Should You Consider a Humanist Wedding Ceremony?
With only one-third of the population considering themselves Christian and couples looking for something more unique for a wedding ceremony, many are turning to Humanist celebrants to kick off their wedding with a bang!
A humanist wedding is a non-religious celebration that is inclusive and personal, focusing on the love story of the couple.
So is a Humanist wedding ceremony something you should consider?
Personal and Unique
Unlike a registry office wedding, a Humanist celebrant will get to know the couple before the wedding day.
From video calls to a drink in the local pub; you’ll share the story of how you met, the adventures you’ve had and your hopes for the future. Using this information, your celebrant will create a ceremony that is fully focused on the things that are important in the couples lives.
Unlike in church services or ceremonies led by a registrar, unique vows can be made and rituals can be performed (more about that later). There is also the option of your choice of songs, performances and readings, with often less of the set structure of a typical religious ceremony which allows more time to make it really special.
Humanist ceremonies I have witnessed as a Wedding Coordinator have included everyone belting out ‘You’ll Never walk Alone’, having four Grandparents perform a poem with actions (so sweet) and even the groomsmen performing the Haka.
It is certainly time to see the ceremony as more than the boring bit that you get out of the way first. It should set the tone for the rest of the celebrations.
Out with the old
If you have heard one wedding by a registrar you’ve heard them all… including the same one-liners which are often a little bit sexist and probably outdated. Many registrars are really lovely and professional, but not rule-breakers (which we commend them for). Yet there is something romantic in breaking the rules a little. Dogs can be ring bearers. Drinks can be enjoyed.
Another difference is that many churches either won’t allow or will charge you more to allow a videographer, whereas I have never met a Humanist celebrant who hasn’t actively encouraged filming.
An article on the BBC in January wrote that “Covid: Pandemic ‘has highlighted archaic wedding laws’”- and I agree. It’s important to point out that currently if you have a Humanist wedding ceremony in England and Wales, you will still need to do the ‘legal bit’ in the registry office. This can be done at a relatively low cost and be seen purely as paperwork but can be off-putting to some couples.
Humanism UK is currently in a legal battle to get Humanist weddings recognised. This is a campaign that has been fought for years, but by the end of this year, the law commission will publish recommendations on how and where couples can get married.
Hopefully, Humanist ceremonies will be included as it will “allow couples greater choice within a simple, fair and consistent legal structure so that people can have a wedding that’s meaningful to them.” – Law Commission.
The list of rituals that can be carried out at Humanist ceremonies is endless. I have summarised my top 3:
Planting a tree
Planting a tree is perfect for those having a garden wedding. It represents your relationship growing and its roots signifies the love and attachment that you have with each other.
The ring warming ceremony
This ritual is performed when your guests pass around your wedding ring to give their blessings to your marriage. Not advised in our current covid-world, but a lovely way to include your guests in the ceremony.
Finally, the Lasso Ceremony
A floral rope is wrapped around you and your spouse in the form of a number eight figure to represent everlasting love. A Mexican tradition – originally using Rosary but adapted for symbolic rather than religious significance. A great way to bring beautiful florals and the feeling of unity into your ceremony.
Churches and registry offices have little or no potential for decor. The great thing about a Humanist wedding ceremony is that it can happen almost anywhere and be decorated however you like. From an unlicensed venue to your own back garden. Humanist weddings have been performed on top of mountains and in canoes!
One of the most experienced Humanist Celebrants I know, Zena Birch, says, “So long as no-one is in mortal danger I would consider any location as a possible ceremony venue.”
The potential for stunning backdrops and incredible memories is insane! This may help to counteract any doubts about the legality of the ceremony. From adventurous to seriously romantic, you pick the place that is special to you. This can also be an unlicensed or even licenced wedding venue. Just because a venue offers something, doesn’t mean that you have to take it.
Professionalism with a human touch defines Humanist celebrants. This has been achieved through intense training and commitment to continuous professional development. They have a code of conduct and complaints procedure that protects couples if they encounter any problems or concerns.
It might mean a bit more work putting your ceremony together and a trip to the registry office too – but the result will be a ceremony that will have guests gushing. You can find your Humanist celebrant here: https://humanism.org.uk/ceremonies/find-a-celebrant/weddings/
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