Congratulations on your engagement and thanks for looking at my blog!

Congratulations on your engagement and thanks for looking at my blog!

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This blog is structured as a series of questions and under each posting, I've provided what I hope will be helpful advice for you in planning your humanist wedding. All of the posts are on one page, but each one has been condensed in size, so to read the full details, just click on the post title or 'read more'. When you get to the end of the post, just click on 'home' to get back to the full page of posts (or on older/newer posts). If you're interested in a particular subject, you can also click on the list to the left or you can do your own search by using the box below.

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What is distinctive about a humanist wedding?



Well, the first thing to say is that they are humanist of course! Humanist weddings are inclusive and because they concentrate on the things we all have in common, they tend to appeal to everyone, regardless of their individual beliefs. Humanism is a non-religious but ethical life stance about respecting and caring for one another and the world in which we live (good without god if you like!). If your granny is a church goer, she might be a bit bemused (or even concerned) about what a humanist ceremony involves, but you can reassure her that she'll probably love it! People who haven't been to one of our ceremonies before don't always 'get it' beforehand - but I can almost guarantee that they will 'get it' afterwards. Even people with strong religious beliefs have often remarked afterwards on how much they enjoyed the ceremony. I should stress that there is NEVER anything anti-religious in our ceremonies - they are non-religious, but always in the context of humanist principles and values about consideration and respect for others. And by the way, in the interests of equality, I tend not to use the following expressions in my ceremonies:

"Man and wife" (why not "woman and husband?") (I usually just say "husband and wife" or in the case of a same sex marriage, "wife and wife" or "husband and husband")

"Who gives this woman?" (why not "who gives this man?"!) (I just don't ask this question!)
"You may kiss the bride" (why not "you may kiss the groom?"!) (Actually, I simply say "you may kiss!")

And on the subject of kissing:


Err... not sure if the dog should get the first kiss Doug! Our ceremonies are Humanist, not Caninist (is that a word?!), but actually I love and welcome dogs at weddings!

Read on for more on this subject and for a video clip of one of my weddings.


Our legal authorisation from the Registrar General is to conduct humanist (rather than just non-religious civil) marriages and we therefore require couples to become members of our charity. This helps to support our campaigns, policies and community work. It also ensures that your ceremony is covered by the HSS Promise, to provide a celebrant who is trained, reviewed and insured and we will provide cover in an emergency at no extra cost. People sometimes ask why they have to join the Humanist Society and the answer is simple really - Humanist weddings are for Humanists (even if you didn't realise you were one!). Membership entitles you to our quarterly magazine and you can attend meetings and conferences if you want to, but of course you don't have to. The current membership fees are detailed on our website: Humanist Society Scotland

These days, whatever form of marriage you choose (civil, religious or humanist), you can make your ceremony personal and humanist ceremonies are certainly that! Basically, as a Marriage Celebrant, my job is to tailor-make each ceremony for each couple and that makes your day very special and my job an absolute joy! You can choose your own music, vows, readings and symbolic gestures (and I can help you to do so of course!). I also like to tell  your 'story' too, to talk about your journey as a couple so far.... It not only adds a very personal element to the ceremony, but quite often some fun and laughter too! The following video clip from John and Diane's wedding at Doune Castle is a good example. Enjoy!

video

Couples sometimes ask me, "Do we have to write our own ceremony?" And the answer is simple:

Yes, if you want to!
No, if you don't want to!


In my experience, I have found that many couples haven't got a clue where to begin and the way I usually work is to meet with you for a chat about what's important to you. I'll help you to decide on readings, music, symbolic gestures (such as candle lighting, hand fasting and so on) your vows and lots of the practical things you need to think about (where to stand, how to enter, how to set the room out etc..) It's also good to get to know a bit about you too and this all helps me to design a ceremony that is meaningful to you. After our first meeting, I will draft the ceremony for you and email it to you so that you can make any changes to it - and I always stress that it's very much a first draft, that you can make ANY amendments, additions and deletions you want to! The most important thing is that it is YOUR big day! Humanists believe in taking responsibility for their own actions and if you want to take responsibility for writing your own ceremony, that's great too - and I'll always be on hand to guide and advise you!

There is a lot of scope for fun at a wedding and it's important for you and your guests to feel relaxed and comfortable. Yes, your ceremony can be very formal and traditional, if you want it to be, but if you want a bit of fun and laughter, that's no problem! Personally, I love a bit of banter during a wedding and if someone makes a funny remark at any point, that's great by me!
(This is Birdeen and Carl having a laugh during their ceremony at Doune Castle, snapped by Stirling based whylerphotos)

(And Denise and Greig at their Culcreuch Castle wedding. Photo by christophercurrie)

For many couples it's about getting a balance, a ceremony that has an informal and light hearted feel to it in parts (such as in the photo of Lisa Ann and Jonas above), but is also serious and moving when it needs to be - this is Sarah and Mike for example, exchanging their vows of commitment in a lovely heart felt moment, at Monachyle Mhor:


At the end of the day, whatever choices you make about the type, style, content or structure of your wedding ceremony, it will be distinctive because you are distinctive!

One of the brides I married recently, the lovely Fiona, now Mrs McKenna, told me that:

"For me, one of the really special things about choosing a Humanist ceremony is how much time we have spent as a couple just thinking about our relationship and our thoughts on marriage, and how these can be best reflected in our ceremony. With all the time and effort spent on the choices for the dresses, the flowers, the menu etc, it would be easy to get caught up and forget the most important part of the day – the vows. So I’m really glad that having a Humanist ceremony has allowed us to keep the focus on just that…….remembering why we are getting married in the first place, rather than stressing about seating plans and favours……"

I think that says it all!




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