Since the summer of 2006 celebrants of the Humanist Society of Scotland have been allowed to carry out legally recognized weddings. Initially some dozen celebrants were empowered to solemnize marriage, but this number has now grown to over 35, a mark of our increasing popularity.
Since I began conducting marriages I have carried out ceremonies at various venues including many hotels and castles on Deeside and at various outdoor locations including the beach at Findochty, Aquorthies Stone Circle and Glencoe Lochan.
Although largely based in and around Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire I do travel further afield to Speyside and the West Coast but this can add significantly to the cost of the ceremony. Essentially, celebrants can perform marriages at any venue that they deem to be "safe and dignified" and there is no requirement for the venue to have a licence. There are further details of the formal venues I've "performed" at listed on the links page.
As well as having the freedom to choose venues wedding couples also enjoy a deal of freedom in preparing their ceremony. There are many different rituals that we can use and we can theme the ceremony to suit the couple. Music, singing and poetry are often integral parts of a humanist ceremony, the only limitations being that there is no religious content.
That said, the fact that the major religions "borrowed" many rituals from earlier traditions means that there is usually something that is recognizable to the audience no matter what their beliefs and central to virtually every ceremony is the exchange of vows and rings.
As well as these usual rituals I have also conducted ceremonies that have included handfastings, jumping the broom, lighting candles, the Orkney Cog (communal drinking!) and I recently conducted my first anvil ceremony which harks back to the tradition of eloping couples marrying over the anvil at Gretna Green.
To book a wedding the first step would be to contact me and see if I am available on the required date. If available I would then send by post or email an information pack with sample scripts, contract and membership form. If you then decide a humanist ceremony is for you I would then need to have the contract agreement and the membership form returned to myself along with a £50 deposit and appropriate membership fee.
Once the paperwork is dealt with we can get on with writing the ceremony and this is generally a collaborative affair between myself and the wedding couple who usually choose the elements they want to incorporate and leave it to me to produce a workable script. I do like to meet couples prior to producing the ceremony and can usually accommodate a rehearsal but most of the consultation seems to be done by email!
Couple should note that in addition to engaging their celebrant they will also have to notify the Registrar responsible for the district in which the wedding venue is located so that the Marriage Schedule can be drawn up. This will cost arond £60 and couples should allow at least six weeks for this to be done, further details about the legalities of marriage in Scotland can be found at: www.gro-scotland.gov.uk.
To give you some idea of the material included in a humanist wedding I have posted some sample scripts and other material below. These documents are in pdf format and you can download a pdf reader by visiting:
A MOMENT OF LEVITY WITH DICK AND LAWRAINE AT THE TOR-NA-COIL HOTEL.
David Pattullo is a registered celebrant of the Humanist Society of Scotland.
Scottish Charity Number: SC026570