Humanist weddings in Northern Ireland: everything you need to know

Humanist weddings in Northern Ireland: everything you need to know

Outdoor humanist wedding photo by Simple Tapestry
The Martins’ wedding by Simple Tapestry

Humanist weddings are legally recognised in Northern Ireland, which means couples can get married in a humanist ceremony and complete legal documentation at the same time. (Marriage law is different in different parts of the UK and crown dependencies.)

When did humanist weddings become legal in Northern Ireland?

Humanist weddings gained legal recognition in Northern Ireland in 2018.

Who were the first couple to have a legally recognised humanist wedding in Northern Ireland?

Model Laura Lacole and footballer Eunan O’Kane succeeded at the High Court and were able to have their legal humanist marriage in June 2017.

The Northern Ireland government appealed the decision, which resulted in the need for a further court ruling, so it wasn’t until August 2018 that others could have them and the next legal humanist wedding took place. Couple Emma Taylor and Paul Malone, said:

‘We’re tremendously excited to be one of the first couples to be having a legal humanist marriage. When we started planning our wedding, we knew we wanted something highly personal that is all about who we are as a couple, and that’s what humanist marriages offer. We think that many people in Northern Ireland will have the same view, so we’re very pleased that the law is changing.’

How do you arrange a humanist wedding in Northern Ireland?

Couples wishing to have a legal humanist marriage with a celebrant trained and accredited by Northern Ireland Humanists (part of Humanists UK) simply need to state on their notice of marriage form that they will be using a humanist celebrant. Separately, your celebrant will need to fill in an authorisation form.

Northern Ireland Humanists celebrants, who are part of the Humanist Ceremonies™ network maintained by Humanists UK, are the only celebrants who are authorised to conduct legal humanist marriages in Northern Ireland. Be sure to get the real deal!

How popular are humanist weddings in Northern Ireland?

Since they have been legally recognised, numbers of humanist marriages in Northern Ireland have skyrocketed, as more and more people appreciate the opportunity to make their special day all about them, their values, and their love.

Can we have a legally recognised, same-sex humanist wedding in Northern Ireland?

Of course! Humanist ceremonies are inclusive celebrations and all our celebrants are happy to conduct same-sex weddings.

Laura and Erica's humanist wedding by Simon Hutchinson
Laura and Erica’s wedding by Simon Hutchinson

And, as of 2020, same-sex weddings are legal in Northern Ireland! We expect lots of proposals this Valentine’s Day.

Can we get married in Northern Ireland if we don’t live there?

You can! Northern Ireland is perfect for destination weddings. The region’s breath-taking natural beauty, lush landscapes, shimmering lakes, striking coastlines, and historic buildings make it an increasingly popular wedding destination for couples from around the world. Humanist marriages conducted in Northern Ireland are legally recognised everywhere.

Find a celebrant in Northern Ireland today!

Featured photographers

Simon Hutchinson

Simple Tapestry

'My humanist ceremony was the most special day of my life. All my family were blown away. Both my parents said that they'd never been to a wedding that was more personal or heartfelt.'
Madeleine, 34

Read our wedding blog for feature ideas, inspiration, top tips, and real-life humanist wedding stories.

If you're planning your wedding now, then contact a celebrant as early as possible.