ANSTEY HALL BLOG
Humanist wedding ceremonies at Anstey Hall
"We want our wedding ceremony to be meaningful and personal but we're not religious, is a Humanist ceremony for us?"
I became a wedding celebrant in 2016 after attending the humanist wedding of two university friends. The whole day was amazing, but it was their wedding ceremony, in particular, that really captured my imagination. It was incredible. Unlike other ceremonies I’d attended, which had seemed standardised and traditional, this humanist wedding was totally centred around my friends’ love story and their hopes for their future together. Everything about it was custom-fit for them and, as a result, their ceremony was beautiful and funny and totally captivating…
I was just annoyed I hadn’t thought to have one when I’d got married a couple of years previously. I’d never heard of humanist ceremonies and wrongly assumed non-religious couples had to go down the civil service route! So I decided, right there and then, to become a humanist wedding celebrant myself and spread the word about these amazing ceremonies – and look, here I am doing just that!
How is a humanist wedding ceremony different from other types of ceremony?
Humanist weddings are totally couple-centred. As a celebrant, I’m interested in celebrating YOUR unique love story. I’m not concerned with empty reflections on love, or generic thoughts on marriage. I want to dig into what’s brought YOU to this point, standing in front of your friends and family about to make a lifetime commitment to one another. There is no legal lingo or god talk. Absolutely everything in my ceremonies stems from YOU and YOUR relationship. For that reason, humanist ceremonies feel incredibly personal, and the best ones are full of love, laughter and lots of cheering! Every single ceremony I’ve conducted has been totally different from the last. That’s what makes my job so interesting and fun!
What are the pros of having a humanist wedding ceremony?
You can hold your humanist wedding ceremony anywhere.
You have the opportunity to actually choose, and build a relationship with, the person marrying you (your celebrant). There won’t be a stranger waiting for you at the end of the aisle.
In creating your super-personalised ceremony with a humanist celebrant, you get the chance for reflection and preparation, which is something couples planning religious weddings often say that they benefit from. Your celebrant will want to know all about the two of you, to get an understanding of what you love about each other, how your relationship works and why you want to get married.
You can write personalised vows and make promises to each other that actually mean something to the two of you!
This all culminates in a wedding ceremony that is totally reflective of you as a couple - and kicks off your big day in style!
One of the main reasons that I chose to become a humanist celebrant specifically is that I represent Humanists UK who have a long history of campaigning for equal rights for those with non-religious beliefs. I am proud that part of the fees my couples pay me goes back to Humanists UK to support this work... so couples that book me get to feel warm and fuzzy about helping out this charity organisation too!
And the cons?
Humanist ceremonies are still not recognised as legal (although Humanists UK is campaigning hard to change this), which means couples wanting a humanist ceremony still need to have a separate civil service in order to register the marriage officially – another expense and a tiny bit more admin.
Creating a bespoke humanist wedding ceremony obviously requires more work than you would expect with other types of service. Your celebrant needs to get a lot of information from you - and the more you can give, the more sparkly and amazing your ceremony will be.
And finally… What is humanism?!
Humanists are simply non-religious people who believe that this is the only life we have, and that, as humans, we can lead fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. My take on Humanism is this: we have one short life... so we should live it to the absolute FULLEST; collaborate with each other and cherish our relationships. Celebrating those major milestone moments in our lives - in a way that feels meaningful and relevant, and truly reflects their significance - is a massive part of that. Ain't nothing more important in this world than love, love, love! Humanists UK has loads more great information about Humanism, if you want to find out more.
Katie Matthews is a humanist wedding celebrant offering totally bespoke, meaningful and fun non-religious ceremonies for couples across Cambridgeshire. If you would like to find out more, please visit katiethecelebrant.com.