Mythbusting, glossary of terms & FAQs

There is A LOT of misinformation about humanist ceremonies and humanist celebrants doing the rounds at the moment. It is being shared in response to the High Court case being heard today. I thought a "back to basics" post about terminology might be helpful and a quick post about the court case.

My gorgeous Scottish couple who had a humanist wedding on a farm near Settle

Remember folks, if you want to know something about humanism or humanist celebrants the best people to ask are, you guessed it, humanists or humanist celebrants! You can also take a look at testimonials and see what previous clients have said.

First up, court case:

Today, 6 humanist couples are taking the case to High Court try to compel the UK Government to change the law to recognise humanist weddings as legally recognised marriages, as is the case with religious weddings across the UK and humanist weddings in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Their lawyers will argue that the current law discriminates against them because of their humanist beliefs and is therefore incompatible with human rights legislation, which precludes such discrimination.

It has been a long work in progress and we think we finally have a good chance of winning.

Longer post on the case available here>>

OK let's do some mythbusting!

Celebrant - a fab person who writes and leads a ceremony. Alternative to a registrar.

Humanist celebrant - a celebrant trained & accredited by Humanists UK, a charity championing human and animal rights and rights of the non-religious, providing pastoral care and school speakers. Humanists UK was originally established in 1896.

Independent/family celebrant - a celebrant practising outside of Humanists UK. May be trained by other bodies or have no recognised qualification.

Humanist Ceremonies TM - a branch of Humanists UK that trains and supports its celebrants. A non-religious ceremony written and conducted by a humanist celebrant. Humanist ceremonies are over 120 years old. Our training is award winning (click here for more info)

Humanist - non-religious people who believe that this life is the only life we have, and who make sense of the world through logic, reason, and evidence. Humanists place human welfare and happiness at the centre of their ethical decision-making. See here for humanism info.

So not all humanists are celebrants and not all celebrants are humanist.

Couples wanting a humanist ceremony in England do not need to identify as humanists.

Are you still with me so far? OK here's some more info:

My stall at the Interfaith event at Kirkstall Abbey, Leeds

Humanist celebrants are self-employed. We are not paid or employed by Humanists UK.

We have a feedback and complaints procedure and various ways of contacting Humanists UK

Humanist ceremonies are non-religious but they are inclusive which means cultural traditions and certain elements deemed religious by some may still be included. This is completely up to each celebrant about how comfortable they are in each individual circumstance. E.g. I currently have a groom whose family are Jewish. Their ceremony will include a glass-smashing and possibly a traditional blessing from the groom's brother. It is an important element to the groom and his family in that moment but it is not the whole ceremony. The ceremony script is full of love and personality and focuses on the couple. I believe in being flexible and inclusive and I have honest conversations with my clients about whether something is suitable, whether I'm the right celebrant for them and so on. That's not to say that another colleague would agree with the same thing as me. We are all individuals.

The guidance is clear from Humanists UK, ceremonies should only include something deemed religious if it is being respectful of a cultural tradition or if it is being used in a non-religious way. I've heard the tale that Robbie Williams' "Angels" can't be played at a humanist ceremony. It's nonsense. Please just ask your humanist celebrant.

Humanist celebrants must

  • be peer reviewed on a regular basis

  • engage with the rest of the humanist celebrant network

  • take part in regular CPD (continuous professional development) and log this

  • be DBS checked

  • log their ceremonies

  • be a member of Humanists UK

I hope that helps!

More FAQs are available here>>

Contact me with any questions here>>

Now I need a nap :)


Beautiful Left Bank, a venue supportive of humanist celebrants.

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