More than 20,000 couples have opted for humanist marriages in Scotland in the decade since the non-religious wedding ceremonies were legalised north of the border, new figures show.

The first humanist wedding took place on June 18 2005, with less than 100 humanist weddings taking place that year. Now the Humanist Society Scotland (HSS) predicts it is on course to conduct more than 4000 weddings in 2015 and outstrip the Church of Scotland for the first time.

The most recent figures show 4,616 out of 13,523 marriages conducted by religious or belief organisations in 2013 were Church of Scotland, with the HSS conducting 3,185. The figure for the Roman Catholic Church was 1,582, with humanist weddings overtaking Catholic marriages in 2010.

The HSS also carried out one of the first same-sex marriages when they became legal in Scotland this year, with Malx Brown and Joe Schofield tying the knot in Glasgow at the stroke of midnight on Hogmanay.

However Scotland is still the only country in the UK and one of only six in the world where humanist marriages are legal - along with Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Norway and Ireland. Some parts of the USA also permit humanist weddings.

In England and Wales, the Law Commission is currently undertaking a scoping exercise into marriage law which will include the issue of whether to give legal recognition to humanist weddings. Humanist ceremonies can be performed south of the border, but couples also have to have a legally recognised service.

Gordon MacRae, HSS chief executive said: "The move towards humanist celebrations and away from religious ceremonies mirrors the changed demographics of Scotland in 2015."

Sheila Lawtie, who has been a celebrant with Independent Humanist Ceremonies for just over a year, said: "I am surprised at how quickly my role has taken off. The first year I did around 23 weddings and this year I have got 50."

Here some of the couples who have opted for humanist marriages over the past ten years share their views

Martin Reijns and Karen Watts, who live in Edinburgh, were the first in Scotland - and therefore Britain - to be married in a humanist wedding on 18 June 2005 in a ceremony at Edinburgh Zoo. Ten years on, the couple are not surprised that humanist weddings have become so popular.

Watts said: "When we were getting married we were going through our options - neither of us were very religious, so we didn't consider that as an avenue. When we researching different options we stumbled across humanist. It was ideal.

"For our wedding itself none of our wedding guests had ever been present at a humanist wedding and of course they were very intrigued and didn't know what this was going to be, and they still talk about it today.

"It is really obvious that people would choose a humanist ceremony in this day and age, unless you have a strong religious conviction and it is right for your life. I think many people in the past just chose a religious ceremony because they wanted a special feeling, but maybe they didn't really believe in the religious side as much."

Reijns added: "The option has been there for 10 years and clearly people like it. There is the opportunity to get personal input in the ceremony and saying a bit more than just okay this is us legally married now."

Joan Allen and her husband Peter were married in a humanist ceremony at a hotel in East Lothian on April 10 2010 on his 64th birthday.

The couple went to school together, with their lives taking different paths after they left in 1962 - but they got in touch again after nearly 50 years through the Friends Reunited website.

She said: "I knew about the humanist movement and I had been to a humanist funeral so I had an understanding of the personalising aspect.

"It really appealed to me that we could sit down together preparing our promises, which is what we did - Peter on one sofa, me on the other. It was a very fulfilling experience to be able to take part to the level that we did and somehow more meaningful to us.

"It is not something that I would suggest you would do simply because you don't go to a church - it is more than that, it is not an alternative. It goes much deeper than that."

Allen said she also appreciated being able to choose the location of the ceremony, which can take place anywhere which is deemed to be "safe and dignified".

She added: "We chose to get married in a small hotel in East Lothian, that belongs to friends of ours, so that was really special as well that they were involved."

Mark Haseley and Alison Allardice were married on Christmas Day 2011, opting for a humanist ceremony which took place in the celebrant's house. The couple, who met in a pub in Edinburgh, emigrated shortly afterwards to New Zealand. Allardice's daughter is also due to be married shortly in a humanist ceremony in Scotland.

Allardice said: "We organised the wedding within 16 days - I spoke to the humanist celebrant and asked if she could do it on Christmas Day. We got all the paperwork done and were married two weeks later.

"I didn't realise it (humanist marriages) is so precious to Scotland, as it one of the few countries that have it. New Zealand is one of the other ones.

"I don't understand why it isn't available to other people (in the UK). It is almost like it used to be with kids coming up to Gretna to get married as they couldn't in England. I am sure it will come at some point."

Haseley said he was surprised the option of a humanist wedding was still not available in other parts of the UK.

"People get married scuba-diving in the Pacific Ocean, so why can't they have a humanist wedding?" he said. "It seems odd."