When planning a wedding, there are lots of decisions to make. There are things you may never have considered before, but suddenly must have an opinion on! Like thinking about the type of ceremony you would like to have.
Many couples believe they can only choose between a religious or civil ceremony. As most people from the UK are non-religious, the obvious choice seems to be a civil ceremony performed by a registrar. If you are traditional or want something basic, this could be a good option for you.
These types of ceremonies are very formulaic, however. You will meet your registrar right before your ceremony, who will then follow a standard process and script without any personal references. It can feel very “insert couples name here”. It lasts for exactly 15 minutes flat and contains next to no personal information about a couple, how they met, their lives, their values, or what marriage means to them. If you’ve been to a registry office or seen a registrar conduct a civil ceremony at a venue, it’s very likely (in fact, a fact) that you will have seen the same thing again…and again.
For couples who want a personal, bespoke, and meaningful ceremony with a script that is completely tailored for them and their guests, rather than choosing a registrar-led ceremony, why not plan a humanist celebrant-led ceremony?
So, what exactly IS a humanist wedding ceremony?
A humanist ceremony is a different and increasingly popular way to get married. If you have a registrar wedding on one side (which is all about the law), and a church wedding on the other (which, let’s face it, is all about God), a celebrant-led ceremony is the third way.
Humanism is based on a simple, non-religious philosophy. That’s not to say you can’t include nods to religious elements in your ceremony if that feels important to you for family reasons etc. The important thing that sets apart humanist ceremonies is that they are ALL about the couple. Not a god they may not believe in, not the law, but each other and what they mean to each other. And you don’t have to be a humanist to have a humanist ceremony; a recent large-scale survey suggested that many people hold humanist beliefs without classifying themselves as a humanist.
Celebrants typically work with a couple for many months before their big day. They find out lots of information, from knowing what is important to a couple, how they want their guests to feel, how they themselves want to feel and what they want their wedding to be all about. A celebrant will find out all the fun stories and funny things that have happened, the places they’ve been, and things they’ve overcome, to weave into a beautiful, personalised ceremony that completely reflects a couple.
After a ceremony, family members will often come up to me who have never seen a humanist service before, absolutely floored by the lovely personal information they’ve learned about their loved ones.
What does a humanist ceremony include?
A humanist ceremony includes everything you’d expect to see in a normal wedding ceremony, and usually a whole lot more! All the key moments are there (the vows, exchange of rings, pronouncement, etc). You can write your own vows and include all kinds of rituals and symbolic acts to bring your community into your wedding.
What about the legal bit?
At the moment, humanist ceremonies are legally recognised in Scotland and Northern Ireland but not in England. However, the campaign to legalise humanist weddings across the UK couldn’t be stronger. It’s now a case of when, not if, humanist ceremonies become the legal norm in England too (whispers that this may happen as early as this year, 2022).
Celebrants are usually able to help you plan and combine your legal ceremony with your celebrant one.
Can we do it anywhere?
Yes, you can! (Safety permitting, of course). I’ve married people in gardens, mountaintops, beaches, and plenty of traditional wedding venues. There is often a belief that you must have a registrar because you are getting married in a licensed venue. But I can promise you now, that isn’t the case!
This post was written by Roxy Celebrates Love. They are an exhibitor on the WeddingShow247 Celebrants & Toastmasters floor of the Celebrant Hall. You can visit their WeddingShow247 exhibition stand here.