Evelyn & Nathan's quirky Humanist wedding in an Irish castle

By on Oct. 26th
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Photos by Shane O'Sullivan and Adele Cunningham of SOSAC Photography

The Offbeat Bride: Evelyn, Youth Justice Worker (and Tribe member)

Her offbeat partner: Nathan, Photographer

Date and location of wedding: Blackrock Castle Observatory and Boardwalk Bar, Cork City, Ireland — May 19, 2012

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Nathan and I wanted our wedding to really reflect who we are: fun-loving and just a little bit quirky. Having had zero wedding ideas prior to being proposed to, I started with the only thing I was sure of: making my own brooch/button bouquet with pieces from both of my deceased grandmothers, as well as pieces from my mum and aunt. It almost felt like they were, in a way, walking down the aisle with me.

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Our friend Arran, a circus performer, gifted us with greeting our guests at the castle in a top hat and tails… and on stilts! That was a very cool touch and a nice surprise for our guests.

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My colleague, Denise, chauffeured us on the day in her 1979 Volkswagen van which she had decorated with purple ribbon, draped fabrics and, most importantly, a "just married" banner and another cool drawing made by the young people we work with (we're youth workers)!

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Our ceremony was in an amazing venue, Blackrock Castle Observatory in Cork City. We filled the castle with tons of candles and fairy lights so it looked romantic. The pristine white walls and the faint blue glow from the windows produced an effect akin to an ice cavern. After the ceremony, while Nathan and I were busy getting photos taken, our guests had a tour of the castle and observatory, learning all sorts of science-y things.

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Tell us about the ceremony: We were keen to have a ceremony that reflected our Humanist beliefs. We didn't want a church wedding, and although registry weddings can be lovely, we were after something more spiritual. As atheists, we found it very fitting that we would get married in a place of science and have a very spiritual and individual ceremony.

EN157We incorporated a ring warming into our ceremony, which was new to our guests. This is so special because everybody got to "warm" our rings and make a wish for us, which makes us feel supported by our family and friends in the commitment that we made. Moreover, the ring warming allowed our more religious guests to say a prayer without us having to incorporate religion into the ceremony. Now, our rings are not just a constant reminder to the commitment we made, but a reminder that we have support in our marriage from our 80 guests.

Anybody who knows me knows that I'm a huge animal lover who always had a pet dog growing up. Therefore, having Nathan's equally animal-loving brother recite "Everything I Need to Know I Learned From My Dog" was incredibly special:

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If you stare at someone long enough, eventually you'll get what you want.
If at first you don't succeed, beg.
Be direct with people; let them know exactly how you feel by peeing on their shoes.
Leave room in your schedule for a good nap.
Always give people a friendly greeting.
When you do something wrong, always take responsibility for it (as soon as you're dragged out from under the bed).
If it's not wet and sloppy, it's not a real kiss.
Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.
When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
When it's in your best interest, practice obedience.
Let others know when they've invaded your territory.
Run, romp and play daily.
Eat with gusto and enthusiasm.
Be loyal.
If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
On hot days, drink lots of water and lay under a shady tree.
Always turn around three times before lying down.
When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
No matter how often you're scolded, don't buy into the guilt thing and pout…run right back and make friends.
Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently.
Always share your favourite toy.
Don't pass up a chance to snuggle.
Never take attention for granted.
Always kiss the ones who are mad at you to make it better.

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Our biggest challenge: Firstly, it was really difficult to find a reception venue that was suitable for us. We went to see a few places that looked nice, but the attitude of the wedding coordinators was incredibly disappointing in that they pooh-poohed our ideas and were not very accommodating to my vegetarian catering needs. We extended our search to warehouses, gardens of local pubs, and community centres, all of which had similar problems.

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We were beginning to get despondent when we found the really quirky Corona Lounge at the Boardwalk and spoke to their wonderful wedding coordinator who not only listened to and accepted our ideas, but had some wonderful offbeat suggestions herself. Finding a wedding coordinator who gets you is so important. The day before the wedding, we dropped in all our centrepieces and other décor and were able to relax knowing that they understood what we wanted and would decorate accordingly. That said, we didn't need to decorate much since this lounge had a motorbike on a wall, cool mirrors, nests, and pictures of Thin Lizzy and Marilyn Monroe.

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The second challenge was creating our menu. As a vegetarian, it was very important to me that our guests had the opportunity to sample some tasty veggie food. As Nathan is pretty much a carnivore, we went with a half veggie/half meat buffet option, with the aim that people could try both. Despite this being an exclusively omnivore restaurant, their head chef went out of his way to create the most scrumptious vegan dish: Red Thai curry with roasted butternut squash and lemon-scented rice.

My favorite moment: We asked our DJ to play "Bohemian Rhapsody" at the end of the night, as it is one of our favourite songs. It was just amazing when all our guests formed a circle on the dance floor and young and old sang and started head banging.

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My funniest moment: Nathan's nephew, Jacob, was our ring bearer and very excited to be part of our day. That was, until it came to walking down the aisle. He totally bottled it, and ended up being carried down the aisle, crying his eyes out, by the wedding coordinator! Lesson learned: practice more with the little ones.

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My advice for Offbeat Brides: Keep discussions with your partner on your wedding priorities/theme open and honest. Compromise. If your partner is really uncomfortable with something you'd like, don't force it. I had many ideas for our wedding that were just too offbeat for Nathan, so I learned to let some things go and find solutions. I think that if you can get through the wedding planning process and still want to marry your partner, then you're on to a good thing.

Join the Offbeat Bride Tribe! It's a fantastically supportive place.

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If you have a lot of out-of-town guests, like we did, try to make their experience as affordable and easy as possible. All of our out-of-town guests got a "welcome pack" containing a "Whazon" leaflet, information on the wedding and, most importantly, a hangover kit! We also booked a bright pink double-decker bus to transport people from the hotel to the ceremony and then to the reception venue. It looked like loads of fun on the bus and the bonus was that it is more environmentally-friendly and we could ensure that nobody drank and drove.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

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