Archive for the ‘Humanist weddings’ Category

A lovely thank you for a Humanist wedding

Friday, August 18th, 2017

A thank you is always welcome, soon or long after a ceremony. This lovely one arrived on 1 August 2017 (uploaded with permission of the bride):

Hi Joe,

I am almost embarrassed how long it has taken me to write this email to you. This is also the hardest thank you as I don’t know where to start and I don’t know how to put it into words just how amazing you made our wedding ceremony. I will give it my best shot though!

Our ceremony was by far our favourite part of our wedding day. It was everything we had dreamed of and more. A relaxed setting and a fun and welcoming atmosphere. Your ability to make people laugh, cry and feel at home still amazes us. The way you pick up on any mistake we or our readers had made and turned it around to make it funny and as if it was supposed to happen was what made the ceremony even more fun.

In our video, after the ceremony the guests are congratulating us, absolutely everyone who approached us made comments on how it was the best service ever, that was the best craic ever, such an emotional ceremony, that was great idea, that Joe lad is some craic, I want to do that for my wedding, I wish I had that for my wedding, I will never have a church ceremony after that…… The list goes on.

We had Thank You cards and endless texts and emails from our guests saying it was the best wedding they had ever been to and their favourite part was the ceremony, this to me says it all as when do you ever hear that? Normally people see the church part as the formal bit you need to get out of the way before you can start having fun, I myself dread going to the church part of a wedding!. As myself and James say, it wasn’t us that made it the best day ever, it was Joe Armstrong and Bellingham Castle. The only thing we done was make the two best decisions, to have Joe Armstrong as our celebrant and to have Bellingham Castle as our venue.

I remember on the day, making my way to the ceremony, forgetting I had to breathe, my mind panicking and feeling like I might just collapse, you came out and cracked a joke and from there I was relaxed and ready for the day!

So Joe, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you for giving us the wedding we have always wanted.

– Grainne and James – Humanist wedding conducted at Bellingham Castle 15 April 2016

You can see a video of Grainne and James’s Humanist wedding below. For many more examples of unsolicited praise received for Humanist wedding ceremonies click here.

HUMANIST WEDDING CEREMONY of Grainne and James conducted by Joe Armstrong,  Friday, 15 April 2016, at Bellingham Castle, Co. Louth. Video edited by Liutauras Kepenis (www.liutaspictures.ie Email: info@liutaspictures.ie 0857288202) and John Armstrong (johna.artstation.com Email:johnarmstrong3@gmail.com)

What are Humanist weddings like?

Saturday, February 25th, 2017

People who have never attended a Humanist wedding often ask me what they are like. Well, best listen to those who have had them! Read feedback post-ceremony from dozens of people whose Humanist marriage ceremonies I have been privileged to help create and conduct by clicking here.


4th time one of my Humanist weddings on OneFabDay

Thursday, September 8th, 2016

Yup, it’s the fourth time one of my Humanist wedding ceremonies has featured on One Fab Day. You can see selected pictures from it (and lots more by clicking on my Pinterest board) or by clicking on the OneFabDay link.

Pictures of Humanist Wedding conducted by Joe Armstrong

Wednesday, December 24th, 2014

For lovely pictures of a Humanist wedding I recently conducted for Lisa and Ciaran in Dundalk, County Louth, click here.

That’s Humanism: Four animated videos about Humanism narrated by Stephen Fry

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

The British Humanist Association has broadcast four excellent and very short videos narrated by Stephen Fry which answer commonly asked questions. You can watch all four here

How do we know what is true?

What should we think about death?

What makes something right or wrong?

How can I be happy?

For more details about Humanism and lots of links to find out more, click here.

What people like about Humanist weddings

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

Taking a look at unsolicited feedback that we have received after conducting Humanist wedding ceremonies, here is a list of some of the things people liked about them:

In no particular order, Humanist wedding ceremonies are…

  • personal
  • about the couple
  • inclusive
  • beautiful
  • intimate
  • special
  • moving and touching
  • enjoyable
  • non-religious
  • relaxed, easy going and full of happiness
  • balanced by laughter and solemnity
  • designed by the couple and celebrant

Humanist ceremonies:

  • involve family and friends
  • often include simple participation by the couple’s parents
  • often include any children of the couple
  • meet and often exceed a couple’s expectations, hopes and dreams
  • include the couple’s choice of rituals, like candles, sand, handfasting, and rose ceremonies


Five tips for planning your Humanist wedding ceremony

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

I have been so busy over the summer that the only additions I have made to my website were uploading unsolicited feedback that I have received for Humanist ceremonies that I have conducted (see ‘Unsolicited feedback’ tabs for weddings and funerals on right of my Home page).

I continue to enjoy conducting Humanist ceremonies. Each one is different. It is a privilege to be with people at key turning points in their lives – births, weddings and funerals – celebrations of a life well lived.

Such is the demand for our services that we often have to turn down requests to officiate at ceremonies. We frequently get several requests for ceremonies to be conducted on the same day. That is normally impossible so the people who book us first get the booking.

Five tips if you are planning your Humanist wedding ceremony:

  • Make sure that your venue is open to the public. Some venues sell their services on the basis that they are ‘exclusive’ or ‘private’. Well, sorry, folks but you cannot legally get married at such a venue. There cannot be signs up saying ‘Private Function’ or ‘No access to the public’ or anything like that. In fact, for your wedding to be legal, the public must have unrestricted access. Surprisingly, some venues appear not to be aware of this. Any member of the public has the right to pry  at your wedding – and if they can’t, your wedding isn’t legal!
  • When contacting a celebrant, let him or her know:
    • the date of your wedding
    • names of bride and groom
    • your phone number(s) and email address(es)
    • the full name and location of your venue
  • Do you really want a Humanist wedding? Humanist weddings are for non-religious people. They do not involve readings from ‘holy books’ and they don’t involve hymns or ‘holy’ or religious songs. They are secular ceremonies for people who think for themselves and who do not let other people do their thinking for them. There are magnificent secular readings and poems and prose about love, friendship, commitment and marriage. I encourage my couples to choose about four such readings to  include as part of their wedding ceremony. And it’s a lovely way to involve some of your guests, who are usually delighted that you asked them to participate in your ceremony
  • In approaching a celebrant, you do not need to have planned your ceremony in advance. The celebrant will already have quite a bit of experience about what works and what does not work in ceremonies. There is no need to reinvent the wheel for every ceremony. When I meet couples, I guide them through my template and then the couple make choices along the way for what they want to include or exclude. But please also remember that the celebrant is not a parrot of the couple. We also think for ourselves and are people of integrity. Generally, I decide what I shall say at ceremonies and usually people like what I say.
  • I always encourage couples to have live music at their wedding. Sometimes couples haven’t thought about this. They might have musicians booked for later in the evening but they forgot about live music for their wedding ceremony. Music settles people. Many musicians do not charge much to play or sing five or more songs or pieces of music at your marriage ceremony. Do please think about it. You will remember the music long after you have forgotten the words. And live music is almost always better than recorded. What’s more, often some of your guests will be musical and they could provide some or all of your music as you walk through the threshold to married life.


Outdoor wedding ceremonies legal

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

From the Irish Government News Service:
Department of Social Protection confirms that civil marriages may be solemnised outdoors in a place open to the public
Tánaiste – “The option of an outdoor wedding will be welcome news for couples who wish to celebrate their wedding day in a way that is most meaningful to them”

The Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton T.D., has today (15th July 2014) confirmed that marriages can be solemnised outdoors in a place that is open to the public.
The notification, solemnisation and registration of marriages are governed by Part 6 of the Civil Registration Act 2004. Section 51(2) (c) of the Act provides that a registered solemniser “…shall not solemnise a marriage unless the solemnisation takes place in a place that is open to the public”. The Tánaiste said: “There has recently been some uncertainty about the definition of ‘a place that is open to the public’, and in order to clarify the matter, my Department sought advice from the Attorney General. This legal advice has clarified that the definition does include outdoor venues. This will be welcome news for couples wishing to celebrate their wedding day in a way that is most meaningful to them.”
In order to protect both parties to the marriage, the outdoor venue should be readily accessible to the public to avoid the possibility of coercion, fraud or lack of capacity on the part of a party to a marriage, to prevent marriages taking place in secret, and to provide an opportunity for objections.
The Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection published the Civil Registration (Amendment) Bill 2014 on 10 July, 2014 and she will bring forward a Committee Stage amendment to this Bill in the Autumn to further clarify what constitutes an outdoor marriage to ensure that the public policy objective of the provisions of section 51 of the 2004 Act remain intact.
The Tánaiste concluded: “I have just published the Civil Registration (Amendment) Bill 2014 and I will be bringing forward a Committee Stage amendment to this Bill in the Autumn to further clarify what constitutes an outdoor marriage in a place that is open to the public to ensure that the public policy objectives regarding the solemnisation of marriage are upheld. I believe that solemnisers will take a common sense approach to this determination and ensure that the outdoor venues selected are readily accessible to the public.”
Source: MerrionStreet.ie Irish Government News Service