Couple celebrate a decade of humanist weddings

Martin Reijns and Karen Watts mark a decade of humanist marriages in Scotland

Martin Reijns and Karen Watts mark a decade of humanist marriages in Scotland

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A COUPLE who married in Scotland’s first ever legal humanist wedding are set to celebrate their tenth anniversary.

Martin Reijns and Karen Watts tied the knot at Edinburgh Zoo on June 18, 2005 and will return there on Thursday to celebrate the landmark.

Karen, originally from County Clare, Ireland, met Martin, then a student, during a salsa class at Wageningen University in his home country of the Netherlands.

After completing their studies, they spent time travelling before a friend advised them to set up home in the Capital.

Martin, a 37-year-old research scientist at the Human Genetics Unit at the Western General Hospital, and Karen, an Indian dancer and instructor at Dance Ihayami, now live in Tay Street, in Dalry, with their three-legged cat, Sparkle.

Karen, 39, said: “I cover the arts, he covers the sciences.”

When the couple began planning their wedding, humanist ceremonies were still not legally binding in Scotland.

They were set to employ a civil registrar to perform the legal duties, before getting a humanist celebrant to lead the celebration.

But they were then surprisingly asked by the Humanist Society to be the first couple to get married in Scotland in a legal humanist wedding.

Karen said: “The joy is that you can just write the ceremony so that it means something to you as a couple, and you can involve your families, you can involve your friends.”

Couples will be flocking to the zoo’s Mansion House on Thursday as the Humanist Society Scotland hosts a event to celebrate ten years of humanist weddings.

In 2010 humanist weddings overtook the number of Roman Catholic weddings in Scotland, and their popularity has continued to grow. More than 20,000 couples have been married by humanist celebrants in the past decade.

Gordon MacRae, Humanist Society Scotland chief executive, said: “The phenomenal rise in humanist ceremonies is being fuelled by the desire of wedding couples for a non­religious ceremony that provides a day reflecting their personalities and can be inclusive of their friends and family.

“The approach taken by Humanist Society Scotland registered celebrants is, as we say in our strapline, to ‘Celebrate the one life we have’.

“Clearly this is resonating with thousands of couples all across the country.

“To date more than 20,000 couples have been married by HSS registered celebrants. This is a testament to the high level of support and dedication of our celebrants.”

And Karen had advice for couples considering a humanist wedding. “Oh go for it,” she said.

newsen@edinburghnews.com