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  • Writer's pictureClaire Sunderland

Humanist or Independent Civil Celebrant? Know the difference and know your options

Updated: Feb 11, 2023

Some of you may have seen recent press about Humanist wedding celebrants lobbying for legal recognition. Many of you will agree that a non-religious wedding should be recognised as legally binding in the same way that a religious wedding is (currently those opting for a wedding outside of the church must have the legal part - the marriage - undertaken by a registrar either during or before the wedding ceremony).

But some of you may not appreciate the difference between a Humanist celebrant and an Independent Civil Celebrant. I still get the comment from lots of people, when I say I am a celebrant, 'Oh, are you a humanist?', the assumption being that a humanist ceremony is the only non-religious option.

I am not a humanist. I agree with some of the values expressed by humanism but a humanist believes strongly that there is nothing beyond the human experience. They are anti-religion in a way that is almost religious - and some do see humanism as a religion in itself. For couples that have similar beliefs, a humanist wedding might be exactly the right choice for you. But for those who aren't particularly religious but might have spiritual beliefs or values, or those couples from different religious backgrounds or faiths, or those who want to incorporate the beliefs of their families into the wedding ceremony, what other options are available?

An independent Civil Celebrant that has been well trained will offer you choices - choices of how much or how little religious content you'd like, choices of bespoke wedding elements that will be adapted so they become personal to you and completely unique, choices of who takes part in your ceremony, where it is held (it doesn't have to be at a 'wedding venue'!) etc... in short, you will have free reign to create the exact ceremony you want, without restrictions... (within reason, we all have lines we won't cross! - but again, every celebrant has their own, it's a question of finding the one that fits your values and beliefs...)

Independent celebrants have been lobbying for a long time to have our ceremonies recognised as legal, in the same way the humanists are currently and very publicly.

If you are interested in couples having informed choice and not just the option of either a religious or a humanist wedding celebration then please add your voice, not to the humanist campaign, but lobby your local MPs to recognise Independent Civil Celebrants as well.

If you'd like more information about how to do that please message me.

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