by Sheila The Celebrant –  What is a Humanist Wedding Ceremony?

3 October 2019

Humanist weddings are on the rise across the country, so we’re creating a two-part series on what humanist ceremonies are and why you might want to consider one for your wedding. Although the premise is the same, the legalities are currently different in Scotland and Northern Ireland as to England and Wales, so we’re clearing up aaaaall of that for you as well as explaining more about why they’re so fab.

We’re about this close to donning a beret and growing a moustache, as today we’re MYTHBUSTING. The ceremony is the most important part of a wedding day from a legal point of view – without it, there is no marriage – but a lot of the time they’re not talked about enough in the mainstream. Our first instalment to change all that is from Sheila The Celebrant, who’s part of the Independent Humanist Ceremonies team, taking us through all the basics and wonders of a humanist ceremony.

“Let me try clear the confusion around humanist wedding ceremonies. At its essence, a humanist wedding is a non-religious customised ceremony which sets the tone for the rest of your day and how you want it to be. As I write this in August 2019, humanist celebrants/marriage officers can legally marry a couple outdoors or indoors in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Jersey according to their registration. Your celebrant will guide you through submitting legal paperwork to the registrar nearest to your venue. There is a small cost involved.

However, in Guernsey, England and Wales, they’re not legally binding ceremonies – that means couples often go to the register office to take care of the legal formalities in the days before or after their humanist wedding. Hopefully Guernsey, England and Wales will follow suit in time!

Let’s get down to the basics of humanist ceremonies and what they’re all about:


My registration means I can marry a couple anywhere in Scotland I deem safe and dignified, in doors or out (with land/property owner’s permission). My most unusual outdoors wedding was at the Edge of loch Coruisk in Isle of Skye, a mind blowing fresh water loch reached by single track road then boat. But indoors venues can be equally as stunning and beguiling too; this summer, I married a couple in a beautiful yoga studio in the bride’s parents home with the most amazing vaulted ceiling.


Simple answer: anytime. As well as normal lunchtime/early afternoon ceremonies, I have married couples in the evening as a surprise (to the guests) during a birthday party.


As long as the minimum legal wording is included – which really is minimal – the rest is up to you. I offer as little or as much help as you want. Choose your own poems, readings, music. Write your own personal vows to add

My job

Hand on heart being a humanist celebrant/marriage officer is the best job ever. I always meet a couple before they book me. It is so important you connect with the person marrying you but more importantly they “get” you as a couple. I love love love hearing a couple’s story, how they met, fell in love and of course the proposal. Telling this is often a highlight of the ceremony. Every – and I mean every – time I declare a couple legally married I get a tingling in my spine.”

Well now we’re tingling too, Sheila! To book the lovely Sheila as your Humanist wedding celebrant head to her profile here.

Keep an eye out for next week’s instalment…