Humanist combined WEDDING/NAMING ceremonies are the future. This all-in-one ceremony celebrating a couple and their new family could replace a traditional wedding ceremony. It is the sensible, practical, rational, simple, inexpensive alternative to weddings for those who are cohabiting and have a child/children.
Couples who choose to have a Humanist wedding or naming ceremony will usually have lived together before they decide or get around to having a formal ceremony. Many couples are eschewing a traditional wedding as they have become extravagant and expensive. When they have a child it does not feel right for many couples to have a costly traditional wedding with the bride in a white dress, men in hired suits, costly wedding venues, flowers, etc. This is also why many couples would prefer to have a civil partnership.
When a couple have inquired about a naming ceremony I would ask if they have had a wedding because, if not, the naming ceremony of their first child will, in many ways, be the first formal event celebrating them both as a couple and as parents. Hence, it makes sense to have a combined wedding commitment followed by a naming ceremony for their little one. They are less daunting to organise compared to a wedding and yet they are just as meaningful.
This is where our combined naming/wedding comes into its own. Sometimes the couple don’t inform their families and friends beforehand and it comes as a nice surprise, often met with emotional tears- not only their Mums either! They can always slip off to a registry office, at a later date, and make it legal without feeling the pressure to have a fussy and expensive wedding.
In our ceremonies the participants make commitments publicly and say the important things that need to be said before their family and friends. It is family and friends who are crucial to us as Humanists and not a deity. It is they who support us when we need them and who share in the vicissitudes of our lives, who laugh and cry with us and who sometimes drive us mad.
When I take a wedding I suggest that there be a section, early on, asking why are we here today? – Two people met and fell in love- the ‘Story so far’.It should be done with humour. This sets the scene and it makes those present feel relaxed and adds to the intimacy of the occasion. The “ story so far” might consist of a brief profile of each one, the tale of their meeting and becoming “an item” and the dynamics of their domestic life. So when it comes to a naming I would suggest that the couple include a brief section of how their little one came to be (not the biological explanation) as I reckon a child should know the lovely story of how their parents met and their family began.
I believe that community/family support is so significant for couples/parents. I reckon that a Humanist naming/commitment ceremony witnessed by family and friends could become an important element in providing new ways of recognising the reality of peoples lives, the need for stability and an acknowledgment of the establishment of a new family. Indeed, I feel so strongly about this that, for young couples who are not well off, I would be prepared to waive any fee or accept whatever they can afford.
We have booklets for our ceremonies which can be obtained through the BHA website. However, it is usual to have an initial telephone call to get an idea of what kind of ceremony parents/couples want followed by a meeting either at the family’s home in the case of a naming or at the celebrant’s home for a wedding. I would then forward excerpts from our wedding booklet which provides the framework for the ceremony.
A video of me explaining Wedding/Naming Ceremony
My fee for a Wedding/Naming Ceremony is the same as for a Naming. It is £200.