Is a Humanist Wedding Ceremony recognised as legally binding?
The answer to this depends on where you live in the U.K.
Humanist ceremonies are already legally recognised in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands. In 2022 the Welsh Senedd declared their support for their immediate legal recognition in England and Wales. Marriage law is not devolved to Wales and so the Welsh government are not able to make these changes themselves. Like many couples and celebrants in England, the Senedd are waiting on the U.K. government to act.
In Scotland, Humanist ceremonies have been legal since 2005. More couples chose them than any other religious or belief group. 23% of all ceremonies in Scotland in 2019 being Humanist.
We are optimistic that reform will come in the next few years for England and Wales. In the meantime, it is necessary to also register your marriage in law (should you wish for your union to be legally binding that is).
This does not have to be a reason to not have a Humanist ceremony, however. As a couple you will still benefit from a personal, bespoke and relaxed ceremony. You will work with your celebrant to create your ceremony exactly how you want it.
Whether you then choose to have another celebration around your registration of marriage or simply see it as ‘doing the paperwork’ is completely up to you. Some registry offices offer a ‘no frills’ midweek ceremony with only the mandatory two witnesses for as little as £50 or £60. Alternatively, you may wish to have a small gathering of close friends and family followed by a special brunch, afternoon tea or dinner. Either way you can still treat your Humanist ceremony as your true wedding day and the one most reflective of you and your love. We Humanists often say that, even though we may not currently be able to legalise a wedding, we certainly humanise your marriage.
How can you help?
If you agree that marriage reform is overdue and want to see Humanist marriage legally recognised across the whole U.K. please consider writing to your MP. You can find out more at humanists.Uk/what-you-can-do-to-help/support-humanist-marriage.