Late last month, The Guardian published an article decrying the banality of the average civil ceremony. Dry, white, and traditional, the piece argues that these weddings symbolize intolerance; planning one of these ceremonies is about as special as filling in a tax return. The author writes, “When standing in front of 100 friends and family, being married by someone with all the zeal of a headmaster giving out a punishment exercise, I started to have my doubts about weddings.” She goes on to confess: “I am wedding-hater.”
Apparently, Lonny Leclerc is not alone in her hatred of civil ceremonies. Nearly 6,000 humanist weddings were conducted in Scotland in 2017, dwarfing the number of religious ceremonies and taking a sizeable bite out of the civil alternative. This could be a decline in faith, but it could also be that couples are pushing toward choosing more progressive, less dated types of ceremony. While this trend is rocking the state of marriage in Scotland, however, it is making smaller strides in other developed countries.
However, Leclerc is not convinced this is the only reason why humanist ceremonies are outstripping religious and civil services. These numbers, she claims, reflect a broader change in social attitudes. Getting married doesn’t mean the same thing it meant a generation ago; it is no longer the mark of societal expectation or acceptance. It is an option, not an obligation, and divorce now carries little—if any—stigma.
Leclerc decided to have her humanist wedding after attending a humanist funeral. She was struck by how person-centered and meaningful that event was, so she and her partner chose a humanist elopement. It’s simple, personal, and free of bureaucracy, formality, and religious overtures. Couples do not have to take pre-marriage classes, and they don’t have to acknowledge laws. In her words, a humanist ceremony is, “just two godless heathens in love with the desire to be our uncensored selves.” That sounds pretty cool to me.