Do I have to be a humanist to have a humanist wedding ceremony?
No - you certainly do not have to be a humanist to have a humanist wedding ceremony! Although many people who are interested in humanist wedding ceremonies, who have never heard of humanism before, often stumble across it, and realise that the general ethos of humanism fits their values perfectly. Humanist wedding ceremonies by nature are unique, romantic, highly memorable and very personal. They do not feature any religious or spiritual content in readings, vows or song, so are perfect for non-religious or even inter faith couples who prefer not to have religious content in their wedding.
What is humanism?
Humanists believe that we only get one life so we should live the best life we can, without
following any religion, belief in any god or a belief in an afterlife. Humanists believe that
we should treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves – ie with equality and
fairness –with humanity. Humanists believe that we should take responsibility for our own
actions, and have respect for the environment and every living thing that shares our
natural world. We make sense of the world through logic, reason, and evidence, and always seek to treat those around us with warmth, understanding, and respect - whatever age, size, race, religion, ability, gender or sexual orientation.
The richness of our lives depends on our consciousness. It allows us to reason, to deliberate
between options, to imagine alternatives, to make choices, and to evaluate and reflect upon
them. It is not just that we can make choices, but we have to make choices.
We’re not religious, but our families are – will they feel it’s appropriate?
In many people’s opinions, humanist wedding ceremonies are perhaps the best, most personal and uplifting weddings of all. It is usual these days to have representation from all cultures, religions and beliefs within a wedding party and guest list. This is where a humanist wedding really excels. Humanists don’t follow any religion but we are totally accepting of others’ beliefs in all faiths and religions. Therefore ceremonies are designed to be entirely inclusive so that everyone – regardless of their beliefs - feels comfortable with, and a part of what will be one of the most important celebrations and occasions in your life. If you really want someone to read or sing something religious that’s poignant to them for whatever reason, I can certainly discuss options with you!
What kind of symbolic act can we include?
We can include customs and traditions from any culture or religion – eg the exchange of rings, other jewelry or garlands; glass smashing, hand fasting, sand mixing, the lighting of a unity candle, drinking from a loving cup, tree planting or jumping the broom. Or let your imagination run wild and make up your own symbolic act!
We've already booked a registrar for a small civil wedding. Can we have a humanist wedding ceremony as well?
Yes, a humanist wedding ceremony is a fantastic way of including all guests in your wedding rather than just having an afterparty, if you want to tie the knot at a legal ceremony with a select few witnesses. It will make your and their day feel incredibly special. We can still have all aspects of a humanist wedding ceremony and can include any symbolic act if you wish to exchange rings at the register office.
Is a humanist wedding legally recognized?
Humanist weddings are now legally recognized in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Jersey. However, England is still dragging its feet. Humanists UK are on the case so hopefully they will become legally recognized really soon. In the meantime, legally, people can have a wedding and change their surnames if they wish to without registering their celebration with a legally appointed registrar or religious minister. However, most couples who choose to get married prefer to have the wedding legally recognized for financial reasons and to legally change their surnames on the passport, bank account, driving licence and other official documents.
There are various options available from as little as £46. There is an option of having the registrar at the same venue and/or on the same day as your humanist ceremony, but it must be within a separate ceremony. Most couples choose to do the legal paperwork within a week before or after their humanist wedding ceremony, however there is no restriction on time.
Click here for more information :https://www.gov.uk/marriages-civil-partnerships.
For more information, please visit: https://humanism.org.uk/…/human-rights-and-e…/marriage-laws/
For more information on Giving Notice of Marriage or Civl Partnership at North Yorkshire County Council (Harrogate Register Office) https://www.northyorks.gov.uk/give-notice-marriage-or-civil…
For current information on civil partnerships and marriages within the boundaries of North Yorkshire County Council: https://www.northyorks.gov.uk/civil-partnerships
For registration (and therefore legal recognition) of your humanist ceremony with North Yorkshire County Council: https://www.northyorks.gov.uk/marriage-arrangements-and-cer…
North Yorkshire County Council Register office fees: https://www.northyorks.gov.uk/registration-service-fees
So if it’s not legally recognised, will it be a real wedding?
Around the world, for centuries, people have got married. The preparations are made, the invitations sent, the outfits are arranged, gifts are chosen , vows are written. The ceremony is officiated. The happy couple declare their love to each other with solemn vows and commitments for their life ahead in front of witnesses and guests. A feast is had, with much jubilation, song and dance. This is a wedding day. A humanist wedding ceremony includes all the usual aspects of a traditional ceremony, but with some extra fabulous storytelling and emotion. At the end of the ceremony, you will be officially presented to your guests as the newly wedded couple – usually amid much cheering and applause. So yes, it is a real wedding.
If you want to have your union recognized by law, in England, you just need to cover the paperwork through a register office either before or after your humanist wedding ceremony (there is no time limit).