The Best Humanist Celebrant in Scotland

The best Humanist Celebrant in Scotland is…..

…a question that’s pure SEO titillation and I could just answer it by directing you to my child who would stare hollow-eyed, into your soul, slowly extend an abnormally long digit in my direction and say, ‘Not her’. 

Laughing couple stand either side of Claire. She is also laughung and wrapping their hands in material.
James Frost Photography

Maybe we should start with a deep dive on the word ‘celebrant’…

Anyone who conducts a ceremony of any type can be called a celebrant whether they be Humanist, religious, interfaith or a red-faced man who reckoned he’d be good at it because he once made a room filled with other red-faced men laugh at a Bowling Club Burns Night and it made his pee pee feel happy.

A Humanist celebrant is someone who considers themselves a Humanist and conducts ceremonies that reflect those Humanist values. Hello. That’s me and, as a fully trained celebrant with the charity, Humanist Society Scotland, I am legally authorised to conduct Humanist weddings. 

Here’s where it gets a little complicated. Some celebrants call themselves Humanists but aren’t. They don’t identify as a Humanist, they just refer to themselves as that because (in Scotland at least) the term ‘Humanist’ has come to represent all personal, non-faith ceremonies. Also, some celebrants will be able to legally marry you, some won’t. Here’s a clue- if a celebrant is legally authorised, they nearly always have those exact words in their bio or website. They scream about it because it’s a really big deal. You should also be able to look at the organisation or society they are affiliated with and be instantly reassured everything is legit.

If you are looking at a celebrant and you can’t immediately see any mention of authorisation, they probably aren’t. If there’s a mention of a ‘brief legal ceremony’ or ‘a quick visit to the Registrar earlier in the day’, they probably aren’t. If you are in any doubt, ask before you book them.

Just married couple and Claire taking a selfie. Everyone is very happy including a small dog
Nikki Leadbetter Photography

Back to my original question- who is the best? Since Humanist weddings were first granted legal authorisation back in 2005, there has been a massive increase in celebrants across the board and I’m going to put this out there:

Not all are created equal.

It’s not a bad thing. If we were all the same, it would be a very boring world. There are celebrants who love to make magic happen with their words and there are those who rely on being a bit of a character (a bit of a prick? You decide). Some will prioritise your story, others look to symbolic gestures to fill the gaps. My least favourite is the lazy celebrant, the one who churns out the same trope-filled ceremony every time, a basic relationship CV peppered with cheap jokes and cringe. Yawn yawn YAWN. 

wedding couple look at claire, slightly confused. Claire is facing them, holding a folder.
Claire Juliet Paton Photography

You deserve better. I have amazing colleagues with incredible life experiences, intelligent people who are passionate about the arts and philanthropy, all good things they can draw on to create extraordinary ceremonies. I work alongside people who are wonderfully straightforward, who use familiar language and comfortable humour, the antithesis of the outdated stuffed shirts of the olden days. I love anyone who is original, authentic and genuinely engaged in their celebrant practice….

…but that’s my favourite. I’m not the one getting married. If you’re on the hunt for the best celebrant to suit you, here are my top tips:

  • Figure out what you want- between you, decide what you are looking for. Be honest. Your ceremony has to be meaningful and that can only happen if you are both engaged with the process.
  • Firsthand experience– have you been to a wedding and loved the ceremony? There’s no better way to decide on a celebrant than seeing them in action.
  • Reviews– a good resource but look at the language. ‘Excellent organisation and prompt’ are great admin skills but are they the best you can hope for? Also, you might miss out on a brilliant newbie if you go solely on reviews.
  • Web presence- Google ‘em. Where else do they pop up? 
  • Socials- You should get a very good idea of a celebrant’s ability with words by reading their social posts. If the posts are all the same mibbes their weddings are all the same too. Does their style suit you or does it put you off? It’s deliberate on their part because it’s the best way to streamline enquiries, sift out the non-matches and funnel their perfect couples in their direction so don’t feel weird about it. Jump on board or walk away.
  • Other suppliers- Ask a trusted supplier who they rate and why.
  • Meet them- narrow down that list as much as you can and arrange a chat. If you meet the first candidate and you still want to meet more, it’s unlikely you’re going to book the first one.

Ultimately, the best celebrant in Scotland is the one that brings your ceremony to life and aren’t you lucky that there’s such a wide and varied community of bright and brilliant people to choose from? Make sure you share that love once you’re married- tell anyone and everyone how brilliant they were and write the sort of review that would make you want to book them ten times over. Maybe don’t call them organised and prompt though.