What does a humanist celebrant do?

Celebrant, officiant, minister, master of ceremonies – it all gets a tad confusing, doesn’t it?

And the chances are you’re not hugely well-versed in the wedding lingo as you’ve probably not done it that many times before!

Luckily for you, I’ve seen a fair few – it’s kind of a perk of the job – so I’m here to explain what a humanist celebrant does and why you should want one for your showstopper of a wedding day. Buckle in!

According to my good friends at Humanists UK – more on that in a min – a celebrant is someone who’s involved with a ceremony of some sort. This can be writing, creating or conducting it, and can be a wedding ceremony, a baby-naming ceremony, a celebration of life, or another ceremony with significance and meaning.

So who are Humanists UK? Well, that’s where I come in. Humanist celebrants – including me - are trained and accredited by Humanists UK, a national charity working to bring non-religious people together to deepen our understanding of the world around us. Although there’s no formal requirements that couples have to ‘identify’ as humanist to have a humanist wedding ceremony, nearly everyone realises that they are when they take this FUN QUIZ (I love a fun quiz.)

My values really align with humanism and the belief that we only have one life so let’s make the most of it: this can be by being kind, showing compassion towards each other and our planet, understanding that we can make a difference as individuals, and celebrating both the big and little moments in our lives.

So, even though humanist ceremonies are neither a religious ceremony, nor a legally binding ceremony (although we hope this will soon change!), they are a deeply personal, deeply symbolic, frankly joyous wedding ceremony that marks the start of something new and the continuation of something very bloody exciting – you and your love. Humanists UK also do a whole load of campaign work (for example, they were key in the push for equal marriage) and a portion of my fees go back to supporting that work, so by choosing a humanist celebrant you’re also supporting them. GO YOU, YOU BLOODY LEGEND.

Now SLAM that dictionary shut and we’ll discuss what I can practically do for your wedding as a humanist celebrant.

The first stage is the planning! What fun. All couples get an initial meeting with me, where we discuss your overarching plans for the day so you can see whether I’m the right celebrant for you. After you’ve decided yes with bells and whistles on, we move into the nitty-gritty of planning your personalised ceremony. There’s a fun couple’s quiz (and I do mean fun) to help me understand the bones of your relationship, plus a ‘deep dive’ consultation meeting where we discuss what the ceremony itself will look like and what it will include, both in terms of what I’ll say and what you want to happen. Then, I go off to squirrel away and part-amuse myself, part-bring myself to tears writing your bespoke ceremony. This includes unlimited revisions of your ceremony script to make sure you’re perfectly happy with the final thing.

I also offer support during the wedding planning process. The other elements of the ceremony can be difficult to choose, so I’ve got a number of useful, non-terrifying support documents that can help you pick your music and readings, plus bits and bobs to help guide you in writing your vows and promises too.

Image by  Photography34

Image by Photography34

And what about on the day? When your wedding day comes around, I do important behind-the-scenes stuff as well as the ceremony itself. I ensure full coordination with the suppliers who are involved – for example the venue, the photographer, the musicians, and a wedding planner if you have one – to make sure that everything and one runs smooth and silky on the day. I also brief your bridal party, so that everyone knows what they’re required to do and when they’re required to do it – whether it’s your best man, your bridesmaid, your 3 year old flowergirl or your Labrador, I’ll make sure they’re ready to shine.

Then it’s showtime! After months (and sometimes years) of having the privilege of getting to know you, our hard work comes to fruition! I conduct the ceremony, including directing your guests to stand/sit/turn three times and tap their heads, readings, and vow-making to ensure it’s exactly what we planned. We laugh, we cry, we celebrate your love as a couple – and we welcome you as two become one (Spice Girls not always included, but never batted away).

Sound good? Drop me a line - to continue the 90s and 00s nostalgia in the words of S Club 7, I’ll be waiting ‘til that day…