So no surprise to read new figures this week from the Australian Bureau of Statistics that show one in five Australians has no religion. And that figure, 22% of the population, is rising. Most of those people are under 30, highly educated, and likely to be in a de-facto relationship. Tasmania and the ACT have the most people reporting as having no religion, and NSW has the least.
As a Civil Marriage Celebrant, that’s a trend I definitely see from the couples I marry. One question I often ask them as we plan their ceremony is what they really liked – and didn’t like – about weddings they’ve been to recently. And usually it’s the religious weddings which get the thumbs down.
Now don’t get me wrong – there is absolutely a place for a traditional church marriage and that’s what some couples feel is right for them. Different strokes for different folks. But reading the figures back, it would follow that more and more couples are opting for a civil marriage ceremony instead.
The great thing about civil ceremonies is that we can make them whatever you want them to be, once the legal parts are done and dusted. It doesn’t have to be black or white either when it comes to religion – whichever one you follow. We can still blend in elements of your beliefs. My most recent wedding touched on Buddhism and some of the teachings of the Dalai Lama. And in other weddings, couples have chosen traditional Irish, Native Indian and Scottish elements and readings.
I describe myself as a Humanist. For those of us with no religious belief it’s important that we can mark the big events of our lives with honesty, warmth and affection, using words and music that are personal and directly appropriate to the lives of the people involved. Many people are humanists without even knowing it. If you are non-religious and look to science, reason, empathy, and compassion in order to live an ethical and meaningful life, you’re probably a humanist too. (You can always take this test to find out).
But who needs labels? When it comes to weddings, the most important thing is to create a ceremony that is personal, meaningful, fun and is full of the essence of you – whatever that may be. And I’m here to do just that for you.
Written by Stephen Lee
Marriage Celebrant Sydney