Humanist vs celebrant – what’s the difference?

Will you be our officiant







Many assume I’m a humanist and haven’t really heard of a civil celebrant – or a celibate, as I often get called!

I too, had only heard about humanists and my first experience of a humanist celebrant was at a friend’s wedding. It was a lovely service, in a marquee in a garden and very them. I wasn’t aware there was another type of celebrant until I trained as a civil celebrant when I started working as a funeral director.

A civil celebrant fitted better with me but both are similar in that they officiate a ceremony. They offer an alternative to a church or registrar service, whether it be someone’s funeral, a wedding, or something to mark the birth of a child.

Both also work in the same way regarding how a service is created (with a script) and a personal approach as well as being able to conduct a ceremony in any location (with the exception of a church, or religious building).

Celebrants work independently and they have choice regarding what they feel is appropriate to include in a couple’s ceremony. However, the main difference is that humanism is a belief in itself and a way of life that people adhere to.

Humanists don’t believe in religion and as such only offer secular ceremonies, so they don’t include any religious aspects in their ceremonies (although you may have religious content through readings from others).

Equally, I know of some civil celebrants who also won’t include religion within a service and I know of some civil celebrants who won’t conduct same sex ceremonies.

Personally, my beliefs don’t come into a ceremony. I feel it’s about the person who has died and those arranging the funeral, or the couple – of any sex, or the family of any faith in terms of a naming ceremony.

I will include materials according to the religion, faith, belief or culture of the client, or the wishes of the loved one. So, for any civil funeral ceremony, I’m happy to read from the bible, say some prayers and to include hymns or religious music. Some people tell me, while they aren’t religious, they feel religion should be included on behalf of those attending a service, for example.

And I’m also happy to not include any religious content at all.

For me, it’s about making the service as personal and memorable as possible; creating a different ceremony that is unique and in which the person, the couple or the child, is central.

For funerals, it’s about helping with the grieving process as well and making sure that final good bye is as good as it possibly can be for those left behind in the hope of giving some comfort at what can be a very difficult time.

When thinking about a humanist or a civil celebrant, I’d recommend meeting a few and seeing who you connect with best. The relationship, trust and understanding is important and picking someone you feel comfortable with will ensure your ceremony is much more meaningful and memorable.

Click here for useful website with more information.

What’s in a naming?

A naming ceremony is typically when a baby, child or young adult is given a name, or names. As an alternative to a religious christening, it’s also a chance for parents/carers to show their commitment to loving parenting and to ask those around them to help them with this role. Supporting adults or guideparents can be elected and promises can also be made regarding the aspirations you have together for your child/ren.

Acknowledging the importance of a new arrival in front of witnesses doesn’t have to just be welcoming a new baby into a family, it might also be the opportunity to unite older children with their younger siblings, or for step, foster or adopted children to come together as a family.

There’s no set script or fixed structure and the occasion can be tailored especially for your family in a way that feels right to you. Similarly, the venue is open to a huge range of options; a parish hall, a hotel, a family home or garden, a zoo, a park, activity centre or the beach are all possible.

You can include music, poetry and prose on your naming day and there might be other elements such as balloon releasing, bubble blowing, tree planting or sand or water pouring to symbolically unite a family (different vessels or colours can be selected by family members and individual wishes made as sand or water is poured into a central feature).

As with all civil ceremonies, a naming ceremony is bespoke. A carefully created script tailored to what you want, in the way you want it, makes the day personal and unique and even more memorable.


Naming day

Front page appearance!

Have you spotted Ceremonies With Lynsey in the latest Wedding Life?

Front page

View my article here… (pg 32)

Tying the knot with a handfasting

A wedding celebration ceremony can incorporate various symbolic actions such as sand pouring, candle lighting, balloon releasing or handfasting

Ever heard of it? I hadn’t until I became a civil celebrant!

With Celtic roots, it dates way back, linked to Neopagan wedding ceremonies. Late old English refers to the verb ‘to handfast’ meaning to formally promise, or make a contract and so a formed a marriage rite in which loved ones’ hands were wrapped in ribbon as they ‘tied the knot’ – an expression that we are all much more familiar with!

Glastonbury, Stonehenge and the like are the places to do them and full handfastings are very technical and rather complex. There are many variations and each celebrant will adopt their own style, but a simple handfasting is a really special way of showing unity and commitment to one another.

It’s also about the encircling of two hands with a circle symbolising completeness, eternity and infinity with no real start and finish. Interestingly a circle can also depict the unending, the unknowable, the unmeasurable or the ungraspable – many of which can apply to marriage at times too!

a celebrant tying ribbon

Different ribbons symbolising various colours are chosen by couples; red for example can signify love, strength and vitality; yellow can represent happiness, pink for unity and romance; and white to mark purity, peace and devotion. The ribbons are then placed and/or tied over a couple’s joined hands, as individual and personalised promises are said and a blessing given.

And for even more fun, alongside handfasting, you can incorporate other ancient traditions into your ceremony if you want something a bit different – ribbons can be used to decorate a broomstick, or you can just leap straight into ‘Jumping The Broomstick!’ and see where that takes you…

Photo by Daisy Barnard.

Marking the occasion under the stars

Outdoor wedding and naming celebrations are so in these days.

The rustic/vintage feel, that you can really make your own, gives your special day an extra personal touch. Jersey has so many beautiful outdoor settings that are just perfect for every occasion.

The National Trust For Jersey and Jersey Heritage sites are all brilliant and luckily for Jersey folk, the options are growing too with The Lido at Havre des Pas and companies like Jersey Organic Yurts and Canvas Moon And Stars giving you even more choice when creating your special setting.

Jersey Organic Yurts

Civil celebrancy and ceremonies explained

A bride celebrating their wedding

Welcome to my blog

So what exactly is a civil celebrant? And what is a civil ceremony?
I often get asked this when I tell people what I do.
My blog on explains all – head there to find out more!