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Humanist weddings are different. They’re for people who think for themselves, who regard marriage as a partnership of equals, who aren’t religious but are concerned about right and wrong, and who appreciate that loving is something you do, not something that just happens to you.
Since Christianity came to Britain, marriage has invariably been celebrated with a religious ceremony until the introduction of civil ceremonies in 1837. In 1994 the law was changed to allow civil ceremonies to take place in buildings other than a Register Office, such as listed buildings or hotels, but the ceremony is more or less the same. There are strict controls over what can be said and done at civil ceremonies, which follow a standard format and cannot be held out of doors.
Usually, those who opt for a Humanist wedding have thought things through carefully. Our ceremonies have been described as 'more honest' than others, because they contain references to important things, like the value of humour, and the prospect of ageing together. Each wedding is different, reflecting the personalities and the values of the couple. It has to be carefully thought out; there's no set pattern to follow.
In our experience, the best weddings have been ones where as little as possible has been handed over to 'professionals', but where family and friends have contributed their talents - it is, after all, a family occasion. A wedding can be a joyful, solemn and dignified occasion, with laughs.
According to Dr Robyn Skynner, the happiest married couples are well-adjusted, independent people who don't need to be together, but want to be together, with the support and encouragement of each other to fulfil their individual potential, creatively, professionally, and in as many other ways as they choose. There isn't a foolproof formula for successful marriage, but openness, honesty, mutual caring, emotional independence, tolerance and humour, together with emotional, intellectual and sexual compatibility, all help.
A Humanist wedding gives you the freedom to express your personalities and your unique slant on life. It can include music and readings that mean something to you, and you can talk about why you’re getting married. It can be held out of doors or in some place that has special significance for you, a place you’re familiar with. It’ll be a day to remember, not an off the peg ceremony, but one you’ve devised with a Celebrant who can help you make it very special.
Our weddings aren’t legally recognised, so couples who want to make it legal usually go to a register office a day or two before the Humanist ceremony with just a couple of witnesses, and keep it low key. You don’t have to exchange rings in a civil ceremony; you can save that bit for the Humanist ceremony, which you may regard as your ‘real’ wedding.
We do weddings for gay and lesbian couples too.
A Humanist Celebrant will work in partnership with you. When you’ve decided what you’d like to include, you’ll pass a copy of your notes to him or her, and he or she will write a draft for your approval. We usually have a short rehearsal with the couple and anyone who’s going to play an active role in the ceremony, so we know where everyone will stand and so on. This can be earlier the same day, or a day before, depending on when the participants and the venue are available. At the end of the ceremony you’ll be provided with a commemorative certificate and a copy of the script.
We’re atheists, so we don’t expect to be asked to include any religious content—no hymns, prayers or religious readings—but there’s a wealth of material you can choose from, without religion.
Our usual fee is £250, reflecting the work that goes into the ceremony. Please get in touch if you have any questions.
Download our wedding leaflet (PDF).