by Hazel Jane - Scotland-based Independent Celebrant


Independent Celebrancy | An Introduction


Celebrancy was a slow burning flame for me. For years, I have been enthralled by the idea of love, and how it shapes and the happiest and saddest days of our lives. It always gave me so much pleasure to hear people talk about love; what a joy to watch as big feelings are drawn out, and words are poured straight from the heart. After a while, I knew it was more than a hopeless romantic tendency: it was a calling.

A ceremony, whether a wedding, a baby naming, a funeral or a rite of passage, deserves personal attention. Let’s do away with scripts and words that hold no weight. I believe in that unexplainable feeling in the air that says yes, there is something momentous unfolding here, and we have the power to create that. The role of a celebrant is to hold the space, to welcome everyone in as family, to guide them through the experience and to tell them stories they will never forget.

I initially thought about training to become a Humanist celebrant, particularly as ceremonies conducted by Humanist celebrants are legally binding here in Scotland. But, well, I’m simply not a Humanist. Humanism is a belief system in its own right, with its own rules, parameters and memberships (to have a wedding ceremony conducted by a Humanist, you have to become a member for a year). To follow that path felt disrespectful to my own relationship with my spirituality, and the rich experiences in my life that I attribute to the love and power of the universe.

So, I opted for independent celebrancy. I trained under Terri Shanks with the Fellowship of Professional Celebrants. I met an incredible group of women at this training, whose warmth and love truly radiated outwards. Having trained in Family Celebrancy, I can conduct weddings, baby namings and rites of passage ceremonies. I hope, eventually, to do Funeral Celebrancy training, too.

It can get a little confusing when it comes to the types of celebrants out there. Just so you know, civil celebrants and independent celebrants generally tend to be the same thing. These are the individuals that have no secular ties, so are able to essentially throw the rule book out the window and conduct a ceremony however you like. A Humanist will belong to the Humanist Association or an equivalent organisation and will not be able to include any religious or spiritual material in their ceremonies.

For those getting married and wanting to use an independent celebrant, a registrar is still necessary for it to be legally binding. However, many people don’t know that the legal aspect of a ceremony consists of a few spoken sentences and a signature, and this can be done in about fifteen minutes in the days leading up to the wedding. Everything else (including the vows and even the rings) is purely ceremonial.

I couldn’t be more excited to be pursuing this vocation in Scotland, a place that has for long been the subject of my affections. The history here, the heritage, the culture, the landscapes and the people make it simply inimitable. It is here that I have rooted and nested, and it is here that I intend to follow this journey as far as it will take me.

I would be so pleased to answer any questions you might have.

Love always, in all ways,