Monday, 21 February 2011

Humanist Weddings in Scotland Are More Popular than Catholic Ones - it's official!

We've been waiting a long time to see this story in Scotland on Sunday (and thanks are due to Marc Horne the journalist for breaking the story). 

Four years, in fact, ever since Gordon Ross, who was then the National Ceremonies Convenor, got his calculator out and 'did the math' as the Americans say.

That was back in 2007, when we got the second set of statistics from the Registrar General of Scotland. 

When our ceremonies became legal in June 2005, we did 48 weddings during the course of the rest of the year. 

In 2006, we conducted nearly 500 which was a big jump, but as we were going from a standing start, it wasn't that surprising. 

But it still seemed very optimistic to predict that by 2010 we'd overtake the Catholic Church.

Gordon was confident. In a former life, he was a statistician.

Winston Churchill famously talked about 'lies, damn lies and statistics' as a way to make things look better than they really are, but for once the numbers don't lie. 

As an institution, marriage has been decline in Scotland since the end of World War II. 43,206 marriages were registered in 1946 but only 27,524 in 2009, the last year for which full statistics exist. 

The only form of marriage that is bucking that trend is the Humanist one. And that, quite simply is because it's the only form of marriage where couples are free to say in their own words why they're doing what they're doing, what their hopes are for the future and what they're promising.

As Julian Baggini wrote in 2008, "Weddings up 64%" is probably the most unlikely headline of the year, but add one word and it's completely true. That word is "humanist." 

I checked with Gordon yesterday. According to his original calculation, we are due to overtake the Church of Scotland in 2015. 

This time, I'm prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Deborah and Brian's Humanist Wedding at Ghillie Dhu

It was back in October that I celebrated Deborah and Brian's wedding so I was really pleased this morning when I got an email from Brian telling me their great news - they're expecting their first child! 

He went on to say, "So, before the next 20 years of my life disappear in a haze of nappies, adolescent tantrums and graduation ceremonies, I just wanted to take a moment to say a heartfelt thank you for all your help."

Brian & Deborah wrote a great ceremony, and they were very funny about the way their love had blossomed thanks to Deborah's Auntie Christine, pickled capers and works nights out at the Northern Bowling Club. But what I didn't realise on the day was that they were both a bit worried about how it would go down with Brian's family, who are all good God-fearing Irish Catholics from the wilds of West Cork!  Brian takes up the tale... 

"Now, I must admit to being particularly concerned about my family’s reaction, especially after my pre-ceremony explanations were met with looks of bewildered anxiety and outright fear at the prospect of the impending ‘pagan’ ritual.  However, as it turned out my fears were totally swept away from the very start of the ceremony thanks in no small part to your pitch perfect manner and approach to the proceedings.  

You managed to combine the authority and gravitas of a traditional ceremony (reassuring even the most conservative guest that a ‘real’ wedding was actually taking place and not a casual quasi-New Age rite!) with the warmth and openness that allowed all those present to share in the intimacy of our day.   

Your joke about the hooded cloaks under the seats has become a much enjoyed and oft repeated part of the family story of the day (as anyone cornered by my uncles after a few pints will testify!).  Family and friends continue to comment on the ‘buzz’ about the ceremony – the palpable sense of shared intimacy and connectivity.  

The ceremony conveyed our feelings and emotions perfectly and by doing so enthused and delighted our loved ones.  We couldn’t have asked for anything more.      

As ever, it was my pleasure. Thank you, Deborah & Brian, and I wish all three of you every happiness! My thanks also to their photographer, Marc Miller for these great shots.

It's time to celebrate, people!

I'm delighted to announce that from now on, I will be a celebrant with Celebrate People , a new Humanist organisation led by two of Scot...