Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Humanism?


Taken from the Humanists UK website: “Throughout recorded history there have been non-religious people who have believed that this life is the only life we have, that the universe is a natural phenomenon with no supernatural side, and that we can live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. They have trusted to the scientific method, evidence, and reason to discover truths about the universe and have placed human welfare and happiness at the centre of their ethical decision making. Today, people who share these beliefs and values are called humanists and this combination of attitudes is called Humanism. Many millions of people in Britain share this way of living and of looking at the world, but many of them have not heard the word ‘humanist’ and don’t realise that it describes what they believe.”




What Makes A Humanist Ceremony/Celebrant Different?


A humanist ceremony can be held whenever and wherever you like. It is completely bespoke - I start from scratch with each client and tailor it to you. You get to know the person leading your ceremony to see if you connect with them and contact them anytime you need to - it is important to me that you trust me to deliver what it is you envisage your ceremony to be. You are in full control over the flexible ceremony content. The ceremony can be light-hearted or it can reflect the seriousness of the occasion...my writing is usually a bit of both! A humanist wedding ceremony is not currently legally binding in England and Wales but this means couples who are already married (for example if they have married abroad) can hold another ceremony here with their close friends and family in the UK. All couples will need to meet wth a registrar for the official part of their marriage. This can be done from as little as £49 and before or after the humanist ceremony date.
Ceremonies are inclusive and something in which anyone from any background can share and enjoy.

The focus is on you and your story.




What Are Your Qualifications?


Although I am a sole trader, I am trained and accredited by Humanists UK, the only UK charity representing the needs and rights of non-religious people in this country.

The training is rigorous and celebrants are carefully selected to ensure an excellent standard of service is maintained.
Humanists UK has been awarded the OCN London Quality Mark, a nationally recognised award for organisations that provide the highest standards of training and learning opportunities. The Quality Mark certifies the high quality of Humanists UK training provision in ceremonies, pastoral support, and school speaking. OCN London is a national non-profit organisation dedicated to improving people’s lives through learning. They said that ‘the evidence shows that in key areas, and at the time of the review, [Humanists UK is] clearly committed to, and effective in, delivering education and training opportunities of a high quality for its learners.’ The Quality Mark was awarded without a single recommendation for change or improvement.




Naming FAQs


Is my child too young/old for a naming ceremony? When should we have a naming ceremony? The age of the person really does not matter! Some people choose to have naming ceremonies to celebrate the arrival of a new baby, some hold it as part of a 1st birthday celebration, whilst others wait until they feel their family is complete. Older children can also have a naming ceremony. They may enjoy picking their own readings, writing their own promises or deciding on a symbolic action. If you are part of a blended family, you may wish to have a naming ceremony as part of your wedding ceremony. What is a joint naming ceremony? A joint ceremony is a ceremony involving more than one child. For example, siblings or cousins named together in the same ceremony. I do not charge extra for two siblings having a joint ceremony. Joint ceremonies for children who are not siblings, such as two cousins, incur an additional £50 charge to cover the extra work and printing involved with working with two families. Can we involve my older child even though they have already had a ceremony? Yes of course! Depending on their age and confidence in front of an audience they can take part in the ceremony with a reading, give a gift or sing a song for example, or we can just give them a round of applause for being a brilliant big brother/ sister! Can we involve step-siblings/half-siblings even though it is not their ceremony? As the question above, there are plenty of ways that we can involve significant other children who are not being named in the ceremony. For example, in one ceremony I conducted, the father read a letter out to his two daughters who were being named, but he also mentioned his son from a previous relationship. Rainbow babies – can we mention that our child is a rainbow baby? If the child being named is a rainbow baby, that is, a baby born after a miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal death or infant death, you may wish to make reference to the child’s older sibling(s). This is perfectly fine and we can discuss your wishes during our planning meeting. As it is a humanist naming ceremony, I cannot refer to angels, the afterlife and so on, but we can plan a meaningful and personal ceremony for your family. Adoptions – are naming ceremonies OK for adopted children? Naming ceremonies are a lovely way for adopted children to be officially welcomed into the family and give an opportunity for your closest friends and family to meet them. It can give the child a sense of belonging and control if they are able to choose readings and help me with the planning meeting. What is a guideparent? How many can we have? A guideparent is a non-religious equivalent to a Godparent. There are many names for this role that you may be familiar with, such as ‘oddparent’ or ‘supporting adult’. You can appoint as many guideparents as you wish. Where can I have a naming ceremony? Naming ceremonies can be held wherever there is space for you and your guests! At home? A hotel? Golf club? Zoo? Perhaps you’d like it in a caravan park? Or out glamping? You can get creative and hold it off the beaten track or hold it where you feel most comfortable. Please ensure you apply for any necessary permission required or enquire with individual venues about their booking fees. I am based in Leeds but I am happy to travel. Mileage up to 20 miles from my home postcode (LS19) is included in my fee. Outside of 20 miles is priced at 45p per mile as recommended by the gov.uk website. Mileage is calculated using Google maps. What days can I have a naming ceremony? What times are best? Naming ceremonies are usually held on a Saturday or Sunday around lunchtime or mid-afternoon but families go with whatever fits best with their child (sleep and feed patterns) and their budget (lunch buffet versus a small afternoon tea for example). Who can attend? Can people with religious beliefs attend? Humanist ceremonies are inclusive. Your ceremony can incorporate some private reflection or prayer time for others if this is something you would like. This may be important to you if you have family members who have differing beliefs to you. Your requirements can be discussed when we meet.




Wedding & Vow Renewal FAQs


Are humanist ceremonies legal? You can find lots of FAQ around the legalities of humanist ceremonies in England and Wales on the Humanists UK page humanism.org.uk. Humanist weddings do not currently have legal status but Humanists UK are campaigning for this. Couples take care of the legalities at a local register office and often consider their humanist wedding their real wedding. Please check with your local register office for details. Where can I have a humanist wedding/partnership/vow renewal ceremony? Ceremonies can be held wherever there is space for you and your guests and that includes the beautiful outdoors. You can get creative and hold it off the beaten track or hold it where you feel most comfortable. Please ensure you apply for any necessary permission required or enquire with individual venues about their booking fees. I am based in Leeds but I am happy to travel. Mileage up to 20 miles from my home postcode (LS19) is included in my fee. Outside of 20 miles is priced at 45p per mile as recommended by the gov.uk website. Mileage is calculated using Google maps. Are you happy to lead an LGBTQ wedding/partnership? Yes of course, humanist ceremonies are inclusive and I am keen to work with people and families of all identities. Everyone is welcome and celebrated here. I am registered as a founding member of LGBTQ Equality Weddings - please see the website and hashtag #youdontneedtoaskhere for further details and other suppliers. Will you travel outside of Yorkshire? Yes I am happy to travel in the UK and abroad for your wedding. Obviously extra costs such as mileage or accommodation may need to be discussed. Dress code – will you match in with our wedding colours? I usually wear 50’s style dresses that are around knee/calf length. I am happy to try to match in somehow if you would like me to and I am equally happy to steer clear of the wedding colours too. I have tattoos on my leg (nothing rude I promise, they are Disney related), so if you feel this is something that may offend a relative or you would like me to cover them up for your ceremony please let me know at the planning meeting. Who can attend? Can people with religious beliefs attend? Humanist ceremonies are inclusive. Your ceremony can incorporate some private reflection or prayer time for others if this is something you would like. This may be important to you if you have family members who have differing beliefs to you. Your requirements can be discussed when we meet.




Content & Planning FAQs


Where do I start with planning a ceremony? There is no real set way to do it but it may be easiest if you think about your budget, how many people you want to invite and your venue first. If your ceremony is to be held anywhere other than your home then you will need to speak to them about available dates, room capacities and catering options. Once you have a date in mind you can speak to a celebrant about their availability even if you don’t yet have a venue. Where do we meet for the introductory meeting and planning meeting? What do these entail? It is up to you where we meet. The meetings are relaxed and informal and so most families prefer the meetings to take place at their home. An introductory meeting is usually no more than an hour and a planning meeting is usually 1-2 hours. Introduction meeting (free of charge) – this is an informal chat over a cuppa so that you can meet me face to face before deciding whether to book me. You are welcome to ask me any questions, tell me any worries you have, and discuss what you feel a humanist ceremony might look like for you. Planning meeting – this meeting happens after you have paid your deposit and it is the meeting where I gather all the details I need to create a bespoke script for your ceremony. How often do we have contact with you and how do we keep in touch? You can contact me as frequently as you feel necessary. I find the best method of contact for me is by email. It is an easier way to keep track of our conversations. However, you can message me, phone me or contact me via social media if you prefer. Between the introductory meeting and planning meeting there is usually minimal communication (confirm bookings, send contracts and so on). After the planning meeting there will be emails backwards and forwards with the script edits. I will also contact you a few days before the ceremony date to ensure you are all set and ready to go. How long does a ceremony usually last? This depends on what the content of your ceremony is but it is usually around 20-25 minutes for a naming and 30-40 minutes for a wedding. What is a symbolic action? A symbolic action is something you can add to your ceremony as a way of symbolising your love, commitment or aspirations to each other, your child, or as a family. It can also be a means of engaging others in your ceremony. There are lots of different options for symbolic actions and you can be as creative as you like. A few examples include unity candles, giving a gift/heirloom and sandblending. We can discuss your wishes at our meetings. What are promises? Who makes them? Can you help us to write them? Promises are a way of expressing your love for your partner or your child and your wishes for the future. Other significant guests can also make promises e.g. in a naming, you may like the guideparents to make commitments to your child. I can help you to write the promises. There are several ways of including promises in the ceremony depending on how much or little you wish to speak. For example, if you aren’t very confident at public speaking, we can arrange the promises into a call and response method: Lisa: Will you support A to achieve their goals, whatever they may be, and guide them through any knockbacks as best as you can? Parents: We will. Readings, poems and music – what can we include? Can you help us choose? Anything non-religious goes! You can enter to Elbow’s One Day A Year and exit to Circle of Life from The Lion King. You can get all your guests up singing the Hokey Cokey or doing the YMCA. You can have Aunty Sasha playing the guitar. Or you can choose to have no music at all. I can help you to choose readings and other content (this is included in my fee). A lot of clients get a better idea of what they want for readings once they have seen the first draft of the script, so don’t worry if you’re not sure what you would like before we meet. Does anything happen after the ceremony? After the ceremony I stay approximately half an hour or so to mingle with your guests. I will email you to ask how well you felt your ceremony went and to provide you with a link to submit feedback. Feedback is not compulsory but is very helpful for celebrants and Humanists UK.





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Chat with me

07725 686 436

Lisa Bourne is an accredited Humanists UK celebrant, a member of the Humanist CeremoniesTM celebrant network and a member of West Yorkshire Humanists. For more information on Humanism, humanist principles and Humanists UK please see humanism.org.uk

©2020 Lisa Bourne Ceremonies

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