Churches are privately critical of the humanist trend, suggesting it is a pick-and-mix form of consumerism, sometimes using Christian iconography such as crosses even though humanist events are intended to be secular.
Yet Rev Dr George Whyte, the principal clerk at the Church of Scotland, said his church had failed to market its increasingly liberal approach to weddings. The Church of England, by contrast, has a slick and cheery website devoted to selling its religious marriages: yourchurchwedding.org.
Whyte pointed out that couples no longer needed to be members of the church; vows could be personalised and marriages conducted outside the church. There are no longer rules stipulating brides needed to enter first or be given away by their father.
“It’s undoubtedly true that fewer people attend church than 50 years ago,” Brown said. “I suspect the Church of Scotland has been complacent in the sense of presuming that people will always come and ask, rather than us going out and offering, and I think we are waking up to the fact that we need to go out [to sell] rather than stay in.”