If you’re a couple who values reason over religion, and ethics over tradition, you might enter the world of Humanist Weddings. Humanist weddings are a testament to the power of love, emphasising human values, empathy, and the shared journey of two souls. They are ceremonies that break free from the constraints of religious rituals and offer couples the freedom to design a wedding day that authentically reflects their beliefs and love story. Here is all you need to know about a humanist wedding.
What Is a Humanist Wedding?
A humanist wedding is a non-religious and personalised ceremony that celebrates the commitment and love between two individuals. It emphasises human values, ethics, and principles rather than religious beliefs as the guiding force behind the union.
Humanist weddings are different from civil ceremonies in that they try to follow a humanist doctrine and a particular belief system. In fact, civil ceremonies follow the same route as traditional religious weddings. Civil weddings are legally recognised and usually performed in licenced venues, so their content and script are limited. A humanist wedding, on the other hand, gives total freedom to the couple to choose as they like. There are no restrictions with regard to gender, size, or duration. The ceremony can even be conducted in several different languages, including sign language.
As humanist weddings have not gained legal status in some parts of the UK, it is important to first and foremost register the marriage at a registry office.
The Beliefs Behind the Humanist Wedding
Humanist weddings are characterised by a set of common beliefs and principles that guide the ceremony. The specific content and structure of each ceremony can vary widely depending on the preferences and values of the couple involved. But to find out the origin of the concept, it is essential to know what humanists think.
Humanists believe in the possibility of a good life without the help of religion. They believe that people can still lead an ethical path on the basis of human nature and experience, and they don’t need a fixed set of religious rules. Humanists believe in equality and fair treatment of individuals regardless of their race, religion, or beliefs.
The Humanist Celebrant
A humanist wedding celebrant is a trained and certified individual who specialises in conducting humanist wedding ceremonies. These celebrants play a crucial role in creating and officiating ceremonies that are secular, meaningful, and reflective of the beliefs and values of the individuals involved.
Humanist celebrants are different from independent celebrants. Independent celebrants do conduct weddings of different faiths. In fact, they can perform humanist weddings as well. For couples with a love for humanist philosophy, however, a humanist celebrant works best.
When sitting down with the celebrant for the first time, they get to know you better and exchange information about the wedding and what you want it to be like. Each humanist wedding is a unique experience on its own, and the celebrant will make sure to perform and customise everything on the basis of what you wish.
Celebrants will have to prepare a script for you, something that encapsulates your whole love story. They do a bit of research, using the information you provide as well as that from your friends and family. Once the script is ready and signed off, the celebrant shows up for the big day.
The Humanist Wedding Ceremony Procedure
The procedure for a humanist wedding can vary depending on the preferences of the couple and the guidance of the humanist celebrant. These weddings are highly flexible, and couples have the freedom to customise the ceremony to suit their preferences. They can include or omit elements based on what is most meaningful to them, making each humanist wedding a truly unique and personal experience.
While the specific elements and order of a humanist wedding can vary, here is a general outline of the stages from start to finish:
- The bridal party, including the bride and groom, enters the ceremony space.
- The ceremony begins with a welcome by the celebrant, who introduces themselves and acknowledges the significance of the day.
- The celebrant shares the couple’s love story, highlighting key moments and anecdotes that led to their decision to marry.
- Friends or family members may read meaningful poems, passages, or personal messages that reflect the couple’s values and beliefs.
- The couple exchanges personalised vows, expressing their love, promises, and commitment to each other.
- The couple exchanges wedding rings.
- The celebrant declares the couple legally married and presents the newlyweds to the assembled guests as a married couple.
- The couple, now married, exits the ceremony space.
Humanist vows are deeply personal and meaningful promises exchanged between a couple during a humanist wedding ceremony. Unlike traditional religious vows, which often include references to a higher power or religious doctrines, humanist vows are secular and emphasise the love, commitment, and values of the individuals involved.
If you don’t have much time or have run out of ideas, there are different templates you can find online. Here are a couple of examples:
- [name], I give to you everything I am and everything I will ever be. I love you, and I promise to be your best friend. I promise to share your dreams and help you achieve your goals. I will never stand behind you or in front of you, but always beside you. I will listen to you with an open heart and an open mind, pledging my honesty, compassion, fidelity, and forgiveness. I promise to love you no matter what tomorrow brings. I will always be your most loyal friend and your loving husband/wife because you are my heart and my soul now and forever. (from hitched.co.uk)
Humanist weddings encourage us to embrace our values, celebrate our humanity, and create a wedding day that truly reflects who we are. So if you’re considering a humanist wedding for yourself, the first thing to keep in mind is that in matters of love, there are no boundaries. Whatever your reasons for a humanist wedding, Minstrel Court, with its variety of spaces and flexible rules, could be the perfect venue for your ceremony.