The lowdown on humanist weddings…
“Could humanist weddings soon become legal in England & Wales?”
As it currently stands, humanist weddings are only legal in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Jersey. Due to their increasing popularity, the pressure is on from an increasing number of couples to also legalise the non-religious ceremony choice sooner rather than later. Couples who currently reside in England or Wales have to arrange a legal ceremony at a local registry office in addition to their planned humanist celebration in order for their marriage to be legally recognised.
Couples are arguing that the differences in current law discriminate against couples living in England or Wales who have humanist beliefs. Humanist weddings were legalised in Scotland in 2015 with Northern Ireland following in 2018. Last year humanist weddings far outnumbered traditional ceremonies with just under 6000 taking place across Scotland.
What is a humanist wedding?
A humanist wedding is a non-religious ceremony, free from the traditional vows and hymns and is usually conducted by a licenced celebrant, however a person of the couples choosing can also lead the ceremony if the couple so wish. Humanist weddings are popular with couples who do not follow a specific religion or hold religious beliefs but they wish to enter into a publicly, recognised relationship. It’s believed the surge in couples opting for a humanist ceremony is due to the freedom of being able to completely personalise their day from start to finish, from where the ceremony is held to what words they choose to exchange to each other. Many couples opt to hold their ceremony at a place or venue that’s personal and sentimental to a them, such as where they first met or at their family home.
The numbers certainly stack up in favour of humanist ceremonies…
Humanist weddings rose in popularity by 266% between 2004 – 2016 according to the office of national statistics, whilst religious ceremonies saw a steep decline. It’s reported Christian weddings decreased by 28%, Catholic weddings by 34% and Baptist weddings by 42%.
Is it any wonder…
The cost of a humanist ceremony is generally much lighter on the purse strings than a traditional church or registrar held wedding with the average cost sitting at around £1500!! In contrast a traditional church wedding can cost upwards of 4 times that figure. The total cost of a humanist ceremony largely depends on where the couple which to hold their marriage, whether there will be venue costs and how many guests they wish to invite. For couples holding their ceremony at their family home for example their main cost will be just that of the licenced celebrant and any additional suppliers they wish to include such as a photographer, caterers, cake maker and florist.
The Humanist wedding tick-list
- Locate and secure your chosen date with a licenced celebrant. You can find a licenced celebrant at a location near you via online directories such as https://humanism.org.uk/ceremonies/ or https://www.thecelebrantdirectory.com/find-a-celebrant/weddings/in/united-kingdom/anywhere/anytime/
- Decide on a location or venue that holds special meaning to you both as a couple or a place you both particularly enjoy such as a beautiful beach or mountain side. Consider the suitability of the location/venue for any guests you wish to invite and if your chosen celebrant is willing to travel if its outside of their usual area coverage.
- Decide on the structure of your ceremony, what you would both like to say and whether you wish to include any personal stories, poems or songs as part of your ceremony. Your celebrant can support you in this process and offer valuable support and advice with any questions you may have. This is what makes a celebrant lead marriage so incredibly personalised.
- Decide on any additional wedding suppliers you will require, such as photographer, cake maker and florist. Its always recommended to locate and book additional suppliers as soon as you have secured your date with the celebrant and venue/location to ensure they can be available.
Is a Humanist ceremony for you?
Below we have rounded up the main pro’s of a humanist ceremony so you can decide if its for you!
- Neither of you are religious and you would both prefer a completely personalised ceremony which has meaning and value to you as a couple
- You wish to have your ceremony at a unique location or venue that holds special meaning or sentiment to you both.
- You wish to include a celebrant to work with you in planning your special day and who understands and supports your wishes
- You don’t want to spend a large amount on your special day and would rather it be a truly personal celebration with those you love the most. (the beauty of this is you will have more to spend on a honeymoon!!)
- You are a couple who share different faiths and rather than choose one faith over another when committing to marriage you wish to create a ceremony which compliments what you both hold in common.
Whichever type of ceremony you choose to incorporate, what matters the most is that you have the opportunity to share your love for each other with the people around you who matter the most and share in your commitment and celebration. Whether is a small ceremony in your mums back garden with just a few family members and close friends or a large scale gathering in an exquisite country house with lavish grounds, it all comes down to being about two people, you two!!
Make it special, make it unique but most of all make it memorable!