Derry woman and fiance to have first humanist wedding after ruling

Emma Taylor, who is from  Derry, with her fiance Paul Malone who are getting married in a Humanist ceremony tomorrow
Emma Taylor, who is from Derry, with her fiance Paul Malone who are getting married in a Humanist ceremony tomorrow

A Derry woman and her fiance will be the first couple in the North to have a humanist wedding following a court ruling that they must be legally recognised.

In June, the Belfast Court of Appeal ruled that humanist marriages must be legally recognised in Northern Ireland.

A humanist wedding is a non-religious ceremony that is deeply personal and conducted by a humanist celebrant. It differs from a civil wedding in that it is entirely hand-crafted and reflective of the humanist beliefs and values of the couple.

The ceremony is conducted by a celebrant who shares their beliefs and values.

The only previous legal humanist marriage to have taken place in the North before this weekend was that of Laura Lacole and local professional footballer Eunan O’Kane.

They were the couple who took the case to the Court of Appeal to have their wedding legally recognised.

Emma Taylor, who is from the Waterside, and her fiance Paul Malone will be getting marriedin the grounds of Queen’s University in Belfast tomorrow.

She said she always knew that she didn’t want a church wedding.

“I don’t practise religion and I felt it would be hypocritical for me to get married there. When Paul and I started planning our wedding we met our celebrant Stewart Holden and everything he said really resonated with me.”

Emma said they have been able to have ‘more freedom’ over their wedding ceremony.

“It is so personalised to who we are as a couple and we are able to do things we wouldn’t be able to in any other kind of ceremony.”

Emma and her fiance have never been to a humanist wedding and hopes the day will be an experience for all their family and friends.

“We are getting married in Riddel Hall in Queen’s University. The ceremony and the reception will be in the one venue, which we chose because it is where Paul works and we loved it.”

The couple had booked a ceremony in the Registry Office earlier this week, however as a result of the law change they were able to cancel this.

Emma said it meant family didn’t have to make an extra journey to Belfast for the legal ceremony as her humanist wedding is now recognised.

“Being the first couple to have a humanist wedding since the ruling makes it more special”, Emma told the ‘Journal’.

“We are very pleased that the law is changing. It is really exciting because of all the buzz. When we look back in 20 years time it will be something really special to reflect on. Hopefully more people will be having humanist weddings by then too.”