New law finally paves the way for outdoor weddings
AS many as 60 couples will celebrate an outdoor wedding in Ireland this year after a decision was announced paving the way for secular weddings to take place outdoors.
Attorney General Maire Whelan clarified that ceremonies were legally allowed to take place in outdoor venues, once they are 'open to the public'.
Brian Whiteside, the director of ceremonies of the Humanist Association of Ireland (HAI), said that he was "absolutely delighted that common sense had finally prevailed".
He expects that this will set a new trend, encouraging more couples to choose the Irish outdoors as a prime location for exchanging vows.
Legislation was passed in 2012, making it legal to conduct wedding ceremonies in any place that is open to the public.
However, the HAI, which promotes an 'ethical life without religion', received a directive last year from the Office of General Registrar, saying that a place that is open to the public only refers to a building.
Mr Whiteside explained that the HAI then turned to Ivana Bacik and Tanaiste Joan Burton, who had helped them in their original attempt in 2012.
He expects that the association's 14 celebrants will preside over 600 ceremonies in 2014, with 10pc of these taking place at outdoor venues.
"It's not even about the number of people wanting to do this, it's a simple question of why shouldn't these people be able to do this?" said Mr Whiteside.
The celebrant admitted that he had many brides crying down the phone to him over the past year because they weren't able to have the wedding that they had originally planned.
"A lot of couples were very upset that they had to make compromises for their own wedding day," he said.
"Today's decision takes the heartache out organising their special day."
Until the Attorney General's announcement, the Office of General Registrar had prohibited weddings from taking place in marquees, gazebos, parks and hotel roof gardens.
Mr Whiteside explained that this made for very restrictive limitations for anyone who wished to have a large wedding party.
"Some hotels simply don't have the capacity to hold more than 150 people, sometimes it just doesn't make sense to have it outside," he said.
Weddings will only be recognised by the Office of General Registrar if they take place at a venue with an identifiable location.
Mr Whiteside said that places such as Malahide Castle in Dublin and several locations in Dublin are some of the "stunning locations" that couples choose to host their weddings.