Demand keeps growing for non-church weddings

Golden wedding of William and Jeanette Risk
Golden wedding of William and Jeanette Risk

With the recession biting and jobs going fast, one profession looks to have a pretty safe and prosperous future.

In bygone eras marrying outside of the church was practically unheard of, frowned upon, but these days it’s becoming more of the norm.

New statistics show three out of four couples in the Falkirk area are choosing non-religious ceremonies for their big day.

The latest records from Humanist Society Scotland show that 71 per cent of couples are opting for a civil or humanist wedding.

This is the second highest rate in Scotland, with only neighbouring Clackmannanshire higher, and 13 per cent more than the Scottish average. There was a rise of 77 per cent in Falkirk’s humanist weddings last year alone.

The area’s sharp increase of 57 per cent from 2005 has left the society short of celebrants and they can’t keep up with demand.

Society convener Les Mitchell said: “Ideally we would have more full-time celebrants, but we have strict selection criteria and look for particular qualities and life stance.”

Carolann and Andrew Forrest from Denny chose a civil wedding in Falkirk’s Callendar House in April as they felt it would be pointless to be married in a church or by a church official.

Teacher Carolann (26) said: “We’re not religious at all. We don’t go to church and neither of us have been baptised so we didn’t see the point of a church wedding.

“I would have liked one, but it would have been just for the tradition of it. We felt a civil wedding would be best. I think a lot of people are the same.”

William and Jeanette Risk of Westquarter celebrated their golden wedding this year. They married at Redding and Westquarter Parish Church in March 1962, despite not being churchgoers.

Retired plasterer William (78) said: “Marrying in the church was very much the normal thing to do at that time. We never considered a registry office or anything like that.

“Things are all different now though, standards are definitely slipping. The church was the thing at the time and it should still be.”

Scotland, along with the Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Norway and some US states are the only six countries in the world which permit humanist weddings.

This type of ceremony is the third most popular in Scotland behind civil and Church of Scotland ones, and outnumber Catholic church weddings.

Humanist celebrants are so in demand that some conduct three ceremonies a day, with some couples delaying their weddings until the one they want becomes available. Currently there are only three covering the Falkirk area.

This has forced the society to look for new blood.

“Historically, religious ceremonies were used to mark these occasions, but this has changed,” said Les.