Few people have heard about or been to a Humanist wedding, but the number is growing (around 1,000 each year!). For many people choosing a Humanist ceremony, the ‘look and feel’ of the wedding is not that different from any other kind.
However, the lack of restrictions on the location and content of Humanist ceremony means that the world is your oyster – you can get married up a hill, on the beach or in your own back garden, for example. You can opt for the white dress and coat with tails or wear your favourite jeans and wellies. You can have a sit down, four course meal or fish and chips followed by ice cream. It can be formal and serious or light hearted and humorous. It really is up to you and I will do everything in my power to help you achieve your dreams.
At present, you will still need to take care of the legal formalities at a Register Office to become legally married. This does not detract from your ‘real’ wedding ceremony, which is designed just for you, including your chosen words, wishes and actions, and will take place in the company of those who are important to you. Contrary to popular belief, there is no requirement to exchange rings at the register office; you can save all the important moments for your humanist ceremony. You can also hold your Humanist ceremony on the same day, and/or at the same place as your legal marriage. This does not invalidate a venue’s license.
Vows, promises and commitments
It is common place to include some vows or commitments during the ceremony. These can be as traditional or personal as you like. You might seek inspiration from poetry, the lyrics of a song or your own loving thoughts of one another. If you would like to retain an element of surprise and keep the words you would like to say to each other a surprise until the day itself, I can help you draft them and make sure that they are part of the final printed ceremony.
Writing the ceremony
Some people look to their Celebrant to write the whole ceremony, whilst others will be more hands on. This may involve as little as writing a few lines of vows to suggesting a special poem up to writing a large part of the ceremony itself. My role is to understand how much you want to do yourselves and how much you want to leave up to me. Whatever the approach, I will ensure that everything is blended together into one beautiful flowing ceremony.
You might like to think about the music you would like to have at your ceremony. Typically, there is music played whilst guests are assembling, as the bride or couple arrives, during any interludes in the ceremony (such as the signing of a certificate), as an entity in its own right, and as the couple exit at the end of the ceremony. Naturally I can make suggestions, but this is an opportunity to make the ceremony reflect you as a couple by including music that is very personal and special to you.
Symbolic acts or gestures
You will probably be aware of the exchange of rings as a symbolic act during a wedding ceremony. However, there are lots of other things that can be incorporated into your ceremony, perhaps to reflect your culture or to provide a focus for involving family members and close friends.
There are too many possibilities to list here, but I will be happy to discuss options with you, or to research something that would be relevant.
Here the list really is endless and I am not in a position to make recommendations. In any case, you will probably have selected your venue before you contact me. However, my role will be to help you think through the practicalities and possibilities of your chosen location. Here are a few ideas from ceremonies I have delivered:
Humanists are committed to social equality, and Humanists UK was active in campaigning for the rights of people to get married regardless of sex or sexuality. When two people are in love and wish to make a public commitment to each other, we are only too happy to be involved, regardless of gender, sex, identity, disability, age, race or belief.
As Humanists, we recognise that not everyone holds the same beliefs. Whist a Humanist wedding ceremony is primarily a non-religious ceremony, some people may choose to include a moment of quiet reflection where people may say a silent prayer if they want to. Whilst I personally would not want to say anything religious, for want of being a hypocrite, I would not say that you couldn’t include your favourite poem or song, just because it has some religious content. Things can always be adapted or read by someone for whom this has more meaning.
All celebrants accredited by Humanists UK work on a self-employed, franchise basis. As such, there is no one fixed price, but we usually work within a recommended range so you know what to expect. This is published here.
My basic fee is £500 including travel within a 50-mile radius from Knaresborough (with additional mileage being charged at 45p per mile). Any additional expenses are charged on a cost recovery basis.
I contribute a percentage of each ceremony fee received to Humanists UK as a levy towards celebrants’ training and quality assurance standards and to the promotion and development of the Humanist Ceremonies network.
- An initial conversation
- Up to three planning meetings (this may not be needed, but some people prefer face-to-face contact)
- Travel costs within a 50-mile radius of Knaresborough
- As much contact by email, text, phone, Skype, Facetime as necessary
- Writing and agreeing the ceremony
- A rehearsal
- The ceremony itself
- A keepsake copy of the script
- A commemorative certificate (optional)