The Ultimate Guide to Planning Your Wedding

You’ve got engaged. Now it’s time to plan the big day in your own way.
Humanist wedding, naming, and funeral celebrant in Leeds, Yorkshire and Manchester
Posted By Louise Williams – Humanist UK Celebrant

A big, heartfelt congratulations on your engagement! This is the start of a thrilling adventure leading up to a day that celebrates your love and the unique bond you share. As you embark on planning a wedding, remember it’s all about carving out a path that is uniquely yours.

Humanist weddings are noteworthy – they break away from conventional weddings and offer an unscripted canvas to paint your love story. Your day should reflect who you are as individuals and as a couple, where tradition only matters if it is meaningful to you. 

In this ceremony, every word spoken, every ritual performed, is there because you want it to be. There are no ‘shoulds’ or ‘musts’ here, only ‘we want to’.

This guide is designed to help you navigate the journey from the euphoric ‘We’re engaged!’ moment through the thrilling planning stages and, finally, to the post-wedding afterglow. 

It’s a roadmap, a companion, and a reassuring friend, holding your hand through each step, ensuring that planning your wedding remains a joy, not a chore.

So let’s dive in and create a day that truly celebrates your unique love story. 

Getting Started

Welcome to the exhilarating world of wedding planning! 

But first, take a moment. Bask in the glow of your engagement, revel in your love for each other, and celebrate this joyous commitment. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime moment, so make sure to soak it all in!

After the celebrations simmer down, it’s time to dive into the planning stage. But don’t worry – this isn’t about ticking off a checklist. It’s about creating a day that mirrors who you both are, individually and together.

Think about where you want to celebrate your wedding.

With a Humanist wedding, there are no strict rules to adhere to. You get to decide the tone – will it be a grand spectacle, a cosy, intimate gathering, or something in between? 

The style is also in your hands – do you dream of a rustic barn wedding, a boho beach ceremony, a sophisticated city affair, or perhaps an informal backyard BBQ? There’s no wrong answer here, only what feels right for you.

Decide what style and feel you want at your wedding.

The level of formality is also up to you. Do you prefer black ties, evening gowns, or a laid-back ceremony where guests can rock up in comfortable clothes? It’s all about creating an environment where everyone, including you two, feels at ease.

Set a realistic budget.

Of course, you need to consider the practicalities too. Setting a budget early helps guide your decisions and keeps everything manageable. This isn’t just about how much you’re spending but making sure you’re spending it on the things that matter most to you.

Pick a date

Then comes selecting the date – the day you’ll celebrate your anniversary for years to come. 

Consider factors like the weather, especially if you’re thinking of an outdoor wedding. Make sure it’s a date where the majority of your loved ones can celebrate with you. Remember, it’s not just about picking a date on the calendar, it’s about creating a day you’ll cherish forever.

Each decision is a step towards creating a day that tells your story your way. So relish each choice, knowing it’s building towards a day that truly reflects you as a couple.

Planning the Wedding

The planning stage of your wedding can seem like a labyrinth, with twists and turns that could lead anywhere. But don’t worry; we’re here with a torch to guide you through it! And the best part? With a Humanist wedding, you’re not confined to a set path – you can blaze your own trail.

Pick a Venue

Let’s start with the venue. A humanist ceremony offers unrivalled flexibility – from grand historical buildings and charming barn conversions to enchanting forests, sun-kissed beaches, or the familiar comfort of your back garden. The world is indeed your oyster. Consider a venue that holds special significance or takes your breath away.

Think About The Wedding Ceremony

Next comes the crown jewel of the day, the ceremony. This is where the beauty of Humanism comes to life. 

A Humanist celebrant is your storyteller who will craft a “uniquely yours” ceremony filled with joy, warmth, and sincerity. 

Collaborate with your celebrant to weave in personally crafted, honest, heartfelt vows. You can include readings that hold a special place in your hearts and unique rituals that resonate with your journey. And don’t forget the wedding music. Remember, your humanist ceremony reflects you, so infuse it with elements embodying your love and shared values.

Book The Wedding Reception

Onto the reception – this is your time to let your hair down and celebrate with your favourite people. Pick your venue and book it as soon as possible.

When it comes to catering, think about your favourite meals. Do you love a summer BBQ, a hearty buffet, or a five-course gourmet experience? The food should be a treat for you as well as your guests. 

The music should make you want to dance all night. Whether you hire a DJ or band or curate your favourite playlist, make sure it’ll get your feet moving. The seating arrangement should encourage a warm, friendly atmosphere – remember, it’s a celebration of love, not a formal conference.

What will you wear?

And finally, the wedding attire for the wedding. Forget what you’re ‘supposed to’ wear – this is about what you want to wear. Choose an outfit that makes you feel like the best version of yourself, whether a traditional gown, a vibrant suit, or your favourite pair of jeans and a T-shirt. The only criteria should be comfort and authenticity.

So, while planning a wedding may seem overwhelming, remember that every choice you make is a stroke of paint on the canvas of your perfect day. And with a Humanist wedding, that canvas is all yours to create as you wish.

Pre-Wedding Events

As your wedding day approaches, there are plenty of opportunities for fun-filled celebrations leading up to it.

Pre-wedding events like engagement parties, bridal showers, stag and hen parties, and rehearsal dinners build excitement and offer friends and family a chance to bond before the big day.

While these events aren’t traditionally part of a Humanist wedding, that doesn’t mean they can’t be. Remember, Humanism is all about personal significance and authenticity. So, why not put a Humanist spin on these pre-wedding festivities?

Perhaps the bridal shower could become a celebration of the couple’s journey together, filled with stories, laughter, and a look back at your shared history. 

Or the stag and hen parties could involve an adventure or experience that signifies your upcoming transition into married life.

A rehearsal dinner could become a casual gathering where the wedding party and close family members meet your celebrant and learn about the unique aspects of your humanist ceremony. This could also be a great time to run through any personalised rituals you’ve included so everyone knows their part.

Final Preparations

As your wedding day draws near, it’s time to ensure all the pieces of your carefully curated celebration are in place. This is when you dot your i’s and cross your t’s – confirm bookings, recheck arrangements and ensure everything is ready.

But amidst all the final preparations, remember to take care of yourselves. This should be a time of joy and anticipation, not stress and worry. Carve out some quiet moments for self-care, whether a walk in nature, a relaxing spa day, or simply a quiet evening with a good book.

Now is also the perfect time for a ceremony rehearsal. While strict traditions or rituals don’t bind Humanist weddings, a rehearsal can help ensure everyone knows their role in your unique ceremony. This is especially important if you include personalised elements or rituals in your ceremony.

The key here is to approach these final preparations with ease and calm. This is about more than just getting things done. It’s about looking forward to your day with joy and excitement. It’s the final stretch before you say ‘I do’ – so make it memorable!

The Wedding Day

The day you’ve been planning for is finally here! From the early morning preparations in the bridal suite to the unique and personal ceremony and the joyous reception, ensure you savour every moment. This day is a canvas painted with your love, and every moment is a brushstroke of joy, excitement, and celebration.

Remember to take a moment to breathe and take it all in – the smiling faces of your loved ones, the beautiful venue, the joyous atmosphere, and most importantly, the incredible person standing beside you, ready to embark on this beautiful journey of life together.

As the day turns into night and the reception ends, you might not be ready to stop celebrating, and why should you? After-parties can keep the celebration alive, whether a crackling warm bonfire, a casual bar hop, or a dance-off in your backyard.

Just remember, there are no rules – only what makes you happy.


Once the whirlwind of the wedding celebrations concludes, there’s still joy to experience. 

Unwrapping wedding gifts can be a mini celebration in itself! Take this opportunity to reflect on your wonderful day and express your gratitude to your guests. Send out personalised thank you notes – they could even contain a favourite memory of that guest from your wedding.

Don’t forget about those little logistical tasks that need wrapping up. From returning rentals to preserving and cleaning your wedding clothes, ensure everything is promptly taken care of.

The Honeymoon

And, of course, it’s time to enjoy your honeymoon. This should be a reflection of both of you – your interests, your passions, and your dreams. 

Whether it’s a sun-soaked beach, a bustling city, or a quiet cabin in the woods, choose a place where you both can revel in the joy of being newlyweds.

I hope this guide to planning a wedding helps you on your journey

Planning a wedding, particularly a humanist one, is more than just a to-do list. It’s a fascinating journey of personal expression, creativity, and love. While it may seem daunting at times, remember that every decision you make, every detail you plan, is a stepping stone towards a day that is uniquely yours.

A Humanist wedding allows you to paint with all the colours of your love story to create a day that is as unique and beautiful as your bond. So embrace the planning, let your imagination run wild, and most importantly, have fun! After all, this is your day. Make sure it’s a heartfelt reflection of the beautiful journey you are embarking on together.

Happy planning, and here’s to a wedding day that celebrates your love in all its beautiful, quirky, wonderful glory!


Louise x

Louise Williams Humanist UK Celebrant of Funerals, Weddings and Naming Ceremonies in Yorkshire and Greater Manchester

Connect with me – Louise

Did this post inspire you? Are you feeling excited about planning your own unique humanist ceremony?

I’d be thrilled to guide you on this journey. Whether it’s a wedding, a naming ceremony, or a funeral, I work closely with you to ensure your celebration truly reflects your values and story.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch with any questions, thoughts, or ideas you might have. I’m here to help make your vision come to life. Remember, every life matters and deserves a beautiful celebration.

I conduct Humanists UK Ceremonies in Leeds, Yorkshire, Greater Manchester and throughout the UK.

Looking forward to crafting unforgettable memories with you!

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