Creating Meaning

I can’t wait to see Grayson Perry’s Smash Hits exhibition at the Royal Scottish Academy. I’ve long been an admirer of his work, especially since the TV series he made for Channel 4 when he said, “All rituals were invented by somebody. They didn’t just come out of the ether from God.”

That’s my starting point when I think about the ceremonies I conduct because rituals are a chance for us to create meaning, and that’s why I’m still as excited about being a celebrant today as I was when I trained, almost 18 years ago.

In that time, humanist ceremonies have become the new normal here in Scotland. Once upon a time – like Grayson Perry – they were provocative and subversive, but the unintended consequence of their popularity is that they’re becoming very samey – or so a bride-to-be told me when we spoke the other day. As she said,

Having been to many weddings in recent years, all but one have been humanist, I have come to expect the same ‘traditions’ of introductions, tying the knot, drinking from the quaich. Whilst these are lovely additions to ceremonies, they seem to resemble, to me, somewhat the same order and rigour as traditional religious weddings in a church or other places of worship.

Having been brought up catholic and no longer attending church, the concept didn’t quite sit right with me for a lot of the reasons I do not attend church anymore. A wedding to me is about the couple, expressing love and making promises as we begin our new chapter as two separate individuals who have chosen to take the next path together.

Whilst the humanist traditions are symbolic of this, I don’t feel they tell the couples story of who they are, what marriage is to them and why they have chosen to have this big day called a wedding. A mix of the traditions along with a lot of what your ceremony encourages feels a lot more personal and creates a wedding which is about the couple and for me embodies the meaning of a humanist wedding.

I’m really glad we had that conversation, because it reminded me why I developed the ‘LoveWork’ process.

Your wedding is your chance to say in your own words why you’ve chosen to marry and what that means to you. There’s no one right way to do that and my aim is to help you find the right way for you.

If you don’t know what you want your ceremony to be like, that’s perfect. All you have to do now is think.

Think about what you want to say – and what you don’t want to say.

Think about who’s going to be there and what they need to know.

Think about who you’d like to speak.

Above all, try to think for yourself – that’s the best way to create something truly original.

Something else you might want to do is have a flick through this blog. It’s packed with imaginative ideas from other couples who found their own way to make their wedding their own.

One thing I can promise: you’ll find no ‘cookie-cutter’ ceremonies here…

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