Q: What type of ceremonies do Humanist Celebrants conduct?

A: The most common ceremonies are weddings (legal and non-legal), funerals and welcoming/naming ceremonies. Other events can also be marked with a ceremony and are becoming more common. These include, for example, coming-of-age, recommitment/vow-renewal, identity-affirmation ceremonies. If you wish to mark an important event in your life or as part of your community, contact your Celebrant.

Q: Why should I have a humanist wedding ceremony?

A: A humanist ceremony is designed to be personal to the couple getting married. Because the humanist ethos is based on respect and equality, these are inclusive ceremonies. Humanist values are reflected in the language of the ceremony, and in the choices the couple can make about what is contained in.

Q: Is the ceremony legal? 

A: Your celebrant is on the HSE’s list of legal solemnisers, so yes, your wedding ceremony will be legal.

Q: Do I have to bother with the Registration Office at all?

A: Regardless of the type of ethos of your ceremony, you have to register your intention to marry with the HSE Marriage Registration Office. This must take place at least 90 days before the ceremony and usually entails an in-person meeting. Ring them and make an appointment and they will let you know what you need to bring with you. See more here. This process incurs a charge. The HSE will issue your necessary Marriage Registration Form (MRF) in a nice green folder. You must bring this to the ceremony with you, as the celebrant has to review it before the ceremony. The MRF will be signed by the couple, the witnesses and the Celebrant to complete the legal aspects of your ceremony.

Q: Is there such a thing as a non-legal wedding ceremony?

A: Yes there is. If you are married already or don’t want to have a legal ceremony, you can have a ceremony which involves an exchanging of vows of a celebration of the commitment you are making to one another. Talk to your Celebrant about the options.

Q: What does a secular ceremony mean?

A: ‘Secular’ means that there is no involvement of religion of any denomination. There can still be music, poetry, and rituals, but no religious content.

Q: Where can my wedding ceremony take place?

A: The legal requirement is that it has to be in a location that is generally open to the public (or is on the day of the day of the ceremony), has an address/eircode, has public liability insurance and has someone in management present on the day. This could be a hotel, restaurant, town hall, theatre, museum, pub or similar premises. The ceremony can also be in a garden, deck, or premises attached to any of these venues. Your Celebrant can guide you on options. If the ceremony is not a legal marriage, then it can be anywhere you can imagine.

Q: Can I have a ceremony in a marquee in my parents’ garden?

A: No, if it is to be a legal ceremony. Private venues do not meet the legal criteria (see above).

Q: How long does the ceremony take?

A: That depends of what you want to include. Generally, a wedding ceremony with some music, a few readings and some rituals such as a unity candle, the ceremony lasts about half an hour. Your Celebrant will guide you in the planning of your ceremony, based on their knowledge and experience, but centred around your hopes for the event.

Q: Can I have pop music at my ceremony?

A: The ceremony is designed around the couple so the music choice is personal to them. It can be live or recorded, and it varies from single harpists to full ukulele bands, to play lists, and everything in between.

Q: I have heard of naming ceremonies, what are they about?

A: Naming ceremonies are about welcoming a new human being into the community, celebrating the arrival/adoption of this new baby/child, and reminding us all of our responsibility to our families and the wider society.

Q: How much does a ceremony cost?

A: This varies depending on the type of ceremony. Additional costs involved, such as the Celebrant’s travel to the venue, will be outlined by your Celebrant.

Q: How can I arrange a humanist funeral ceremony?

A: Contact your celebrant for advice on how to proceed. You will receive a prompt reply, based on the urgency often associated with funerals. Humanist funeral ceremonies are highly personal; it will celebrate the life of the person who has died and their relationships with families and friends. It will be respectful of the grief of the mourners.

If you have questions other that those answered here, contact a Celebrant. You can have a chat with no obligations and get friendly and helpful advice.