Why I love being a Humanist Wedding Photographer | Cambridge Wedding Photographer Damien Vickers
During my 5 years as a wedding photographer I have been fortunate to shoot weddings of all styles and sizes. In that time I have come to realise that among my absolute favourite type of wedding to photograph is a Humanist wedding. I love the freedom that they allow and the relaxed feel because they are not confined to the restrictions of tradition. Most of all though, they are absolutely rammed full of love, joy and fun which for me is everything a wedding should be.
What is a humanist wedding?
A humanist wedding is a non-religious celebration that is welcoming, inclusive, and personally tailored to you (the couple) focusing on your love story and things that are important to you as a couple.
It gives you the opportunity to marry where you want, when you want and how you want and this opens up a whole world of possibilities for a truly memorable wedding.
You do not have to be a humanist to have a humanist ceremony, a humanist ceremony is focused on the couple and and their relationship and what they value. Humanists view long-term partnerships as strongest when built upon support, equality and honesty.
These values are very close to my own and the inclusive nature of humanist ceremonies make them a perfect choice for modern couples that don’t want a ceremony tied to long standing traditions or wedding stereotypes.
One of the most appealing things to couples about humanist weddings is the freedom to get married outdoors, or wherever you would like, in particular, places that are not licensed for civil weddings.
I have been fortunate enough to be a humanist wedding photographer in a treehouse, at a bride’s family home of many generations, overlooking the Aegean Sea, at a beautiful 17th century country house in Cambridge and in the heart of the Tuscan hills in Italy. If you can think of a place then you can probably have a humanist wedding there. I have even heard of couples tying the knot in an underground cave or jumping out of a plane together.
Humanist weddings typically have a relaxed and often informal feel, you frequently see a lot of DIY touches and contributions from creative friends and family members which adds to the collective, community feel of the occasion. The whole day is very much focused on the couple and the guests having great time together, some of the most amazing parties I have photographed have been at humanist weddings. All of these reasons make humanist weddings a perfect fit for my style of relaxed, people focused, vibrant wedding photography. I have shared some images from a few of my favourite humanist weddings below.
Humanist wedding photography
While humanist ceremonies are legally recognised in Scotland, they are not (yet) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland – meaning registering the marriage beforehand or afterwards is the norm.
Some couples like to have a humanist wedding photographer present for the both the legal side of things and the wedding celebration, others just choose to have a one for the day of the humanist ceremony and party, again this is completely flexible and down to each couple to decide what works best for you.
The flexibility of a humanist wedding really allows the couple to decide how formal or informal they would like the service to be. As well as having the freedom to get married outdoors, or wherever you choose, you also have the option to decide who performs your ceremony. I have been photographer at humanist weddings with a very informal service performed by a close friend or family member and there is no reason you can’t or shouldn’t do this. Many couples prefer a more formal ceremony with a professional. In the way that a priest or registrar would conduct a religious or legal service with a humanist wedding this is a celebrant.
Humanist ceremonies conducted by trained celebrants (like an unofficial registrar) who will spend time getting to know the couple before the day and tailor the ceremony to them. However, those wishing to conduct a friend’s wedding can take inspiration from this kind of ceremony.
As a wedding photographer in Cambridge I can highly recommend the fabulous Katie the Celebrant to conduct your humanist wedding ceremony, she is incredibly passionate about what she does and is always bursting with colour and a huge smile. She clearly invests a good amount of time getting to know what makes her couples tick and conducts her ceremonies with joy, humour and a real sense of occasion.
The symbolic ceremony, choice of words and symbolism used are again are completely unique to you. It can include unique vows, readings, poems, music, and any rituals you choose, such a hand fastening ,the tying of a symbolic knot or lighting a unity candle. At one of my favourite humanist ceremonies a full 6 piece band backed the guests for a sing-a-long of the couple’s chosen tunes. At another, the couple chose to have their beloved dog as the ring bearer. When it come to ways in which the ceremony can be personalised the sky really is the limit.
After the Ceremony
In my experience as a humanist wedding photographer the celebrations at these type of weddings are amongst the most genuine and heartfelt of all the weddings I have photographed, people really tend to let their hair down! As a couple you will obviously have a lot to think about in terms of where to hold your reception or party. Whilst it is by no means essential, it can make planning your day a whole lot easier if you have everything in one place.
As a humanist wedding photographer in Cambridge I recommend a couple of local venues that specialise in, and love to host humanist weddings. These include Ansty Hall which is fantastic 17th century house on the edge of the city It’s a great choice if you would like an indoor ceremony with all the flexibility a humanist wedding offers.
If it’s the rustic outdoor feel that you’re after then Buleigh Hill Farm is a great choice. It’s primary purpose is as a campsite but they do also conduct humanist weddings. The woodland area is perfect for the ceremony and the large barn is fantastic for a reception and live music. The sunsets here are pretty amazing too.
Last but by no means least is Horsley Hale Farm. Located just outside Ely this is the perfect venue for a humanist wedding with a party vibe. The farm is beautifully maintained, has chickens and alpacas and a stunning lake with a jetty to hosts that humanist ceremony. For the festival wedding feel, guests can sit on hay bales during the ceremony and stay in one of the fields overnight in a tent of their own on one of the farms glamping tipis.
Your Humanist Wedding
If you’re thinking about or planning a humanist wedding I would love to be the photographer to capture the day for you. I am a Cambridge wedding photographer but I cover weddings all over the UK and in Europe. My documentary storytelling style with a relaxed approach, minimal fuss and no awkwardness is perfectly suited to humanist weddings. You can see more from a couple of my featured weddings shown above here.
Please have a look around my site an get in touch for my availability. I’d love to hear about your humanist wedding plans and to discuss how I can capture those precious memories.