Each humanist, non-religious wedding ceremony is unique and created especially for a particular couple and their circumstances. This means there is no set script and no fixed structure. Instead, your celebrant will guide you through various options and together you can create an occasion that’s fitting for your specific circumstances.
Here is an example of how a wedding ceremony might be organised, but you do not have to include any of these, and you may also want to include other components.
Example structure of a humanist wedding ceremony
- Arrival of the couple (individually or together)
- Introductions and welcomes
- Words about love and commitment from a non-religious perspective
- Reading or poem
- The couple’s story – how they met, their shared values, hopes for the future
- What marriage means to the couple
- Reading, poem or song
- The couple’s promises / vows
- Meaningful symbolic act (e.g. hand-fasting)
- Exchange of rings
- Pronouncement as married
- Words of well-wishing
- Closing and departure
This is only an example to get you thinking.
What can we include?
There are many other elements that you could include in your wedding.
Many are well known to us but world cultures have many wonderful wedding traditions that can be included in a humanist wedding provided that they are not an act of worship.
- The Jewish “Chuppah” is a wedding canopy representing the couple’s new home together. A Hindu “Mandap” is very similar.
- The Jewish tradition of breaking glass.
- The Hindu exchange of floral garlands.
- The Japanese sharing of Sake.
- The German sawing of a log together symbolising the couple’s ability to work together.
- An Australian tradition sees guest s bringing stones from their own homes and putting them all together in a Unity Bowl.
There are so many traditions in the world that I cannot even begin to list them all here. Of course, you could also start your own tradition.
How long can the ceremony be?
Humanist weddings can be as long, or short, as you want. They typically last between twenty and forty minutes.
Your role in the ceremony can also be as much or as little as you want. If you’re shy then you needn’t say much at all. I can read out vows and promises with which you simply agree. Other people are happy to read their own vows out load and many write their own promises – sometimes they even keep them secret from each other until the wedding.
And you don’t need to be a humanist to have a humanist wedding.