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All about humanist wedding celebrants

All you wanted to know about Humanist Wedding Celebrants but were afraid to ask. Not that they're scary... just that I have a lot of questions.

Trudi Malony Wedding Celebrant

I’m currently working on a handful of blog posts about Alternative Weddings, so far we’ve covered first dance songs, wedding readings  and alternative wedding photography. Today I have an interview with a humanist celebrant, Trudi Moloney

I worked with Trudi last year, she was the celebrant at Jen & Rob’s Museum of Making Wedding

As a wedding photographer I love humanist wedding ceremonies. There are always so many relaxed rules and the whole thing feels a whole lot less official – and the ceremony always seems to be truly about the couple and their quirks and personalities.

I did have so many questions for Trudi, and I’m going to let her answer them in her own words below.

Same sex wedding at Papplewick Pumping station

What is a Humanist wedding celebrant?

A humanist wedding celebrant conducts ceremonies that are non-religious; ceremonies which instead focus on celebrating the love and commitment between a couple. Humanist ceremonies are meaningful and joyful and should be a true reflection of the couple, their values and beliefs and their thoughts on marriage and love.

I strongly believe that couples shouldn’t be limited to the choices of either a church wedding or a registry office service and humanist ceremonies provide the perfect alternative.

Where can I get married by a celebrant?

Well, unfortunately, Humanist ceremonies are only legally recognised in Ireland and Scotland at the moment so most of my couples simply pop to the Registry Office for a statutory over-the-counter wedding to get the legal bit done and then see their Humanist ceremony as their ‘real’ wedding. I always think of it as being a bit like the difference between registering a birth and having a Naming ceremony or even a Christening service. One is a legal requirement and the other is symbolic and can be far more meaningful.

The flexibility of celebrant-led ceremonies allows couples to choose a location that holds a special meaning to them. I have performed ceremonies in vintage cinemas, in a Victorian pumping station, at music festivals, in museums,in stately homes, in forests and even in a stable alongside the couple’s beloved horses. Of course, couples can also simply choose a hotel or designated wedding venue, a marquee in their garden or their favourite pub!

Why choose a celebrant?

Celebrant-led ceremonies are often chosen by non-religious or mixed-faith couples who wish to have a ceremony that respects their beliefs – or, indeed, their lack of! They still want romance, they still want a beautiful and meaningful ceremony at the heart of their special day and why shouldn’t they be allowed that?!

The most wonderful thing about a humanist ceremony is that it is completely bespoke; it can incorporate personalised elements which reflect the couple’s passions and preferences – whether that be a shared love of Tolkien or an obsession with paddle-boarding. Humanist ceremonies offer much more creative freedom and ceremonies can include readings and songs, input from friends, family and even the family pets. Instead of exchanging rings, couples can choose to ‘tie-the-knot’ with an ancient symbolic hand-fasting ceremony; they can include their family and friends with a ring-warming, or can share their first toast drinking from the Celtic two-handled quaich. There are so many beautiful and meaningful symbolic acts to choose from – everything from planting a tree together to jumping the broom.

As a humanist celebrant, I take the time to really get to know my couples so that I am confident that their ceremony is as unique as their relationship. Many of my couples have become friends for life – one of the unexpected but loveliest elements of my job!

How do I choose a wedding celebrant?

I think choosing the right celebrant for you both is really important. You are trusting this person with the most important part of your special day so it is vital that you have a connection with them!

1. Compatibility: Look for a celebrant who you feel at ease with, someone you feel comfortable chatting to, whose style and personality align with yours.

2. Experience: Consider a celebrant’s experience in conducting ceremonies and their ability to craft personalised and meaningful ceremonies.

3. Reviews and recommendations: Read reviews and seek recommendations from friends, family, or other wedding vendors to find a celebrant who is trusted.

4. Meeting in person or by ZOOM: Schedule a meeting or consultation with potential celebrants to discuss your vision for the ceremony and gauge compatibility. It is really difficult to know if a celebrant is right for you simply by looking at a website!

Are all wedding celebrants Humanist?

Not all wedding celebrants are humanist, but many offer secular ceremonies that cater to couples of various backgrounds and beliefs. Where Humanist celebrants differ, I think, is the quality of the training. We commit to extensive training, regular peer reviews and extensive CPD to ensure that our ceremonies are truly top quality. On top of that, we are Humanists first and foremost which means we are committed to doing the right thing!

Can anyone become a wedding celebrant?

In theory, yes! However, Humanists UK have a stringent admissions policy to ensure that their affiliated celebrants are guaranteed to offer an exemplary service to our couples.

What is the process of booking and working with a wedding celebrant?

Firstly, find the right celebrant! I always advise my couples to talk to a few different celebrants before they make a decision – it really is so important that you get on well! This is a good time to discuss your vision, preferences, and any special requests for the ceremony.

The second step is collaborative. I work closely with my couples, getting to know them over dinner, a glass of wine or a dog walk. We discuss the ‘bones’ of the ceremony – what they really want and don’t want, what kind of ‘tone’ or ‘feel’ they want their ceremony to have, whether they want it to be fun and relaxed or romantic and heartfelt. After that, I set my couples fun ‘homework’ tasks to ensure that the ceremony script truly reflects their love story, values, and beliefs. I am incredibly nosy and love to know who is cooking dinner, who hogs the remote, who chooses the holiday destinations. When I have a really good idea of who the couple are, I start writing the first draft of the ceremony script. When I send out an initial draft, I ask my couples to spend an evening reading it over together and ruthlessly scribbling all over it – and then we meet to discuss any changes or additions they would like to make. The final ceremony script is usually agreed upon 4-6 weeks before the big day.

Sometimes, my couples like to meet at the venue for a rehearsal to ensure that everyone involved in the ceremony knows their roles and feels comfortable.

Finally, on the big day, I arrive an hour or so before the ceremony is due to start to make sure that everything and everyone is ready and that the ceremony runs smoothly. I love this special hour – it is often the first time I have a chance to meet family and friends who have featured so heavily in the couple’s love story.

Are Humanist celebrants bound by rules in the same way registrars are?

Humanist celebrants typically adhere to guidelines set by Humanists UK but that doesn’t mean that we automatically restrict religious content such as hymns or prayers. As an example, I personally wouldn’t lead a prayer during the ceremony but would have no problem with a member of the family or a guest doing so. It really is worth talking to your celebrant as this is a very personal thing.

How much does the average wedding celebrant cost?

The cost of hiring a wedding celebrant can vary depending on factors such as their experience, location, and the complexity of the ceremony. On average, wedding celebrants may charge anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand. It really depends on the celebrant so again, it is worth speaking to a few!

 

What do I love most about being a wedding celebrant?

Well, where do I start?

Could there be any better job than helping a couple create a meaningful and memorable start to their life together? Or helping a couple find the perfect way to renew their vows, cherishing the journey that they have had together? I feel honoured and privileged to have the opportunity to connect with couples, to hear their love stories and to craft beautiful and joyful ceremonies that reflect their unique relationship. I go home with a happy heart and a huge grin on my face every single time.

Oh, and the free champagne, obviously!

About Trudi

Trudi is a celebrant with Humanists U.K. 

She lives on a boat with my partner who looks rather appropriately like a pirate and our scruffy, yappy, stinky old dog Boris (no relation…) on the river Soar in the Midlands. She adores music and loves nothing more than stumbling around festivals in the early hours making friends with total strangers. On a less exciting day, she tries her hardest to embrace veganism (shakes angry fist at too-tempting Brie) wild swimming in the river, sampling gin and trying to teach her elderly parents how to Skype.

She is available for Weddings, Funerals and Naming Ceremonies

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