What is Unique About a Humanist Wedding
Most Humanist couples want what most couples want from their wedding ceremony: a beautiful, joyful, sincere and meaningful celebration of their becoming married. There is nothing about what makes a ceremony work well that requires religious language. It is possible that a particular couple will have experienced frustration in trying to find someone to officiate or in planning their ceremony if they are looking for a secular or non-theistic approach. They may have had difficult responses from family members, or they may have consulted potential officiants who tried to impose wording that made the couple uncomfortable. The Humanist Celebrant can help to calm the couples’ anxiety by assuring them that it is not necessary to say anything they don’t want said, and that the ceremony can still have depth and dignity as it expresses the reality of their love and commitment to each other.
Rite of Passage
From an anthropological point of view, a wedding ceremony is one of a group of Rites of Passage that move individual human beings through the most critical events of their lives. Others Rites of Passage that we will consider elsewhere include ceremonies recognizing birth, death, and coming of age. A rite of passage is by nature a public event that restructures the participants’ identities, reconfigures their role in society, and recalibrates their social relationships. This process is to some extent stressful for everyone involved, and is often surrounded by traditions and taboos intended to make it both effective and relatively safe, although it always carries some inherent risk. The subjects of a rite of passage often consider themselves, and are considered by others, to be in a liminal situation – in transition between one identity and another – and thus in a certain kind of suspense until the rituals are properly concluded and the new identity is assumed.