In my last two blogs I pointed out that Independent Celebrants in the United Kingdom are not able to conduct legal weddings. In England and Wales only Religious Celebrants and Registrars can legally solemnise a marriage and in Scotland Humanists Celebrants can also do so. Personally I see no reason why a trained Independent Celebrant who is part of a body that monitors standards and provides ongoing professional development should not be allowed to solemnise legal weddings. This is the situation in Australia (https://www.ag.gov.au/FamiliesAndMarriage/Marriage/Pages/Becomingamarriagecelebrant.aspx). I see no reason why the Scottish Independent Celebrants Association (SICA) or the English equivalent the Association of Independent Celebrants (AOIC) cannot oversee this task.
The main reason someone would choose an Independent Celebrant is a “choice” not have to subscribe to a belief system – religious or humanist – and for their wedding ceremony to be designed around their value system and story.
I came across an article by Louise Ridley in the inews that illustrates the current and unsatisfactory position. The article was in entitled “I got married twice in one week – but I shouldn’t have had to”.
She writes “I wasn’t that bothered about the first time I got married. It was in a room in a council building, with my now husband George and our parents. We didn’t know who would conduct the marriage, or what vows we’d say, and in a brief ceremony, we became husband and wife. It was nice, but for me it was bureaucratic, not emotional.” This was the legal wedding.
She goes onto write, “The second time we got married – a few days later – was very different. In front of 160 friends and family, we said vows we had written and watched as the guests laughed and got tearful over an address from Zena, a humanist celebrant who had got to know us over six months.” Louise wedding was in England where humanists or independent celebrants cannot legally solemnise a wedding.
She had to book a service room at the Registrars, which added to the cost and she goes onto say that it was “inconvenient, and frankly a little weird.” All Louise and her partner wanted was a ceremony that was meaningful and true to their beliefs and this extra step was just a formality that they had to go through.
Louise finishes her article like this “This weekend, my husband and I will celebrate our second wedding anniversary – and regardless of when we were legally married, we know which day we’ll be marking.”
You can read the full article https://inews.co.uk/opinion/comment/humanist-wedding-ceremonies-legal-recognition/. If there is enough interest I will start a petition to lobby Members of Parliament and Members of the Scottish Parliament.
© Chris Vermeulen