a good fit for people who have no religious or spiritual beliefs.

Spiritual Celebrants

Spiritualist Celebrants are at the opposite end of the spectrum – they’re all about the spirit. Spiritualist celebrants perform ceremonies according to the rites of the Spiritualist Union of Ireland. Spiritualism is a recognised religion that is centred on the belief that it is possible to communicate with the spirit of a person once they have passed away.

That doesn’t mean this will happen at a spiritualist ceremony, but space can be created in a ceremony for the spirits of loved one who have passed away. A spiritualist celebrant is a good option if you are not religious, but have strong spiritual belief.

Intefaith Ministers

Interfaith Celebrants: Interfaith celebrants or ministers are trained and ordained by the One Spirit Interfaith Foundation and they take a blended approach to ceremonies. They receive training in a variety of faith systems so they can deliver ceremonies that incorporate lots of faith traditions. Interfaith celebrants are a good option if there are two or more faith backgrounds in your family. Their ceremonies allow everyone’s faith to be represented.

I’m not any of these types of celebrants. So, what type of celebrant am I?

Well, I’ve said on my About Us page that I’m a creative celebrant, an authentic celebrant, a celebrant full of passion. But officially, I’m an independent celebrant. That means I’m not associated with any organisation, religious, legal, spiritual or civil.

This picture illustrates the colour and creativity an independent celebrant can bring to a ceremony.

I am performing a handfasting ceremony for a couple. I stand between them, and their hands are clasped, with ribbons around their fingers. (Photo Credit: Dermot Byrne Photography)

The thing that distinguishes an independent celebrant like me from any other type of celebrant is you.

The ceremonies I create put you at the centre, not a belief system or a set of laws. It’ll have your personality stamped all over it.

I am completely free to design the ceremony that you want, without restrictions. If you want lots of prayers and hymns, you can have them. If you want no prayers or hymns, you can have that. Or you can have a mixture of both. Your ceremony will be all about you.

If you think I’m the kind of celebrant you want, I’d be very flattered. But before I get carried away with delight, I’d better tell you how to get in touch with me. You can all me on 087 6959799 or email me (Derbhile) on info@celebrantderv.ie.

My Wonderful Week of Celebrancy

Marketing experts advise you that your blog posts should be SEO friendly. They should solve problems for people and educate people about the big world of celebrancy, and that’ll make it easy for Dr Google to find them. I’m happy to follow that advice most of the time, but sometimes I just need to let rip and share the joy of my job.

This is just such a week. I did have a sensible blog post planned, and I’ll bring that to you next week, but this week, I want to celebrate. It’s been a wonderful week in my life as an independent celebrant, the biggest week since I qualified. And it’s not over yet.

In these strange times, it’s hard to find the balance between carrying on with your business and being sensitive to the stress people are under. But I wanted to share my success with you, to show that even in these times, there is still cause for celebration. It’s okay to be happy. And it’s okay to dream of better times to come.

So, here’s a rundown of my big, wonderful celebrant week.

Monday – Flagging Celebrant Directory Blog

I put up a boast on social media about the fact that I’m to be a guest blogger on The Celebrant Directory on Friday. I thought I’d generate a bit of excitement about the blog post first, and I got lots of lovely comments on social media. It really made me feel l like an influencer!

Tuesday – Got Local Media Coverage

A lovely journalist called Dymphna Nugent (@the_english_teacher_ on Instagram) featured in an article in one of my local papers, the Waterford News and Star. She interviewed me for a column called Well Said, where local people reflect on life and what makes them tick. As someone who grew up in a large family, I welcome any chance to talk about myself without interruption! And I was delighted to have the chance to share my passion for all things celebrant.

Wednesday – Booked A Wedding

I confirmed a booking for a wedding! This has been bubbling for a little while. Through this fine website, I was contacted by a couple living in America who are already legally married. They’re planning a wedding in October in a rather lovely hotel called Barnabrow House in East Cork, near the groom’s home town. I’ll be sharing all the details with you as they evolve. We’re being optimistic that everything will happen as planned – we’re daring to dream.

This picture shows the wedding ceremony room at Barnabrow House. You can see red carpeting in the aisle and rows of wooden chairs. White lanterns containing candles are dotted along the aisle.
Photo Credit: Barnabrow House

Thursday – Virtual Vow Renewal

Amazing how all your ships come in at once. I made an arrangement to do a virtual vow renewal in early June. I’ll be at my home near the sea in Tramore, Co. Waterford, and this couple will be in a forest clearing in West Cork with their children, many miles away. But my ceremonial words will reach them through the magic of Zoom.

Friday – Guest Blog Post Day

Friday 1 May is the schedule date for my blog post on The Celebrant Directory. I’ll have access to zillions of eyeballs on this site, which is an international directory of celebrants. It also offers marketing tips and inspiration to celebrants. I’m hoping that my post, a shinier version of the post I wrote for this blog about legal wedding ceremonies in Ireland, will add to that vibe of inspiration. I’ll stick up a link to it on this blog tomorrow so you won’t miss it.

If you are missing a chance to celebrate big occasions with your family, I’d love to help you find ways around it. These special moments deserve to be marked, and planning a celebration will give you something to look forward to. You can email me on info@celebrantderv.ie or call 087 6959799.

How To Add Spirituality To Your Non-Religious Ceremony

The thing I love about being an independent celebrant is that I have the flexibility to cater for all faiths and none. If you’re religious, a church ceremony will be really fulfilling for you. If you’re a a non-believer, a humanist celebrant or state registrar will deliver a ceremony free of any mention of God, the spirit or belief. But what if you fall somewhere in between? What if you want a non-religious ceremony that’s still spiritual?

That’s where an independent celebrant like me comes in. We put no restrictions on what you want to include in your ceremony. You can use any wordings you like and pick the music that makes your soul sing. You’re in the driving seat. You get to decide how spiritual you want your ceremony to be. Your ceremony may not be happening in a church, but it can be full of spiritual meaning just the same.

So, how can you add spiritual touches to your non-religious ceremony? In this blog post, I’ll walk you through the different sections of the ceremony where you can add a splash of spirituality.

Spiritual Readings

Readings are at the heart of any ceremony and they can capture the depth of our love in just a few words. The Bible is a rich source of readings that convey the sacredness of love. You may have heard quotes like ‘For everything there is a season’ or ‘Love is patient and kind.’ These come from the Bible.

This is a quotation in cursive white writing on a blue background. It says, 'Love is always patient and kind' - Corinthians.
This is a famous quote from St Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, a hugely popular reading at wedding ceremonies.

But you can draw inspiration from any spiritual background. The Celtic blessing, ‘May the Road Rise to Meet You’ fits well with any ceremony. The poetry of Kahlil Gibran is full of spiritual depth. ‘On Children’ and ‘The Prophet’ are popular choices for ceremonies.

Vows and Promises

Making solemn vows and promises is often a highlight of a religious ceremony, but you can also make these solemn promises in your non-religious ceremony with an independent celebrant like me.

You can be creative and make those vows your own, for example: I promise not get mad if my child spills paint on my favourite jacket. But you’re also free to choose more traditional wordings like ‘for better, for worse.’ You can trust those time-honoured words to reveal the true depth of your love.

I’d be delighted to help you create a ceremony that reflects your beliefs and values. Have a look at my Ceremonies page to find out about the ceremonies I offer.

Prayers and Blessings

Some people don’t want much spiritual input into their ceremony at all, but they may have religious relatives that they want to include. Asking them to say a prayer or give a blessing is a lovely way to involve them in the ceremony.

Letting your relative say a Hail Mary or give a traditional blessing shows that you value their contribution and you respect their beliefs. And they’ll feel honoured that you’ve made them part of your special day.  

Hymns and Songs

Music is a vital part of any ceremony. It lifts people’s hearts and it expresses emotions that go beyond words. There is a wide choice of spiritual music that you can include in your ceremony, from ancient sacred music to modern-day folk songs. If you have a favourite hymn or spiritual song, then feel free to include it in your ceremony running order.

You may love classic hymns like The Lord’s My Shepherd or Panis Angelicus. But did you know that Elvis sang lots of hymns like In My Father’s House Are Many Mansions. Why not add one of his for a rock and roll wedding with a spiritual touch.

I hope now you’ll see that your ceremony doesn’t have to happen in a church to be full of sacred moments. If you’d like some inspiration add spiritual touches to your non-religious ceremony, give me a call on 087 6959799.

My Big Fat Beautiful Wedding Ceremony

The marketing gurus are telling us to make use of this time by writing blog posts telling everyone how fabulous we are and how we can help. I certainly want to help, but at the moment, I want to cheer myself up, so I’m going to share the memory of my first-ever wedding ceremony as a qualified celebrant.

Wonderful Wedding Ceremony

Picture the scene. It was New Year’s Eve. The sky outside was clear. There were art-deco decorations everywhere, to fit the wedding’s 1920s theme. The guests filed into a Regency style conservatory with a circular shape that made it a wonderfully intimate venue for a wedding.  Exotic plants rested against the window panes and every so often, you’d hear the screech of a parakeet. What a perfect place for my first wedding ceremony.

The bride floated up the aisle towards her husband to be and I’m waiting for them, mic and book in hand, in front of a table garlanded with candles and flowers.

After opening words were spoken, it was time for me to begin telling the couple’s love story. The love story is the independent celebrant’s calling card. It’s a unique gift that we give to each couple, as a way of celebrating their relationship.

I told a story that charted the relationship of this young couple, who have grown together over many years. They were a couple full of humour and banter, which made their story easy to write – they gave me the best lines. People laughed in the right places, and when I reached the proposal, everyone cheered.

Lighting of Candles

After that, I toned the mood down a bit, to pay tribute to the loved ones the couples had lost and to allow them to be present in some way on the day. The pictures of those loved ones were on the table, to mark their presence, with a candle in front of them. I lit the candle to honour their memory. After the ceremony, people told me they were moved by the ritual.

Later on in the wedding ceremony, more candles were lit for the unity candle ceremony. The mothers of the bride and groom lit the outside candles in the beautiful floral arrangement created by Fethard Flowers. Later on, the couples took the light from the outside candles and used them to light the centre candle, to show that they were now one.

The couple lit candles to show that they were now one. Photo Credit: Lopez Photography.

Handfasting Ceremony

For me, the true highlight of this wedding ceremony was the handfasting. I bound the couple’s hands with cord in the GAA colours of their counties: the green and white of Limerick, the blue and gold of Tipperary. There was lots of good-natured banter from the couple and the audience about that ancient hurling rivalry.

After I tied their hands, I placed my own hands over theirs and recited a poem called Hands. For me, it was a profound, moving moment. The work I spoke were reminding the couple that they would be together, always supporting each other, for the rest of their lives.

A moving handfasting ritual. Photo Credit: Lopez Photography

This was what all the fuss and rushing around had been for. I don’t know what the couple were thinking, but judging by the expression on their faces, they were even more moved than I was.

After the ceremony, I was floating. What a privilege it was to play a small part in this wondrous event and to be present at such an amazing moment in the life of this couple. The room vibrated with love and joy, and I thought, I cannot wait to do more of this.

Congrats again to the stunning bride, @valeriedromey and her husband Michael.

I would be delighted to play my part in your joyous wedding day. I know times are difficult, but better days will come, and if you feel I can be of help in planning yours, email info@celebrantderv.ie

Big up to the suppliers who made this wedding possible, and wishing them well during this strange time.

Fethard Flowers By Mandy

Treble and Bass

Beauty Atelier @beautyatelier.irl

Lopez Photography, @lopezphotography.ie

Sonic Big Band

And most of all… Kilshane House

How to Organise Your Legal Wedding Ceremony

I’m someone who likes to get to the nitty gritty. So, I’m going to get this out of the way. I can’t solemnise your wedding. That means I can’t make your marriage legal. I’d love to, but I can’t. And I could explain why, but I would need a separate blog post for that.

Let’s just say it boils down to complicated marriage legislation. So, if you want me as your celebrant, your wedding will be a two-phase event. There’ll be a highly personal ceremony for you, your family and friends, conducted by me, and there’ll be a legal ceremony at the registry office.

Organising a separate legal ceremony is more doable than you think. It even gives you a good excuse for a party. So, I’ve created this blog post to show you how it all works.

Just Make An Appointment

I know that for Irish people in particular, it can be hard getting your head around organising a separate legal wedding ceremony. We’re used to having everything done in one place. But all you’re really doing is making an extra appointment to sign a document.

All couples have to register their marriage three months in advance of their wedding ceremony with the Health Service Executive (HSE), no matter what type of ceremony they choose. You make a marriage notification appointment to register your marriage with your local HSE office and you make a second appointment for your legal signing. That’s it.

At Your Appointment

You can make your appointment for your legal ceremony at the same time as you make your marriage notification appointment. Or you can make it when you actually go to the marriage notification appointment. The registrar will ask you where and when you are getting married, and you tell them you want to be married in the registry office. You can then choose a date for your legal ceremony with the registrar.

A couple are signing a piece of paper. The bride is on the left in her white wedding dress, with her headdress on her head. The groom is on the right, wearing a black jacket with a red tie.
Signing the marriage register makes your marriage legal

Just remember that the date of your legal ceremony must be at least three months later than the date of your marriage notification appointment. So, if your marriage notification appointment is in May, you fix a date for your legal ceremony in August or later.

The good news is that your legal ceremony can happen either before or after your wedding ceremony with me. It makes no difference to me and it makes no difference to the HSE as long as you make your marriage legal with them.

What Happens At the Legal Ceremony?

Your legal ceremony will be very short, fifteen minutes at most. You just turn up at the registry office with two witnesses and everything will be done. Afterwards, you and your witnesses can go for a drink or a slap-up lunch. That’s where the party bit comes in. In fact, I’d recommend organising your legal signing the day before your wedding ceremony with me. What a great way to get the party started.

And if you do want both your ceremonies to happen at the same time, it’s still possible. If you’re getting married on a weekday between 9am and 5pm, the registrar can come out to your venue, depending on availability. Then you can have your ceremony with me and the registrar will be on hand afterwards for you to sign the register with your witnesses.

How Much Will All This Cost?

I can understand why you’d be worried about the expense of a second ceremony, but it needn’t cost any extra. All couples pay €200 anyway to register their marriages with the HSE. I charge a fee of €450 for my wedding ceremonies, which falls within the standard fees charged by celebrants of all kinds. The only extra cost is if you want the registrar to come to your wedding venue. The HSE charges a standard fee of €100 for that service.

Why Have A Separate Legal Wedding Ceremony?

Because it frees you up to have the wedding ceremony of your dreams. I’ll put no restriction on the shape of your ceremony – you can use whatever wording and music you want. All celebrants and solemnisers aim to offer a personal service, but they are bound by legalities or belief systems.

Here’s a flavour of my personal wedding ceremonies.

For example, in a humanist or registry office ceremony, you can make no reference to religion or God and certain legal words have to be said. So, if you want a ceremony that fits perfectly with who you are and what you believe in, an independent celebrant is your best option. I promise you – it’ll be worth your while.

If you have any more questions about organising your legal ceremony, I’d be happy to help. Just send me a message using the website contact form or email info@celebrantderv.ie. Otherwise, you can get information from the HSE website about getting married in Ireland.

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