Humanist Weddings in Scotland Are More Popular than Catholic Ones – it’s official!

We’ve been waiting a long time to see this story in Scotland on Sunday (and thanks are due to Marc Horne the journalist for breaking the story). 

Four years, in fact, ever since Gordon Ross, who was then the National Ceremonies Convenor, got his calculator out and ‘did the math’ as the Americans say.

That was back in 2007, when we got the second set of statistics from the Registrar General of Scotland. 

When our ceremonies became legal in June 2005, we did 48 weddings during the course of the rest of the year. 

In 2006, we conducted nearly 500 which was a big jump, but as we were going from a standing start, it wasn’t that surprising. 

But it still seemed very optimistic to predict that by 2010 we’d overtake the Catholic Church.

Gordon was confident. In a former life, he was a statistician.

Winston Churchill famously talked about ‘lies, damn lies and statistics’ as a way to make things look better than they really are, but for once the numbers don’t lie. 

As an institution, marriage has been decline in Scotland since the end of World War II. 43,206 marriages were registered in 1946 but only 27,524 in 2009, the last year for which full statistics exist. 

The only form of marriage that is bucking that trend is the Humanist one. And that, quite simply is because it’s the only form of marriage where couples are free to say in their own words why they’re doing what they’re doing, what their hopes are for the future and what they’re promising.

As Julian Baggini wrote in 2008, “Weddings up 64%” is probably the most unlikely headline of the year, but add one word and it’s completely true. That word is “humanist.” 

I checked with Gordon yesterday. According to his original calculation, we are due to overtake the Church of Scotland in 2015. 

This time, I’m prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt.

  1. Jen Hancock - A Happy Humanist left a comment on March 7, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    I love this story!!!! Congrats to the Humanists of Scotland for making Humanism so important to ordinary people.

  2. Asian Wedding Photography left a comment on March 20, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    I really like the idea of a humanist wedding and it is interesting to see that so many Scots are going for this often very personal way of saying your vows. With the increase in mixed marriages I suspect this could be a trend that spreads around the UK.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *