What is a humanist wedding?
“A humanist wedding is a celebration of shared commitment
based entirely on unique aspect of the relationship of the couple.
Couples have the freedom to write their own promises to each other.”
Explains Stephen Fry, our esteemed patron for Humanist Ceremonies
Why choose a humanist wedding ceremony?
Humanist weddings are personalised and unique to you. They give you much more flexibility and choice. Humanist weddings are inclusive of all people, and are designed to be meaningful and poignant to everyone present, whatever their beliefs.They are chosen for a lot of different reasons. They can be as traditional or as extraordinary as you wish.
An increasing number of humanist weddings are being chosen because people wish to mark their marriage with a bespoke ceremony that their friends and family can enjoy with them.
Why choose a humanist wedding celebrant?
A humanist wedding celebrant enables you to have a personalised and thoughtful wedding ceremony that reflects your true personalities. As humanists, we respect that people may hold different beliefs and are sensitive to the need to ensure that your wedding ceremony is inclusive of your friends and family, and perhaps reflects your cultural backgrounds, without the inclusion of religious doctrine. A fellow humanist once candidly pointed out to me, “Any service in a church is a service to god”; this thought sprang to mind when I watched the Pastor’s incredible takeover of the recent Royal wedding (Harry and Megan’s). He spoke powerfully and convincingly, but his words really had nothing to do with the couple, their story, or why they had decided to get married.
Humanist wedding ceremonies are about you, as a couple and what you want to tell the friends and family who are there to see you make this pivotal commitment to each other.
What’s different about Humanist Ceremonies’ celebrants?
A (genuine) humanist wedding celebrant’s view is that you have an equal right to a memorable and meaningful wedding ceremony, that can be held anywhere you choose. This is important to us and why we happily contribute membership fees to Humanist Ceremonies to campaign on the behalf of non-religious people to gain legal recognition of humanist marriage (as is the case in Scotland and the Republic of Ireland).
Humanist Ceremonies has been providing non-religious ceremonies since 1896. It trains and accredits a limited number of celebrants per year. All new celebrants are assigned an experienced mentor and there is a large network of celebrants that help each other with advice and suggestions. This means that you can be assured of the high quality of the service of your celebrant. In addition, professional indemnity and public liability insurance mean that if I trip up during the ceremony, and knock over your 5 tiered wedding cake, then I’m insured for the accident. It also means that, in the unlikely event I was unavailable to conduct your ceremony, the nationwide network of Humanist Ceremonies’ celebrants would be able to find another accredited celebrant as a good substitute. I hope that this never happens but it’s reassuring to know that there is a central body which you can contact.
As a member of the largest network of humanist celebrants in the UK, Humanist Ceremonies, which is part of the British Humanist Association (now known as Humanists UK), I’ve had extensive training, continued professional development and public liability insurance, and gained an accreditation (through application, coursework, examination and observation).
I pay a membership fee and my accreditation is reliant on meeting the Code of Conduct and Standards of Practice set by the organisation.
Humanist Ceremonies is also part of the national charity that campaigns on behalf of non-religious people for equal rights and other important issues, which highlights our shared true humanist values.
How do we plan for a humanist wedding?
Firstly, we have an initial meeting (in person, on the telephone or via Skype), where you can ask me questions (e.g. regarding humanism, my work as a celebrant, or your wedding) so you can decide if you wish to proceed with me for your ceremony.
Then, if you choose me, we organise a private creative consultation to find out the details of what you would like and how you envisage the ceremony to be; this is usually in person but sometimes Skype is a good solution to people’s busy lives.
At this point, I’ll request a 50% non-refundable deposit. I’m happy to discuss a payment plan that suits you (perhaps in thirds).
At our humanist wedding creative consultation, we’ll talk about your wishes for your perfect ceremony, your personalities, perhaps your story (how you met, the proposal, what you love about each other). We can also consider the ways in which we can make your ceremony inclusive. You may want suggestions for songs, rituals or readings, which I can research for you. You may want advice with the venue, or location, or the registrar, all of with which I can help.
Further to that meeting, I will do some further research and send you some ideas and the notes. We might have another, or maybe a couple more, meetings. It depends on each couple. I tend to find this holistic approach suits my couples more.
Having done the research and consulted with you at length, I’ll write the first draft of your wedding script.
You can ask for as many changes, amendments or further suggestions to this draft as you like. This is your wedding ceremony, your script, your day.
We also can have further meetings or phone calls, until the final draft has been agreed.
Prior to the ceremony, a rehearsal is usually a good idea, especially if many different people are involved, or the ceremony is in an outdoor location. Sometimes, this is not possible, so we simply arrange a final run-through of the script. You have complete sign off on the script and the only surprises are the ones that you’ve chosen to include as surprises!
On the day of the ceremony, the preparation will all be in place, which makes it as relaxing as possible for you, and any other key people who are involved.
Unlike registrars, who are often in a rush, I only ever plan one ceremony in a day. This means that I can completely focus on your wedding ceremony on your wedding day and there are no concerns about timing, as far as I’m concerned.
I’ll be there an hour before the wedding ceremony and on hand to help in any way I can. I tend to stay, if invited, for half an hour after the ceremony, so I’m on hand to answer any questions from your bridal party. However, I’ll take your direction and make a polite, quiet exit whenever you wish.
I create a special presentation script for you to treasure. I also organise ribbons for hand-fasting, a certificate if requested, and I have a big white portable blue-tooth speaker and microphone for outdoor locations.
UK Channel Islands: 07734 581184
International: 0044 7734 581184