This week, I got some delightful news – another couple decided to put their faith in me and asked me to deliver their wedding ceremony. It’s in just six months’ time, and I already know I’m going to be busy on the May bank holiday weekend. I’ll be strapping up my glamorous wedding celebrant boots as I prepare of this wedding ceremony. It’s happening in beautiful Bellinter House in Meath, an exclusive wedding venue in a Georgian manor.
Wedding Celebrant Inspiration
My creative juices are already flowing. The couple have two small boys, so I’m picturing a day filled with colour and laughter, and rituals that the whole family can be part of. I’ll write a love story for the couple too, but to hold the attention of the little ones, I’ll keep it all short and simple.
Here’s a flavour of the types of ceremony I can work my wedding celebrant magic on for the couple.
The couple love the seaside and have beaches in their lives that are very special to them. I can just imagine them mingling the sands from those beaches in a special sand ceremony. And the boys can join in too! They’ll each have individual pots of sand, which they’ll pour into a big decorative pot, to show that even though they’re individuals, their love is now intertwined.
For the couple themselves, I’ll perform a handfasting ritual. This hugely popular Celtic wedding ritual celebrates the freedom that love brings. I will tie the couple’s hands with cords of their choosing, to show that the couple have chosen to come together freely in marriage, and to celebrate the bonds they have made with each other.
Telling A Love Story
The love story is the independent wedding celebrant’s calling card. It’s what makes the ceremonies we deliver unique. I craft love stories tailored to every couple I work with – no story is the same. My background in creative writing helps me create quirky love stories, full of passion and humour. I’m guessing this love story will celebrate the everyday wonders of this couple’s family life, but watch this space – all will be revealed.
If you like what you’ve read and you’d like to choose me as your wedding celebrant, give me a call, WhatsApp message or text on 0876959799.
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.
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.
When I was training as a funeral celebrant, we frequently talked about what we would do if we were overcome by emotion. At a funeral, you’re exposed to people when they’re in a raw state of grief, and you’re bound to feel that grief, and to remember griefs in your own life. So, we asked ourselves this question.
Is it okay for us celebrants to give in to their emotion and cry during a funeral ceremony?
Many people in our group came to the conclusion that it was okay to shed tears, as long as you kept control of your delivery and carried on with the ceremony. Crying would allow you to show your human face, to show that you empathise with the people you’re delivering the ceremony to.
But I feel myself that I’d prefer not to cry, at funerals or at any other ceremonies.
I have huge respect for my fellow funeral celebrants. They are full of compassion, and they’re comfortable showing that compassion through tears. I’m just concerned that if I cry, it’ll lessen the impact of the story I’m trying to tell. People will hear the tears, not the words.
All ceremonies are emotional, whether it’s a wedding, funeral or baby naming. But the emotion belongs to the people at the centre of the ceremony and their family and friends, not to me. It is their grief, their love, their joy. I’m there to be a channel for that emotion, to help them process it through the words I write and deliver.
If I’m doing a ceremony for you, I want that ceremony to be about you, not me. After the ceremony is over, I don’t want people to be talking about the poor celebrant who was in floods of tears and wondering if I’m all right. I want them to be talking about the moment the couple said I do, or about what a beautiful reading the family chose for their loved one’s funeral.
There are a few techniques I will use to channel my emotions and stop myself from becoming overwhelmed.
Seems obvious, but when you’re emotional, your breath is the first thing to go. Your chest gets tight and your breath becomes shallow. It becomes really hard to think straight. We were taught breathing techniques on our celebrant training course that help you control your voice and your stress.
When I see a bride walk up the aisle or a family filing in behind a coffin, I’ll breathe in for a count of and out for a count of eight. This brings welcome oxygen into my body and gives me something to concentrate on while I wait to deliver my ceremony.
When I’m preparing for a ceremony, I can spot which parts of the ceremony are likely to set off a wave of emotion in your ceremony guests – and in me. It could be the lighting of a memorial candle.
Or it could be words I say that will show you the true significance of this ceremony. You are welcoming a child into the world. You are committing to each other for life. When I come to these delicate parts of the ceremony, I can let the wave of emotion pass without letting it spill over.
Find A Spot On The Wall
At times of high emotion, distraction can be useful. It takes you away from that emotion for a moment and gives you something else to focus on. When I reach those heart moments, I’ll pick a spot in front of me to look at.
Since ceremony venues are often beautiful places, it’s easy to find something to direct my gaze at – flowers, trees, even a guest’s beautiful dress. I let my brain fill with that image and that gets me past the emotional danger zone.
Of course I know there are going to be times when emotion will get the better of me, when the circumstances surrounding a ceremony are particularly poignant.
Or sometimes I’ll just bond with a family and tap more easily into the emotion they’re feeling. If that happens, I will take a deep breath and carry on. And I’ll let my tears be absorbed into the emotion of the day.
If you’d like me to deliver a ceremony for you, whether I’m crying or not, have a look at my Ceremonies page.
What would you think of a celebrant that sheds tears during a ceremony? I’d love to hear your perspectives. You can email me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s brilliant news for couples in Ireland this week as wedding ceremonies can go ahead again. But they’re going to be small, and that will be a challenge for some couples. Irish families tend to be big, so Irish weddings tend to be big. Cutting down the guest list could lead to you making deadly enemies.
But small weddings are mighty. I know this because my own wedding ceremony was small. I’m going to tell you what made my small wedding mighty, to encourage you to make the leap and plan a small, intimate wedding day.
You’re Surrounding Yourself With Those Closest To You
There were thirty people at my wedding, including our families – and us of course. It was a real privilege to be able to share the day with the people who meant the most to us. We felt that by inviting them to our wedding, we could show our appreciation to them for the role they had played in our lives and for the support and love they had given to us.
I’m aware of what a privilege it was to have all the people we loved in the same room. And our guests were able to get to know each other, and the chat and laughter flowed all night.
You Can Talk To Everyone
Because the crowd on the day was small, we didn’t have to worry that we wouldn’t be able to get round to everyone. We were able to exchange more than just a passing hello with our guests – we were able to have full-length conversations with them, to chat, laugh and share memories.
If you have a small wedding, you won’t be left with the nagging fear that you didn’t get to talk to everyone. You’ll strengthen the connections with the ones who are most dear to you.
Find out more about my wedding ceremonies, big or small, on my Weddings page.
Flexibility In Your Choice of Venue
My wedding reception was in my family home. We were able to do that because we had a tidy crowd. Having a smaller guest list opens you up to a host of cosy, quirky small wedding venues you mightn’t otherwise have considered.
There are lots of converted churches, arts venues and restaurants opening themselves up for weddings. Why not avail of the opportunity to host your wedding in a venue with a difference. You’ll create a really intimate atmosphere for your guests that they’ll always remember.
Your Guests Will Feel Involved
Because of the small crowd, lots of the guests played a central role in the wedding ceremony. The ceremony was in a church, so some guests did readings and prayers of the faithful. I had my sisters as bridesmaids, my husband had a groomsman and my mother gave me away. That gave people a sense of involvement in the wedding.
There are lots of other ways to involve your guests in your small wedding. You can ask them to make cakes, help with decorations or style your hair. They’ll love feeling that they’ve helped to make your day special.
It’s A Less Costly Option
Let’s face it – cost is a factor in planning your wedding. If you are on a budget, a small wedding will be less of a headache for you. You’ll be able to enjoy your day without worrying about getting into debt. I felt I was able to give my guests a five-star wedding experience on a much smaller budget. I was also aware that weddings can be expensive for guests and it felt good to know that I wasn’t adding extra expense for my guests, like accommodation and drinks costs.
My small, intimate wedding ceremoy gave me memories to last a lifetime, and I want to reassure you that yours will too.
I’m really looking forward to officiating small, mighty wedding ceremonies in the future – in fact, I have one booked for next year. If you’d like to join my list of wedding bookings, drop me a WhatsApp on 087 6959799.
Yesterday, I got a call from a wannabe celebrant who’s thinking of training to be a celebrant. I chatted to her about my own celebrant training and how I felt it had shaped me as a celebrant. It got me thinking about why training to be a celebrant is important.
Recognition for Celebrants
Celebrancy is a funny profession. It’s both very old and very new. There have been ceremonies since the beginning of time, and there have been people who were given the role of officiating them. In recent years, as organised religion declines in many countries, the role of ceremony officiant is being given recognition again.
But because celebrancy is only just being recognised again as a profession, there are lots of loopholes. Anyone can set themselves up as a celebrant without training. I did a baby naming ceremony in September 2018 before I even knew there was such a thing as a celebrant, and I could have started a celebrancy business the next day.
I can’t lie. I was really tempted to tell the world I was now a celebrant – I was so bursting with joy after the baby naming ceremony. But I felt it was important to be equipped with the proper skills, so I could deliver ceremonies that were professional as well as fun.
Beginning Celebrant Training
I did my research and decided the courses offered by the Irish Institute of Celebrants (IIOC) fit the bill. They would give me total freedom to deliver the ceremonies that people wanted. I could be as creative, as spiritual, as passionate and as outrageous as I wanted. That was important to me.
In September 2019, I qualified as a family celebrant with the IIOC. A family celebrant delivers weddings, baby naming ceremonies and vow renewals. Then in October, I began the IIOC funeral celebrant course and qualified as a funeral celebrant in March 2020. Because I completed the two courses, the IIOC awarded me a diploma in family and funeral celebrancy.
You’ll find out more about me and what kind of celebrant I am here.
Naturally there are differences between the two courses. The funeral celebrant course prepares you for dealing with people in a heightened state of grief, while the family ceremony shows you how to bring joy into people’s lives with your ceremonies. But there were skills I learned which were common to both.
There’s a strong element of performance in the course, and we had several sessions showing us how to use our voices to deliver a great performance. Trained actors showed us how to breathe correctly and how to control our voices so that nerves wouldn’t get in the way.
We did tongue twisters to stop us from tripping over tricky consonants. The tutor also showed us how to manage the pace of our delivery and gave us tricks to help us deliver our ceremonies with meaning and passion.
Carrying Out Rituals
Ritual is a hugely important part of ceremonies. They’re powerful symbols of life and of love. We learned about the meaning and origins of some of the most popular rituals, like the Celtic handfasting carried out at weddings. We also learned to carry out those rituals.
We tied ribbons around each other’s hands and we lit candles. We also learned about where to stand during a ritual and how to direct the people taking part. We kept practising until the rituals felt natural and we could carry them out seamlessly.
Telling Stories Of Love
The thing that makes the IIOC celebrant courses stand out is the emphasis on storytelling. We learned to create unique ceremonies for each family we work with. On both courses, there was a module on storytelling, to help us craft and deliver these unique stories.
On the wedding course, we learned to write love stories for couples that captured the special moments in their relationship, from first meeting to proposal. And on the funeral course, we learned how to write eulogies, love stories of a different kinds. Eulogies are stories that capture the essence of the person who has passed away and allow the families to express their love for that person, one last time.
Dealing With Clients
Though the IIOC celebrant courses aren’t business courses, we did learn how to develop a relationship with people we worked with and how to collaborate with them to create our ceremonies.
We did mock consultation sessions, where we played the part of a client and a celebrant. We asked each other questions to find out what ceremony the person would like. This was particularly challenging during the funeral course, when we learned how to consult with clients in fraught situations.
After all these modules were finished, it was time for our final assessment, and that assessment took the form of a ceremony. For our wedding ceremony, we were given the name of a couple and told to write a ceremony for them.
We had some rehearsal sessions to practice our rituals, our stance and our ceremony scripts. Then we delivered our ceremonies in front of people from other celebrancy courses. We chose people to play the bride and groom and delivered our ceremonies.
The funeral ceremony process was interesting. To give us experience of how a funeral would happen in real time, we had to write and deliver a funeral ceremony within three days. We did a consultation session with an actor playing the part of a bereaved person.
From the information we gathered at the consultation, we wrote a draft ceremony within twenty-four hours. Then we rehearsed and delivered that ceremony, in an empty room with just the examiners at the other end. After that, delivering a ‘real’ funeral will be easy!
Overall, I’m glad I completed my celebrant training. I feel I’m equipped to deal with my clients and to cope with whatever glitches arise. The fact that I’ve invested time and money to become a better celebrant builds trust. And I can show people that I have the skills to deliver the ceremony of their dreams.
Want to get the benefit of my excellent training? Give me a call on 00 353 87 6959799 to start the ball rolling for a brilliant ceremony.
Nothing could be better than your wedding day, could it? The day you and your beloved tell each other, and the world, that you will be together for life. But there is another day that can be just as good – in fact, it can even be better. That’s the day of your vow renewal ceremony.
At a vow renewal ceremony, you renew the vows you made on your wedding day. It’s as simple as that. You get a second chance to tell each other that you’re committed for life.
You can see a video of a vow renewal on my vow renewals page, which will show you what to expect from your vow renewal ceremony. But I wanted to share more about why I think vow renewal ceremonies can be even better than weddings.
You get the wedding you want
If you were getting married 20-30 years ago, chances were, you had a lot less control over your wedding. Certainly in Ireland, the only ceremony options were a church or a registry office, and people’s parents usually paid for the wedding.
That meant you didn’t to choose how you celebrated your day. Your vow renewal gives you a second chance to have the wedding you always dreamed of. You choose the venue, the music, and what to say. It’ll be your day, your way.
You won’t miss a moment
On your wedding day, you were probably in a tizzy of excitement as you prepared to spend the rest of your life with the one you loved. There were probably a lot of people there for you to greet. It’s no surprise that for many people, their wedding day is a blur.
At your vow renewal ceremony, you will probably be just as excited, but you’ll also be calmer and more mature. The crowd is likely to be smaller. That gives you a real chance to savour the day and to keep the memories crystal clear in your mind.
You can celebrate how far you’ve come.
You’ve been together for a long time and you’ve been through a lot together. You’ve proven that your love is real, not just a fairytale. A vow renewal ceremony gives you a chance to stake stock and celebrate all that you’ve achieved together.
That’s why lots of people time their vow renewals with a significant wedding anniversary. You can celebrate the family you’ve created, the challenges you’ve overcome and the brilliant moment you’ve enjoyed together.
So, what kind of vow renewal ceremony can you have? Here are some ideas for your vow renewal.
An Intimate Ceremony
If you wished you could have had a small wedding ceremony, now’s your chance. You can organise your ceremony with just your family and a few close friends for an intimate experience. What better way to celebrate than with the people who are most precious to you?
A Family Ceremony
If you have young children and you do everything together as a family, you can get the whole family involved in your ceremony. There are so many creative, colourful rituals you can do together, rituals that confirm your love for each other as a family. These rituals will strengthen your bonds and remind you that you are joined to each other forever.
Maybe when you were getting married, you couldn’t afford a big wedding. Well, now’s your chance to celebrate in style. Wear the white dress and the fancy suit. Invite all the people you weren’t able to invite to your wedding, and treat yourself and your guests to a fancy meal in a hotel, followed by a night of dancing. Let the champagne flow and give yourself the wedding experience you didn’t get to have.
I’m hoping this blog post will show you that vow renewals aren’t just for celebrities. If I have, and you want to start planning your vow renewal ceremony, I’ll be happy to help. Just give me a call on 00 353 87 6959799.
I had an exciting conversation last week. It was with a couple who have chosen me as their celebrant for their wedding in October. The chat was via Zoom, they were in America and I was in my house by the sea in Ireland, but it felt like we were all in the same room.
We were taking the first steps towards planning their wedding ceremony. And I may be asking the questions, but the couple are at the heart of the wedding preparations I make.
When you see a celebrant deliver a wedding ceremony, you just see what you do on the day. But a lot of planning goes into that ceremony. Last week’s chat with the couple was just a chance to get to know each other, but it’s pretty clear that they’ll be a delightful couple to work with.
Given that it was our first chat, we got a lot covered. I got a feel for what kind of ceremony they wanted – it turns out they want some baby naming rituals for their newborn as well. I also told them what kind of ceremony I offered. The couple are determined not to let the COVID situation stop the m from having their dream wedding – and I’m just as determined.
The Wedding Consultation
The next step will be a full-on wedding consultation, where we’ll discuss every aspect of their ceremony. I’ve now sent the couple the wedding consultation form that I go through during this wedding consultation.
With some couples, I’d go through it in a call but they’re the sort of couple who likes to write their thoughts down. We’ll then chat through the wedding consultation form in a few weeks’ time. I’ll then use what they tell me to write my wedding ceremony script,
We’ll talk about who’s coming to the wedding and where they’ve come from. I’ll find out more about the bridal party and what each person in the bridal party means to the couple.
We’ll also talk about what rituals they want and what materials they’d like to use for the rituals. Maybe they’ll want sand from a local beach for the sand ceremony, or maybe they’ll want cords in GAA colours for the handfasting.
Have a look at the Weddings page on my website to see where all this planning can take you on the day of your ceremony.
The Love Story
The most important part of the wedding consultation form is the part about the love story. This couple have had an eventful life in the last few years, so their love story will be a true celebration of how far they’ve come. I could write a whole blog post about the love story, and I will.
The love story is what makes a wedding ceremony by an independent celebrant stand out. We write a unique love story for every couple we work with. It adds creativity, laughter and emotion to each ceremony.
If I do my job right, the end result of all this planning will be a unique wedding ceremony, a ceremony full of creativity, honesty and passion. This wedding ceremony will give this couple the space to tell the truth about their love for each other.
The guests won’t see the ceremony as the thirty minutes to endure before the party starts. It will stay in their minds long after the couple walk back down the aisle.
If you’d love the chance to talk about your own dream wedding ceremony, I’d love to hear from you. Email email@example.com or call me on 087 6959799 to get the ball rolling.
I feel lucky to live in a country as beautiful as Ireland. It’s a place of rugged coastline and mountains, often right next to each other. And that’s exactly what makes Ireland a brilliant place to get married. Some of these wedding locations are very well known, like the Cliffs of Moher and the Hill of Tara.
But what if you want a ceremony with a difference?
What if you want to go off the beaten track?
In this blog post, I’m going to share some brilliant wedding
locations with you that I’ve come across on my travels. They’re places that
are a little off the beaten track, and perfect wedding locations for free thinking
couples who like to do their own thing.
The Copper Coast, Co. Waterford
I’m going to start with a place that’s right in my own backyard. The Copper Coast is a stunning stretch of coastline that takes you from Tramore, where I live, to Dungarvan. Along the way, you’ll enjoy epic views of cliffs plunging down into hidden coves, with caves tucked into the cliff face. It’s called the Copper Coast because there was once a thriving copper mining industry in the area.
The Copper Coast’s history has been captured at the Copper Coast Geopark Visitor’s Centre, which makes a wonderfully intimate spot for a wedding if the weather isn’t kind to you. Or you can go wild and have your wedding or vow renewal ceremony on one of the little coves, just the two of you, with the rolling waves providing the soundtrack.
St Patrick’s Well, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary
Now we’ll travel a little further inland to our next wedding location. St Patrick’s Well is another spot that’s dear to my heart, as I grew up a stone’s throw away. It’s been a sacred site for thousands of years, since Celtic times, but it’s also the site of a holy well and church dedicated to St Patrick.
As soon as you go through the gate and head down the steps towards the well, you’ll be filled with a sense of peace. The air is still and the modern world falls away. You will be able to celebrate your love in a place steeped with history, and the ancient trees surrounding it make a beautiful backdrop for your photos.
Slieve League, Co. Donegal
We all know the Cliffs of Moher are stunning, but you’ll
find equally stunning views on the Donegal coast, at the Slieve League cliffs. You’ll
also be away from the crowds. Known as Sliabh Liag in Irish, these are the
highest and most impressive cliffs in Europe. If you’re feeling really brave,
you can stand at the very top of the cliffs, which plunge down to the wild
Atlantic Ocean 600 metres below. Like St Patrick’s Well, Slieve League has been
a sacred site for Celts and Christians for thousands of years.
Lough Gur, Co. Limerick
If you are drawn to pagan and Celtic spirituality, Lough Gur
is the perfect wedding location for you. Lough Gur is home to one of Ireland’s
largest stone circles, which were used for pagan worship. The lake and the
gentle, rolling hills around it give you a mellow backdrop for your wedding ceremony.
Your younger guests can enjoy the fairy trails around the lake. It’s a more
peaceful alternative to the Hill of Tara, with the added advantage that you can
have your ceremony by the water.
Want some ideas for Celtic wedding rituals? Check out my Weddings page.
Guinness Storehouse, Dublin
You’ll know the Guinness Storehouse as a tourist attraction – in fact it’s Dublin’s number-one tourist attraction. But did you know you can also get married there? You can have your wedding ceremony in the Gravity Bar which is right at the top of the building, giving you panoramic views of the city. Then afterwards, you can enjoy a complimentary pint of Guinness and toast your future happiness. If you’re an urban creature who’s more into city breaks than weekends in the wild, the Guinness Storehouse will be a cool choice for your ceremony.
I hope these ideas will inspire you, whether you’re living
in Ireland or planning a destination from abroad. If you’re coming from abroad,
don’t forget to sort out the legal arrangements before you come to Ireland for
your dream destination wedding. If you’re looking for ideas for your dream
wedding location, give me (Derbhile) a call on 087 6959799.
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.
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.
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
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
Big up to the suppliers who made
this wedding possible, and wishing them well during this strange time.
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.
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
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
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Otherwise, you
can get information from the HSE
website about getting married in Ireland.