How A Piece Of News This Week Changed The Wedding Industry
As a wedding planner, I, more than anyone, have a passion for weddings. It often verges on an obsession if I'm perfectly honest. I pin wedding ideas, I read whatever I can about what's affecting the wedding industry in the news, and I immerse myself in the London wedding planning scene so I can bring you the latest and greatest ideas for your wedding day.
You better believe that this has given me a taste for the most creative wedding ideas, and recently I'm beginning to crave new and fresh ideas all the time. I devour blog posts on sites like Rock My Wedding, and Boho Weddings, where couples have put a unique stamp on their day - anything to set them apart from the crowd.
Because at the end of the day, it's your wedding day. It's your way of pledging your love to your partner, and if that's not the most personal thing in the world, then I'm not sure what is... so why celebrate it like anyone else? I'm not even sure there is any sort of standard for what is 'socially acceptable' in the wedding world - and for that I am very glad. Nothing should hold us back in expressing what our relationship means to us on the most special day of our lives.
So, it was to my absolute delight when I heard that Laura Lacole and Eunan O'Kane had won their landmark High Court battle, which subsequently overturned the law regarding humanist wedding ceremonies in Ireland. Until this groundbreaking ruling, humanist weddings weren't recognised in England and Ireland. In fact, the only way to get married legally in this country was to have a religious or civil ceremony. Humanist ceremonies were allowed, but they weren't legally binding which meant you still needed to have a civil ceremony in order to achieve marital status.
It's obviously disappointing to have a strong belief that you spend your life living in accordance with, but not being able to get legally married through a celebration of that faith. If you have a belief (and when I say 'belief here - it's not a religious belief, but a way of living your life) such as humanism, then a religious ceremony or a civil ceremony aren't going to mean a whole lot to you - and it's sad that just because humanism is less widely-recognised in this country, it affects the rights of people who do have that belief. To put it bluntly; it's discriminatory, and that's exactly what was argued in court - that it denied Laura and Eunan's right to freedom of religion. Amen to that! This country is just incredibly archaic at times, right?
It really does bug me that Humanists, and people of similar beliefs, can't legally marry in a ceremony that aligns with the rest of their life. A humanist wedding is no different to a Catholic wedding, in that those marrying are celebrating it in a way that accords with their belief. Why should it be any different for less popular religions? It shouldn't, and, for Humanists, that's not the case anymore. Wahoo! They are now legally recognised in Ireland which means that couples wishing to have a humanist ceremony won't have to have a civil ceremony in addition.
For those of you who may be wondering what Humanists believe, they reject the idea of knowledge being revealed to them by Gods or special books and hold with the idea that Human Beings have the right to give meaning and shape to their own life, how they want to. Their belief system is centred on human experience, thought, and hope and it is their understanding that human experience and rational thinking provide the only source of knowledge and moral code to live by.
So what really happens during a Humanist wedding ceremony? Well, the structure tends to follow pretty closely to that of a religious or non-religious ceremony. However, that doesn't have to be the case for everyone, as the Humanist Ceremonies website explains that the day is "too personal to prescribe certain rules and requirements to it - there's no set script". And this, for me, really gets to the heart of what weddings are all about and why I am so thrilled for the Humanist community.
I want weddings to be personal. I want them to be expressive, and I just want them to be a bit of you! I don't think we need to have requirements where "you can only say this" or "you can't say that". Why not? As long as you're actually making some form of vows, which is technically the actual legal bit, then that should be enough. (Quick legal lesson here just to illustrate my point: when you get married you are technically entering into a 'contract' with your partner. You're agreeing to do all of the things in vows - love them in sickness and in health, etc - and then you sign the 'contract' i.e. the register in order to show that you mean it. That's why divorce is such a pain in the arse, and why you have to explain the reasons for the divorce, so that they can see that one or both members of the marriage haven't upheld the 'contract'. It was worth going to Law School just for that to be honest).
So really, that bit should be all that matters in terms of requirements. Not being allowed to mention God in a non-religious ceremony just baffles me. Why not? What if you don't have a strong enough faith to have a religious wedding but actually do believe a bit and want that to be included? Or what if you are religious but just don't want to get married in a church? We don't need to be so prescriptive. Marriage is a beautiful expression and I think we should try and encourage that kind of creativity, not squash it.
Basically, everything should just be how you want it to be, and that's what humanist weddings are all about. Right down to the wire. It's an all-inclusive, anything goes, distinctly personal way to get married, and what I think is actually a huge step forward for the wedding industry as a whole. It's the green light we've long needed for the independents, the expressionists, and the rule-breakers. To the believers and the daydreamers, get out there and do your thing! I think it sends such a positive message out into the wedding industry, and I'm very grateful to Laura and Eunan for that. Grateful that they were brave enough us to pursue their cause and make a change, because it takes a huge amount of courage to not only stand up for your generation but to stand up for a whole belief system.
As you can imagine, the couple are chuffed to bits. And I personally would like to wish them all the best for, what I'm sure will be, a personal, creative and expressive ceremony in two weeks time.