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. Bizarre. 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!
What sort of ceremonies do you conduct?
Whatever you want to celebrate!! Weddings, welcome baby, vow renewals, relationship affirmations, changes in name, family status, gender; stages of life and big life events.
Is a Humanist wedding ceremony the same as a legal marriage?
No. Humanist wedding ceremonies are not (yet) legal in England and Wales. (They are in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Jersey). We are campaigning to change this. At the moment if you want a legal marriage you will need to have a separate Register Office ceremony. Most of my couples have a simple ‘early bird’ legal ceremony with two witnesses at the Register Office either a couple of days before or just after their Humanist ceremony. Most choose to exchange rings and vows in their Humanist ceremony. If you think it’s crazy that a Humanist celebrant can perform legal marriages in other parts of the UK, lobby your MP!
What’s the process?
We have a conversation exploring what sort of ceremony you would like and for me to tell you about things you’ve probably not thought of. Then if you want to go ahead we meet to go into more detail about the venue, your ideas, potential readings and music, friends and family contributions. 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 gather stories about you and your life, talk to friends if you’d like me to, 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 we agree that it is exactly as you wish it to be. You can pay the fee balance by four equal instalments if you wish. We can have a rehearsal the night before if you wish and I conduct the ceremony the next day.
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.
We want some tradition but we also want something different – can you do handfasting?
Yes, hand-fasting is one of the oldest traditions and variations of it exist across different cultures. But it’s not only for weddings – 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.
Can you do a naming ceremony for our little girl?
Yes of course. Namings are so special. We can think about what you would like – including ‘odd-parents’ roles, maybe adding a ‘wishes tree’ for the guests to leave wishes for your little one; we can theme the ceremony if you wish (I’ve done TeleTubbies, Fireman Sam, In the Night Garden and Mr Tumble – you name it!).
My 14 year old son wants to change his name and we are ok with this. Can you help us?
Yes and yes and yes. How would your son like to be involved in the ceremony itself? Perhaps he would like to tell everyone why he came to this decision or maybe he wants something private with just you and some close friends. Whatever it is we can make it happen. I can talk you though a number of options and we can also discuss whether there are any legal aspects you might wish to pursue on his behalf.
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 weddings 2020 start at £850 and will remain so for 2021 because so many couples have had to postpone their weddings. My fee for vow renewals start at £450 and at £400 for baby namings. All fees are dependent upon the complexity of the script, the length of the ceremony and the distance travelled. Other ceremonies are quoted separately, so please let’s talk about it and work out what you want.
I know. It’s a lot of money!!
But then you get me, my reputation and all that I offer as a celebrant. If you read the ‘happy couples’ feedback on this site you know that my 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 is magical. Remember that not everyone’s ceremony is like that. The fee for a wedding is for about 35 hours work per ceremony and 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’ , coaching for when you say your vows, and how to keep your guests involved. All fees 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 for recommended providers such as venues, caterers, florists, designers, musicians, DJs and MCS, magicians, caricaturists, hair and makeup, marquees and prop hite, 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?
No. 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 by three equal instalments following the deposit payment if this makes it easier for you to budget (a lot of couples take up this option). We can agree how this can work best for you and set it out in a simple contract.
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 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 in a same-sex relationship 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.boomarshallphotography.co.uk