Love and Happiness Lasts Four Times Longer with a Humanist Wedding

In Scotland, humanist weddings have had legal recognition since 2005. This legal recognition means we are able, as accredited humanist celebrants, to ‘do the legal bit’ in addition to the personalised ceremony in Scotland (but not yet England or Wales).

In the last few years, the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Jersey, the Channel Islands, have also updated their marriage laws to allow couples to have a legally-binding humanist wedding.

Humanists UK decided to look at the figures from Scotland, where humanist celebrants now lead more marriages, than Church of Scotland or Roman Catholic. There were 5,072 humanist marriages in Scotland between 2017 and 2018, compared to 3,166 Church of Scotland and 1,182 Roman Catholic (ref: Independent, 2019).

They discovered that couples who choose a humanist wedding are almost four times less likely to divorce than those who married in any other type of ceremony (religious or civil).

Chief Executive of Humanists UK, Andrew Copson, said:

“These figures show what a good start for couples a humanist wedding can be. Humanist weddings are deeply personal, with a unique ceremony crafted for each couple by a celebrant that gets to know them well.”

Perhaps one reason is that couples who choose a humanist wedding ceremony are carefully considering every element, including their own wishes and desire to get married, and placing emphasis on what is really the most significant part of the day.

Thanks to all my couples this summer

As the wedding season is coming to a close, I just want to say a huge thank you to all my couples this summer.
I love being a wedding celebrant. Creating a meaningful, memorable wedding ceremony that is as unique as each couple for whom it’s created. Meeting and getting to know such interesting people so well. It is a real pleasure.
Creating a great humanist wedding ceremony involves the art of story-telling, script-writing and stage direction. It involves bucketloads of creativity and empathy in equal measure.
It involves brain-storming lots of relevant ideas (some that resonate, some that don’t) and lots of research into different walks of life, or poetry and readings, that you might not have even come across.
It’s an adventure, a kind of exploration, and when that gold nugget of an idea, or simple turn of phrase, is found, it’s really exciting.
The best part is during the wedding ceremony itself; seeing the faces of my couples lit up and so happy, knowing that this is a moment that they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.
Thank you for choosing me.

LGBTQ Weddings


Although I’m proud of the fact that Humanist Ceremonies that has been providing weddings since the 1800s for people who otherwise would not been given a chance to celebrate this pivotal point in their lives (whether LGBTQ: lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning), I disagree with the notion that there are any differences in the planning.

To us humanist celebrants, love is love, and whether I’m working with a couple who are bride and groom, or bride and bride, or groom and groom, or however they choose to identify themselves, I’m getting to know a couple and their own unique love story, wishes and ideas.
It’s a holistic, creative process and it’s richer for the interesting stories that people tell me.

In the creative consultation meeting, I want to ensure that a couple’s wedding ceremony is inclusive and meaningful, and reflects their wishes and personalities, so we always think about the different elements. In weddings where the couple identify as the same sex, we might nod to tradition but give it a twist, for example, having two aisles, instead of one.

Many couples say that they find this part of planning their wedding, their wedding ceremony, to be the part where they both feel they’ve been able to have equal input. And it is really heart-warming to know that this is the part that has the potential to establish a sense of equality, inclusivity and personality for the whole wedding, however anyone chooses to identify themselves.

Guernsey weddings

The island of Jersey

Jersey, in the Channel Islands, looks likely to give legal recognition to humanist marriage. They have decided to update the outdated marriage laws, to recognise same sex marriage and humanist marriage, which is exciting news for islanders and people in the U.K.

Jersey, in the Channel Islands, is a stunningly beautiful island that is located near France. The largest of the Channel Islands, it has a wide selection of hotels, historic buildings and sandy beaches. It also benefits from having economical Easyjet flights and is well-connected to UK airports.
Although it’s only a short flight from the U.K, its incredible beauty and microclimate mean it truly feels like a holiday destination.

At the moment, the only accredited, trained and experienced celebrant in the Channel Islands is Gary Vaudin. I was lucky to have been assigned Gary as my mentor whilst I was living in Guernsey. Gary is extremely well-respected on the island as a wedding and funeral celebrant/funeral director.

Unforeseen circumstances sadly meant that my daughter and I had to return to the U.K. but we still visit as much as possible and I am very keen on any opportunity to come back to conduct weddings and I can carry out most meetings via Skype/Facetime.

Humanist Ceremonies are training new celebrants for Jersey and they are being well-guided by mentors in the U.K. All celebrants will have to work to the same code of conduct, and standards of practice.

As accredited celebrants, with Humanists UK (formerly known as the British Humanist Association), we are able to gain permission to conduct weddings with legal recognition in Scotland. Our Head of Ceremonies was able to conduct a wedding with legal recognition in Northern Ireland last year. Hopefully, as legal recognition for humanist marriage is achieved, we will be in the position to conduct meaningful, non-religious weddings in all parts of the British Isles.

Humanists UK continues to campaign on the behalf of non-religious people (now 53% of the population) for their right to have a humanist wedding that is legally recognised (omitting the need for a registrar).
If you have any questions or would like to discuss the possibility of a humanist wedding in Jersey, Guernsey or anywhere in the Channel Islands, please do get in touch.

Eco-friendly Weddings

Thinking green weddings
It’s true that humanism goes hand in hand with loving the great outdoors, nature and animals, as well as (of course) humans.
Many of us celebrants find ourselves sourcing and sharing ideas on how to have a more environmentally-friendly wedding, as many of our couples’ weddings are outdoors. We also all make efforts, however small, like avoiding the printing of scripts until the final stage (I like g:drive for sharing, or tracking suggestions/changes on word) and using public transport whenever possible.
Outdoor weddings are eco-friendly.
Having an outdoor wedding is definitely one step towards being more eco-friendly, as both the Knot and Boho Weddings agree.
Sustainability and restaurants/hotels
However, not all couples choose this option; if you are having a city wedding, and a reception in a hotel or restaurant, you could check to see if they’re a member of the Sustainable Restaurant Association, who set the standards in terms of sustainability, or how seriously they meet those same standards. Do they recycle? Is their produce seasonal? From where is it sourced?
Meat or Veg? Bottles or Cans?
Vegetarian food takes less energy to produce so that might be one step that you take.If you are having an outdoor wedding, what kind of cutlery, cups and plates will you use? There are disposable options that are much more eco-friendly than the ever-evil plastic. There is much debate around whether glass bottles or aluminium cans are more eco-friendly, but general agreement is that the best option is to have your alcohol by tap. So, beer barrels from a local brewery would be the best of all!
Going local.
In fact, local is the way to go for an eco-friendly wedding. Local florists (seasonal flowers), local suppliers (who won’t have to travel so far) for stationery or food, local anything.
The dress, the rings and things
There is a lot of great information about this already. Clearly, vintage is best of all. Vintage rings, or vintage dresses. Anything that can be re-used is better than anything recycled.
An eco-conscious wedding dress
Brides Do Good is an incredible company is helping to stop forced marriage and slavery. You can donate your dress, or choose a beautiful wedding dress from their online shop. However, realistically, a lot of women do want a brand new wedding dress that’s eco-friendly; in that case, head to this article to take a look eco-friendly designer.
Put a ring on it
Vintage/second-hand rings are always the best. But not everyone is lucky enough to be able to source a family ring, or find an antique that will suit them. There are some great companies who are trying to make a difference. Like Brilliant Earth You can look for conflict-free diamonds. Or commission a ring from a company like London Victoria Ring The great thing is that there is clearly a good market for more ethical rings.
And other things
As we know, weddings aren’t just about the dress, the ring or the venues. There are lots of other eco-friendly ideas on this fantastic site The Natural Wedding Site
Decorations are often disposable and the most energy efficient is recycled paper. Papel picardo, which is hand-crafted, personalised, intricate paper garlands, is a good way to decorate your venue and you could keep some pieces afterwards in frames. This company, Art Mexico, looks after the artisans who make the papel picardo, making sure they are fair-trade and the finest quality.
As celebrants, we are often asked about confetti, and we check with venues/locations. I always recommend natural, biodegradable dried petals if possible. I was delighted when our Humanist Ceremonies stand at the National Wedding Show, Olympia, was right next to Shropshire Petals, and I was able to chat to the staff who were there, who explained all the elements that were considered in producing the petals.
At some other ceremonies, the guests have been given bubbles to blow, which looks lovely on camera too.
There are plenty of other ways in which we can be sustainable. Please feel free to add your ideas!

legal humanist ceremony

Legalising it

Is a humanist wedding legal?
Humanist marriage gained legal recognition in Scotland in 2005 and the Republic of Ireland in 2012. Earlier this year, in June 2017, a humanist couple, spokesperson/model, Laura LaCole and pro footballer, Eunan O’Kane, won their right to have a legal humanist wedding ceremony in Northern Ireland.
They had the first humanist wedding with legal recognition in the United Kingdom in June.
However, the Attorney General appealed and we are still waiting for the outcome of a further hearing.
Scottish Humanist Weddings
With Scotland celebrating its 50,000th legal humanist wedding since 2005 this summer, it can feel like the rest of the UK is still in the dark ages. Humanists UK have been campaigning for the legal recognition of humanist marriage on the grounds of equality; it should be the equal right for non-religious people to have legal humanist wedding ceremonies.

In Scotland, humanist weddings are like Jewish weddings, in that they can be held anywhere. Jewish weddings do not need a licensed venue, just a Rabbi. In the same way, a humanist wedding ceremony would simply need an accredited humanist celebrant. This is important as by choosing a Humanist Ceremonies accredited celebrant, it means that if the marriage laws are brought up to date to allow legal humanist weddings, then your celebrant may be able to do the legal part (which currently has to be done by a registrar).
The legal part is simply a couple of standardised sentences, so these could be easily slipped into your unique, personalised humanist ceremony.

It’s also worth knowing that we Humanist Ceremonies celebrants have an arrangement with Scotland so we can go to Scotland and conduct legal humanist wedding ceremonies there. If you are interested in having your wedding in Scotland and you are looking for a humanist celebrant, please get in touch. Most of us celebrants are happy to travel to the Highlands to conduct a legal humanist wedding!

Do we need to go to a registrar?

In the UK, at the time of writing, you will need to go to the registrar for the ‘legal bit’. However, you can save the ring exchange, the meaningful words, the promises, the readings and all the parts that make your unique, memorable wedding ceremony, for your humanist wedding ceremony. You can go to the registrar a few days or weeks before your wedding day, or afterwards. So, that flexibility means you can choose the cheapest midweek option at the registrar.

What’s the difference between a registar’s wedding ceremony and a humanist one?
A humanist celebrant will take time to get to know you, to collaborate creatively, and research and write a personalised ceremony for you. A registar will probably use the same script with gap fills for your name.
Unlike a registrar, who may do several ceremonies in one day, a humanist celebrant will tend to only take one wedding ceremony on one day so it is not rushed. In fact, many couples prefer the fact that there is nothing rushed about a humanist ceremony, although they can be as long or as short as you decide.

I have worked with a registrar in the past, who came to the wedding ceremony. We had a break of music to clearly define the difference between her legal part (which was only a few minutes’ long) and the humanist ceremony. The registrar was really easy to work with, as we were both focussed on the couple themselves, and what the couple wanted. Family and friends all really enjoyed the humanist ceremony; without which, it would have not felt as meaningful.

Personally, as a humanist celebrant and free thinker, I dream of the day that we gain legal recognition for humanist marriage and a time when it will be extraordinary to think that this human right was ever denied to humanist or non-religious people.
Same sex marriage laws have finally been changed, so now it’s time to consider non-religious and humanist people too.
(NB These are all my own views/opinions)


Winter is coming and it’s time for cosy nights in, researching and writing the first drafts of ceremonies.

One of the great parts of being a celebrant is hearing the unique true stories of what brought people together, how they met, what made them fall in love, the reasons they have stayed together and perhaps the proposal, or their shared passions.

A personalised ceremony script gives you a chance to have your story told in a way that will resonate with your friends and family. It’s also a chance to choose what you wish to be said, way before any speeches at dinner.

There’s an art to writing the story so that it is captures people’s attention and evokes emotion; I always think that if we see smiles and some tears (of joy) then it is a success.
We can also include subtle references or inside jokes that only you both will know, or even some surprises for your friends and family.

Many of the couples I meet have met online and think that there is little to be told of how they met; but we often find appealing anecdotes in the early days of their dates, or in other parts of their story together.

Unlike a best man’s speech, you have complete control of the ceremony script, so we can edit, or completely change it, as you wish.

And after the ceremony, I give you a presentation script, so you will always have your own love story to be able to share with future generations.

8 Tips for Outdoor Weddings

Outdoor weddings are incredible. There is something really special about choosing a unique, picturesque location for your wedding ceremony. This might be a garden, a terrace, a woodland, in a park, on a canal boat, on a bridge over a river, or a pier out to sea.
Humanist wedding ceremonies can be anywhere, at anytime. We all know that British summers are lush, green and unpredictable. Rain is the pain that is always on the bridal brain in the run up to the big day.
But, as Dolly Parton once wisely said, “The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.”
1.Cover outdoor chairs with plastic so your guests don’t have to deal with wet bums. Get the groomsmen, or close friends, to remove the covers before the bride’s entrance.
2.Are your photographers prepared for cloudier skies and the light being low? Extra lighting, especially in early evenings with cloudy skies, might be necessary.
3.Buy a bulk box of cheap umbrellas.
4.Make sure you have a microphone and a portable speaker for music (with rain covers too).
5.Have a roll of mat for the aisle, so it can be rolled out before the bride’s dress gets splattered.
6.Make sure the ceremony script and readings are in a plastic pocketed, leather presentation book.
7. Make sure outdoor furniture is weighted down. That nothing is going to suddenly start to fly away!
8.The wind. Think about your hair style. I’m serious! If it’s windy, you may find it tricky to see; slides and hairspray (for the guys and girls) might help.

humanist weddings

Is a humanist wedding legal?

Are humanist weddings legal?
Yes! Of course, humanist weddings are legal. They’re not illegal. However, as the law in the UK currently stands, a humanist marriage is not legally recognised, so a couple has to visit a registry office or a registrar has to perform the ‘legal bit’, before or after the humanist wedding ceremony.
Will my humanist wedding feel real?
Most couples choose to visit a registry office before their wedding. Many people are concerned that this will affect the feeling of their humanist ceremony; but we’re told, time and again, that these fears are unfounded. As Humanists UK celebrants, we are trained carefully to write and conduct humanist ceremonies that personalised and reflect your personalities, and resonate with your family and friends.
So, the humanist ceremony creates the real memory.
Many couples choose to keep the ritual of the ring exchange for their humanist wedding ceremony. In the ‘legal bit’, there are specific words that must be exchanged, so there is nothing personal in those. Your names are just filling the gaps.
The current status of the campaign for legal recognition.
Humanists UK is campaigning hard for the equal rights of non-religious people in the UK, including the legal recognition of humanist marriage. Humanist weddings gained legal recognition in Scotland in 2005. As a result, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of humanist wedding ceremonies, and Scottish celebrants; in fact, they’ve just celebrated their 50,000th ceremony! Humanists UK work closely with Humanist Society Scotland and, if you wish to have a wedding in Scotland with a Humanists UK celebrant, with legal recognition it is possible for us to apply for a special permit (ask me directly for more details!)
The Republic of Ireland gained legal recognition for humanist marriage in 2012. And Humanists UK has been supporting a case that has been won by Leeds United footballer, Eunan O’Kane, and Laura Lacole, to make their humanist wedding legal in Northern Ireland. Humanists UK’s Head of Ceremonies, Isabel Russo, happily conducted the first humanist wedding ceremony with legal recognition in the UK on the 22nd June 2017. As the original outcome of the court was appealed, we have to wait until September to know if we have won the rights for all humanists in Northern Ireland. But we’re so proud of this particular humanist couple for persevering to have their own humanist wedding with legal recognition.
Why hasn’t humanist marriage in the UK been given legal recognition yet?
This is a question that, as Humanist UK celebrants, we all ask ourselves, all the time. We’re lucky that we are part of Humanists UK, who are campaigning for the rights of all non-religious people. Many people wonder if it’s because of the need for registered venues, or churches, because, humanist weddings can be held anywhere. However, Jewish weddings can be held anywhere.
When/if we gain legal recognition, then Humanists UK celebrants will have to be trained, and then we hope that they will have the permission to conduct the ceremony in any place. If Scientologists and other organised religions can have legal recognition of their marriages, why not humanists? After all, non-religious people, who often identify as humanists, should have equal rights to people who identify with organised religions. (Here’s a link to a quick check how humanist you are: How humanist are you?)
Whilst we wait for the UK to catch up with Scotland and Ireland, and give equal rights to non-religious people in allowing the legal recognition to humanist marriage, Humanists UK will continue to select, train and accredit wedding celebrants, ensuring that this largest network of professional humanist celebrants adhere to a strict code of conduct and receive continual professional development.
I’m really proud to be part of a large network of great celebrants and, as a genuine humanist, represent Humanists UK (aka The British Humanist Association), a national charity that has been campaigning for equal rights for non-religious people (including women’s rights & LGBT rights), since 1896.
If you are thinking about having a humanist wedding at the end of 2017 or in 2018 or 2019, you may even be lucky enough that the campaign has achieved its goals; in which case I’ll be able to offer you a humanist wedding ceremony that includes the legal bit. (You may even be one of the first couples in the UK to experience a humanist wedding with legal recognition!)
And if you have a humanist wedding with me or one of our other celebrants, then you can apply for a year’s free membership for you both and enjoy free events, free-thinking discussion and interesting talks throughout the year, including updates on the campaign for the legal recognition of humanist marriage. What’s not to love about that?!

What is a humanist wedding ceremony?


Humanist weddings are an increasingly popular choice for people who want a personal, non-religious ceremony. It differs from a civil ceremony in that it is entirely hand-crafted and reflective of the personalities of the couple, as well as the shared beliefs and values. It is written and conducted by a humanist celebrant, who has been selected, trained and accredited by Humanists UK.

1) A humanist wedding ceremony is personalised. A Humanists UK celebrant will meet with the couple and listen to their wishes, and get to know their personalities, as well as their ideas and plans for their wedding. Each ceremony is bespoke and hand-crafted for the couple, so no two ceremonies are the same. There are almost no limitations to what a humanist ceremony can be; the couple can choose what to include, for example the style, the promises, the rituals, readings or poetry. Many couples choose to include traditional features, such as the ring exchange, the promises, the walk down the aisle. However, unlike traditional ceremonies, a humanist ceremony also gives the couple a chance to have their story told in their own way.

2) A humanist wedding ceremony is respectful. Humanists respect people of all faiths and religions; Humanists UK celebrants are all genuine humanists, many of whom also have an interest in learning about different cultures and religions. Humanists believe that we have only one life and therefore it is our responsibility to make it a good life and make ethical decisions based on empathy, reason and a concern for human beings and other sentient animals. Humanists believe in the absence of an afterlife, and any discernible purpose to the universe, humans can act to give their own lives meaning by seeking happiness in this life and helping others to do the same. A humanist wedding ceremony can contain a quiet time for personal prayer, or even a religious reading by someone other than the humanist celebrant; as long as the couple requests this.

3) A humanist wedding ceremony is creative. It can be traditional or contemporary, but it is always original. From remote locations to fancy dress, from the epitome of luxury to the wildly rustic style of weddings, from subtle differences to the traditional ceremony to the outright extraordinary, the ideas are endless. A celebrant will ask you about your dreams for your wedding day and give suggestions on how your ceremony could reflect it.

4) A humanist wedding ceremony is inclusive. Unlike other ceremonies, there is the opportunity to mention significant people (present or absent) at the beginning of the ceremony. This is often very much appreciated, especially when friends or family have travelled from afar, or there are people whom the couple wish to particularly thank. Furthermore, there is the chance to include significant people, either by asking them to read a poem or reading, or involving them in rituals.

5) A humanist wedding ceremony will be memorable. With traditional or civil ceremonies, it all sounds a bit the same. However, humanist ceremonies are artfully crafted to ensure that they will be remembered and there is always something new for someone in each one, whether that is a different ritual, the love story, or a piece of poetry.

6) A humanist wedding ceremony won’t be in a church, unless that church has been deconsecrated. A humanist wedding ceremony can be absolutely anywhere that you want it to be. From beaches, to restaurants, to castles, to people’s back gardens, there is almost no limit to where you can have your humanist wedding ceremony. A church can often feel like a cold, daunting place for many people, especially if they are not religious. In contrast, humanist wedding ceremonies are full of warmth, whatever the weather.

7) A humanist wedding ceremony will probably contain some traditional elements. Most brides choose to walk up the aisle to entrance music, and couples almost always choose to have the ring exchange, and make vows or promises together. However, with humanist wedding ceremonies, anything is possible. So, if you don’t want to walk up an aisle, or your both want to walk up aisles, you can choose to do it whichever way you want.

8) A humanist wedding ceremony by a Humanists UK celebrant is quality assured. All the Humanists UK celebrants have been selected and trained to the highest standards. To maintain their accreditation with the largest network of humanist celebrants in the UK, which is part of the Humanists UK charity, they have to adhere to a strict code of conduct. This is really reassuring for any couple. Humanists UK celebrants also have Public Liability and Professional Indemnity insurance. So, if a celebrant trips and knocks into the wedding cake, this can be claimed on their insurance. (nb we have never heard of this happening yet).

9) Humanist wedding ceremonies reflect shared humanist values and beliefs. There is always at least one person who is attending a humanist ceremony for the first time. Humanists believe that we have only one life and therefore it is our responsibility to make it a good life and make ethical decisions based on empathy, reason and a concern for human beings and other sentient animals. Humanists trust scientific methods when it comes to understanding the universe and reject the idea of the supernatural, in the same way as being atheist or agnostic. Humanists believe in the absence of an afterlife, and any discernible purpose to the universe, humans can act to give their own lives meaning by seeking happiness in this life and helping others to do the same.

10) Humanist wedding ceremonies often evoke emotion; bringing tears (of joy) and smiles and laughter. Each ceremony is created to resonate with the couple and the couple’s friends and family. This creates an empathy, understanding and emotion for your wedding guests. Older relatives may be really impressed; I’ve had the father of the bride give me a bear hug of gratitude afterwards! You can expect your friends and family to be enthused after your ceremony, and some of them may choose to have their own humanist ceremony one day.

Written by Natasha Gray
Humanist/non-religious wedding celebrant, with Humanist Ceremonies

Creative, Unique, Personalised Humanist Wedding Ceremonies,
Partnerships, Namings and Civil Ceremonies