Sheela-na-Gig aka Jeanne Rathbone

My response to Guardian item on weddings which is now closed.

Posted in Uncategorized by sheelanagigcomedienne on December 17, 2010

This week, the Guardian is running a debate about marriage and faith in its online ‘Comment is Free’ forum.   Today (Thursday) saw a contribution from one of our BHA celebrants, Rupert Morris, about humanism and marriage.

At the time of writing his excellent article has attracted 83 comments (of the usual diversity and standard!) You can find Rupert’s contribution and join in the debate here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2010/dec/13/marriage-faith-preparation

I responded only to find that they had closed further comments!! Here is what I had written.

There are two parts to a wedding – the legal part and the ceremony part. You can have one without the other. The registry office/registrar part is really no different to going into a solicitors office to sign legal documents witnessed by two persons. Because many couples were only having a registry office wedding they beefed up the wording a little to make it seem like a ceremony.

Some couples who are not religious believers want a more meaningful ceremony with their own wording which expresses their values and philosophy of life where they state their vows, have relevant secular readings, music etc.  They want to make a public commitment witnessed by their family and friends rather than a deity.

Like Rupert I am a Humanist celebrant and we can hold our ceremonies anywhere, anytime unlike registrars. When we meet a couple we can gauge, a little, their dynamics. I suggest that they include a section of their ‘Story so far’ , of how they met and as they are most likely to be living together in domestic harmony to incorporate something about their dynamics eg the tidy one, the calm one etc. Indeed, I jokingly suggest that if either one of them were a virgin that I would not be able to officiate as I would deem it irrational to commit to someone that they have NOT lived with or had a sexual relationship with!

Like other celebrants I mainly conduct funerals but also baby namings. We are committed to this work because we believe that rite-of- passage ceremonies are very important. I find the two-in-one naming/commitment combined a very sensible modern ceremony and promote it as the inexpensive, low- key, hassle free alternative to a wedding. I am sure it will catch on eventually as I reckom many couples eschew weddings because they have become so expensive and extravagant. The virginal white dress worn only for one day seems irrational to me.
I am disappointed that I am not asked to do divorce ceremonies as I believe it is another important watershed for some couples and their children and families. I am sure that it will, also, catch on in time!

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