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FAQs

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On this page you'll find answers to many of the regular questions I get asked about the different ceremonies that I deliver.  Hopefully you'll find the answer you're looking for here, but if not then drop me an email, send me a message on one of my socials or give me a ring.

General

What is your presentation style like during a ceremony?

I like to think that I’m generally quite laid back and relaxed. I can be sombre and serious where appropriate but I like to include fun and humour into my ceremonies. I’m very tall (6’4) which tends to help when you’re trying to focus the attention of a group of guests! I have a softer, East Central Scotland accent, but I project my voice when delivering a ceremony.  You can see me and hear my dulcet tones in the video at the following link: https://youtu.be/HMx-muEaK20

You can see me "in action" in the following video of Amy & Tom's wedding which I conducted in the summer of 2023 (with thanks to Boda Productions).













What do you wear to conduct a ceremony?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whatever you would like me to (within reason, of course!).  For the formality of a wedding then I’ll usually wear either a suit or full kilt outfit (depending on what you ask for).  Naming & welcoming ceremonies will usually see me in more smart casual attire – including a jacket.  For a funeral I'll generally be in a dark suit, with appropriate shirt and tie.

How much do you charge for a ceremony, and do you charge for travel?

Although celebrants are self-employed, the rates we charge follow guidance from the Humanist Society Scotland.  My current rates are outlined in the relevant sections on this page.  If your ceremony is taking place in the Central Belt or Fife then I don’t currently charge travel expenses.  If you’re a bit further away, possibly necessitating a fair bit of mileage or an overnight stay, then I’ll discuss that with you and we can come to some agreement on your helping towards the additional costs.

What’s the Humanist Society Scotland, and do I need to be a member?

Humanist Society Scotland is a charity for people seeking an ethical, compassionate, rational and secular Scotland. It currently has over 14,000 members from Stranraer to Shetland. Humanist Society Scotland monitors and seeks to influence the development of public policy by raising awareness of injustices in current law or policy, and organising campaigns and events to promote change. Their work is aimed at making Scotland a more democratic, secular and socially just society.

 

Scotland is one of only 12 countries in the world where humanists can conduct legal weddings and HSS has prescribed status under the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 which essentially means that they have the same rights as religious bodies and can authorise their own celebrants.  They currently have a network of around 150 celebrants (of which I am one!).

 

You can find out more about the work of the Humanist Society Scotland via their website www.humanism.scot

 

You don’t need to be a member of Humanist Society Scotland for a humanist naming & welcoming ceremony, or for a funeral.  If you’re seeking a humanist wedding then the fee you pay will include two year’s membership of the society for you both.

The Humanist Society Scotland Promise

So, what happens if I fall ill, or am unable to conduct your ceremony for whatever reason? Well, you are covered by the Humanist Society Promise. 

 

Essentially, what it means is that Humanist Society Scotland guarantees that if I can’t make it then another celebrant would come along and deliver the ceremony for you. I upload the ceremony that we’ve created onto the Humanist Society Scotland system and the new celebrant delivers it and, in the case of a marriage, takes care of the legal paperwork. You still get exactly the same ceremony we planned together, just delivered by a different – but equally lovely – celebrant.

Can we include a wee prayer, a blessing or a hymn?

Because this is a Humanist ceremony we are unable to include any religious elements at any point during the ceremony.

How do I book you?

You’ll find my contact details at the front page of this site.  Email, phone, text… whatever is easiest for you.  If you’d like to have a chat with me before booking your ceremony then that’s fine.  I can make time to chat over a coffee or via Zoom or Skype if that’s easier for you.  There are many different celebrants within Humanist Society Scotland, and we each have a unique style and personality, so it’s important that you find the right person for you.  Obviously, I’m hoping that will be me, but as long as you find someone that you feel truly comfortable with then that’s what really matters.

Weddings

How soon before our wedding should we be booking our celebrant?

Ideally, you should be looking to secure the services of your celebrant as soon as you have agreed your date and booked your venue.  Sometimes this may be many months, or even years away, but it’s still best to get it sorted as soon as possible – our diaries get booked up a long time in advance!

Can you marry us anywhere?

Well, that depends on a number of factors, but generally yes – as long as your venue is in Scotland and it’s not a religious venue (so no churches - although a deconsecrated church, for example Seton Collegiate Church in East Lothian, would be ok).

How do I change my surname after we are married?

So, if you are taking your partner’s name, you simply need to contact the relevant authorities (see the list below) with your marriage certificate, which will be issued to you soon after you return the completed marriage schedule (the official document we sign on the day) to the local registrar's office. Here is a list of places you will need to contact to let them know of the change in circumstances. Many of these places have online details about how to change a name, so it is worth exploring the online options first.

  • The passport office

  • The DVLA (driving licence, vehicle registration)

  • HM Revenue and Customs

  • Child Benefit

  • Local Authority (Council tax and electoral register)

  • Land Registry

  • Student Loans

  • Your employer

  • Your bank or building society

  • Your mortgage provider

  • Your pension providers

  • Credit card companies

  • Your phone & broadband provider

  • Your doctor

  • Your dentist

  • Your vet

  • Your gym

  • Your motoring organisations (breakdown cover)

  • Utility companies (gas, water, electricity providers)

  • Your insurance company (motor, home, travel, pet)

  • Loans companies

  • Magazine subscriptions

  • Store cards & online accounts

  • Any clubs or societies you are a member of

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but covers most of the major identifications.

How much does it cost?

My fee is currently £400 for a wedding.  This covers all of my time from meeting with you, through to drafting the ceremony and exchanging drafts until you are completely happy with the finalised version, and then my preparation and delivery of the ceremony on the day.  I usually invoice for this a few weeks before the wedding.

For travel expenses, see the section under "General" above.

 

There is also a £98 “secure the date” booking fee which is payable directly to the Humanist Society Scotland at the time of booking.  This gives you both 2 year’s membership of Humanist Society Scotland as well the "Humanist Society Scotland Promise" of a guaranteed celebrant on the big day, should something happen to prevent me from conducting your ceremony.

 

There is also a fee of around £100 which is payable to to the local Registrar's Office at the point that you submit your M10 forms.  This will be the Registry Office closest to your wedding venue.  So, for example, you might live in Midlothian, but be getting married at a venue in East Lothian, therefore it’s the registrar in East Lothian that you need to contact.  This can be done from 3 months up to 29 days before the date of your marriage.  This will ensure that they have your marriage schedule ready for the date of your ceremony.

 

As the cost of living continues to rise I may have to readjust my prices accordingly over time, but I promise NOT to increase the cost of your ceremony from the price I quoted at the time you booked it.

Can you marry us if we don't live in the UK, but plan to visit for our wedding?

This depends on a number of factors, including where you normally live.

 

Couples who live within the European Economic Area (EEA) wishing to visit Scotland to get married (or to register a civil partnership) need to complete a Declaration of status by Non-UK Nationals form.   You may also need to complete a C.O.N.I. (certificate of no impediment to marriage form) depending on rules within your home country - you'll need to check this.   If this is not in english then an english translation of this certificate will need to be provided by a certified translation service.  You will then also need to complete and submit your M10 and witness forms and submit these along with the other required documents to the Registrar closest to the venue you are getting married in (your venue should be able to let you know where the closest Registrar's Office is to them).

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Couples who live outside the European Economic Area (EEA), for example, in Australia, New Zealand, Canada or the United States, wishing to visit Scotland to get married (or to register a civil partnership)  have the additional requirement of securing a Marriage Visa. Further details can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/marriage-visa  

The Marriage Visa can only be applied for 3 months before you travel to the UK and once issued, is valid for a period of 6 months.  The Visa Application Centre will need your passports for this process and there is a cost of £115 per person.

You would then also be required to complete a Declaration of status by Non-UK Nationals form.   You may also need to complete a C.O.N.I. (certificate of no impediment to marriage form) depending on rules within your home country - you'll need to check this. If this is not in english then an english translation of this certificate will need to be provided by a certified translation service.  You will then also need to complete and submit your M10 and witness forms and submit these along with the other required documents to the Registrar closest to the venue you are getting married in (your venue should be able to let you know where the closest Registrar's Office is to them).

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National Records of Scotland also has a helpful page with a good section about getting married in Scotland as a Non-UK national at the following link:  https://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/registration/i-want-to-get-married-in-scotland-how-do-i-go-about-it

PLEASE NOTE that the obtaining of the correct documentation and onward submission to the Registrar here in Scotland within the required time scale is YOUR responsibility.

Once you have booked your venue I would STRONGLY suggest that you get in contact with the local Registrar's Office to establish EXACTLY which documents they will require you to submit, and the timescales and costs involved.

Please don't worry!

 

Where red tape and formalities mean that a legal wedding in the UK may not be possible or practical then you may find it easier to have a small legal wedding ceremony in your own country before travelling to Scotland with your friends and family, where we can still have a full "Celebration of a wedding" ceremony, which can include almost all of the elements of a traditional Scottish wedding, including the exchange of vows or promises, readings, symbolic gestures like hand-fasting or drinking from the quaich, being piped in and out of the ceremony by a piper - I can even invite you to seal your union with a kiss!  To all intents and purposes, it would look and feel like a full wedding - except, of course, that it would not be a wedding in the legal sense.  It would simply be a celebration of the fact that you are already married - rather like a Renewal of Vows ceremony.

Naming & Welcoming Ceremonies

What sort of things are included in a naming and welcoming ceremony

Generally, we will welcome everyone and explain a bit about Humanism and why it's important to you.  We then might have a reading, a poem or a song.  We'll tell the story of the child or person being named - and that gives us lots of scope to tell fun and interesting stories! There might be Guide Parents making their promises, as well as the parent/s of a child making promises.  We'll have a formal naming section, where all the guests have an opportunity to say the full name and raise a toast.  There might be a symbolic gesture, like the planting of some seeds, or the completion of a wish tree or book where the hope and wishes of all the guests can be recorded.

The possibilities are endless!

How much does it cost?

I currently charge £200 for a naming ceremony.  This covers all of my time from meeting with you, through to drafting the ceremony and exchanging drafts until you are completely happy with the finalised version, and then my preparation and delivery of the ceremony on the day.

For travel expenses, see the section under "General" above.

 

As the cost of living continues to rise I may have to readjust my prices accordingly over time, but I promise NOT to increase the cost of your ceremony from the price I quoted at the time you booked it.

Funerals

What does a Humanist Funeral look like?

Humanist funeral ceremonies don’t follow a set script or format and can be as simple or as intricate as you like. During the planning stages I will work with you to learn as much as I can about your loved one’s life and the memories you wish to share during the ceremony. I'll then use these discussions to weave together a story that remembers and celebrates your loved one’s life.  

Most people choose to use readings, poems, and music in the service, and I can help to guide you on placement and suggestions for this aspect of the ceremony. A humanist funeral will not include any acts of worship. But space can be made for a period of quiet reflection that creates an inclusive space for everyone to remember your loved one in a way that reflects their beliefs. 

How do I book you?

Normally I am contacted on behalf of families through their funeral director. If you have not yet engaged a funeral director and would like your ceremony to be conducted by me you can either specify with your chosen funeral director, or you can contact me directly and I can notify your funeral director.

 

My fee for carrying out a funeral is £200 (or £240 for an extended funeral).  This covers all of my time from meeting with you, through to drafting the funeral and exchanging drafts until you are completely happy with the finalised version, and then my preparation and delivery of the funeral on the day.

For travel expenses, see the section under "General" above.

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