What even is a Humanist Wedding?

Mar 4, 2020

"No two ceremonies are ever the same. It’s an archeological dig into couples' lives with a magnificent metaphorical sculpture made with what’s found. It’s unique and priceless."

Why having a Humanist Wedding is a fab idea

Humanist Weddings // So, you’re engaged, and your first task is to sort out the ceremony plans. Pretty straightforward, right? We decide between church or civil and then we move on? WRONG. There’s another option, one which I’m personally a massive fan of – and you best believe I’d only add a third option to the mix if I really believed in it, because generally I’m all about the stress-free wedding planning. That coveted third option is a Humanist wedding, some of the most joyous ceremonies around.

What even is a Humanist Wedding Ceremony?

You may have seen the phrase Humanist wedding thrown around a lot since you got engaged, and you may be wondering what it actually means. On paper, Humanist weddings are ceremonies led by a Humanist celebrant, who’s a celebrant accredited by Humanists UK – not affiliated to the church or a registry office. But what does that mean for YOU, dear reader?

A fab ceremony can actually start the party!

In practice, they’re an exceptional celebration of love and life and the people who you’ve chosen to be part of this special day with you, which means they’re a great opportunity to have a ceremony totally personalised to you. As Katie The Celebrant always says (nice branding shots babes!), couples often want to get the ceremony over and done with to get to the party, when in actual fact the ceremony is why everyone’s there – it should be the party starter itself. Much as your wedding can be an iconic day that goes down in history (and I’m sure it will be), it’s not just a party, it’s a wedding – making it even better. 

Humanist Weddings are the most photogenic ceremonies – FACT

Guests come alive during Humanist Wedding in Hereford

I asked one of my favourite Humanist Celebrants, Zena Birch, why she loves being a Humanist Celebrant…

“When I work with my couples for often up to a year, we get to the bottom of what getting married means to them, this in turn is reflected back and shared amongst your community of friends and family, which is not only super interesting, funny, honest and authentic, but also allows everyone to understand why they are gathered in the first place. The entire ceremony is a rite of passage – which is the transition of everything you have done up to this point, on into the glorious future with an excellent marker point in the middle no one will ever forget. I can’t tell you how continually interesting this is for a celebrant, as no one’s journey or formula are ever the same. This is why I love my job and why no two ceremonies are ever the same. It’s an archeological dig into couples’ lives with a magnificent metaphorical sculpture made with what’s found. It’s unique and priceless. Guests expressions when listening to a humanist ceremony are infinitely more expressive and photographic than during a dull old script which doesn’t mean anything to them, you get laughter, tears, surprise, absolute engagement – for that alone a humanist wedding ceremony is worth it’s weight in gold!”

Here’s my top 4 reasons you should consider a Humanist wedding ceremony:

Couple literally tie the knot in Humanist ceremony in Oxford Museum of Natural History

Humanist wedding ceremonies are totally personal wedding ceremonies

The ceremonies are totally personalised to you. This means there’s no vows of outdated servitude, no songs you’ve never heard of before, no hour-long deathly dull ceremonies full of words even you’ve zoned out from. They’re all about you as a couple, pure and simple, resulting in super-charged emotional moments and gorgeous sentiment. To get this, Humanist celebrants work with you closely to really find out what gets you going, so that your ceremony completely reflects you – and, as a plus, couples often find that they understand each other better thanks to having a humanist ceremony.

I met with Nat Raybould –  a Humanist Celebrant based in London – and asked her what made Humanist ceremonies so unique… “Humanist ceremonies are unique because they are designed from scratch to fit the individual couple like a glove. Think of the most expensive couture tailoring ever, and you’ve got the idea! This can mean that the same celebrant can create wildly varying ceremonies: from the elegantly quirky to raucous whoopie-cushion comedy, and all sorts of delicious flavours in between.  It’s our job to get to know you and understand your relationship, and display all of that relationship’s unique beauty in the ceremony for you and your guests to enjoy 🙂 In the last year alone I have written ceremonies that contained premieres of classical choral pieces, a scavenger hunt under the guests’ seats, and a real life Rick Roll – anything goes! Your Humanist wedding ceremony will never be the same as anyone else’s ceremony, but they all share the same ethos: they will be fully authentic representations of your love, shining out in every word. And that’s why your Humanist ceremony will be the most memorable and personal part of your wedding day – and why you need one!”

Couple emerging from their Humanist wedding ceremony at Walcot Hall newly married whooping

Humanist Weddings make for the most fun wedding ceremonies

This template-free approach also means they can be mega fun. The flexibility and freedom that a totally personalised ceremony affords you is immense – want to do a spot of ceremony karaoke? Go for it. Danceoff? Hell yeah. Impromptu comedy? You betcha. Granny as your flower girl and golden retriever as your ring bearer? Count. Me. In.

Couple being married under trees in Woburn by Humanist Celebrant Zena Birch

You can get married outside

With Humanist weddings, you can get married anywhere. As they sadly aren’t legal in England and Wales (yet – they are in Scotland and Northern Ireland!), you’re not bound by venues’ license restrictions. That means you can have your ceremony outdoors, or alternatively in a venue that really means something to you, even if they’re not a traditional wedding space. 

Two birdes married at Patricks Barn Chiddenlye in Sussex tying the knot in their Humanist ceremony

You’re supporting equality

Humanists UK are a charity working towards a fairer society for everyone, which you’re supporting by your fee going partially to them. They were key in campaigning for marriage equality and loads of other super important changes in law – being able to give a portion back just by booking suppliers for your wedding is pretty amazing in my eyes.

Amy and Michaela (pictured above) were interviewed in The Guardian and discuss their views on why they feel discriminated against as gay women by being forced to have two ceremonies – one legal civil ceremony and the non legal Humanist wedding that they wanted. You can read that article here. Come on England catch up!

Couple hold hands as they say their personalised vows at Hestercombe Gardens Wedding

Toot Toot

If you’re planning a ridiculously fun ceremony, may I suggest you get a ridiculously fun photographer? I don’t mean to toot my own horn but I love colourful, alternative celebrations that don’t take themselves too seriously – if that sounds like you please head here!


Award Winning London Wedding Photographer. Photographing weddings all over London, UK and Europe for laid back & fun loving couples.



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