Humanist weddings

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In England, weddings conducted by Humanists UK celebrants continue to be legal and are allowed in venues and public outdoor spaces with up to 30 people. The legislation makes clear that ‘significant event gathering[s]… of no more than 30 persons’ can go ahead in all venues and public outdoor spaces except ‘private dwelling[s]’. Humanist celebrants are allowed to conduct weddings under this legislation as the definition of ‘significant event gathering’ is conditional on ‘according to their religion or belief’. Receptions following humanist weddings are therefore also allowed with up to 30 people. Although weddings in most areas with strict local lockdowns are unaffected, please contact one of our local celebrants to double check.

In Wales, on 20 July the Welsh Government changed the law to allow humanist weddings, provided that: no more than 30 people attend; social distancing is maintained; the ceremony is happening in a location that can be made Covid-secure (which includes it being a confined or enclosed space and having a risk assessment done); and that location is not on the list of locations that must remain closed. This means it is still not possible to hold humanist ceremonies in: restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs, theatres, concert halls, museums and galleries, holiday/camping sites, hotels, and B&Bs. But it is possible in fields, parks, beaches, private gardens, community halls, town halls, stately homes, and private homes that are large enough to host such gatherings. If you are unsure about where you may hold your humanist wedding, then please talk to a celebrant. We are working with the Welsh Government to expand this range of venues.

In Northern Ireland, humanist marriages are legally recognised. Both indoor and outdoor marriages have resumed and humanist marriages are subject to the same regulations and guidance as civil marriages in terms of where they can happen and how many people can attend. This means that outdoor weddings are allowed to go ahead, subject to the organiser carrying out a risk assessment which meets the requirements of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2000 and takes all reasonable measures to limit the risk of transmission of the coronavirus. This means more than 15 people may attend a wedding outdoors. Private homes are now subject to a restriction of 6 people attending, but other indoor venues will have differing maximum capacities subject to their own risk assessments.

If you are in the process of planning your wedding, our celebrants are available to help via telephone or video calls.

Is a humanist wedding right for you?

Many of us who aren’t religious are looking for a wedding that is more flexible and personal than a civil or register office ceremony.

In normal circumstances, a humanist, non-religious wedding ceremony gives you the opportunity to marry where you want, when you want, and how you want. There’s no set script: it’s too personal an occasion for that. Instead, each wedding is unique. You can set the tone that’s right for you and choose your own words and music. Our celebrants are available to help you plan  your perfect wedding for when the UK Government lifts the restrictions on social gatherings.Humanist weddings are perfect for couples who would like:

  • A meaningful ceremony that isn’t religious
  • To marry outdoors or at a location that isn’t licensed for civil weddings
  • The flexibility to create a personal ceremony that is unique to them
  • To get to know the person who will be conducting their wedding
  • To celebrate their marriage with family and friends but without legally registering – for example, when the formalities have already been conducted abroad.

Our celebrants are trained, friendly, and experienced people who will guide you through the process of creating a wedding that’s perfect for you. They will:

  • Get to know you and what you want from the occasion
  • Share their ideas and draw on their experience
  • Write a unique ceremony tailored just for you
  • Edit the script in response to your feedback
  • Conduct the ceremony
  • Give you a presentation copy of the final script.

Legal status of humanist weddings in the UK

In the UK, marriage is a devolved issue: humanist marriages enjoy legal recognition in Scotland, Northern Ireland, but not yet in England and Wales.

In England and Wales, couples who want to have a humanist wedding will often go to the register office to take care of the legal formalities in the days before or after their ceremony.

Humanist weddings have been legally recognised in Northern Ireland since 2018 and in Jersey in the Channel Islands since 2019.

In Scotland, Humanist weddings gained legal recognition in 2005. Ceremonies are conducted by celebrants trained by Humanist Society Scotland.

Same-sex weddings

We support marriage equality and all our celebrants are available to conduct same-sex weddings, including in Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands. Find a celebrant near you if you would like to discuss a humanist same-sex wedding ceremony.

How much does a humanist wedding ceremony cost?

Fees vary according to the distance travelled and what is wanted from the occasion.Humanist Ceremonies™ provides recommended fee bands, but always check fees with the individual celebrant.

Find out more about humanist weddings

You can download our weddings leaflet , see our Frequently Asked Questions, read a sample structure of a wedding ceremony, or look for celebrants who conduct wedding ceremonies in your area.

You may also like to buy a copy of Humanists UK’s book, Sharing the Future. This includes information and ideas on music and readings.

Humanist wedding ceremonies have featured in many blogs and wedding websites including the following:

Share your wedding photos with us

We’d love to hear from you if you’ve had a humanist wedding and would like to share your photos with us.

We love hearing from our happy couples, so please leave us your feedback on our Facebook Page, tweet us @humanistwedding or send us a photo on Instagram to @humanistceremonies.