Do you have to be a humanist to have a humanist ceremony?
You don’t have to be a humanist to have a humanist wedding ceremony. Couples choose to have humanist weddings, as an alternative to a religious wedding, for a wide variety of reasons.
Humanist weddings have the freedom of being held anywhere you want and in any way you want. They are able to authentically represent your individual beliefs, your shared moral values, tell your story and what you love about each other, in a way which will resonate with your wedding guests. Humanist weddings don’t have to follow a particular format, or be rushed, or be a service to anyone but you. (Any service in a religious institution is centred on being a service to the religious deity/ies of that place of worship.)
In a humanist wedding, it’s possible to reflect different cultural backgrounds, and be considerate towards and inclusive of members of your families and friends who may hold different faiths.
Do humanist celebrants want to convert people to humanism?
Not at all. Being humanist means associating with free thought, kindness, integrity and tolerance. As a humanist celebrant, I try to illustrate these positive attributes and I work to the Humanist Ceremonies’ shared code of conduct and standards of practice.
Not only do I deeply respect that people hold a variety of faiths, beliefs and religions, but I also have a very active interest in developing my own knowledge and understanding, and a passion for learning about rituals and customs in particular.
What is a humanist celebrant and why should I use one?
Wedding Celebrant, Marriage Celebrant, Civil Celebrant, Officiant, Registrar – these are all words to describe a person who will conduct your wedding, baby naming or vow renewal ceremony. Any independent celebrant can call themselves a humanist celebrant, but choosing a celebrant who is accredited with Humanists UK will give you the assurance of high quality standards and the reassurance of knowing that they represent a well-known charitable organisation with 5* reviews for the ceremonies its celebrants conduct.
My grandmother is really quite religious and so I’d like to show some respect for that. Is there a chance to do that in our humanist ceremony?
Yes, although humanist weddings are non-religious by their nature, humanists respect that people may hold their own faiths. Humanism can be explained briefly and an affirmation of the respect for other faiths at the beginning of the ceremony. It is also possible to include quiet time for people’s religious prayer, or a cultural tradition that would be inclusive of your grandmother.
We would like to include a song that everyone can sing, like a hymn, but non-religious. Is this possible?
A great idea as quite often people love to sing at ceremonies. Songs should be no longer than three verses, familiar to almost everyone and easy to sing. There are lots of suggestions, from Humanist Ceremonies celebrant network, that I can give you. Many familiar hymns can be adapted so they’re non-religious. I can also find songs that are good to sing as a group.
We’d like to write our own vows/promises, is this possible?
Most definitely. With a humanist wedding ceremony, almost anything is possible. If you need help with writing your promises, the advice and help is included in the service. If you wish to keep your personal promises to each other a surprise for the actual ceremony, then you can send them separately to me and I can ensure that they are a similar length and tone of voice.
We’d like to include our children, but they are too young/nervous to do a reading. What can we do?
It is possible to include anyone you wish in the actual ceremony; there are many creative ways in which to do this. Hand fasting, a traditional Celtic ritual in which ribbons or cords are wrapped around the couple’s hands, is where the expression ‘to tie a knot’ actually comes from. It’s possible to involve others in helping to wrap the ribbons or cords. Alternatively, candle-lighting, sand and pebble mixing, wish boxes are all ways in which you can include others and create a memorable ceremony.
We have booked to do the ‘formal bit’ at the registry office a couple of days before the actual wedding. Will this affect our feelings at the ceremony?
The bespoke wedding ceremony itself, in front of all the friends and family, in the vision that the couple has created, ensures that it feels completely real. Many couples choose to keep the ritual of the ring exchange to the actual wedding ceremony. Some couples choose to read the same vows or promises at the registry office as the wedding ceremony, others prefer to do the bare minimum at the registry office. Most brides prefer to keep their dress for the special wedding ceremony in front of all their family and friends.
Will my religious relatives be offended by my wedding ceremony?
Never. As your celebrant, I work with couples and parents to ensure that the ceremony script is inclusive. You can choose to include a time for private thought or prayer. Sometimes, people may choose an adapted hymn. I won’t risk my integrity by reading a prayer or a religious text, but there are many familiar religious texts that do not make reference to religion, and you can choose to have a relevant, religious relative read one of these.
How much does a humanist wedding ceremony cost?
My fees for 2021 are, as follows:
- £150 creative consultation and research
- £200 script writing
- £350 conduct wedding ceremony (rehearsal, travel, preparation)
This costs includes:
- Bespoke Wedding Ceremony
- Attendance on day (arrival 1 hour minimum before ceremony)
- Presentation Script
- Fees to Humanist Ceremonies
- Public Liability and Professional Indemnity Insurance
This is negotiable (for example, I offer a 10% discount to key workers) so please don’t let costs stop you from considering a humanist wedding, or choosing me as your celebrant.
Our costs are usually small in comparison to the overall wedding budget, but your ceremony plays an enormous part in your wedding day. It is the part of the day that contains the most meaning, and may even be the most memorable.
For a wedding in the Bailiwick of Guernsey, my fees are £1,000 (which includes travel & accommodation. I love a chance to visit the island and my friends there. It was home for a lot of my life, and where my daughter spent her childhood, so if feels like a second home.
If your ceremony is abroad (i.e. not in the British Isles), then a return flight and 3* accommodation near the ceremony would need to be added to the cost. But as I love travelling, I charge only £1,000 for a wedding abroad.