Frequently Asked Questions
First and foremost, you need to know that I love what I do and you can be confident your day will be memorable, personal and wonderful. You can rely on me!
What is a Humanist celebrant?
A Humanist celebrant is trained, accredited and quality assured by Humanists UK. All Humanist UK celebrants offer ceremonies without reference to religion. This makes them ideal where mixed-faith couples are starting their lives together and want a position-neutral ceremony that can incorporate all the family. It also makes them ideal if you have no faith – making your ceremony special, dignified and truly representing who you are and how you live your lives as a couple.
Why choose a Humanist celebrant?
I am experienced in helping couples plan and deliver the ceremony you really want – the key to success is the relationship you build with your celebrant during the planning.
Why choose me?
My couples say I am fun, quirky, reassuring, engaging, flexible, easy to be with and reliable. I also have a campervan. Bizarrely, that seems to attract people and I found that over the past two years, 40% of my couples also own a campervan! You don’t have to own one of course, but it does mean I can meet you anywhere and we can have tea and cake! It also means that if you want me to travel some distance to your ceremony I can reduce the costs because I take my home with me!
We want a ceremony to mark the birth of our child, can you do this?
Yes – naming ceremonies are beautiful – let’s talk about it!
I want a ceremony to mark my transition from one gender to another, what do you think about this?
Congratulations! I know that is a long and difficult journey – what better way to mark your transition by sharing it with your friends and family and publicly announcing your new name. Let me know how I can help you.
We are planning a ceremony and want to include my partner’s children and my children. How would we do that?
We talk about it, and I find out more about you as a couple and include your children in the conversation to make sure we bring in elements that include them and that excite them. I write a ceremony that reflects what you all want and then we celebrate!
What’s the difference between a celebrant and a registrar?
A celebrant will be able to deliver your ceremony wherever you want it – in your garden, on a beach, at a wedding venue, in a hotel or another place of your choosing. A registrar can only perform legal ceremonies in a building that is registered for ceremonies by the Local Authority. A celebrant is infinitely more flexible in terms of incorporating what you want into your ceremony and is not bound by time or where you want to hold your ceremony.
Are Humanist ceremonies legal?
What happens after I contact you?
We have an initial informal conversation that does not bind you in any way – it is simply an exploration of what sort of ceremony you would like, when are where is your wedding, what sort of wedding you want. Then if you want to go ahead we make an appointment to meet face to face, or by Skype to go into more detail. This includes detail such as how many guests, indoors or outdoors, special requests, potential readings and music, friends and family contributions,. If you want to go ahead then we put the detail in a simple contract and you pay a deposit of 25% of the fee to secure the date in my diary. I then draft a script for your ceremony (which might take three or four versions so that you can correct it, take things out, put things in etc) until you decide and we agree that it is exactly as you wish it to be. The final balance is due 10 working days before your ceremony. We can have a rehearsal the night before if you wish and I conduct the ceremony the next day.
Can we exchange rings and vows in our Humanist ceremony instead of at the Register Office?
Yes, you can. This often happens as a way of completely personalising your own ceremony. The only thing you have to do at the RO is declare you are fee to marry, have your ceremony witnessed by two people and to sign the register.
We want to get married in a couple of week’s time, can you do this?
It is possible depending on my availability and what you want for your ceremony. Let’s talk about it and if I cannot do it I can put you in touch with other celebrants who might be able to.
I want to include hand-fasting in my ceremony, do you do this?
Yes, hand-fasting is one of the oldest traditions and the origin of ‘tying the knot’ for weddings, but I’ve also done hand-fasting for vow renewals, anniversary celebrations and naming ceremonies. It is also a beautiful symbolic act that can include members of your family and close friends which makes it really special.
We live in Northumberland and we really want you to do our wedding, how do we organise this?
It’s not difficult at all. We can speak on the phone, use Skype or Facetime and email of course. And we can meet the day before the wedding too. And I’ll come up in my campervan and stay nearby.
How much do you charge, and what’s included?
My fee for 2020 is £900. I know. It’s a lot of money!! But then you get me and all that I offer as a celebrant and if you read the ‘happy couples’ feedback on this site you know couples think it’s worth it! I’m not ‘just’ a celebrant. Every ceremony is written for you – it’s not cut and pasted or generalised. It is about you, your love story and it’s magical. Remember that not everyone’s ceremony is like that. The fee is for approximately 30 hours work per ceremony that includes meeting with you face-to-face at least twice, all Skype and telephone conversations, writing up to three drafts of the script of the wedding with you, liaison with the venue where necessary, advising on readings, making suggestions about ‘choreography’ and how to keep your guests involved. A simple baby naming is £350, rising to £450 for a ceremony with a large degree of content. Vow renewals are about £500 depending on content and complexity. All exclude travel costs which are charged at .45ppm. If you want me to travel at a distance then sometimes this will involve and overnight stay and it is often easier for me to quote you an individualised and all inclusive fee.
We need advice on local suppliers can you help?
Definitely! I keep a file of contacts on preferred providers such as local caterers, florists, designers, musicians, DJs and MCS, magicians, charicaturists, lighting and set technicians, wedding and events organisers.
How do we know it will all go ok on the day?
I will often offer a full run-through of the ceremony at the venue in the week prior to the wedding. I dedicate the whole day of your ceremony to you (ie I never book more than one event per day). My role is to ensure we are ready, you are happy, and that I am completely in control of how the ceremony goes on the day.
Can I pay you after the ceremony?
You will appreciate that as a business committed to providing you with high-quality service, a 25% deposit will be requested when you book. This secures your wedding date in my diary. I am more than happy to discuss payment in instalments following the deposit payment if this makes it easier for you to budget. We can agree how this can work best for you and set it out in a simple contract. The final payment must be paid by BACS 10 working days before your ceremony or celebration.
What if something goes wrong?
To be honest, things do go wrong sometimes but this is usually to do with the weather, or transport or lateness of guests or even the bride, hiccups with clothes, worries about nerves, someone backing out when they said they would read something……….. what you need to remember is that my job is to be in control of all these things and there are always contingencies up my sleeve!
My family is Jewish and my partners is Catholic. Neither of us have a religious faith. How would that work in a ceremony?
Weddings are important family occasions and can offer enormous opportunities for unifying everyone’s goodwill for the couple through a ceremony devoid of religious symbolism. This does not mean that some elements of tradition cannot be incorporated into the ceremony to make it real and meaningful for everyone. Using other similar ceremonies as examples, the feedback has almost invariably been that the ceremony was profoundly moving and important to both families.
My dad died last year and I am so sad he cannot be with us on my wedding day. How can we make sure we remember him on the day?
This is really important for so many couples who want to incorporate loved-ones in their ceremonies. There are a number of ways you could do this. You could have photographs of your dad close to where you take your vows; perhaps your dad had written something in the past that you would like to read out, or a favourite piece of music you would like played; perhaps your mum would like to say something on behalf of both of them, or perhaps you could light a union candle with an extra candle for your dad. Let’s talk about it and see what feels appropriate.
My brother is deaf and I want him to feel part of the ceremony, how can we do this?
The most obvious answer is to include him. Give him a role. Would he appreciate a signer during the service? We can organise that. Or perhaps he would like to write something that he would like to read. We can talk about it with him and see what feels most comfortable and appropriate for him.
My partner and I are gay and we so want to make this day special for our families, how can we do this?
Humanist ceremonies give enormous scope to tailor your own personal ceremony to your own story. Gay or straight the feeling is the same. Of course, we will need to talk through whether there are any particular sensitivities to consider regarding the amassed families – but this is true for straight couples too. The most important thing for me is to ensure that you have the wedding that reflects your love and your union and tells the story of why you are committing yourself to one another.
Communication is the most important element in our preparation – the better the rapport, the better the ceremony – and I rely on you responding swiftly to my emails so I can produce the best for you. I also appreciate your understanding that I may well be preparing other ceremonies whilst we are working together – and although I am an old hand, and adept at pulling rabbits out of hats, I prefer not to!
*Photo Credits: Top www.rolandblunk.com