Why would a Catholic couple choose a Humanist wedding? It’s a good question, because most people think Humanism = No Religion, but at Celebrate People, we take a more inclusive approach.
Religion has been a part of human culture since the dawn of time, and humanists share many values with people of faith. We may not believe in a god, or gods, but Humanism is about the things that unite rather than divide us, and because the greatest of those is love, we take it as a compliment when couples choose to marry in a Humanist ceremony that reflects the way they live their lives.
Eleanor & Michael were both raised Catholic, and they met through teaching at the same school, the venerable Glasgow institution that is St. Aloysius College. Perhaps that was why, after I’d introduced the ceremony, Eleanor explained to the guests how important the school is to both their families.
The next to speak was her mum, Kathleen, who read St Paul’s famous thirteenth letter to his parishioners in Corinth. There are many versions of that text, and my favourite is the Scots translation by William Lorimer – the language is extraordinarily rich and powerful.
Gin I speak wi the tungs o men an angels, but hae nae luve i my hairt, I am no nane better nor dunnerin bress or a rínging cymbal. I’m always delighted when couples choose that as a reading because of the last line: In smaa: there is three things bides for ey: faith, howp, luve. But the grytest o the three is luve.
Or as the 16th century Book of Common Prayer put it, “and now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” So, even St. Paul acknowledged that love is more important than faith – and that’s definitely what humanists believe!
Michael and Eleanor chose not to share any of the very entertaining story they’d written in their LoveWork. Instead, they asked Eleanor’s nephew Lucas to read four wishes for them which he had written himself.
He then did a really lovely thing called ‘The Sign of Peace’. When that happens during a mass, the congregation shake hands with the people next to them, but on the day, there was a lot more a-huggin’ and a-kissin’ than a-shakin’ goin’ on! That was wholly appropriate, because if you look into the history of the sign of peace, you’ll see that it started with a kiss…
When she sent me these great photos by Lisa & Nicola of Thistle & Bee Eleanor said, “My advice is do whatever feels right for you. We didn’t make any compromises to suit other people – everything was about us as a couple, and our main objective (aside from the obvious getting married part) was to have fun! This included not being involved in the minutiae and letting the day just flow naturally. We invited our mums to speak at the ceremony but gave them carte blanche on the content.
We spoke to each other from the heart in front of all our loved ones – it was entirely unrehearsed and raw but that’s why it was perfect!
Being raised in Catholic families, Michael and I knew there were some aspects of the traditional wedding service that we wanted to include. The context of Humanism absolutely gave us the freedom to have fun while still representing our values.”
I’m so glad you feel that way, Eleanor and Michael – mission accomplished! Thanks for making me a part of your most special day, and thanks again to Thistle & Bee for the photos!