A Humanist Approach To Weddings


A humanist wedding is a joining ceremony to legally bind two individuals in marriage without any religious or spiritual constraints, but has all the spiritual, emotional and legal weight of a more traditionally religious wedding. Humanism, according to the American Humanist Association, is “A progressive philosophy of life that, without theism and other supernatural beliefs, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity. It aspires to give individuals a sense of community, to fulfill without constraining actions or threatening punishment in the way so many religions do. Humanism encourages freedom of thought, reasoned decisions, respect for intuition and an acceptance of infallibility. The core value of the system is to meet others with understanding and acceptance, knowing that we’re all humans and we all matter.” A common assumption about humanist weddings is that they are against anything religious or spiritual. It’s not that humanism is against religion; it just doesn’t include it. 

The ceremony is a celebration of love, time spent together and the promise to continue walking your paths together. Your choices come first and foremost in the planning and execution of your ceremony. Some couples are also concerned that having a humanist wedding could mean that they can’t respect their personal and familial traditions. Let me assure you that a humanist wedding is inclusive of everything a couple values in their relationship and experiences together. The ceremony has no constraints or rules beyond the consent of all involved. They revolve entirely around what you and your partner value most. The choices about what you want to be in your vows, how the ceremony is conducted, where the ceremony is conducted, its size and extravagance, are entirely reliant on you, and you alone. 

This option for your wedding is extremely customizable. You can write the entire ceremony, personalizing it and achieving a level of personal depth that may be difficult with scripted ceremonies. You can hold the wedding celebration wherever you feel most connected, with no constraints, so long as you obtain permission from the landowners where the ceremony will be held. There are endless options for your wedding’s welcome, readings, vows and exchange of rings. You can add or remove sections of the wedding, and customize them however you’d like. You could use a traditional format with an exchange of vows and rings. You could choose to adapt religious components to a secular form.

Hand-fasting is another option. This is an Irish tradition performed by the tying of hands to symbolize the binding of the couples’ lives together. 

Some couples choose to write amusing and personally significant sections that reflect the way they met or want to spend their lives together. This can include references to literature or films that are important to your life.

Your wedding can be full to the brim of personal touches and inside jokes, with every turn revealing a memory or making you and your guests laugh.

You can have an extremely private ceremony with you and your partner being the sole focus.

A humanist wedding can take place in almost any setting. You could even hike to an isolated valley or forest with your partner, an officiant and two witnesses for an intimate ceremony in nature. 

A humanist wedding ceremony is great way to start a marriage. It is an honest representation of who you are as a couple, where you have been and how you want to live together.


Jill Martinez is a Taos celebrant who can be reached by calling (575) 224-7707, by email at jill@taoscelebrant.com or through her web site TaosCelebrant.com.


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