What is a humanist wedding ceremony?

by | Jan 5, 2020 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

Getting married is one of life’s biggest, best moments.  So, what is a humanist wedding ceremony and how will it celebrate the love and the commitment between you and your partner-for-life? In this post, you’ll discover how a humanist wedding ceremony can be a powerful catalyst for all the joy of your big day.  Putting love centre-stage, your humanist wedding ceremony will remind everyone present how much there is to celebrate!

I experienced the magic of a humanist wedding in marrying Mr H. in our humanist wedding in 2005.  Now I’m a humanist wedding celebrant myself! And I’m passionate about bringing real meaning and warmth to non-religious, personal wedding ceremonies.

A relevant & meaningful wedding ceremony

bride embraces groom with her head on his shoulder in a beautiful sunlit woodland wedding ceremony setting for a humanist wedding ceremony

Humanist wedding ceremonies are not dictated by religious belief or a legal contract. Instead, they are built around the love between you and your partner and your commitment to each other. I will design a ceremony to reflect the things that are most important to you. These include: the values that shape and define your relationship, the reasons you want to get married, and your hopes and dreams for the kind of future you want to share.

Your humanist wedding ceremony, your way

A humanist ceremony is completely flexible. Whatever the atmosphere you’re looking to create for your big day, be it relaxed, romantic, or quirky and fun – as your celebrant it’s my job to deliver exactly that.

couple hold hands after their hilltop wedding ceremony outdoor humanist wedding ceremony

There are no arbitrary rules and regulations about what can and can’t be included in your ceremony. Neither do you have to worry about logistics such as the time of day of your ceremony, or details such as whether alcoholic drinks are in the room.  Additionally you have complete freedom to arrive and depart from the ceremony in any way you’d like!

In fact, wherever you long to exchange your vows – in a beautiful room, a characterful out-building, or in a marquee; our outdoors in a field or garden, in a wood, or on a hillside – there are no limits on location.  Humanist ceremonies are very popular for natural, outdoor weddings.  I conduct far more ceremonies outside than in!

What is a humanist wedding ceremony – as unique as you are!

One of things I love about being a wedding celebrant is the chance to really get to know each couple.

bride and groom walk away together down a grassy path

We are all unique individuals; and as couples, we are no less unique.  The experiences that have shaped your relationship and path that has brought you to your wedding day, is yours and yours alone.

So, every humanist wedding ceremony I write is entirely bespoke! Often, a big focus of the wedding ceremony is telling the love story of a couple.  This often includes how they met and fell for each other. Not forgetting the little things that often define a relationship. And honouring the highlights and the challenges in life that have bought a couple closer together along the way.

A humanist wedding ceremony is full of personality

On your wedding day – a day of celebration, all about love – don’t settle for a bland or boring ceremony. There are so many ways to make your ceremony sparkle with personality.  These include: the choice of readings, including a sing-along to a favourite song, or lots of fun ways we can reflect your passions and interests. For example, a couple that loves rock-climbing could have a handfasting using climbing rope (see Emily and Rex’s gorgeous wedding HERE for inspiration).

In the words, themes and allegories that I write bespoke for each couple, I will include references that are personal, recognised by your guests, and always meaningful to to you.

Inclusive ceremonies

2 brides hold hands and grin at each other, standing in front of their guests as part of their relaxed humanist wedding ceremonyThe best wedding ceremonies unite friends and families. They sweep up everyone present to share the moment with you. Humanist weddings are non-religious but designed to be inclusive and meaningful for everyone there, whatever their beliefs. There are plenty of ways to include family and friends in the ceremony. As a result, your guests will feel involved and invested.  And you’ll feel the love and support radiating back from them in return.

And if that sounds good to you – don’t miss your chance to bag a FREE COPY of my guide to including friends and family in your wedding ceremony – packed with 14 creative ideas!

All the feels

There will be heartfelt, thoughtful moments but most importantly, your ceremony will share the love – with lots of smiles, laughter and joy.  Read what couples I have worked with have to say about their experiences HERE.

What’s involved in a humanist wedding ceremony?

a man holds his vows in his hands, as he reads them to his bride, shown carrying a bouquet, as part of a relaxed, romantic outdoor wedding ceremonyYour ceremony can be short or long, follow a traditional structure or break with convention. You can include readings or poems read by family and friends, and you can also have music and singing as well. Next you make your promises to each other, choosing the words that fit best. Then we mark the wedding with a symbolic action – usually exchanging rings, but extra elements can be lovely, such as hand-fasting or other types of unity ceremonies.

Learn more about creative symbolic elements for wedding ceremonies, in my 3-part blog series for symbolic actions in wedding ceremonies, starting HERE.

The legal status of humanist weddings

Humanist Ceremonies are not yet legal in England and Wales (unlike enlightened Scotland, and more recently Northern Ireland). So, you’ll need to legally register your marriage at a Register Office. Most couples do this in quite a low-key way during the week before or after their ‘real’ humanist wedding ceremony.

A heart-felt celebration of your marriage

joyful, happy couple in a large campervan with friends toast their wedding with champagne

Humanist wedding ceremonies are a  personal and meaningful way to celebrate a marriage. Because you share the love with friends and family, this creates an over-riding sense of joy that will power-up your celebrations for the rest of the day and long into the night!  It is the very best way to start married life with a palpable sense of love, intention and celebration.


Featured Top Image: Auguste Smailyte Photography  IG: @bite.hard FB: AugusteSmailytePhoto



Humanism and Humanists UK

Humanists are people who shape their own lives in the here and now. Because they believe it is the only life we have.
Humanists UK is a charity that exists to advance free thinking and promotes humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. They have been the leading provider of meaningful, personalised, non-religious ceremonies for over 120 years.