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.

Who the hell am I?

I haven’t written about myself for a hot minute so here are some interesting thi… here are some things about me:

  • I like to use the pronouns she/her. What about you?
  • I’m tall. In these days of Zoom chats and Skype meetings, it can come as a mighty big surprise when I lurch up to your wedding IRL, very much the noisy BFG to your kilted Oompa Loompas. I’m 1/4000th the length of the Las Vegas strip. Or thirty golf tees high. Either works as a scale, right?
dinosaur bird
A hugely tall and ancient bird
  • If you have an accent, I will mimic it at some point in our relationship. Sorry about that, it’s a compulsion.
  • I love a hot water bottle. We live in an old cottage* and it’s never ever warm. I spend most of the year inside my house complaining about being too cold and the rest of it outside my house complaining about being too hot. Get it up ya, Goldilocks.

Here I am, too hot and delirious in Florida. Man, that place is roasting. And very full of other people. 

Claire in a pirate hat making a face. She is very hot.
Hot. Sweaty. Delirious.
  • I’m vegetarian except for the very occasional fish supper and fish finger sandwich. Suppose that makes me not a vegetarian then.

Huh. 

About three years ago, I gave up being a vegetarian for a year because I was SO BORED. I ate every steak pie in Scotland and then had a total refusal at a West Brewery Sausage Platter. Couldn’t do it. It was texturally very challenging so back to pretending tofu is imaginary and mainly eating eggs, cheese and large chocolate buttons.

  • You have no idea how much I want a dog. A Great Danoodle is the breed of choice but any pooch that looks a little like Sprocket from Fraggle Rock is very welcome. Or a smiley Staffy, all swagger and couch-hogging laziness. Thing is, I married a man who is allergic to dogs so I’ve been saving up for a bald cat that hates the cold and would probably benefit from a wee hot water bottle of its own (see above). Or a divorce from the husband.
Black and white phot of a bearded man and his dog. Man is human, dog is a puppet.
Captain & Sprocket
  • Big fan of a niche museum and an interesting fact. Went to the Postal Museum on holiday. Absolutely loved it. There were pneumatic tubes and a tiny underground train. Not going to lie, it was a bit claustrophobic and I felt a bit like one of those tubes of croissant dough when they opened the door to let us out but I loved it.
  • I’m exceptionally good at knowing what time it is without looking at a clock. I’m also rarely early or late. This is a skill gleaned from being a Funeral Director for many years. (Other FD skills: guessing your height, sniffing out decomposing things and dealing with leaking orifices)
  • I revel in pareidolia.

    Coffee foam face
    Herrrroooooo
  • I truly believe if I met Caitlin Moran, she and I would be best pals and if we ever both hung out with Desiree Burch, the patriarchy jacket would be on a very shoogly peg. 

Think that’s enough of an insight into my peculiar little brain for now, don’t you?

*not as quaint as it sounds. Cottage = old and small. Like the wee Krankie.

Covid 19 update

The Scottish Government website is the best resource for up to date guidance. There may be additional hospitality and general public health rules that also need to be taken into consideration, along with the Tier level of the Registration District for your ceremony.

If you want to get married in Scotland any time soon, here’s the key points:

Where: anywhere except inside a private dwelling (this includes airbnb, self-catering etc. Ask your venue if you are unsure).

Numbers: 20. That number includes guests, couple, suppliers etc but not people employed by your venue or me.

Face Coverings: During an indoor ceremony, as long as we can all socially distance, everyone must wear a face covering except the couple getting married and the person conducting the ceremony. Face coverings are not required outside.

Content: Wedding ceremonies are still shorter that normal, around twenty minutes, and some of the symbolic gestures are not permitted, others have to be adapted. I can talk you through the changes.

Travel: travel to weddings is permitted from any Tier level.

Receptions: 20 people in a Covid secure venue unless we’re in Tier 4 in which case Receptions aren’t allowed. Receptions not permitted in private dwellings. Normal hospitality rules apply re face coverings, closure times and music. Your venue will keep you right as they are responsible for ensuring guidance is followed and Track and Trace is in place.

Any questions, send me an email.

 

Can’t sleep

Needs to be a good reason for me not to be sleeping. It takes a lot stop me boarding the train to Bedfordshire or whatever people who like cricket would say. Tonight’s reason is September. It’s giving me The Fear.

Can you not sleep either? Don’t let my September trouble you. It won’t keep me awake much longer and anyway, September will be here whether I’m ready or not* and it will happen and it will be feckin’ marvellous.

Just like your wedding. And if your wedding is in September, even better.

In the meantime, here’s a photo of me, taken a hundred years ago when I was about four. If you look closely, there are biscuit crumbs on my jumper, a statement that has been true every day of my life since.

G’night!

*Always ready. Born ready. Biscuits help.

 

Claire | Claire the Humanist