Humanist ceremonies are a popular choice for couples planning a fusion wedding — a multicultural wedding ceremony marrying together elements of each of the couple’s cultures and traditions.
Jaspal and Lucy knew they wanted a humanist ceremony conducted by a celebrant with a Scottish accent — and they also wanted their wedding to include a traditional Scottish handfasting ceremony and a nod to the Sikh traditions of Milni and Jaimala, along with an exchanging of rings with personalised vows.
But, who could deliver this personalised combination of rituals? Here, Jaspal tells us how he found humanist celebrant Caroline Lambie — a Scot living and conducting personalised wedding ceremonies in London — and all about their perfect humanist wedding.
Lucy and I first started dating whilst we were in the frivolous early days of our PhDs after a year of having shared an office together. Together, we endured the ‘all-consuming apocalyptic drudgery’ of finishing our PhDs (a phrase I also managed to use in our wedding ceremony) and our bond was sealed. We’ve now been together for seven years.
Whilst we would love to be able to say we were in our finest dress after a romantic evening, I actually proposed after we’d both had a long day at work, while wearing tracksuit bottoms with Lucy in her pyjamas. Needless to say, Lucy was caught off-guard. I proposed with a ring that had been passed down from Lucy’s grandmother.
We knew that we wanted to hold our ceremony in a relaxed and rustic atmosphere and decided a barn wedding venue would do the job – and have the added advantage of being outside the smog of London. It was very important that the day was a true reflection of us, our beliefs and tastes. In part, we gave this particular care because we knew we could do this by having a humanist ceremony.
We started planning the wedding a few months after the proposal and just over a year before the wedding. Finding a barn that we both liked was the most important aspect initially. The more we discussed our aspirations for the wedding and the things we wanted to incorporate, the more important it became to us that this barn would also be able to accommodate a horseshoe/semi-circle seating arrangement with two converging aisles which we could both walk down simultaneously. This was to become a central feature in our ceremony to celebrate both our ideals and our inherited cultures.
To find our celebrant, we began by Googling ‘Scottish humanist celebrants in London’. We had both vehemently decided at some point that we wanted to be married by a Scottish voice. Fortunately, there was one result returned: Caroline Lambie. And, even more fortunately, after Caroline visited our flat to discuss our wedding, she was the perfect choice!
Caroline helped us shape the ideas we had about what we wanted to do for the ceremony – a mixture of Scottish traditions, with those of an Indian wedding as well as those we defined ourselves. She provided us extensive options and material on different phrasings for parts of the ceremony — handfasting, exchanging rings, etc — and helped us put them all together to create a unique wedding.
Of course, she also has a lovely Scottish accent.
We wanted to celebrate our equality and individual identities. I also wanted the chance to walk down an aisle. We had a horseshoe seating arrangement with two converging aisles, which, after our families and wedding party had walked to greet each other at the front (somewhat a nod to the Sikh tradition of Milni), we each walked down an aisle simultaneously also meeting at the front.
Our ceremony incorporated surprise readings from our closest friends, traditional Scottish handfasting, the exchanging of flower garlands provided to us from our siblings (a nod to the Sikh tradition of Jaimala) and an exchanging of rings with personalised vows.
Lucy had three bridesmaids – two her oldest friends and the third was my sister. My best man was the husband of one of my oldest and closest friends who herself was appointed as our Mistress of Ceremonies. A close cousin’s daughter and the daughter of another old friend were our flower girls.
Perhaps owing to their legality, I had seen many humanist weddings whilst growing up in Scotland and I had known for a long time it would be the type of ceremony I would want. It was also in Scotland where Lucy saw her first humanist ceremony at the wedding of one of my oldest friends.
We were both drawn to the personalised and non-religious nature of humanist weddings — the freedom of being able to craft a ceremony both by us and for us, felt like a truer celebration of two people getting married.
We were first drawn to Clock Barn in Hampshire initially because of its incredible wooden barn at the end of a long driveway flanked by fields. The barn itself is light and airy with high ceilings and rafted with beautiful exposed wood. Because we weren’t having the legal ceremony at the venue, we were free to arrange our seating however we wanted. (A big plus for us was that it had interconnected spaces and rooms, which meant that had it been raining, our guests wouldn’t need to go outside whilst rooms were being changed over.)
We had a register office signing four days before our humanist wedding in a small register office with two of our closest friends as witnesses. We would have preferred not to have had to do it like this. Although we live in London, we did consider having our wedding in Scotland due to the legality of humanist ceremonies there. Ultimately, we see no reason why in England the marriage can’t be enshrined by law during a humanist wedding and we look forward to the law being changed in England and Wales.
On the plus side, however, because we weren’t bound by law, we didn’t need to adhere to our venues licence requirements for legal ceremonies – specific positioning of tables and chairs etc – and so we could truly do and say whatever we wanted.
We found Jackson and Co Photography via Google and because we saw some of their photos when viewing our venue and were instantly drawn to them. We were both a big fan of their use of colour in the pictures – it was rich, with depth. We wished to have two photographers, given we had two aisles, and it was a big plus for us that Michael and his wife Hannah work as a team, so were an experienced double act. The relaxed styling of Jackson and Co’s photos very much appealed to both of our tastes. We met on Skype and he instantly put us at ease, listened to our ideas, and on the day, together with his partner, did a truly wonderful job. We loved that they became like one of our guests on the day. The final pictures are exactly what we were looking for and really told the story of our day – we haven’t been able to find any fault.
Many thanks to Jaspal and Lucy for sharing their story with us! If you’d like your humanist wedding featured on the blog, email us today!
Caroline Lambie has been a humanist celebrant for over a decade. She really knows her stuff! She lives in North London on the Stroud Green/Crouch End border and is available to conduct weddings and vow renewal ceremonies across London and beyond. You can follow Caroline on Instagram and connect with her via Facebook.
Kent-based wedding photographers Jackson and Co Photography won Wedding Photographer of the Year 2020 for their region and were awarded ‘highly commended’ in the overall Wedding Photographer of the Year category at The Wedding Industry Awards 2020. They were ranked in the Top 10 Wedding Photographers in the UK by the Masters of Wedding Photography in 2019, 2018, and 2017. As you can see from the photos above, their accolades are very well-deserved.
Clock Barn is an impressive country venue situated in the heart of rural Hampshire which offers couples the freedom to add their own personal touch to the style and décor. It’s an ideal venue for a humanist wedding.
You can find out more about humanist weddings on our website. If, like Jaspal and Lucy, you’re planning a fusion wedding, our celebrants will have ideas on how to include and combine different customs and traditions seamlessly into your ceremony.
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How do you know if you’re a humanist? Take our quiz and find out — or watch this short video where Stephen Fry explains humanism.
If you’d like a humanist wedding, you can find your local celebrant today.
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There are exciting times ahead as you choose your humanist celebrant and plan a personalised wedding that's unique to you.