Weddings / Ceremonies
Over the past twenty years, Society Officiants have performed dozens of weddings.
This service is made available to both members and non-members, and may take place either at the Society's meeting house in Skokie or at another venue chosen by the couple.
Once a couple contacts us, they are assigned to one of our Officiants, and an initial get-acquainted meeting is set up. An honorarium, in the form of a contribution to the Society, is discussed at this time. The couple is encouraged to take the lead in creating a unique ceremony, geared to their own values and traditions. The Officiant guides them but is always respectful of their personal wishes. At least one additional meeting is usually needed, and the Officiant participates in the rehearsal, if appropriate.
The Officiant provides the couple with a template for a standard wedding, which may include words of inspiration by the Officiant; instrumental or vocal music that is meaningful to the couple; readings by family members or friends; the exchange of rings; recognition of those closest to the couple; and so forth. Sometimes there is a ceremony within the ceremony such as lighting a single candle or drinking wine from a common goblet. Some couples follow the template, but most customize the ceremony to meet their personal wants, and some choose to create a completely new ceremony. All usually write their own vows of love to each other.
Values are typically the foundation of an Ethical Humanist wedding, including respect for the worth and uniqueness of each person and the importance of making and keeping commitments.
Couples who wish to be married in our beautiful auditorium at the Society's meeting house may inquire about rental of that space, as well as kitchen and reception room facilities.
Our Officiants love to be involved in Baby-Naming ceremonies! The birth of a child calls for celebration. Family and friends come together around this momentous event to share in the joy and commitment of parenting. It is an opportunity to welcome the newborn into the human family. Most often the format is improvised and simple. The Officiant takes the lead, but obviously the parents are the key players, and the event is planned according to their wishes. As with other ceremonies, it can be held at the Society or elsewhere.
When a Society member dies, the family often arranges for a memorial service at the Society, led by an Officiant. Our Officiants can also preside over humanistic funerals and memorial services at other locations for both members and non-members. Our primary concern is to help the bereaved reach beyond the loss to an affirmation of life. Again, the designated Officiant respects the wishes of the family in planning the ceremony. Typically, the Officiant takes the lead by talking of death and life within the context of humanistic values, and then reflects on the life of the deceased. Close relatives and friends are invited to share their memories, and then all who attend are welcome to share as well.
From time to time, couples want to renew marriage vows and ask the Society to make one of its Officiants available for the ceremony.
The Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago has two Officiants:
|Matt Cole||Katie Merrell|
Our Officiants are authorized by the State of Illinois to perform weddings and Civil Unions. They welcome a chance to talk to anyone interested in planning a Humanist wedding, memorial, or other celebration. They are volunteers; all Officiant honoraria are donated to support the operation of the Society.