A self-confessed hopeless romantic at heart, humanist wedding celebrant Jennie Hermolle shares today her love of weddings, and how to create a wedding ceremony that truly reflects you as a couple.
When you’re planning a wedding, there are so many gorgeous details to obsess over – and you’ll find plenty of inspiration from cakes, to frocks and décor on this blog. But I feel the wedding ceremony itself should be given just as much love and attention. You should feel just as excited about your ceremony as the flowers, food, and photographs!
I’m a humanist wedding celebrant based in Herefordshire, and I conduct warm, joyful wedding ceremonies across the three counties. I’m on a mission to stop couples settling for dull, impersonal wedding ceremonies when they could and should be so much more.
Your ceremony is at the heart of your wedding day. It’s what elevates a wedding above what would otherwise be just a very elaborate party. A great ceremony kick-starts your wedding day with a punch to joy.
I work with couples to create bespoke ceremonies that are full of personality, reflect their passions and values, and tell couples’ unique love stories. It is undoubtedly a great job! Humanist ceremonies are often held outdoors. And from black mountain hillsides, ruined castles, to beautiful woodland and our iconic apple orchards, I feel very lucky to lead wedding ceremonies in some very special locations across the three counties.
I’m a life-long wedding enthusiast. Watching Princess Diana’s wedding when I was just a toddler made a huge impact on me at the time – and it must have had a lasting psychological impact! Hower – the wedding ceremonies I lead bear no resemblance to a 1980’s royal wedding!
Humanist weddings are non-religious but designed to be inclusive and meaningful for everyone present, whatever their beliefs. Whilst legally recognised in Scotland since 2005 and in Northern Ireland since 2018, couples in England and Wales still need to legally register their marriage at the Register Office in the days before or after their humanist ceremony.
But there is a benefit to covering off the legal aspects separately, and that is the complete flexibility a humanist ceremony brings to have your day, your way. A humanist wedding ceremony can take place wherever, whenever and however you like. They are free-from legal bureaucratic or religious constraints. As well as being ever popular for relaxed outdoor ceremonies, this personal, bespoke style of ceremony also offers many opportunities to make it your own. Friends and family can actively participate, you can involve your children, or even include much-loved pets!
I also have my own personal experience of how special it is to have a humanist wedding. I married my husband Tom in a humanist ceremony, in a field, 15 years ago, long before the term ‘festival wedding’ was invented.
Nowadays I’m passionate about helping couples tie the knot in a way that is natural, joyful and feels true to them. I love personal, warm-hearted ceremonies and talks about the special energy created when a couple make their commitments and share their happiness surrounded by all the people love most in the world.
Humanist ceremonies are built around the couple’s story. They typically include readings or poems and music and singing can also be incorporated. Couples make their promises to each other, choosing words that feel right to them, and mark their commitment by exchanging rings. Although additional symbolic elements such as handfasting are increasingly popular. Ceremonies can be as long or as short as you wish, but around 25 -45 minutes is typical. You don’t need to identify as a humanist yourself, although, when they look into it, many people discover this rational, ethical and compassionate outlook on life is closely aligned with their own.
It’s reassuring to note that all Humanist UK accredited celebrants are fully trained, accredited and quality assured. Humanists UK is a charity that campaigns for human rights and equality, and an important part of the humanist outlook on life is the belief that love is love – in all its rainbow colours.
My style as a celebrant is genuine, natural, insightful. Above all else, I want my ceremonies to deliver an overriding sense of joy. My biggest piece of advice for couples is to seize the chance to make their ceremony their own. The more of yourselves you put into your ceremony, the more fun, meaningful and joyful it will become.
If you’re inspired by the idea of a bespoke, personal wedding ceremony, then seek out a celebrant! A good celebrant will take the time to learn about you as individuals and as a couple, and use their talent for storytelling, their energy and creativity into creating your perfect ceremony. So, you can set your sights high for your ceremony – it will be the emotional highlight of your wedding day.