Humanist celebrant conducts 1,000 legal wedding – and makes it free

Humanist Tim Maguire, from Edinburgh. Picture: Jane Barlow

Humanist Tim Maguire, from Edinburgh. Picture: Jane Barlow

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He has married couples on mountain tops and presided over ceremonies in which the wedding rings were flown in by owl.

But this week Tim Maguire marked a big day of his own after conducting his 1000th legal wedding.

Christian Southward and Bron Jones, from Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia, got married at the top of Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh, with Tim Maguire conducting the ceremony. Picture: Jane Barlow

Christian Southward and Bron Jones, from Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia, got married at the top of Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh, with Tim Maguire conducting the ceremony. Picture: Jane Barlow

The city-based humanist celebrant yesterday married Robyn Brown, 26, and Paul Dickie, 30, both from Fettes, at the Capital’s Prestonfield House.

And to acknowledge the milestone, he did not charge the couple for the ceremony.

Tim stumbled into humanism when a celebrant suggested he would be good at the job.

Formerly a TV director and producer, the 61-year-old from the New Town retrained and, in October 2005, conducted his first legal wedding.

Tim Maguire's 1,000th humanist wedding, between Robyn Brown, 26, and Paul Dickie, 30, from Fettes. Picture: Contributed

Tim Maguire's 1,000th humanist wedding, between Robyn Brown, 26, and Paul Dickie, 30, from Fettes. Picture: Contributed

His most memorable weddings include one in which the bride arrived on horseback, and a mountain-top ceremony in which the happy couple climbed their way to the top of a Munro – along with their bridesmaid and best man – using ropes and pitons.

He has also conducted a ceremony on top of Arthur’s Seat in the middle of winter for an Australian couple.

“I get to talk about the most important thing in life every single day – love,” said Tim.

“We Scots don’t have a very good track record on talking about how we feel, but I’ve been conducting weddings and funerals for more than a decade now, and I really think that humanist ceremonies are changing that.

“Scots men and women are choosing to talk about the importance of love to their lives, and helping them to do that is a privilege and real source of joy.”

Humanist ceremonies have been legal in Scotland since June 2005 and, if the statistical predictions are correct, the Registrar General of Scotland looks set to announce this year that humanist marriages have overtaken those conducted by the Church of Scotland to become the second most popular form of marriage in the country.

Humanists believe we should behave towards other people as we would like them to behave towards us, that we can live guided only by compassion and reason, and that there are more things that unite rather than divide human beings.

Asked to explain humanism’s rise in popularity, Tim said it was because more people were able to identify with its values.

He added: “In a traditional ceremony, a wedding is very much scripted and one-size-fits-all. Someone drones on and then the party starts.

“But the strange thing about humanism is that the ceremony is the best part of the day – it’s uplifting. We ask the couple to think about why they are here and what they are promising which makes it very real and incredibly personal.”

john.connell@jpress.co.uk