We’re joined in our wedding vendor spotlight by wedding celebrant Dara Molloy. Dara kindly gave us a few moments of his time to find out more about him, and what he offers as a wedding celebrant.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was a Roman Catholic priest living in Dublin who came to Inis MÃ³r, Aran Islands, to live as a hermit in 1985. I needed to get away from institutional life and back into nature and culture. In 1995 I left the institutional church altogether and set myself up as a freelance priest to be of service to those who were like me … alienated from official religion.
What inspires you?
The Celtic spiritual tradition inspires me, both the pre-Christian mythology, legends and traditions and the Celtic Christianity that emerged through the Irish monasteries up to the 12th century.
Tell us about the ceremonies you perform. Is there a format like a tradition wedding ceremony in a church?
My wedding ceremonies do have a structure similar to church weddings in that there is an entrance, and there are readings, the vows and rings, blessings and sometimes prayers. However, where my ceremony differs from church ceremonies is that the content and structure is totally dictated by the couple and not by me. I give the couple options and the couple decides.
Also, we often have in the ceremony rituals like handfasting, the blessing of the four elements, honouring of parents, remembrances, and a blessing of oil for health and water for protection on the marriage. Some of these elements come from the Celtic tradition. My ceremonies are relaxed and fun.
Does the couple have to be religious?
No, my ceremonies are spiritual but not necessarily religious. Couples can include some religion in the ceremony if they wish, or they can leave it out totally.
What’s the difference between the ceremonies you perform and civil and religious wedding ceremonies?
My ceremonies have no legal standing with either the state or with any church. They are ceremonies designed to be a celebration and blessing of the marriage in a spiritual way. The ceremony can include family and friends or the couple can choose to have the ceremony alone with the celebrant.
How involved are you in the preparation for each wedding ceremony?
Totally involved. After the first contact, I send the couple a large email package containing an outline of the ceremony with options, a document with a large selection of invocations, prayers, readings, wordings for vows and rings, and blessings. I also send them photographs of the four different ways in which I can dress for the ceremony: as a priest, monk, druid or layperson.
If the couple’s ceremony is on Inis MÃ³r, I also put them in touch with all the other services on the island which they may require. After that, we to and fro via email, chat on the phone and skype, and sometimes meet up in advance of the wedding. On the day, I am generally there an hour or more before the ceremony and if possible I have a last chat with each of them before the ceremony begins. Sometimes we have a rehearsal the night before.
What’s your favourite moment to date from your job?
A wedding I performed in Pennsylvania where I spent a week living with the couple and their arriving guests in an old mansion which the family communally owned. Each day we spent an hour or two discussing and planning the ceremony. When the day eventually came, the ceremony was very special. It took place in the gardens in glorious sunshine.
Have you received any unusual requests?
Yes, I have performed a wedding ceremony on a boat (the Corrib Princess in Galway) as we sailed up the river. I have also performed a ceremony on an uninhabited island off the Dingle Peninsula. Other outdoor venues have included ringsforts, beaches, mountains and people’s back gardens.
Do you perform weddings for same sex couples?
Yes, these ceremonies are a regular part of my work.
Have you seen many changes since you started your performing wedding ceremonies?
The legal situation regarding marriage in the State has changed considerably over the years. About seven years ago, people got the option to use a hotel or other location for the registration of their marriage rather than just go to the registry office. This broadened their options. Then last year the Civil Partnership legislation was enacted which gave gay couples an option for a ceremony they did not have before. The demise of the Catholic Church has driven many people away from organised religion and these people are now looking for something alternative that will still retain the spiritual element. These are the people that often come to me and their numbers are increasing.
Do you feel an increasing number of couples are endeavouring to make their ceremony unique and personal to them?
Yes certainly. Couples rightly want control over their special day and many are no longer satisfied with being dictated to by church authorities. Sadly, the options for them to create something unique and personal are still quite limited and it is hard to find a celebrant who will be of real service rather than impose his or her own agenda.
What is the best piece of advice you would give to couples planning their wedding?
Don’t be limited by society’s expectations or by family pressure. It is your day and it should reflect who you are, your values and your vision. Be imaginative, push out the envelope and break the mould.
Where can we find you?
phone: 099 61245, 087 2795642