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Northern Ireland humanist marriage venues allowed to reopen

Photo credit Emma Kenny.

Venues used for humanist marriages are allowed to reopen from today, after a strong majority of such venues were required to close during the recent lockdown.

The regulations, during the two-week lockdown, required venues that normally serve food or drink to close – regardless of whether they were actually serving food or drink. This affected many humanist couples, who frequently choose to get married in such locations. By contrast, places of worship were allowed to stay open for religious marriages, and register offices were allowed to open for civil marriages.

But the situation has now reverted back to how it was before the lockdown, with the venues allowed to reopen for humanist weddings. Numbers are now determined by the size of the venue, based on what is possible with social distancing.

Northern Ireland Humanists Coordinator Boyd Sleator said: ‘We are glad to see this issue resolved. Over the last two weeks, we have been doing everything we can to help couples affected by this problem, including helping with emergency changes of plans, and are pleased that most were still able to have their big days.

‘We also lobbied hard for change. We met with two Executive ministers as well as relevant officials. They were unable to fix the issue before the new regulations came into force today, but assured us that they will do what they can to avoid a similar problem occurring again, if there are any future lockdowns.’


For further comment or information, please contact Northern Ireland Humanists Coordinator Boyd Sleator at or phone 02890 029946.

A humanist wedding is a non-religious ceremony conducted by a humanist celebrant who shares the beliefs and values of the couple. It differs from a civil wedding in that it is entirely personalised and reflective of the humanist beliefs and values of the couple. Humanists UK has provided these ceremonies for over 120 years.

Humanist marriages have been legally recognised in Northern Ireland since 2018.

Read our previous comment, ‘Humanist couples most hurt by Northern Ireland Covid lockdown wedding rules’.

Read more about our work on humanist marriages.

Northern Ireland Humanists is part of Humanists UK, working with the Humanist Association of Ireland. Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by 100,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.

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