Humanist ceremonies – your questions answered
What is a Humanist Celebrant?
The term ‘Humanist Celebrant’ simply distinguishes my bespoke non-religious ceremony work from that of a vicar or a Registrar. I trained with the British Humanist Association (now Humanists UK) ten years ago and I’m registered with them, though my business has always been very much my own. I’m also comprehensively insured and hold a current DBS criminal record check certificate.
What is a humanist ceremony?
At an elemental level, it’s a ceremony focused on the people at its heart. Some clients want a Humanist ceremony, but others a ‘humanist in nature but not necessarily in name’ approach. In other words, you don’t have to be a Humanist to have a humanist ceremony. Seasoned as I am in talking about philosophy and values if invited to, I’m not trying to convert anyone, just creating the best bespoke experience I can.
We don’t really do ‘soppy’. Is that ok?
It’s absolutely ok. I don’t do ‘soppy’ either. Ex-clients Ruth and Jon probably put it best when they wrote in their testimonial: ‘It was such a relief to find someone who could convey romance without ‘the cheese factor’. The same applies to whatever emotional subject I’m writing about. My clients often reference the emotional impact, but that’s because we were able to capture theirs in an entirely authentic way.
Does it matter if we’re not very good at writing?
Not at all – though I bet you’re better than you think you are. Either way, this isn’t about being the best writers in the world. All I ask is that you commit to the process, giving the attention, care and time it needs, but in a flexible way that works for you amid all the other demands of modern life. In fact, time after time, clients surprise themselves with just how satisfying they find the writing they do. I take care of the rest.
Where can we have our ceremony?
I’ve led ceremonies in zoos; 5* hotels; marquees, tipis and under sails; back gardens; galleries, theatres and museums; people’s homes; on a beach, at sea and in a swimming pool (empty); a brewery; farms, fields, woods and barns; warehouses; castles, stately homes and village halls; a recording studio; at the ‘Gherkin’ and the ‘Swan at the Globe’ in London; a glamorous polytunnel – almost anywhere. Usually I work in Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Nottinghamshire and Staffordshire but consider all travel in the UK/ abroad.
Are humanist weddings legally recognised in England like in Scotland?
No, not yet, but it’s really straightforward to resolve and I can explain all the options. The majority of my clients sort the ‘paperwork’ at the Registry Office separately, regarding their humanist wedding as ‘the real thing’, but some have Registrars come to their venue on the same day, either before or after their ceremony with me. Whatever you choose, nothing detracts from the beauty of the bespoke ceremony experience.
What is humanism?
Because people are sometimes unaware of what Humanism actually is and the fact it’s been around since the beginnings of philosophy, they tend to fill in the blanks and assume it’s some sort of ‘New Age’ cult or something. It really isn’t.
Humanism is very much a life-affirming way of looking at the world. At the heart of the perspective is the belief that since we only have one life and there is no higher power determining our fate, we have an obligation to ourselves, and to others, to live it to the full. We should seek to help others as much as we can along this journey that we share. We should turn to reason, to experience and to each other, to answer the questions that we can.
When asked in buffet queues I say ‘It’s for atheists who’d rather say what they do believe in, instead of what they don’t’. It seems to do the trick!
Hannah Wroe Gill – Your Three Days Ltd