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Frequently Asked Questions

Bride and Groom
FAQ: FAQ

Where do you work?

I am based in Newtownards, but I conduct weddings across Northern Ireland. I also love a trip, so if you're having a wedding ceremony outside NI, I'm more than happy to do this! Additional travel expenses will apply for weddings outside my normal area of travel, but we will discuss this and agree on a cost when we draw up our contract. There won't be any hidden extras!

We like the idea of a humanist ceremony but we don’t think we’re humanists. Can we still have a humanist wedding?

Of course you can! My wedding ceremonies offer a non-religious, personal, and meaningful way to celebrate your marriage. Humanist weddings are inclusive of people from all faiths and none, so I would be delighted to help you plan your ceremony, regardless of if you identify as a humanist. 

Are humanist ceremonies legal?

It depends where you are! In Northern Ireland (and also in Scotland), humanist weddings are now legally recognised, so you can have a legal wedding ceremony if you choose. This involves giving notice to the council area where your wedding will take place, signing the marriage schedule during the ceremony, and giving it back to the council to legally register your marriage. Of course, if you want a commitment or symbolic ceremony, then you wouldn't do the legal side of things. 

 

If you want to have a humanist wedding in England or Wales, you will also need to arrange a separate, legal ceremony at a registry office to conduct the official paperwork. Humanists UK are lobbying the UK government on the issue of legal humanist marriages in England and Wales, so hopefully we will see our neighbours enjoy the right to a legal ceremony very soon! 

Do you conduct same-sex weddings?

I do! Humanists UK celebrants have been conducting ceremonies for same sex couples for at least two decades and were instrumental in successfully campaigning for legal same-sex marriage.

 

Northern Ireland made same-sex weddings legal in 2019, bringing us in line with the rest of the UK. Same-sex civil partnerships can be converted into marriages from 2020, too! So if you decide to have a commitment ceremony to reaffirm your relationship as a marriage, I would be delighted to help you with this.

Can I have my wedding outside / at my parents’ house / on the beach?

Yes, you can have your wedding anywhere you like, with a couple of exceptions.

I can't legally marry you in a place of worship (i.e. church, synagogue, mosque), or a registry office. But that leaves everywhere else!

Outdoor weddings are lovely, but can also be windy, rainy and cold, especially in Northern Ireland! In case of weather-related issues it’s best to have a plan B, whether this is an alternative venue close by or lots of umbrellas!

Does having a humanist wedding involve a lot of work?

It definitely takes more time and thought to arrange a humanist ceremony than a standard church or civil wedding, but it’s well worth the effort. You will end up with a ceremony that is unique and personal to you, that you have crafted yourselves to reflect your relationship and values.

 

Most couples find the planning process fun, and I will do everything I can to make sure you enjoy it along the way. It can help settle your nerves that you know exactly how the ceremony will play out ahead of time, and you have final say over every last detail, which means your day will be as perfect as possible.

How much does a humanist wedding ceremony cost?

Fees vary according to requirements. Humanists UK recommend fees between £450-£1000, but this will depend on what you’re planning. The nature of having a humanist ceremony means everything is unique, and that includes the price!

 

Normally my fee is around £550, but I can advise on final costs at our initial meeting, after we have discussed your plans and before we draw up a contract. The fee will reflect the time, effort and dedication I will put into your wedding, and will include things like travel and any additional costs where required.

How long does a humanist wedding ceremony last?

It depends on what you want to include, but usually ceremonies last between 20-45 minutes. The more you want, the longer it will be! This is one of the aspects we can discuss, and you will get a feel for the duration as we start to craft your ceremony.

Can I include religious elements, such as prayers or hymns, in the ceremony?

The short answer is, no. Humanist ceremonies are non-religious by nature, and as such we cannot facilitate religious readings, hymns or prayer in the script.  If you have a particular reading or element that you feel strongly about, we can discuss it and look at how to incorporate it in a humanist way, but if this is not possible then we can look at alternatives that will work for everyone.

We're not very romantic, and hate public speaking. Can we still have a humanist wedding ceremony?

Of course you can! One of the best things about a humanist ceremony is that you can do it however you like! My goal as your celebrant is to make sure you're as happy and comfortable as possible. If this means you make a ten minute speech about how much you love your partner; great! If the thought of that makes you want to curl up and cry; no problem. If you want your vows to be funny; if attention makes you uncomfortable and you want things short and sweet: if the only thing you want to say on the day is "I do"; we can make it happen. Every decision is yours to make. It's your wedding, after all!

My friend/family member is religious, and I don’t want them to be offended. Will a humanist wedding be okay for them?

Nearly every wedding ceremony is attended by guests of different faiths and of none, and I feel strongly that everyone present should feel happy and comfortable. 

The focus of your humanist wedding will be on the two of you, your relationship and what you value. Underpinning it all will be the humanist view of long-term partnerships as being strongest when built upon support, equality, and honesty. It’s difficult to imagine anyone would have a problem with that!

 

However, if there are meaningful readings or rituals you would like to incorporate, we can have a chat about this – while humanist ceremonies do not contain religious elements, compromise is always possible!

Who deals with the paperwork?

The process for a legal ceremony is very straightforward. You will have to submit a wedding notice before the wedding, in the council area where your ceremony will take place. During the wedding ceremony, certain legal declarations are included and the marriage schedule is signed by you. Then, you need to make sure it is handed into the registry office shortly after the wedding.

Are you insured?

Yes! As an accredited celebrant with Humanists UK, I am covered by their Public Liability and Professional Indemnity Insurance. You can find out more about what it covers here

How soon should we get in touch?

As soon as possible! Weddings are booked up to two years in advance, so it's best to be organised. If your wedding is closer than that, don't let it put you off! I will do my very best to accommodate you, and might have a cancellation or space for a last-minute booking. If you want to check my availability on any date, just send me an email and I'll get back to you ASAP.

If you have other questions, I’d be more than happy to help: just drop me an email or message me on social media!

Image by Noemi Szabo

"There is only one happiness in life: To love and be loved."

George Sand

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