Happy wedding guests shelter under umbrellas in the rain at an outdoor wedding ceremony

More humanist than Christian marriages in Scotland in 2019

June 25, 2020

Newly released official statistics reveal that for the first time there were more humanist marriages in Scotland last year than there were Christian marriages of all denominations combined. Humanist marriages made up 23% of all marriages, while Christian marriages made up 22%.

The new statistics were released by the National Records of Scotland. In total there were 5,879 humanist marriages, compared with 5,812 Christian marriages and 1,409 marriages of other religions. There were also 12,635 civil ceremonies conducted by registrars in 2019. This compares to the first year when humanist ceremonies were legally recognised (2005) when there were 82 humanist marriages compared to 14,564 Christian marriages.

Find out more about arranging your humanist wedding in Scotland.

Commenting on the new statistics, Chief Executive of Humanist Society Scotland, Fraser Sutherland, said:

These new official government statistics show again how humanist ceremonies have become a mainstay of Scottish public life. The new figures also show that Humanist Society Scotland celebrants have solemnised the biggest percentage share of total weddings we have ever had – showing that more couples are opting for a meaningful humanist ceremony than ever before.

These stats also put more pressure on the UK Government to relent and legally recognise humanist marriages in England and Wales. The claims there is no demand for such ceremonies are blown out of the water by these new Scottish figures. We support our friends at Humanists UK in their campaign for humanist marriage recognition in other parts of the UK.

About humanist weddings

A humanist wedding is a non-religious ceremony conducted by a humanist celebrant who shares the beliefs and values of the couple. It differs from a civil wedding in that it is entirely personalised and reflective of the humanist beliefs and values of the couple.

Humanist marriages are legally recognised in Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, and the Channel Islands, but not England and Wales. They gained legal recognition in Scotland in 2005. In the Republic of Ireland, they gained legal recognition in 2012 and in 2019 around 9% of legal marriages were humanist, placing the Humanist Association of Ireland only behind the Catholic Church and civil marriages. They gained legal recognition in Northern Ireland in 2018, following a Court of Appeal ruling that concluded that a failure to do so would be a breach of human rights. Jersey also gave legal recognition to humanist marriages last year and the Guernsey Assembly has passed legislation that from next year will the same.

In England and Wales, over 1,000 couples a year already have a humanist wedding without legal recognition. They all must have a separate civil marriage – usually at a registrar’s office – for their marriage to be legally recognised, even though it is not what they want. Couples must go through formalities twice, leading to financial strain, and distress over the state failing to recognise their humanist wedding as their ‘real’ one.

Main image credit: www.samhoughtonphotography.com

A humanist celebrant marries a man and woman outdoors in the Scottish countryside

Humanist weddings and civil partnerships

A humanist wedding or civil partnership lets you celebrate your day your way. Your humanist celebrant will involve you in planning and writing your ceremony, creating a ceremony that’s a true reflection of you and your partner. 

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