Me and my community
Non religious wedding ceremonies
Wedding ceremonies are important for some couples who wish to express love and commitment towards one another in front of their family, friends, and community. Some religious couples may choose to have their wedding ceremony in a place of worship, whereas a non-religious ceremony does not refer to religious ideas, texts, or deities. The couple, with the celebrant, have flexibility in deciding on the structure of the wedding and the vows (promises) that are exchanged. A Humanist wedding is an example of a non-religious ceremony.
Marriage is a legally binding commitment between two people. Currently, in England and Wales, while couples can have a humanist wedding, it is not recognised as a legal marriage. To make the marriage legally binding, couples have to attend a register office separately. In Scotland and Northern Ireland, couples can have a humanist wedding, which is also legally binding.
Other non-religious celebrations
While most religions have ceremonies that celebrate the birth of a baby, such as baptisms and baby blessings, many non-religious people also wish to celebrate the birth of a baby with their families, friends, and community. Baby naming ceremonies are popular and some of these may be performed by Humanist celebrants. These are joyful occasions that express hopes for the child to have a happy and fulfilling life.
There is no set format for a baby naming ceremony, and often the baby’s parents will choose symbols, readings, and songs which hold personal meaning. During the ceremony, there is no sense of the child being labelled as a Humanist. The focus is on promising to support them to decide for themselves what they believe and how they want to live.
For some non-religious people, being part of a community of like-minded people is very important. Some non-religious people join dedicated groups or societies, such as those linked to the National Secular Society, Humanists UK or local Humanist groups. Some non-religious people take part in the Sunday Assembly or other gatherings where people gather to sing non-religious songs, and hear talks from local philosophers, charity representatives, historians or scientists – anyone with something interesting and thought-provoking to say. For other non-religious people, being part of a group is not important and they are happy to lead their lives without such organised structure.