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Pamela Kabanda

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Pamela Kabanda


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Sun, Mar 15, 2015 - 10:36 AM

How due humanists conduct their marriage ceremonies?

Marriage ceremonies are conducted in churches, mosques or temples. As a humanist I have found that the only way to conduct marriages is through the register of births and deaths offices. I therefore would like to know if there is any other way that humanists can celebrate their marriages as they mean to without having to go through the above processes?



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Bo Bennett, PhD
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Bo Bennett, PhD

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Print Sun, Mar 15, 2015 - 10:44 AM
Hi Pamela. I am not sure if you already know about the Humanist Celebrant program or not. Through a Humanist Celebrant, one can have a humanist ceremony outside the traditional "sacred" venues conducted by a humanist. To find a humanist who can perform one of these ceremonies, see http://humanist-society.org/humanist-celebrant-state-listing.
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Chris Dunn

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Chris Dunn


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Print Mon, Mar 16, 2015 - 11:26 AM
In 1980, Claire and I went to get a marriage license. The clerk asked me if I'd ever been divorced. I said, "Only from reality." (That's Claire's favorite story about our wedding.) We arranged to have a Justice of the Peace come to her parent's house and we were married in the backyard with her parents and mine, her nephew (who was being babysat by her folks) and their cat in attendance. When the JOP asked if anyone had an objection, the cat meowed very loudly. (That's MY favorite story.) Then we had our 'reception' on the screened-in back porch (fruit salad). Then we jumped in our VW bug and drove off to our honeymoon in Camden, ME. I don't know how the rest of you do it, but our way has lasted through two kids and 35 years--so we must have gotten something right.


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Stacy Westly
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Print Mon, Mar 16, 2015 - 11:43 AM
Humanists can conduct their weddings anywhere! There are many non-denominational officiants, as well as judges and clerks of one's county. One can be married in one's home, a beach, the forest, a mountaintop, a bar, a VFW Lodge, a reception or banquet hall, skydiving, scuba diving, skiing, etc. The options are essentially limitless! If having one's marriage officiated by a religious, non-religious, or legal officiant is not important to a humanist, one can always have a "common law" marriage (although some states do not legally recognize a "common law" marriage, there are many relationships that qualify). In fact, I have been with the same man for 29 (almost 30!) years. We decided not to get married, but instead to live in a relationship of mutual respect and admiration. We have been together longer than most married couples I know! Humanists take committed relationships just as seriously as a religious person. A marriage isn't about the piece of paper; it is about the deep and abiding love and respect between two people. Having that love sanctioned by a religious organization, or even the state, just isn't all that necessary for most humanists. As for any questions on the "benefits" of legally or religiously sanctioned married ... Many states recognize domestic partnerships. Setting up wills, estates, beneficiaries, powers of attorney, etc. to a non-spouse is easy. Having, adopting, and raising children is no problem. Buying a house? Easy peasy. The only real hurdle anymore is in a same-sex marriage ... but even that is changing! Marriage is a partnership ... as long as both parties are invested in the partnership, the marriage will last. Who officiated the wedding ceremony is not important. Besides, as long as the marriage is between two consenting adults, who officiates does not really matter. Cheers.


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Kevin L. Skinner

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Print Fri, Mar 27, 2015 - 12:40 AM
Humans lived in monogamous relationships long before (tens-of-thousands of years or more) marriage, which probably was manifested in religion, with the intention of creating the union in the presence of god for endorsement. It is hard to process as a large number of us have watched the joyous weddings of friends and family ; in the traditional setting, and long to find that bond eventually. Unfortunately, when you remove the 'god' parts; there isn't much left. We just have to get-over it until we can celebrate w/o fantasy. Being 'real' is a great benefit to marital success. Exchanging your vows properly with a select audience would be a nice place to start~ SWAK.


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Print Sun, Mar 15, 2015 - 07:01 PM
My wife and I flew to Vegas and had the (civil) ceremony conducted by an Elvis impersonator. True story.


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Patty T.

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Print Tue, Mar 17, 2015 - 12:46 AM
I'm going to guess that you are in a state where only religious clergy and government officials can marry a person. I believe that some locales also have government officials who will not marry people who lack religious belief. This, of course, is misguided at best. If that is the case, consider asking AHA to help get that changed in your local area. Otherwise, you might try a Unitarian Universalist Church. According to their website, "Unitarian Universalists are agnostic, theist, atheist and everything in between." Like a Humanist celebrant, they won't force you to wed inside any certain facility.


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Ben Rippingale

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Print Wed, Mar 18, 2015 - 12:20 AM
My wife and I were married by a really lovely celebrant in the function room of a local club. She provided a range of different scripts that we could choose from, and different vows.

No threats from extra dimensional beings involved; just expressions of how much we thought of each other, our family, our friends, and that this was for keeps.

The reason we got married was because we wanted everyone to know how special we thought the other was and to celebrate the fact we were in love and we were going to spend the rest of our lives together.


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Kimberly Czar

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Kimberly Czar


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Print Wed, Mar 18, 2015 - 08:18 AM
However we want! It is very empowering to have a choice in the matter.


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Charles Martin

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Print Sat, Mar 21, 2015 - 12:27 AM
A judge and a spouse is all I needed.


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Amber Roark-Steen

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Print Thu, Apr 16, 2015 - 02:13 PM
My husband and I had a secular wedding. We simply got a family member to get ordained online, and we provided them with literature on which to base their speech. It was short and sweet. There is no need for religious affiliation for a marriage to be legal!


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Bill Haines
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Print Tue, Nov 15, 2016 - 04:43 PM
My wife and I were married in our home with a few friends and family in attendance, officiated by a very liberal United Methodist minister (her choice) with vows that (for me) didn't include any religious reference, and that's lasted nearly 26 years now so it seems to have stuck. :)

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Sue Parry

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Print Wed, Nov 16, 2016 - 08:23 AM
An atheist friend of mine recently got ordained online - cost less than $50 - because he had been asked to officiate at someone's wedding. If you have someone close to you who you would like to have officiate, you could have them do that. Just should check with the local powers that be that everything is legally good to go.


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Registered User Comments

Bo Bennett, PhD
Sunday, March 15, 2015 - 08:26:08 PM
@Bob Pulgino: That is awesome! That is exactly what I wanted to do, but we ended up having a traditional ceremony, in a church.

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Chris Dunn
Tuesday, March 17, 2015 - 08:51:44 AM
We did it real fast. All the outrage came later, over not being invited, not having a big reception (my dad threw us a big party after our honeymoon, which everyone else enjoyed). Had we given anyone a few days to think about it, we probably would have been persuaded into something similar.

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Patty T.
Tuesday, March 17, 2015 - 12:56:09 AM
@Chris Dunn - That is basically what I wanted to do in 1984, though with a few more guests in my grandparents' back yard. They wouldn't go for it. We ended up with a 10 minute non-denominational ceremony at the local UCC Theological Seminary. Then we had a reception with music from some really old guys my mom hired. They played old songs - including "The Lady is a Tramp." Wha....??? 30 years later, I remember that, but I don't remember if the minister included a prayer in the ceremony.

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Chris Dunn
Tuesday, March 17, 2015 - 08:48:43 AM
Claire was still, nominally, a Unitarian at the time, so I guess it wasn't a full-on Humanist marriage--but it was as far from a chuirch wedding as we could manage. Neither of us was comfortable with the big wedding template.

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