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Understanding the Distinction: Independent Civil Celebrants vs. Humanist Celebrants

As an independent celebrant, I’ve often encountered questions about the differences between our role and that of humanist celebrants. While both share the common goal of crafting meaningful ceremonies, there are distinct differences that set us apart. In this blog post, I aim to shed light on these disparities to help individuals make informed choices when selecting a celebrant for their special occasions.

Philosophy and Beliefs:

Humanist celebrants typically adhere to humanist principles, emphasising reason, ethics, and human values without reliance on supernatural beliefs. Their ceremonies often reflect a secular perspective, focusing on celebrating life’s milestones in a non-religious manner. In contrast, independent civil celebrants embrace a broader spectrum of beliefs, accommodating individuals from various religious, spiritual, or secular backgrounds. We tailor our ceremonies to reflect the beliefs and preferences of each client, ensuring inclusivity and personalisation.

Ceremony Structure:

While both celebrants customise ceremonies to suit the needs of their clients, there may be variations in the structure and content. Humanist ceremonies often eschew religious rituals and prayers, emphasising instead personal anecdotes, readings, and reflections that align with humanist values. 

Independent civil celebrants, on the other hand, have the flexibility to incorporate religious or cultural elements if desired by the couple or family. Their ceremonies could be religious, non-religious or even semi religious and the could include or not include blessings, cultural rituals, or spiritual elements, providing a more diverse range of options for clients.

Scotch Independent Celebrant Association:

Being part of a recognised association such as the Scotch Independent Celebrant Association holds significant importance for celebrants. These associations provide a platform for celebrants to connect, learn, and grow within their profession. By being affiliated with such organisations, celebrants gain access to valuable resources, ongoing training, and professional development opportunities. Moreover, membership in reputable associations enhances a celebrant’s credibility and assures clients of their commitment to upholding industry standards and best practices. Additionally, belonging to a recognised association fosters a sense of community among celebrants, enabling them to share knowledge, support one another, and collaborate on projects. Ultimately, being part of a recognised association elevates the professionalism and integrity of celebrants, while also instilling confidence in the clients they serve.

Legal Authority:

In Scotland, both independent civil celebrants and humanist celebrants possess the legal authority to solemnise marriages, provided they belong to a recognised Faith or Belief group ( and are nominated to officiate marriages on behalf of National Records Scotland. This legal recognition provides couples seeking a personalised wedding ceremony in Scotland with an added layer of convenience.

Approach to Celebrating Life:

While humanist celebrants primarily focus on celebrating life’s milestones, independent civil celebrants adopt a more comprehensive approach, officiating various ceremonies beyond weddings. From weddings and vow renewals to funerals and memorials, independent civil celebrants provide a versatile range of services to commemorate life’s transitions. Our goal is to create ceremonies that honour the uniqueness of each individual and celebrate the moments that matter most to them.


In summary, while both independent civil celebrants and humanist celebrants share the common goal of creating meaningful ceremonies, there are distinct differences in philosophy and ceremony structure. 

Understanding these differences can empower individuals to choose the right celebrant for their specific needs and beliefs. Whether seeking a secular, humanist-inspired ceremony or a personalised celebration that incorporates diverse cultural or spiritual elements, independent civil celebrants offer a flexible and inclusive approach to officiating ceremonies.

Warmest regards,