Celebrant Kathryn Hanson: Everything you need to know about Humanist wedding ceremonies

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Supplier Takeover: Independent Humanist Ceremonies
Est. 2018 │ Scotland
This supplier takeover is brought to by Kathryn Hanson, a Scottish humanist wedding celebrant from Edinburgh. Kathryn tells us all about having a humanist wedding ceremony and the legalities involved, as well as ways you can personalise your ceremony.

Tell us a bit about what you do..
I have the best job ever – marrying people! I am a Humanist Celebrant with Independent Humanist Ceremonies, based in Scotland. 

Humanist ceremonies provide the opportunity for people to have a ceremony that reflects what is important to them, and not feel the need to include traditions for traditions-sake. Instead you can have a wedding that represents who you and your partner are.
Humanism is an outlook which states that people can live good, moral lives without rules set by religion or superstition. Question the world around you, trust your own moral compass and find happiness in the things that are important to you and those around you. You have one life, so make the most of it.

Humanist weddings vary in terms of legality across the UK. In Scotland and Northern Ireland, Humanist weddings are fully legal and your wedding can take place in any location you wish - in a venue, up a mountain, on a beach, in your garden. In England and Wales, this is currently not the case. You may still hold a Humanist ceremony anywhere you wish, but it is not legally binding, so you would also need to hold a legal wedding with a registrar/minister in a licensed premises. Hopefully soon, England and Wales will catch up!
What is involved in a Humanist ceremony?
The cop-out answer would be – anything you wish! There is the legal bit that we have to stick to (in Scotland and Northern Ireland), but you have total flexibility over the rest of the ceremony. There is no set formula.

My ceremonies tend to be really laid-back, where we all end up doubled-over laughing at your lovely daft stories and ridiculous things that you love about each other. You can include beautiful ancient traditions – such as a handfasting, where your hands as wrapped in fabric, as you “tie the knot”. Or you can make up your own traditions! I’ve had ceremonies where people have made memory boxes, mixed sands together in a sand ceremony, sang songs, and drunk tequila shots – although not all in the same ceremony!

We can involve family, your children, pets, (or not if you’d rather keep it to yourselves). I can sneak in wee references to things that you love, such as a subtle Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings quote, if that’s your thing. You can say your own vows – whether you want them to be tear-jerkingly emotional or full of daft wee jokes – or keep vows simple if that’re more your style.
How did you get into the wedding industry?
Totally by accident! I had my own Humanist wedding in 2014, and absolutely loved it, but becoming a celebrant had never crossed my mind. 

But in 2018, a close family member of mine passed away. I spoke with my family, and said that I felt it was really important that we told her stories and shared how much she meant to all of us, so I decided to speak at her funeral. After this I was hit with the gravity of how important it was to celebrate these moments with family and friends, and that night decided on a whim that I was going to become a celebrant. A few months later, I did!

What is your favourite part of your job?
Without a doubt, the moment I get to say “I now pronounce you husband and wife/husband and husband/wife and wife!” and the crowd goes wild! Every single time, I could burst with happiness! 
But I also love the build-up. I get to know my couples really well, and go through a journey with them as they plan their wedding day. The hour before the ceremony is filled with anticipation, and I’m there chatting with grannies, calming emotional dads, giving brides and grooms a cuddle and a pep-talk, making sure everyone is all organised before the ceremony starts. It’s a magical process to be part of.
Tell us about any wedding trends we should look out for...
I’m totally biased, but more personalised ceremonies. Your ceremony does not need to be the snoozy bit at the start of the day before the party starts. You ceremony should be exactly what you want, and fully embody who you are as a couple. That way all your guests come away buzzing for you both and you two have something that is completely meaningful to who you are as you step into married life!

Tell us about anything exciting coming soon...
Coming soon… In Scotland, teeny tiny wedding ceremonies are allowed again from 29th June 2021. COVID has scuppered so many couples’ wedding plans, but we’re slowly moving out of restrictions. Tiny intimate weddings are so raw, emotional and beautiful. I cannot wait to get back to marrying people!

From Brides (and Kathryn, With Love xo

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