One option that is becoming more popular in our growing secular society is foregoing a church wedding and instead having a civil ceremony or humanist wedding. Simply put, a humanist wedding ceremony is a non-religious event chosen by couples who do not wish to include the mention of a Higher Power in their ceremony. While it might seem that a wedding without a religious element is not spiritual, this is often far from the truth, and humanist ceremonies can be deeply personal, reflecting the couple's sincere beliefs in love, faith, hope and the power of a committed relationship.
The definition of Humanism is “an approach in study, philosophy, or practice that focuses on human values and concerns.”
A Humanist officiant is one who embraces this philosophy and believes that a couple can be deeply committed to each other by a spiritual though not necessarily religious bond. Couples who opt for a Humanist wedding do not believe that they need to have their union "blessed" by God, simply recognized by their friends and family as a long lasting and meaningful commitment.
Although they lack the formality and traditional elements of religious ceremonies, Humanist weddings can still be every bit as reverent and solemn as a religious ceremony as the basis for them is the deep love and serious personal commitment made by the couple. Humanist ceremonies are often sought after in circumstances where traditional religious unions are not allowed such as same-sex or interfaith weddings.
Humanist officiants are ordained by a number of organizations around the world such as the American Humanist Association, the Unitarian Universalist Association, and the Humanist Society of Scotland. Local laws dictate whether humanist ceremonies are considered legally binding and you should check with your local registry office or town hall whether or not you will need to also have a religious or civil ceremony to make your marriage official.
There is often a large element of artistic creativity in humanist weddings. Couples who choose humanist ceremonies often write their own vows and choose non-religious music, personal readings and poems that reflect how they feel about one another.
Because humanist ceremonies are not limited to churches or other religious grounds, they can take place in a wide variety of natural and unusual settings, such as a favorite local park, on a beach, out at sea on a boat, or anywhere that holds special meaning for the bride and groom.