Humour and Ceremonies

Oct 17, 2023
laughter at a civil celebrant led wedding

Humour and ceremonies don’t seem to go together, do they?

After all, a life-cycle ceremony is a major event. It can be a Wedding, a Vow Renewal, a Handfasting, a Naming Ceremony, a mixed-faith service, or whatever … If you choose (and go to the trouble and expense) to mark the occasion in public, then it means something to you. (And this also applies to a funeral.)

So you surely want the service to be meaningful and significant. You may well want it personalised, and there are many ways of doing that. Just ask your celebrant.

However, the tone and language can make the difference. What sort of register do you want: formal, informal, or something in between? Must the readings be spiritual? Could any be silly?!

People often believe that, if it’s a formal occasion, humour is inappropriate. If a couple are making their vows, then these have to be serious. I would argue that the tenor might well be solemn, but a bit of humour will simply reflect the good relationship between the couple. It will also lighten the proceedings, which the guests may well welcome too! And humour doesn’t have to equate with insincerity or levity.

Then, surely, even if you accept that some humour might fit in to a happy occasion, you can’t expect humour at a funeral, can you?

Well, it all depends, admittedly. If the deceased was a joker and had a good sense of humour, then they probably would have appreciated a funny story or two about them. If they went around with a smile on their face, then they probably would prefer that everybody remembers the good times, rather than dwells on the loss too much.

I have heard some quite wonderful tales of the deceased, whom I, of course, would never have met. They enabled me to form a picture of the departed as well as reminding the guests of shared good times. If you pardon the dark humour, the stories help put flesh on the bones!

So don’t go feeling that it’s “not the right thing” to include humour. Carefully used, it can have a place at any ceremony and will enhance it.