Options For Non-religious Wedding Ceremonies

A wedding ceremony is one of the most important days in our lives, representing not only a celebration of love but also our most heartfelt beliefs and wishes. Choosing the right kind of wedding that aligns with your personal values sets the tone for one of life’s most significant milestones, bringing vital authenticity and resonance as you celebrate your love and commitment to each other.

Once you have both agreed that you don’t want any religious rituals as you celebrate your marriage, it’s time to decide which kind of non-religious wedding ceremony would suit you best.

Let’s explore some of the options…

It’s all about the setting

A non-religious ceremony also opens the door to unique venue choices, from your favourite windswept beach to a cherished bench in your local woods – or even your very own front room if you prefer!

non-religious wedding

The location of your wedding contributes to the atmosphere of your wedding but also allows you to commit to your partner in a place that carries significance. This aligns perfectly with the personal nature of a humanist wedding, and there is something rather special about seeing your loved ones gather in a place filled with meaning for you and your partner.

So, whether you opt for a lush green field somewhere in Wales, a majestic castle in Ireland, your favourite restaurant terrace in England, or a remote beach on one of the Scottish Isles, the sky is literally the limit with non-religious weddings. And many find this liberating; in fact, did you know that in 2022, there were more humanist Scottish weddings than religious ones?

Ceremonial elements to consider

Initially, some couples planning a non-religious ceremony have expressed feeling bewildered about where to start; after all, with a religious wedding, there tends to be a more-or-less accepted order of proceedings. If you opt for a non-religious service, this freedom can feel daunting – but it needn’t!

In fact, one of the most beautiful aspects of a non-religious wedding ceremony is the potential to tailor the proceedings exactly as you want them. It’s an opportunity to bring in personal touches and meaningful gestures at every turn, from the vows to the music and from the readings to the decor. Many couples also choose to bring in ceremonial elements that carry significance for you and your partner, as well as your cultural backgrounds. These might include:

  • Bespoke vows that you have written for each other
  • Carefully selected readings or poems that resonate with you
  • Planting trees or flowers, or giving your guests seeds to take away and grow
  • A ring-warming ceremony, where the wedding rings are passed through the hands of all the guests
  • A handfasting ceremony, tying the couple’s hands with ribbon as a gesture of unity.

Twists on traditions

Just because you have decided to have a non-religious ceremony does not mean that your wedding will be devoid of meaningful, ritualistic elements. Traditions with non-religious roots (such as a handfasting ceremony) bring a ceremonial dimension to your celebration. Still, you can also draw on other traditions and make them personal to you.

  • Candles

Candles hold significance in diverse cultures and, of course, religions. In different contexts and traditions, they symbolize light, hope, warmth, security, romance and spirituality. While candles are ubiquitous in many places of worship, you can have candles at your non-religious wedding and even incorporate a candle-lighting ceremony. Drawing on the Greek Orthodox tradition of holding a lit candle (or lambades, in Greek), in which the couple declares that they will receive Jesus Christ into their marriage, a non-religious ceremony can instead use the candles to symbolize their love and security together.

  • Rings
non-religious wedding

The exchanging of rings is a cornerstone of many religions’ wedding ceremonies. In Christianity, this moment represents the bride and groom’s commitment to God. In Islam, rings are often exchanged to symbolize love and fidelity. In a non-religious wedding, the exchange of rings can be a part of the ceremony with whatever meaning you choose to give it – or, if you prefer, you don’t have to include it at all!

Choice of celebrant

Many secular couples opt for a humanist wedding, thanks to their inherently welcoming and inclusive nature. A humanist celebration allows you to bring in as many personal elements to your day as you want, focusing on the couple’s love story and personal beliefs rather than religious rituals. Moreover, with a humanist ceremony, you can choose your celebrant and carefully craft your ceremony together before the big day. You can have your own choice of music, poems and readings, of course, but you’re also free to bring in other elements that are important to you.   

A non-religious wedding ceremony brings forth a myriad of options to consider, but what unites these different possibilities is the common threads of love and personal choice. From personal vows and music choices to your interpretation of long-standing traditions and rituals, your non-religious wedding allows you to craft your ceremony where your story takes centre stage. Whatever you choose, you’re sure to have a day filled with love, laughter and joy at the start of the beautiful journey that lies ahead!

Feature image supplied. Other images courtesy of unsplash.com and pexels.com

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