New Rules: Humanist weddings allowed

The UK government’s new legislation, regarding the ‘rule of 6’ and the amended rules around weddings, allows Humanist weddings under ‘belief’ weddings, to a maximum number of 30.

This is great news for Humanist weddings, as we have been striving to be identified as secular/non-religious belief weddings. Humanists believe in looking to science, reason, empathy and compassion in order to live an ethical and meaningful life. We believe that people don’t need religion to hold good moral values.

Are you a humanist? Here is a fun little quiz that you can take or share.

Are you looking for a humanist wedding celebrant?

I’m available:

  • 10th/11th October
  • 17th/18th October
  • 24th/25th October
  • 31st October/1st November
  • 14th/15th November
  • 21st/22nd November
  • 28th/29th November
  • 5th/6th December

I live between Brighton and London, and I’m happy to travel anywhere over the South East (Surrey, East Sussex, West Sussex, Kent, Hampshire, Essex).

Thinking about having a humanist wedding in 2021?

2021 looks optimistically as if there’ll be a lot of weddings, as many couples have had to delay their weddings and other couples have decided to lock down their love after lockdown.

On top of that, Humanists UK has been supporting six couples in High Court and as an accredited Humanists UK celebrant, I’m keeping a close eye and holding onto the hope that we will succeed in gaining legal recognition of humanist marriage in England and Wales, as they have done in Scotland (since 2005), the Republic of Ireland (2012), Northern Ireland (2018), Jersey (2019), Guernsey (agreed-2021+). This means that by choosing a wedding celebrant who is accredited with Humanists UK, you may be able to avoid the extra expense and effort of a registrar in 2021. I’m keeping all my couples updated with any news!

I’ve still got availability in May, one weekend in June, and Saturdays in July, August and September so please get in touch! I’m also going to start researching and putting together a list of beautiful venues and locations in London and the South East with availability too. So please get in touch if you’re thinking about having a humanist wedding in 2021!

Update on weddings 2020

Never did any of us imagine the disaster of a global pandemic in 2020.

My heart goes out to every couple who have had their dream day disrupted by this, as well as people whose livelihoods rely on the wedding season.

Two of my couples have had to move their May/June weddings to 2021 already. Just to note for any couples reading this, prospective or booked, I’m still available on these Saturday dates:

22nd August 2020 – available

29th August 2020 – available

19th September 2020 – available

26th September 2020 – available

Also, available on Sunday 30th August (the following day is a bank holiday) And I can be available on other days and October onwards.

For any couples who book with me, of course, there is no cost for re-scheduling dates and I have plenty of availability.

Having spent the last few weeks feeling lost in coronaville, the onset of Spring and all its blooming glorious blossom and bluebells, and the beautiful sunshine that’s beamed on our long weekend is bringing a bounce back to my step. Time to get back to the love stories…

If you need to chat about your wedding, or plans, or have any questions at all, please get in touch.

Reassurance/Advice re: Coronavirus and Weddings Summer 2020

Strange times and how this affects our couples and their weddings this year is unknown. ‘Keep calm and carry on’ seems to be as poignant a message today as it was for our grandparents and great grandparents. 

So, the following are just some positive actions/thoughts for my couples this summertime, that I thought I’d share. As the situation is changing daily, there’s also list of the most useful, updated official advice further below:

  • Of course, I’m happy to hold meetings via Skype/Facetime during the next month, to avoid unnecessary travel or contact. Please be assured that I will let you know immediately if I have to self-isolate; this hasn’t happened and I’ve always been slightly OCD about hand-washing/personal hygiene anyway.
  • If you wish to organise the filming of your wedding ceremony for friends and relatives who are unable to travel, or are over 70 and do not wish to risk travel, please note that I’m happy to help with that. We can stage the ceremony so that the audience, whether in the same vicinity or elsewhere, can be part of your wedding ceremony. Your ceremony could be streamed live (I’ve done this before and it worked brilliantly). There are small adjustments we can make to ensure the ceremony is visible and can be heard. Also, I have trusted videographers I can recommend, or we can set up something simple, depending on budget.
  • It’s good to reassure your guests that your humanist wedding can be held anywhere, and many can be held outside, or in larger spaces, so the guests can be arranged spaciously. We don’t have to conform to any layout, which might help if you decide to segregate people ‘at risk’ from other guests in close quarters.
  • If you are considering rebooking, please see my calendar below, which shows committed dates, as I still have a lot of availability and of course, I’ll be as flexible as possible if you decide to move your wedding ceremony to a different date.

I understand that this must be a worrying time for all of you who are organising weddings. 

On a personal note, my brother lives in Hong Kong (with his wife and my two young nieces) and he sent a reassuring message that the situation seems to be getting better there now.

With large scale festivals and events being cancelled, and so much self-isolation currently happening, the optimist in me thinks that the chances to come together for family and friends to celebrate your weddings with you will be even more meaningful.  

Please stay safe and keep well. TashaXx

Dates currently unavailable:

30.05.20
06.06.20
18.07.20
25.07.19
01.08.20
08.08.20
15.08.20
05.09.20
12.09.20
06.11.20

Links to Official Advice:

The Government’s Response. Includes a detailed guide to the government’s response and includes recommended publications and specialist blogs.

– NHS Overview. Provides valuable public health information on the coronavirus and important advice on the associated risks.

– Latest Government Advice. Contains a comprehensive breakdown of all Coronavirus areas of concern.

– Twitter Updates. Receive accurate and reliable information directly from the UK Department for Health and Social Care.

Please be advised that the government and NHS links are updated live due to the rapidly changing situation.

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

LGBTQ

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)