What is a humanist wedding?

What is a humanist wedding?

Laura and Liam Aramthwaite Hall


A humanist wedding is a non-religious wedding ceremony that gives you the opportunity to marry where you want, when you want and how you want.

The true intimacy of a wedding shines through with a humanist ceremony, as there is no set script and it is up to the couple to decide what form their nuptials take.

 You do not have to be a humanist

to have a humanist ceremony, a humanist ceremony is focused on the couple and and their relationship and what they value. Humanists view long-term partnerships as strongest when built upon support, equality and honesty. It is up to the wedding party to set the tone that’s right for their special day and choose their own words representative of their relationship. A humanist ceremony allows people to have an unique and meaningful ceremony that is designed by the couple, and one that is not religious. It gives people the freedom to get married outdoors, or wherever they would like, in particular, places that are not licensed for civil weddings.

There is flexibility with a humanist ceremony

to build the occasion around the couple, and get to know the person conducting the ceremony, like the priest or registrar but called a celebrant. Some people who have carried out marriage formalities but have not celebrated it with their family and friends may opt for a humanist wedding.  In England, Wales and Northern Ireland humanist weddings are not legally recognised in law so couples have to go to a registers office to take care of that in the days before or after their humanist wedding. In Scotland humanist ceremonies are recognised in law.

To have a humanist wedding

one would need to find a celebrant, and liaise with them about what way you want in your ceremony. A humanist ceremony can take place anywhere; on a beach, in the woods, in your parent’s house, in a castle, be it a private or a public area, indoors or outdoors. Humanist weddings can follow a typical format or something different, it is completely the decision of the wedding party.

Example structure of a humanist wedding ceremony

Arrival of the couple (individually or together)

Introductions and welcomes

Words about love and commitment from a non-religious perspective

Reading or poem

The couple’s story – how they met, their shared values, hopes for the future

What marriage means to the couple

Reading, poem or song

The couple’s promises / vows

Meaningful symbolic act

Exchange of rings

Pronouncement as married

Words of well-wishing

Closing and departure

A humanist ceremony can take more time

and work than a traditional church or civil ceremony. The fee for a humanist ceremony  depends on the celebrant that you chose, this fee would include paying the celebrant for the planning and discussing of your ceremony, drafting and editing the personal script, attendance at rehearsals, the pay for the day itself and for a copy of the ceremony script.

Humanist weddings are available for same sex marriages. You can write your own vows or the celebrant can provide you with some sample vows.


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