Sheela-na-Gig aka Jeanne Rathbone

Humanist Wedding Celebrant Galway

Posted in Humanist Wedding Celebrant in Galway by sheelanagigcomedienne on January 4, 2016


I am an accredited Humanist Wedding celebrant of the British Humanist Association based in London but I come from Galway and I regularly return. I am not a registered wedding solemniser in Ireland. I am aware, that as Humanist/non-religious weddings are becoming ever more popular in Ireland,especially since the welcome change in the  law giving equal recognition to same sex marriages, there can a shortage of celebrants available. This is why I am happy to conduct Humanist weddings in the Galway area.

Wedding in a Chateau near Amiens

Wedding in a Chateau near Amiens

As Humanist celebrants we do namings, weddings and funerals. These rite-of-passage ceremonies are also known as hatchings, matchings and dispatchings. For those many couples who are no longer religious believers and do not want to follow the tradition of getting married in a Catholic wedding ceremony then our  ceremonies are right for them.

Wedding in the Wetlands Centre Barnes London

Charlotte reading her vows to  Lloyd at their wedding in the Wetlands Centre Barnes London

Our ceremonies are personal and therefore each one is specific and not formulaic like religious/civil ceremonies. They are real and humorous and reflect the lives, personalities and values of those taking part. The participants make commitments publicly and say the important things that need to be said before their family and friends. It is family and friends who are crucial to us as Humanists and not a deity. It is they who support us when we need them and who share in the vicissitudes of our lives, who laugh and cry with us and who sometimes drive us mad. For us Humanists it is those people that we love along with science, wonderful nature, our empathy with others and the arts that constitute our spirituality and give meaning to our lives and guide our morality. I often remark that as a celebrant I will not have done my job properly unless there is laughter and tears!

Humanism is very much about  equality between men and women. Many of our ceremonies and couples will eschew some of the elements of ‘traditional white weddings’. This includes  the never-to-be-worn-again white bridal gown which was introduced and popularised by Queen Victoria to signify chastity and virginity! I think it is sensible and rational that a couples would  have lived together before they got married. I don’t marry virgins. Some couples do not like the idea of the bride being handed over – ‘given away’ – by her father to another man but both bride and groom might come in together or with their parents/guardians as well as their entourage of ‘best’people.


Best dog in charge of the rings at a wedding in the rookery garden Streatham

I like the wedding ceremony to contain a section entitled ‘The Story so far- why we are here today?  This often includes a brief profile of each of the couple, the story of them meeting, the dynamics of their relationship and domestic life. This can be presented by different friends/family members. This along with readings/poems can involve many people. Indeed, sometimes much of what might have been included in speeches afterwards can be incorporated in the ceremony.

Grand piano being played at a wedding on the bandstand Clapham Common

Grand piano being played at a wedding on the bandstand Clapham Common

When it comes to the vows I think the couple should read them to each rather using the ‘repeat after me’ formula. After all, it comes from a time when people were illiterate. Also I would encourage that they have some personal and funny vows along with their more serious ones.

Most European countries separate the legal registration from the wedding ceremony. I believe that the legal registration should be separated from the wedding ceremony. This gives couples freedom to hold their ceremony wherever, whenever they wish and what the content should be. Furthermore, because of the way that the laws have been formulated whereby some venues have been registered for wedding the prices for them have disgracefully rocketed. So, if you separate the marriage registration from the ceremony you can hold your wedding anywhere – in a house, garden, park, field or beach.

A windswept me conducting a wedding on Brighton beach for Sally and Steve who were grandparents and been together for decades.

A windswept me conducting a wedding on Brighton beach for Sally and Steve who were grandparents and been together for decades.

I am increasingly conducting combined Wedding/Baby Naming which are chosen by many couples who want a low-key, inexpensive but meaningful ceremony after they have started a family. These can easily be arranged within weeks and avoid the stresses often associated with organising weddings.

Cake for a Naming/Wedding Ceremony

Cake for a Naming/Wedding Ceremony

I am also prepared to help couples to produce their wedding script which can be delivered by a family member or friend. My fee for ceremony preparation/consultation and script to be used by a family member/friend is €150. My fee for weddings in Galway is €450.

So, if this sounds like the sort of wedding you would like please do get in touch. A quick telephone call initially will help you decide if this would suit you. My number is 00 44 207 228 2327 and  I will return your call using my free telephone charge.

Jeanne Rathbone – Humanist Ceremonies


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