Humanist Civil Partnerships in Scotland

Congratulations, we’re delighted that you’re thinking about a humanist ceremony to celebrate your love and life together.

We believe that Civil Partnerships are based on mutual love and respect.  We also know that every couple is different, and that is why our ceremonies are unique and personal. Humanist Civil Partnerships can take place indoors or outdoors, they can be simple or elaborate, traditional or contemporary.  They usually include your story, readings and music and can also include an exchange of rings or symbolic gestures, like hand fasting.

Whatever you want to do the choice is yours.  It’s your love, your life together and your ceremony.

Whatever you decide on, your Humanist Society Celebrant will work with you to create your perfect ceremony.  One of the many benefits of a humanist ceremony is that you are involved in the writing of it.  That means that on your special day the ceremony is a true reflection of your commitment to each other.  Your celebrant will share your story and words with those celebrating with you; it really is as unique as the love you share.

We are the largest and longest standing provider of humanist ceremonies in Scotland so you can be confident you’re in safe hands.  All our celebrants are trained, regularly reviewed and work to our standards for ceremonies.  We are also the only provider to offer the Humanist Society Promise. So, when it comes to Humanist Civil Partnerships, you can rely on us to give you the ceremony you want, whatever that looks like.

The Legalities

Civil Partnerships are an alternative option to Marriage ceremonies, allowing couples to celebrate their love and commitment to each other. They have been available to same sex couples in Scotland since 2005. Same sex couples also have the option to have marriage ceremonies. 

Mixed sex couples will be able to enter into a Civil Partnership in Scotland from summer 2021. Notices can be submitted from the 1st June 2021, with the first mixed sex civil partnerships able to take place as early as the end of June.

In order for a Civil Partnership to take place:

  • The registration must be carried out by a Humanist celebrant, or the local authority registrar or by a religious celebrant who is allowed to register civil partnerships
  • The couple will both need to be present
  • Two witnesses over 16 years old are required

You can find out more about the legalities here on the Scottish Government website, and on the National Records website. This is also where you will find more information about notices for mixed sex civil partnerships once they are able to be submitted.

What is the difference between marriage and civil partnership?

There are no significant differences between the rights and obligations of a marriage versus a civil partnership, but civil partnerships are formed by signing a civil partnership document, whereas marriages are formed by making legal declarations. Some people are uncomfortable with the traditional and religious connotations of marriage, so civil partnerships give these couples the option of entering a legal partnership that is devoid of these connotations.

Symbolic Gestures

Image courtesy: Kirstie De Garis


You can read more about different kinds of symbolic gestures here. While some symbolic gestures are perceived as being tied solely to marriage ceremonies – many symbolic gestures have been adapted from traditional declarations of commitment separate from – and in some instances dating from before – marriage ceremonies as we would recognise them. As such they can also work very well in a Civil Partnership should you wish to include them. 

Your celebrant will be able to talk you through lots of options, and give you lots of ideas so you can decide what you might want to have as part of your Civil Partnership ceremony. You may even choose to create your own symbolic gesture – if there is a part of your life that you want included in your ceremony you might want to think about how you could incorporate that – your celebrant will be happy to discuss any ideas you may have.

Readings and Music

Here are a few poems that are well suited to readings at a Civil Partnership ceremony. You may also find additional inspiration about reading options here and music options here



While you do not make legal declarations in a Civil Partnership, you can still choose to include promises that you wish to make to each other. For example:

“I, (name) choose you above all others to share my life.  I promise to honour this pledge as long as I live.”

Or you might want to create more specific personal promises – maybe promising to care for and support each other, if you have children acknowledging the respect you have for each other as parents – or even promising to always save your partner from spiders. Your celebrant will be able to talk you through lots of examples too. There are some more examples here that would also work in a Civil Partnership ceremony.

Our Fees

You can expect to pay around £450 for your Civil Partnership ceremony, which includes the fee to your celebrant and two-year membership of Humanist Society Scotland.  Any expenses such as travel costs and rehearsal fees should be agreed directly with your celebrant.

You can secure your date with a fee of £85. This gives you the peace of mind that you have secured one of our fabulous celebrants for your ceremony, and two years membership of our charity.  Win win really!  Once you have confirmed a celebrant they may take a deposit for their services.

If we are allocating you a celebrant, the fee is £450 for your ceremony which includes the fee to your celebrant, two-year membership of Humanist Society Scotland, and any expenses for delivery of the ceremony and initial meeting.

Find out more and Secure Your Date!

The Humanist Society Promise

Your humanist ceremony will be to mark one of life’s most important events.  That is why we take your booking seriously.  As the longest standing provider of humanist ceremonies in Scotland we support and co-ordinate our nation’s largest and best known group of Humanist Celebrants.  Every year our celebrants conduct thousands of ceremonies and we’re committed to ensuring that every one is unique and of a consistently high quality.  To demonstrate our commitment to you and your ceremony we are the only provider to offer the Humanist Society Promise; all Humanist Society Celebrants are covered by our Promise as are all their ceremonies.

1. Be Assured, We’re Insured
We are delighted to have a reputation for providing high quality ceremonies and service.  Although it is only occasionally (only about 0.5% and we conduct around 7000 ceremonies each year!) that problems arise with our ceremonies you can be assured if you book a Humanist Society Celebrant they are covered by our Public Liability Insurance.

2. We’ve Got it Covered
It is very rare that the celebrant you have booked is unable to conduct your ceremony; and this would only be in extreme circumstances such as serious illness.  However, as the largest provider of humanist ceremonies in Scotland we have the network to find you a replacement, even at very short notice.  We have office staff available to ensure we can respond quickly to any emergency with minimal stress to you.  Although unlikely to happen, always ask your chosen organisation how they provide cover in emergencies.

3. Developing Skills to Give You the Best
All Humanist Society Celebrants must complete intensive training and mentoring programmes before they are registered to conduct any type of ceremony.  Our celebrants are regularly reviewed and also participate in ongoing practice development opportunities.

4. Setting the Standard
All our celebrants work to a set of standards to ensure that your experience is the best it can be.  Our celebrants are also subject to a complaints and grievance process.  If, in the unlikely event you have any concerns about your ceremony please raise these with your celebrant directly in the first instance.  If this proves difficult please email and we will do all we can to resolve the matter.

5. Best of All, We’re a Charity!
The Humanist Society Scotland is a Registered Scottish Charity and you can read about us here; our accounts are published annually. As a charity we campaign for a fairer Society; provide humanist ceremonies, including funerals for those under 16 at no charge.  We’re also really proud to be the Humanist organisation that worked hard for legal humanist marriage in Scotland.