On the 9th of December 2007, which coincided with the celebration of 100 years of humanism in Poland, a humanist wedding was celebrated in Warsaw. Read the press release from our Polish member organisation, the Polish Rationalist association.
On Saturday, the 9th of December, at Krakowskie Przedmiescie 66 in Warsaw the first humanist wedding in Poland took place. The first couple were psychologists from Gdansk: Monika Szmidt and Milosz Kuligowski. This ceremony was organized by the Polish Rationalists Association and was conducted by Krzysztof Tanewski (PRA) and Jane Bechtel (Humanist Society of Scotland).
This kind of wedding is administered by humanist communities worldwide. In the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Norway and Scotland it is recognized in civil law. Humanist weddings are very different from religious ones. All attention is focused on human, interpersonal and social relations. Also, there are many more aesthetic events, for instance: more music, poetry and stories about a bride couple.
Monika and Milosz’s wedding was introduced by Pachelbel’s Canon played on the violin by Zuza Kuczbajska from the “Wedding Workshop”. The ceremony started at dusk with the lighting of more than one hundred vanilla-scented candles.
The ceremony took place in an extraordinary building – the Museum of Industry and Agriculture, with which Maria Sklodowska-Curie was associated in her youth. Centrepiece was a beautiful orchids arrangement. The main hall contains the quotation “Poland will mean as much as its science and culture.”
All the guests were welcomed by Krzysztof Tanewski, who said that the presence of Jane Bechtel emphasized the equal rights of women and men, not only on that day but in society as well. This event doesn’t indicate the creation of a new secular tradition, but rather a natural globalization process.
Jane Bechtel made a speech about love, family, marriage and humanist values. Then Marek Pawłowski, a member of PRA, told the gathered guests about Monika and Miłosz, emphasizing their interests and social commitment.
The couple had chosen passages of prose, expressing their beliefs and their system of values, and asked their friends to read those during the ceremony. Monika chose Vonnegut’s „bokonon humanism” (from “Cat’s Cradle”) and Milosz chose a few excerpts from “Fabula Rasa” by Edward Stachura, Polish poet, philosopher and prose writer.
The central point of this ceremony were the expression of the vows and the wedding rings, which symbolized the marriage contract. Both the bride and bridegroom signed a wedding certificate and made their marriage vows.
Monika said, “Dear Miłosz, I promise that you may take care of me and live with me through moments of happiness and sadness, moments of defeat and success. I also promise that you may hear about my everyday impressions, make me coffee, bake me a cake and carry my heavy bags. You may also fall asleep and wake up next to me. You may cuddle and kiss me. You may be angry with me when it’s necessary and forgive me, if it is possible. During my absence you can miss me. I promise that you can watch films with me … dance and sing with me … laugh and cry with me and eat my whole candies, and I swear that you can share everything with me: my thoughts, genetic material ….everything that is needed.”
They pledged love and loyalty to the end of their lives.
At the end of the ceremony, the couple left the hall to the accompaniment of Vivaldi’s music. The visitors book was waiting for the guests.
The first humanist wedding in Poland was a great media event, with many press articles and television programmes (the most important Polish media covered it).
Unsurprisingly, soon after this event, other couples expressed their interest in having a humanist wedding.
Pictures taken by Mariusz, president of the Polish Rationalist Association can be found here.