Barbara’s celebrancy service allows you to get married your way

Barbara’s celebrancy service allows you to get married your way

A local woman has recently set up a new service for people looking for the traditional church wedding without having to marry into one of the Christian faiths.

Barbara Finegan’s My Wedding My Way service offers bespoke weddings, vow renewals and even baby naming ceremonies.

With the numbers following the traditional faiths dwindling and the number of people divorced or separated growing, there is a greater demand for people who want to get married in different ways. Proof of this was seen earlier this year when a deconsecrated church opened at Woodside Chapel in Castlebellingham to allow people to wed in a church atmosphere without signing up to the values of a particular religion.

With many people wanting to do their wedding, their way Barbara spotted a gap in the market

A Spanish, French and religion teacher in Dun Lughaidh in Dundalk, she revealed how the new venture came to be.

She said: “In November 2015 two very good friends of mine were getting married in Co Meath. He had been married before so a formal church wedding wasn’t an option for them. They were people of faith so they still wanted some kind of spiritual aspect to their wedding and found it extremely hard to get somebody who falls in under that band.

“People at the moment feel that they don’t want a formal church wedding as they don’t necessarily sign up to all of the values that that stands for but equally so they’re not necessarily humanists where they believe this is it and there’s nothing beyond that. There is a gap in the market there.

“My friends didn’t feel that they were being served properly by what they were getting and they came to me to ask me about some poems and some readings and whether or not I would perform them. I performed two of them on the day and they told me I should definitely be doing celebrancy. They wished they had realised about celebrancy sooner and that I could have married them.”

Having dismissed the idea a few years previously, that sparked Barbara’s interest in a serious way.

Barbara Finegan

She said: “I contacted the Irish Institute of Celebrants. Lorraine Mancey O’Brien is running that and she did an interview with me over the phone because not everybody is accepted onto the course.

“I did an interview and signed up for the course which began the following January. The course was fascinating. It was a mixture of theory, a mixture of the history of marriage, how it’s celebrated throughout the world, added together with acting, voice coaching, and even your body language was pulled to pieces.

“Weddings are very emotive occasions because people may have lost love ones so there was work on how to deal with those occasions, how to take them seriously and to help people express the loss that’s there while at the same time keeping it a happy occasion. There was a whole lot more to it than I expected and I really enjoyed it.

“I did my exam in January. We had a mock wedding in front of guests with three judges at the back. Celebrancy is very interesting in that you are the centre of the day but it’s not about you in the slightest.”

The event went so well that the ‘test case couple’ invited her to perform their wedding afterwards in Termonfeckin.

On the day they performed a traditional Celtic handfasting which brought the couple’s parents very much into the ceremony.

That is just one example of how a wedding can be tailored to suit the desires of the couple.

Barbara said: “The love story is very central to the celebrancy ceremony where people feel they get to know the couple.

“My ideal client experience is that they don’t know what my belief is or what my faith is because I don’t have an agenda or a philosophy. I take their story and their interests and reflect it back to them in their ceremony.

“One of the things that drew me to celebrancy is that I’m fascinated by people and by their stories. I think people at this moment in time feel that their choice is formal faith or humanism and there’s nothing in between. There’s also people coming to me who are having mixed faith ceremonies, there’s also people coming to me who maybe have a very religious family member who is devastated that they are not getting married in church and who is maybe thinking of not joining the ceremony but the beauty of celebrancy is that you can bring in their favourite reading or prayer and they feel they had a part to play within the ceremony.

“You can get married literally under the apple tree in the garden to a hotel or to possibly a deconsecrated church so it’s a wide scope,” she said.

For further details on Barbara’s service visit, call 085 1656742 or email

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