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Humanist weddings are on the rise. What has caused the surge in popularity?
Words Neil Dutta
For many, traditional weddings are the perfect way to express their feelings and begin the next chapter of their lives together. For others, this way of doing things just isn’t the perfect fit. It is for this reason that we’ve seen a far greater variety of wedding ceremonies over recent years, including the prominent rise of the humanist wedding.
Between 2004 and 2016, the number of humanist weddings ceremonies increased by 266 per cent. Meanwhile, there has been a distinct decrease in faith-based ceremonies, with the lowest number of religious ceremonies on record being reported in 2018.
What is a humanist wedding?
To understand what is meant by a humanist wedding, we need to know a little bit more about humanism itself. According to Humanists UK, the word “humanist” can apply to someone who:
Is agnostic or atheist and trusts the scientific understanding of the universe
Has concern for other human beings and animals and practises empathy
Does not believe in the afterlife or any other greater purpose of the universe. They believe that a fulfilling life can be created by seeking happiness and helping others find happiness too.
Essentially, humanism serves as an alternative to religion. Therefore, those who consider themselves humanists will not be interested in tying the knot in a traditional religious ceremony. Luckily, there’s an alternative – humanist wedding ceremonies. According to Humanists UK, a humanist wedding is a non-religious ceremony conducted by a humanist celebrant. Unlike traditional religious ceremonies, there are no fixed rules to humanist weddings, which is one of the reasons they’ve become so appealing to so many couples.
One major downside to holding a humanist ceremony is that it might not be recognised by law. As marriage is a devolved issue in the UK, the legality of humanist weddings differs depending on where you live. In Scotland, Northern Ireland, Jersey, and Guernsey, humanist ceremonies are recognised by law. However, in England and Wales, these ceremonies are yet to be legally recognised. For humanists in England Wales, it is still possible to tie the knot in a humanist ceremony as long as you also hold a legal civil ceremony either before or after.