Exhibitor Insights: Humanist Ceremonies
Ultimately your wedding boils down to one key element, that being the ceremony itself. You have come together to pledge your love to one another, to be bound to one another’s hearts from now on to start your life together unified. So for today’s Exhibitors Insights we chatted to a group of celebrants who offer you the ceremony of your dreams, no matter what your vows may include. Ify Everett, Sue Walder, Stephanie Kendrick and Ben Leask are all accredited Humanist Ceremonies celebrants trained by Humanists UK and aim to give you a special service no matter what requests you have.
Welcome everyone, so firstly can you summarise what it is you do within the wedding industry.
We conduct non-religious wedding ceremonies for couples. What makes being a humanist wedding celebrant so special is that we get the chance to work with couples during one of the most significant points in their lives. We get to translate their wishes into moving, memorable wedding ceremonies that truly reflect who are they are.
What is your unique selling point and what fun facts would you love couples to know you?
Sue: Humanist weddings are not yet legally recognised in England and Wales so couples go to their local register office in the days before or after their humanist ceremony to deal with the legal formalities. (Humanists UK have been lobbying government for many years to get legal recognition.) However, humanist weddings can be conducted wherever you want, when you want, and how you want – they enable couples to celebrate their happiness and make their commitments in a way they have chosen in front of the people that matter most to them.
Ify: Couples can choose to have readings, music, songs and symbolic acts such as hand fasting and sand blending as part of their wedding ceremony. And they have complete freedom to write their own promises and vows to each other. Humanism places people, their wishes, and beliefs at the centre of the wedding ceremony. Couples tell us that they feel their humanist wedding is their ‘real’ wedding and celebrate their anniversaries on that date. We say #YourWeddingYourWay!
Stephanie: One of my personal goals is to deliver a ceremony dressed in a Star Trek uniform! And, yes, I can provide the uniform.
Ben: I also make cocktails so when the ceremony finishes I change jackets and race to get to the reception before the guests arrive!
Why do you think brides and grooms find what you offer so special?
Ify: Just as no two people are the same, each humanist wedding ceremony is unique and designed to suit the personalities and style of each couple. They can be romantic and traditional or fun and quirky – humanist celebrants work collaboratively with each couple to ensure they get the wedding ceremony that perfectly suits their needs.
Sue: Couples often say that they loved how relaxed and happy their ceremony was and how it managed to tell their family and friends who they are and what they mean to each other. Some couples have loved the fact that they can involve other family members in the ceremony, including children.
Tell us a little about the process you go through with couples – how do you start? why do you feel that makes for a great partnership?
Stephanie: I give people homework! I find that if a couple have prepared for meetings we get so much more out of them; and that all helps make the ceremony that much better.
Sue: The starting point is that first conversation, when the couple can decide if I’m going to be the right ‘fit’ for them. I love hearing about how my couples met and how their relationship developed to the point that they’ve just called me to talk about their wedding! Being open and honest builds trust on both sides which is essential for a successful collaboration on the wedding script and a truly memorable wedding ceremony.
What sort of questions do you find that couples often ask you?
Stephanie: Why did you get into celebrancy? – Meeting people at one of the happiest times of their life and getting to help make that happen – why wouldn’t you do this?!
Ben: Can I do anything I want? What are the rules? – The answer is simple, Yes you can, and there aren’t really any rules!
What do you find the most rewarding part of your job?
Ify: After delivering the ceremony, when all the guests and the couple always say how much they loved it. It makes me so happy that I created the most important party of their special day, and they were thoroughly pleased with it!
Sue: It’s a real privilege to be so closely involved with a couple and to create a ceremony so personal to them. To see the look on their faces when you pronounce them married – priceless!
Stephanie: On the day, standing up in front of the crowd and delivering the script that my couples and I have worked so hard on!
What do you think is the hardest part of planning a wedding?
Stephanie: Resisting all the pressure! It could be a parent who thinks it’s not a real ceremony until it’s in a church, or Pinterest implying that your wedding isn’t complete without hay bales or a cheese wedding cake. Whatever you want is fine!
Ben: Experience suggests it’s being ready for last minute changes. And there are always last minute changes!
And finally, we like to ask our suppliers what are their top tips for couples when it comes to planning their wedding, so what advice would you give?
Ify: Don’t stress about the details. Honestly, you really won’t remember whether the napkins matched the flowers on the day. What’s important is you are marrying the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. And make sure you have fun!
Stephanie: Pick three things that really matter to you to get right on the day. They can be anything, dress, flowers, food, wine… The rest you can give out to willing friends and family to research and present back to you.
Ben: Don’t listen to anyone else. Do what you want.
Sue: After all the months and months of wedding planning the danger is that the day flies by in a blur. So my one piece of advice is to try to remember to take time out throughout the day of the ceremony itself to really be in the moment and enjoy yourselves.
For more information on each of the celebrants we spoke to you can find them at the following websites:
Ify Everett: https://humanist.org.uk/ifyeverett/
Stephanie Kendrick: https://humanist.org.uk/stephaniekendrick/
Sue Walder: https://humanist.org.uk/suewalder/