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Humanist marriages continue to rise in Scotland, new figures show

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Humanist marriages are on the rise in Scotland, with new official figures showing 6,117 humanist marriages (22% of total marriages) took place in Scotland in 2018, up from 5,702 marriages (20%) in the previous year.

Humanists UK has welcomed these latest statistics, which show that more couples are choosing to have a humanist marriage, reflecting a growing trend across the UK of humanist weddings gaining popularity.

Humanist marriages became legal in Scotland in 2005. Northern Ireland followed suit in 2018, but England and Wales is yet to do so. Humanists UK conducts over 1,000 wedding ceremonies in England and Wales every year, but without legal recognition.

The new Scotland figures also show that Humanists UK’s sister organisation, Humanist Society of Scotland, remains the largest single provider of religion or belief-based marriages. It first overtook the Church of Scotland in 2016. The number of Christian marriages performed in Scotland in 2018 was 6,258 (23%), down from 6,986 (25%) in the previous year.

Humanist marriage ceremonies are non-religious, personalised, and meaningful ceremonies conducted by trained and accredited humanist celebrants who share the values and beliefs of the couple, and place strong emphasis on the couple’s personal story and commitment to each other.

Earlier this year, Humanists UK revealed that weddings conducted by Humanists UK celebrants in England and Wales is also on the rise, with Humanists UK having conducted more weddings than the Baptists for the first time in 2016, becoming the fifth biggest provider of religion or belief weddings.

Commenting on the new statistics, Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson said: ‘It is very encouraging to see humanist marriages continue to increase in Scotland and this is reflective of how popular humanist ceremonies are, not just in Scotland but across the UK. The popularity of humanist weddings will continue to grow as society becomes less and less religious and more people realise that humanist weddings are deeply personal occasions that have a unique focus on celebrating a couple’s love for each other.

‘As we welcome today’s figures, we continue to urge the UK Government to give legal recognition of humanist marriages in England and Wales so that more couples have the right to have a marriage that is reflective of their beliefs and values.’


For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK press manager Casey-Ann Seaniger at or phone 020 7324 3078 or 07393 344293.

Read more on Humanists UK wedding numbers continue to grow.

Read more about Humanists UK’s campaigns on marriage laws.

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by over 85,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.

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