Lauren and Chris’s wedding at a castle in Northern Ireland was a beautiful, emotional affair. Lauren tells us how a humanist wedding helped her and her husband Chris stay true to themselves and each other.
When Lauren and Chris told their friends and family that they were planning an outdoor wedding in November, it raised some eyebrows.
‘Everyone thought we were crazy, getting married outside, in November!’ remembers Lauren. ‘They asked: “Are you serious? Are you sure?” They thought we’d freeze or that it would rain. My response was “Well, if it rains, then we’ll get wet!”’
Both the setting and the date – 19 November 2021 – had a deep meaning for the couple.
‘We chose that day because it was the second anniversary of our first date,’ says Lauren. ‘Although we were both brought up Catholic, we’re not religious, so having a wedding in a chapel didn’t feel right for us. Chris and I spent a lot of time outdoors together, we love being outside. That’s what drew us to this venue.’
They didn’t choose just any outdoor wedding venue. Lauren and Chris had their wedding at Dunseverick Castle in Northern Ireland – an ancient ruin on a narrow peninsula by the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by stunning views. And, as humanist marriages have legal recognition in Northern Ireland, there was no need to meet with the registrar beforehand.
‘The castle belongs to the National Trust. There had never been a wedding there before. But once we had seen it, my heart was set on it. I didn’t care what we had to do to make it happen. I work as a photographer, so it was very important to me what the photos of the wedding day would look like. Photos have such a powerful way of taking you back.
‘We asked permission, but they were not familiar with the idea that humanist weddings can take place anywhere. We had to educate and persuade them.’
‘The logistics were tricky,’ she admits. ‘It was really steep, we were a bit worried about our parents having to trek up the hill, so we provided hiking poles for anyone who needed extra help. But, on the day, we had perfect weather.’
Their commitment to holding the wedding ceremony on their anniversary also made it difficult to find an available celebrant. But as soon as Lauren and Chris met humanist celebrant Trevor Molloy, everything fell into place.
‘Trevor came to our home to talk with us. By the end of the meeting, it felt like he was one of our uncles. He really paid attention to our story and who we were. We loved how fluid and flexible our wedding could be. Having a humanist wedding gave us the permission to be ourselves.’
In preparing his script for the wedding, Trevor spoke to Lauren and Chris separately about each other. ‘That was totally his idea,’ says Lauren. ‘I think it helped us say what we really felt, and there was no pressure to say the “right thing”.’
Their celebrant also supported the couple’s decision to exchange written vows, which they each read silently during the ceremony, rather than speaking them out loud.
‘We wanted to make sure, even though we were sharing the day with our families, that we stayed true to each other as a couple. The vows were like a pact between the two of us. We were ready for questions afterwards about what we had said, but there were none, everyone respected what we had chosen to do.’
‘Every part of the ceremony had to have a meaning. I have two children from a previous marriage, so the ceremony was not just about Chris and me, but the four of us joining together into a family, which is why we chose to include a handfasting.
‘For the handfasting, we all chose different coloured ribbons. Each child chose their own colour – Colin had yellow, his favourite colour, and Arrell, my daughter, loves pink. It was not only important for the children to be part of the ceremony, but also to be there as individuals, expressing their own personalities and preferences.
‘We all joined hands, and the ribbons were laid over the top, then we physically tied them into a knot. That’s where the saying ‘tied the knot’ comes from!’
‘For anyone planning a humanist wedding, my advice would be simply to stay true to who you are as a couple. Trust yourselves and your gut feelings.
‘When we look back on the day, everything happened exactly the way it was supposed to. We didn’t spend a huge amount, and we were true to who we were. The people who really mattered to us were there.
‘Everything about the day should give you the same feeling that you got when you decided to marry your partner. If you’re not in love with any of your choices, don’t go for them.’
Our heartfelt thanks to Lauren and Chris for sharing their unique story and to Julie Proctor from Treasure and Heart Photography for the stunning images.
Trevor Molloy is a full time humanist celebrant based in Northern Ireland who conducts ceremonies full of fun, laughter, joy and happiness. You can get in touch with Trevor via his website or look him up on Instagram.
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Your ceremony will focus on your love story. It can include unique vows, readings, poems, and any symbolic acts you choose.
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