Imagine a ceremony that marks a major life event in a way that is personal, sincere, and honest. Perhaps welcoming a much-loved baby to the world with a bespoke naming ceremony. Or celebrating a couple’s marriage in a way that is warm and genuine, that’s about the two of them and their relationship, and is full of laughter. Or a funeral or memorial ceremony that focuses on the person who had died and the life they led – not on the idea of an afterlife – and which provides a dignified and sincere way of saying goodbye.
Humanist Ceremonies™ celebrants create, write, and conduct a range of ceremonies to mark the big moments in life, mostly (but not exclusively) naming ceremonies, weddings, and funerals. They have been conducting funerals sine the 1890s. There is a growing demand too, seeing as half of Britain’s population say they are not religious. Only a third of marriages in England are held in a church nowadays.
Humanist celebrants, like our speakers Holly and Gaynor, are thoroughly trained and quality-assured by Humanists UK. They are passionate about their work and provide people with an appropriate way to mark the most important moments in their lives.
Holly Austin-Davies is a humanist wedding celebrant and a member of the Birmingham Humanists committee. She has been working as a celebrant for the last four years, alongside her day job as a research librarian for a civil engineering firm. Holly discovered humanism several years ago, via the music of Tim Minchin, and began investigating working as a celebrant after the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act was passed in 2013. She divides her time between work, weddings, humanism outreach work, and exploring the delights of the Birmingham food scene.
Gaynor Doherty conducts weddings and funerals. She is a retired Drama and Theatre teacher and realised that she was a humanist nine years ago after attending a humanist funeral of a close friend. She went on to train with Humanists UK.
It was a bit scary at first but now I absolutely love my work. It's not very well paid but the work is incredibly rewarding and helps raise public awareness and understanding of humanism. The celebrant network is fantastic. All we need now is the legalisation of humanist marriage!