The Different Rituals Of A Humanist Ceremony, Explained By Deborah R

Alternative and humanist ceremonies are becoming hugely popular with Irish wedding couples. So we caught up with Celebrity Wedding Celebrant, Deborah R, who shared the different elements you can incorporate into your vows to make it a truly meaningful occasion.


This is a beautiful ‘earth-centred’ ceremony, clearly focused on nature. One year and a day after being handfasted, the couple may return to the celebrant and repeat their vows with the cords or ribbons tightly knotted to make the commitment binding. This symbolizes the intent to have a permanent relationship. This ritual is the source of the expression “to tie the knot.”♥ The ‘Knot’ Ceremony – Sometimes a couple prefer a Traditional Wedding Ceremony and include a handfasting as part of their ceremony – immediately after saying their vows. This is becoming increasingly popular in traditional wedding celebration ceremonies.

The Unity Candle

A Unity Candle element can easily be added to any marriage ceremony. It is placed near the end of the ceremony, following the exchange of the rings. However, the mothers usually light the two outer candles as they are escorted forward at the beginning of the ceremony. The unity candle set consists of two slender candles (called tapers) and a large centre candle. They are usually white. The Unity Candle ceremony is a popular choice for both religious and non-religious ceremonies because it is non-denominational and has no religious significance. The two outer candles represent your individual lives before today. They represent all that you are from your vast experiences, and they represent your individual families. As you each take a single candle and light the centre candle, you will extinguish your individual candles. Often, couples choose to blow out each other’s candle. This represents the closing of your past chapters as you embark together on your new journey through life.

Sand Ceremony

The “Blending of the Sands” ceremony can be a beautiful and meaningful alternative to the ” Unity Candle” ceremony. Like a unity candle, the pouring of two different coloured sands together is used to symbolize the joining of the couple or the joining of their families. Sand from the desert, a favourite beach or vacation spot also works. This ceremony requires three small vials or vases, one for you and your other half to pour the sand into and two for each of you to pour the sand from. Each of the two vases of coloured sand symbolizes the separate lives of each party. The two outside vases can be used later to display fresh flowers following the wedding. Some couples pour the sand from two sea shells. You can put your vase containing your combined sand on display as a constant reminder of your special day! If your wedding ceremony is being performed on a beach, I will scoop up a little sand from the beach with a sea shell and pour it into the small bottle to symbolize the building of the foundation of the relationship and to give you a memento directly from the beach. The combined sand makes a wonderful wedding keepsake and a serves as a constant reminder of the promises you made on their wedding day.

The Loving Cup

The use of the wine cup or ‘Loving Cup’ at a wedding is an ancient tradition. By the 15th century it was common for our Celtic ancestors to toast each other with a ceremonial Loving Cup. In Scotland this cup is known as a quaich, which comes from the Celtic word cuach, meaning cup. The Loving Cup ceremony also has its roots in Irish, French and Jewish cultures. Today there are different versions of the Loving Cup. The traditional quaich is shaped like a two-handled bowl and often has an inlaid Celtic design.The purpose of the Loving Cup ceremony is for the couple to share their first drink together as newlyweds and to show the coming together of two families. Special words can be added to include the your parents (and friends) as part of this ceremony. The cup is then passed down from generation to generation, ensuring happiness and good fortune to all who drink from it. This is a special moment for the couple to toast their love, devotion, and friendship.

Jumping The Broom

Jumping the broom is a time-honoured wedding tradition in which the couple jumps over a broom during the ceremony. The act symbolizes a new beginning and a sweeping away of the past, and can also signify the joining of two families or offer a respectful nod to family ancestors. For all of these reasons, jumping the broom is an increasingly popular part of many modern wedding ceremonies. Today’s wedding brooms, however, are a far cry from those first used in jumping the broom ceremonies. They’re still made with a wooden handle and natural bristles, but they’re kept as treasured keepsakes and probably never actually used to sweep the floor.

For more information on booking Deborah as your wedding celebrant, you can see her WeddingDates listing here and check availability for your special day.

Deborah R

Deborah R is Ireland's only celebrity wedding celebrant. Best known as a renowned Love Guru and Psychic from her days on Classic Hits 4fm, she has also appeared on TV3 and RTE. Deborah has each couple's interest at heart and is committed to giving you her undivided attention when planning your wedding ceremony.

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