‘We didn’t have to fit into a traditional heterosexual wedding ceremony’: Sally and Gabby’s humanist wedding

‘We didn’t have to fit into a traditional heterosexual wedding ceremony’: Sally and Gabby’s humanist wedding

Two women stand with their heads leant together in a green field. They are smiling at each other, it is warm and intimate.

When Sally and Gabby got married, they wanted everything about the day to be meaningful, personal and definitely not off-the-peg. They wanted all their friends and family to feel involved and included. They wanted less formality, and more fun. These values were expressed beautifully in their choice of venue, food and decorations, but most of all, through their humanist ceremony.

‘It was an outdoor wedding at an organic farm with stunning views over the Derbyshire dales,’ says Sally. ‘Initially, we wanted the registrar to come to the farm, but they couldn’t make it, so we were forced to look for alternatives. I’m so glad we did!’

Sally’s wife, Gabby, picks up the story: ‘We found our humanist celebrant, Ingrid, on the Humanists UK website. It was important to us to have a female celebrant. We met her at her house and we really got on. She was warm and lovely and funny, and she got exactly what it was that we wanted.’

Ingrid also remembers that first meeting well. ‘I could tell immediately that Sally and Gabby were a lovely couple,’ she says. ‘I remember we laughed a lot. They were really fun, but serious about wanting to be together. They wanted their wedding to be an uplifting occasion for everyone involved.’

‘Ingrid created such a beautiful ceremony for us,” says Gabby. ‘Until then, I didn’t appreciate the amount of work that goes into it from the celebrant’s point of view, all the time getting to know us. There was nothing “cut and paste” about it. It was specific, deep and personal.’

A wedding ceremony with two brides, one wearing loose flowing sage green trousers and a floaty white top and the other a smart cream blazer and pinstriped trousers. They are smiling with the celebrant.

A personalised ceremony for a lesbian wedding

As a bride and bride, Sally and Gabby had an additional reason for choosing a humanist celebrant for their wedding ceremony. Gabby had learnt about humanist values at school and their openness to same-sex couples appealed to her.

‘We were welcomed as a same-sex couple,’ she says. ‘The way that Ingrid planned the ceremony supported and reflected that. She wasn’t trying to make us fit into a heterosexual marriage service. In the ceremony, she talked about how, as a gay couple, being able to get married wasn’t something that was possible everywhere in the world. She really made people think.’

‘Humanist weddings aren’t tied to any legal restrictions, we can use any language that the couple want,’ explains Ingrid. ‘Each ceremony is written for that particular couple. A same-sex couple shouldn’t feel it’s just a traditional ceremony that’s been adapted, instead the ceremony should feel entirely for and about them.’

Two brides walk down a green path, with friends and family lining the way and throwing confetti. It is joyous and full of sunshine.

Uniting friends and family

Gabby and Sally’s parents both live overseas, so they met each other for the first time only the day before the wedding. And many of the couple’s friends didn’t know each other either, so it was important that the wedding should do more than celebrate Gabby and Sally’s union.  It also needed to bring together their friends and family too.

‘Ingrid built a lot of stories about us into the ceremony,’ says Gabby. ‘This helped our families get to know each other. She made people laugh and feel comfortable right from the start. Generally, you don’t get to sing with other people, except in church, but we knew we wanted to do this. We loved seeing everyone sing Queen’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”!’

A group singing moment in a wedding ceremony, the brides are clapping along and two friends are leading the song

‘Ingrid created moments like that where everyone could participate,’ adds Sally. ‘We walked in with our parents, bridesmaids and sisters. Everyone made a pledge to support us in our marriage. She brought life to our wedding ceremony. At lots of weddings, the ceremony can be quite boring, but ours certainly wasn’t!’

As well as the ceremony itself, the wedding location also helped Gabby and Sally’s family and friends to get to know each other.

‘It was a country wedding. The farm was in the middle of nowhere, so we had to bus everyone in,’ explains Sally. ‘They didn’t know each other before, but they got to know each other on the bus. By the end of the day, it felt like we had created a community.’

Gabby looks at Sally as she reads her vows, her face full of smiles and love. The celebrant and congregation look on.

Everything was homemade – even the vows

Everything about the day was natural and homemade. It was a team effort too, with friends and family helping dress the hall the night before. Even the food was designed to be shared. No silver service, just big plates which everyone could pass round and help themselves.

‘I think we fed people four times during the day,’ laughs Gabby. ‘Food and drink is very important to us. It was like the kind of dinner party that we host at home.’

The vows were homemade too. Sally and Gabby each wrote their own, and kept them secret from each other until the day of the ceremony. Only their celebrant Ingrid saw them in advance.

‘Their vows were emotional, individual and sometimes funny,’ remembers Ingrid. ‘It sends shivers down my spine even now, thinking about them.’

‘Religion used to provide ritual, which is often now missing from life,’ says Gabby. ‘When you lose ritual, you can lose meaning. But this ceremony brought that back – it was full of meaning. Neither of us had been to a humanist wedding before, but the fact that we felt so comfortable as a lesbian couple, that Ingrid welcomed us so warmly and made our day so special, was huge to us.’

Sally and Gabby lean against a dry stone wall, relaxed and happy, surrounded by green fields as far as the eye can see

Many thanks to Sally and Gabby for sharing their story with us and to photographer Kathryn Edwards for the stunning images.

If you’d like your humanist wedding featured on the blog, get in touch.

Our featured celebrant

Ingrid Tapp has been a humanist celebrant since 2007.  She works in Nottinghamshire and the surrounding areas, delivering unique and personal ceremonies for those who live without religion. Find Ingrid online here or connect with her on Twitter.

Humanist wedding ceremonies

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'My humanist ceremony was the most special day of my life. All my family were blown away. Both my parents said that they'd never been to a wedding that was more personal or heartfelt.'
Madeleine, 34

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