What happens at a Humanist Wedding?

Humanist weddings have been legal in Scotland since 2005. It took only ten years for them to become the second most popular form of marriage in the country, and – in Scotland at least – they’ve almost become ‘the new normal’.

I meet lots of couples who’ve only ever been to humanist weddings, but – as I have to remind myself – there’s a whole other crowd of people out there who’ve never heard of them. If you’re one, this article is for you!

Humanist weddings don’t just give you the freedom to marry who you want where you want and when you want. They allow you to say why you’re getting married in your own words. This is kind of a big deal.

Until very recently, most wedding ceremonies went by the book. In a religious wedding, the priest or minister followed ‘the liturgy’ – the prescribed form of words that has been used since time immemorial.

In a civil wedding, the registrar used a different form of words but the result was the same. Your names went here, here and here, and you promised the same things everyone else has since the dawn of time. Perhaps unsurprisingly, marriage became less and less popular with every passing year.

I think the reason humanist weddings came into existence was that people realised that if they wanted their marriage to work, they needed to start it by saying things that meant something to them: that were personal, original and true.

I also think that women quietly concluded that they were never going to promise ‘to love honour and obey’ anyone: those days are gone!

Other countries had made humanist marriage legal long before 2005, but for some reason, it was in Scotland that they had the biggest impact. I’ve lost count of the number of married couples who’ve said to me after witnessing a wedding, ‘I wish we could have done that!’

Having the freedom to choose the words of the ceremony is at the heart of their appeal, but that’s only part of it. You can get married in your back garden, on a beach or on top of a mountain: pretty much any time any place anywhere, as long as it’s ‘safe and dignified’. Even if it’s really wet, like Jo & Rob’s wedding on The Cobbler!

You can be as creative as you like, or as traditional. You can make the same promises your granny made, or invent some new ones, just for you.

I’ve been writing this blog for ten years now, and it’s full of brilliant ideas, mostly dreamed up by the couples I’ve married, and they’re all here for you to share. Take a look at the tags on the right of this page, have a click around and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to drop me a line. I’ll be delighted to hear from you!

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