What is a Humanist Ceremony?

Everything you need to know about planning a humanist wedding in the UK.

 

 

You may have heard the term ‘humanist wedding’ recently. Whether you know exactly what that entails or you’re curious to find out more, here’s the low down on humanist ceremonies and how to plan them.

 

If you’re still looking for a venue, feel free to take a look at 75 of the London venues I love over here.

 

 

What is a Humanist Ceremony?

 

Humanist weddings are basically a ceremony minus the religious aspect. There’s no set rules or script for how a humanist ceremony should play out. Every ceremony is completely unique to the couple and how they want to celebrate their unification.

 

Having a non-religious wedding ceremony is an opportunity to marry however you want since there is no required wording involved. Humanist ceremonies are generally very flexible, personal, sincere, and authentic. The focus is largely on the couple and how they want to tell their story and celebrate their marriage.

 

There is usually a celebrant involved who is chosen by the couple. You can find out more about celebrants over here. Basically they are certified professionals that conduct personal milestone ceremonies.

 

 

What do humanists believe?

 

Just to be clear, you do not have to believe in humanism to have a humanist ceremony. The basis of humanism is empathy and showing care for all sentient beings. It’s a non-religious philosophy explained very well by Humanist UK.

 

The philosophy is supported by non-religious individuals who understand the universe from a scientific perspective. Humanists believe we can live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity.

 

They encourage happiness and a concern for the wellbeing of our human race to be the driving force of moral decision making. Their philosophy doesn’t support the idea of an afterlife, nor a specific purpose for our universe.

 

The belief system is based on plenty of empathy and a sincere approach to seeking true happiness. But as I mentioned, you don’t have to be a humanist to enjoy a humanist celebration! Celebrants generally welcome all walks of life, regardless of beliefs or personal background.

 

Are humanist ceremonies legal?

 

Unfortunately, in England and Wales, humanist weddings have no legal status. If you would like to be legally married, then it’s best to have a civil wedding at the register office as well. You can take a look at my guide to planning a registry office wedding here. Alternatively, you can opt to have a registrar present at the ceremony.

 

Humanist marriages do, however, have legal recognition in Scotland and Northern Island.

How much does a humanist wedding ceremony cost?

 

Just like weddings, it really depends on the couple! Humanist ceremonies are incredibly personal so the event is completely tailored according to your choices as a couple. A humanist wedding can generally cost anything between £400 and £1500 – it’s totally up to you and your budget!

 

Some celebrants charge up to £1000 depending on how many additional wedding planning services they offer. Other expenses to include would be determined on your location, celebration, and what the ceremony entails.

 

How long does a humanist wedding ceremony last?

 

Like I mentioned at the beginning, there are no set rules for a humanist ceremony. It’s totally up to you and your partner! Ceremonies typically tend to last for about 30 minutes but it depends on what you decide on with your celebrant. You are welcome to make it shorter or longer. Do whatever feels authentic and sincere to who you are as a couple and your guests will be happy to be there witnessing your union!

 

Where can we host our humanist ceremony?

 

Again, this is completely up to you! If you want to have a barbecue in the backyard – go for it! If you want to splurge and choose one of the most regal venues in London – why not! The only venues you will have to double-check with are religious buildings such as register offices and churches. There may be some who will welcome you but others may not due to the non-religious connotations.

 

What do we wear to a humanist wedding ceremony?

 

There is nothing stopping you from suiting up in a traditional white wedding gown and tuxedo. But, that is not a requirement at all. You can wear whatever you feel like, so if something more alternative is what you’re after then go wild! Your wedding attire is just as much in your court as the rest of your ceremony will be.

Blonde bride with flowers in her looking at her groom smiling

 

How do I plan a humanist wedding ceremony?

 

  • First of all, find a celebrant you feel connected to. To find a celebrant in the UK, take a look at their website here. It might be a good idea to also ask your other vendors if they know of any good celebrants they can refer.
  • Determine the intention and purpose behind why you want to have this ceremony. I have a great free downloadable workbook that you can go through with your partner to help you with this. It helps, I promise! You can grab it here.
  • Decide what traditional wedding elements you would like to incorporate and what elements unique to your relationship you would like to bring in. Don’t be afraid to get creative and imaginative!
  • Agree on how you would like to share your vows with each other and discuss a timeline with your celebrant. Let your celebrant in on your vision for the day so they can help you curate a script that will work for your unique ceremony.
  • Meals and music make any event magic! Make sure those two basics are taken care of.
  • Choose a wedding venue that suits you and figure out how to incorporate your register office ceremony. You could include this as a part of your day or do it separately on your own.
  • Get as personal as possible! It’s the little details that count so make your ceremony extra special by focusing on the aspects that are truly important to you. Find fun ways to include your guests in your love story.

 

If you are planning a micro-wedding during COVID-19, I have a great guide that you can access over here!

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If you want to talk through someone about your wedding day, chat through how many hours of coverage would be right for you, supplier recommendations and you’re interested in a creative documentary approach to your wedding photography – I would love to chat to you.

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