Ceremonies > Weddings & partnerships

At present, couples wishing to be legally married in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are obliged either to marry in church or to have a marriage or a civil partnership ceremony in a register office or at an approved venue. However, many people feel dissatisfied with these alternatives - perhaps because the words of a religious wedding service do not fit into their outlook on life, and because they feel that register office ceremonies are too restrictive and do not offer enough scope for making this a really personal and special occasion. For such people, a humanist ceremony can be a welcome addition to the legal formalities - and is the occasion which they regard as the true expression of their lifelong commitment to each other.

Humanists look upon marriage as an equal partnership that involves mutual love, support and respect. Each humanist wedding ceremony and civil partnership celebration is unique, dignified and very personal. No two ceremonies are alike. Yours will be written just for you, and can be as traditional or as unusual as you like. You will be free to make all the important choices about words, readings and music. You may wish to write your own vows or aspirations, exchange rings, light candles, or include singing or readings by friends or family members.

Your ceremony can be held almost anywhere you wish. Often during the summer months couples choose to get married out of doors, in a garden, field or park, or on a hilltop (though this does mean taking a gamble with the British weather!).

In England and Wales, most couples who choose to have a humanist wedding or partnership ceremony complete the legal formalities and obtain a civil marriage certificate at a register office first.

To find out more about humanist weddings or humanist civil partnerships, see our list of celebrants or visit the BHA website www.humanism.org.uk

This page was up to date on 19/04/2013.