Bespoke humanist wedding ceremonies, custom-made for you, your way
Planning your wedding ceremony or, maybe a renewal of vows? You have come to the right place!
Working with me, I will create a bespoke ceremony, exclusively for you. A joyful, deeply personal, non-religious occasion that will reflect who you truly are as individuals and what you care about most.
An unforgettable celebration that will provide happy memories for you, your family and friends to cherish for years to come.
Image (above) of Craig and Hayley on their fabulous day, kindly supplied by Sarah Fitzgerald Jones Photography
About Humanist Wedding Celebrant Cotswolds
Trained, accredited and fully insured by Humanists UK
I live in the Cotswolds and provide bespoke, hand-crafted, humanist/non-religious ceremonies for weddings, partnerships and renewals of vows in and around the Cotswolds, Gloucestershire and the Southwest. Although, I am also delighted to discuss travelling further afield, even abroad so, do ask.
I am proud to be a fully inclusive celebrant, writing and conducting ceremonies for everyone, including (but not limited to) members of BAME communities, people with disabilities and those who identify as LGBTQ+🌈 #YouDontNeedToAskHere
Interested? I’d love to hear from you!
How we'll work together
You’ve selected your outfits, the venue, the cake and even the flowers. But, have you given enough thought to your ceremony?
It is vital to choose the right celebrant – one that is a good ‘fit’ for you. The person who will design, choreograph and present your ceremony, kicking-off and setting the tone for the rest of your special day.
(Research and contact a few different celebrants before you make your final choice. Whether you want a humanist, an independent or, perhaps, a registrar – make sure you give yourself enough time to consider which is the right one for you).
I love meeting new couples for the first time! We will have an informal, no-obligation chat so that you can decide whether I am the right celebrant for you. We can do this in person, via Skype or FaceTime or, we can have a conversation on the phone.
You Book me
After we have met/spoken, if you decide you would like me to be your celebrant, then I will ask for a deposit (about a third of my fee) and your date will be confirmed in my diary.
Now the fun starts! We will begin with a simple questionnaire for you both to complete, giving me the information I need to start building the structure and content of your ceremony. Next, we will meet to collaborate on the planning. This can be face-to-face (over coffee and cake - naturally!) or, for couples who live too far away (i.e. abroad) we can use video calling, like Skype or FaceTime.
We will discuss everything from who you are as people, your stories, plans, hopes, dreams and aspirations through to practical details such as the location, timing and size of your wedding, what you would like to include and who the main people are who will perform a role on the day.
Taking the information you have shared with me so far, I will get on with developing the first draft of the ceremony, after which you will be able to review it and we can discuss any tweaks and changes that need to be made.
My writing style is pretty straightforward with a dash of humour here and there to reflect the happy nature of the day. My delivery is relaxed, warm and inclusive whilst never neglecting the sincerity and importance of the occasion.
We can review as many times as you want, until we get it perfect - exactly how you want it to be. I will always be available at the end of the phone or via email/WhatsApp/text to discuss and lend ideas and offer support.
Soon before the wedding, we can meet for a rehearsal. This is quick and relaxed, always fun and a sure way to deal with any nerves, ensuring everyone involved has an opportunity to practice before the real thing.
We won’t go through the entire ceremony (we will save that excitement for the day). Instead, we will focus on choreography: practicing the entrance and exit; who needs to sit/stand where; who has responsibility for what and how any symbolic rituals (e.g. hand fasting/tree-planting etc.) you might have chosen will work.
So you can relax on the actual day, feeling confident that everything will run smoothly.
The Big Day happens!
I will arrive early to ensure that everything necessary for your ceremony is properly in place. I will (obviously) conduct the ceremony itself and be with you, guiding you and your guests through the whole process, ensuring an enjoyable, stress-free and memorable experience.
After the ceremony, I will stay for a short time, to make sure you are happy with how it has all gone and to meet your family and friends. I may even be persuaded to share a glass of something with you before I leave!
Kind messages from happy clients
"Thank you so, so much for Saturday. We absolutely LOVED it! The ceremony was just such an amazing, intimate, personal and special way to formalise our commitment to each other. We absolutely loved working together on the script with you. Everyone was commenting on how brilliantly you did it and how personal it felt compared to other styles of wedding they’d attended. It just felt so ‘us’, in line with our values and beliefs. It also set the tone so well for the day! And what a joy to be able to do it outside. I will forever be recommending Humanists ceremonies - and of course yourself, should friends be getting married in the area!"
"Dear Johnny. We could not have been more thrilled to have the chance to meet you. Thank you for your warmth, kindness and for understanding us and our ways so well, as well as articulating all of that so perfectly and effortlessly.
We could not be happier or more grateful for having met you, truly. Your ceremony was definitely the highlight of the wedding, for us but also for many of the guests who remarked on it."
“Johnny was an exceptionally valuable asset both in the run up to our wedding, and on the day itself. We loved the fact that he was entirely willing to sculpt a ceremony around us, our preferences and our message. There was a genuine spirit of collaboration in evidence from start to finish, with zero preaching!
Perhaps most appreciated was a calm voice and copious reassurance during occasionally fraught moments. He was also great with our friends and family, and very organised. Communication was frequent and generous. Thank you so much for everything!”
“We would like to thank you for all your work on the script and the ceremony as a whole, as we both feel it was a really lovely ceremony that helped bring a focal point to the day. We have heard a lot of nice comments from friends and family about it as well, who said the ceremony was a really personal and meaningful occasion.”
“Johnny, thank you so much for our perfect wedding – it was absolutely how we wanted it, personal, beautiful, relaxed and fun! People keep telling us how much they loved it. And thank you for all your help, ideas and support – you really did a great job!”
“To Johnny. Thank you so much for a wonderful wedding ceremony! We hope you successfully avoided all the sheep poo on the day!” (Explanatory note from celebrant: we were sharing a field with a bunch of wooly animals).
“Johnny. thank you so much for being there on our day. You really did an amazing job and we are so grateful for you being there. You made it really personal. Thank you.”
Images (below) kindly supplied by Teme Valley Photography, Guy Collier Photography, Sarah Fitzgerald Jones Photography, Darren Gerrish Photography, Dan Morris Photography
Fees & FAQs
I know there is plenty of information you need before making the decision to go ahead with your ceremony so, here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions…
How much do you charge?
My current fee for a wedding/partnership ceremony is £650. (This includes travel up to an hour's drive from my home in Tetbury).
I ask for a non-refundable deposit of £200 on appointment to secure the booking, with the balance being payable 30 days before the ceremony or on completion of the ceremony script (whichever happens first).
I would be delighted to discuss working further afield, including overseas, for expenses at cost. If I am staying away from home for longer than a day, there will be an additional fee and I can provide an estimate for you before you agree to engage me.
What is a 'Humanist'?
Non-Religious people have existed as long as people have, and the term ‘humanism’ has been used since the 18th century.
Humanists have no belief in any gods, deities or the supernatural, relying instead on scientific evidence and appreciation of the world around them to inform, guide and frame their own moral outlook. They believe this is the one life they have and they want to lead it ethically, without reference to religious scripture or worrying about stuff like heaven and hell, punishment or reward.
Humanists value diversity. They pay high regard to equality and the relationships they have with other people – in part by marking key life events such as birth, marriage, and death through ceremony, ritual and celebration. In the UK, the number of Humanist marriages is increasing rapidly every year.
Will we be legally married after a humanist wedding?
Humanist marriages are legally recognised in Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Jersey, but not currently in England, Wales, Guernsey or the Isle of Man.
Humanists UK continue to campaign for change to the law but, in the meantime, many couples do the paperwork/legal formalities at the register office at another time to their humanist one although, they consider their humanist ceremony to be their ‘real’ wedding, when all their friends and family gather to celebrate and support them as they promise to spend the rest of their lives together.
And there really are some advantages to lack of legal status. For example, there is no restriction about what can or cannot be included or, on where you can or cannot marry (i.e. you don’t have to be on licenced premises). It makes the whole occasion much more flexible and so much more personal.
(N. B. most local registry offices will charge you around £50 for the statutory brief formalities. You should contact your local registry office for advice).
Do we have to call ourselves ‘humanists’ to have a humanist ceremony?
Not at all! Many non-religious people share an outlook or view of the world that is the same as humanism without even realising it.
As long as you share humanist values and ethics (see above) and, as long as you want a ceremony that offers you a non-religious (secular), personal, and meaningful way to celebrate your marriage, then I can provide this for you, whether you define yourself as ‘humanist’ or not.
Why not try the Humanist UK Quiz and find out just how humanist you really are!
Can we have religious prayers and/or hymns?
Humanists have no belief in any gods, deities or the supernatural, relying instead on scientific evidence and appreciation of the world around them. Religious worship, therefore, does not play a part in a humanist marriage ceremony.
But we are all different and, while the couple getting married may be non-religious, family and friends of any belief, faith or background are always most welcome to attend your ceremony.
Sometimes, a short period of silent reflection may be appropriate to include, where each guest can consider their wishes for the couple being married and where those who do have religious beliefs can say a silent prayer.
Will you marry same sex/trans couples?
Nobody should feel they have to ask! When any two people love each other and wish to make a public commitment to one another, I’m more than happy to be involved.
Humanists are committed to social equality. In fact, Humanists UK has been instrumental in campaigning for the rights of people to get married regardless of gender identification or sexuality and I am a proud listed supplier and founding member of LGBTQ+Equality Weddings, supporting their #youdontneedtoaskhere campaign 🌈
What does a typical humanist ceremony look like?
There is no ‘typical’ ceremony: you can do (pretty much) whatever you want, wherever and whenever you want!
Humanist weddings are all about celebrating the two of you: your love and making your commitment to each other in the company of those people who are most important to you. This is done with personally-chosen words, readings, symbolic rituals and music in a place, and at a time, of your choosing.
Your ceremony might be small and intimate or, it could be part of a grand event with lots of guests. It can be as formal or informal as you wish. It is about you as a couple so, the most important thing is that it reflects who you truly are and what you both hold to be most important.
The length of the ceremony will depend on the amount of content you choose to include. The more readings, poetry, music and other elements you include will increase the duration although, it typically lasts about 25-40 minutes. (Longer than 40 minutes and your guests might get 'twitchy').
Who can be involved in our wedding?
Anyone you like!
Friends, family, children, pets - we can find ways to involve them all. It’s your day so you choose whoever and whatever you want.
Can we write our own vows?
I love it when people write their own promises to each other and I can help you with ideas. You can write them together and share them before the ceremony or, keep them as a surprise for the big day. It is completely up to you. Equally, I can supply you with samples of vows/promises if you would prefer.
Will you help us with ideas for music and readings?
I would love to!
I will discuss ideas with you and advise you on the choreography, content and timing of your ceremony. I have access to a wide selection of poetry, readings and music ideas that I will be delighted to share with you as part of our planning together.
Can we have special symbolic actions like exchanging rings, hand fasting or sand blending?
All of these things and many other traditional rituals can be incorporated into your ceremony. It is all about what is special to you and what you both want.
What is a ‘vow renewal’?
A renewal of vows, is an opportunity to create a ceremony to celebrate all you have shared together so far in your relationship; to reaffirm your commitment to one another, and to prepare the way towards your next milestone anniversary.
It could be after your first year together or, maybe, after 10, 25 or 50 years. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ time – it is an opportunity to mark a point in time in your relationship that is special to you.
As with a wedding ceremony, you can hold it wherever you want (possibly where you originally married or, anywhere that has sentimental meaning for you). You can include whomever you like – your children (if you have them), family and friends, pets and, maybe, the people who originally supported you at your wedding. It is also an opportunity to be creative with music, readings and rituals that truly reflect your journey together as a couple.
I would be delighted to talk to you about developing your perfect vow renewal ceremony.
Where can we get married?
Can we have our ceremony on a beach?
You can hold your humanist ceremony pretty much anywhere. You can definitely get married on a beach or, you may like to use a place special to you, like where you first met. Gardens, meadows and woodlands are popular. Or, you might prefer a favourite hotel or restaurant, an historic site like a castle or, perhaps, your own or a friend’s home. As long as it is safe and you have permission (if needed) then you can hold your ceremony almost wherever you like!
What if something goes wrong and you can’t make it on the day?
It hasn’t happened yet!
Rest assured, however, as a Humanists UK accredited wedding celebrant, I come with full public liability and professional indemnity insurance. I am also part of a large network of humanist wedding celebrants so, in the unlikely event that anything should happen to me to stop me delivering your ceremony, a highly-trained and experienced colleague will step in and deliver your script at no extra cost to you.
We live abroad but want our wedding in the UK. Can you still do a ceremony for us?
I have worked with plenty of couples living and/or working abroad who want their wedding ceremony in the UK, surrounded by friends and family. We can develop your perfect ceremony communicating via Skype or FaceTime, backed-up by email and phone.
We got / are getting married abroad and want another ceremony for friends and family here, in the UK. Can you do this?
Yes, I’d be happy to create such an occasion for you.
We can make your humanist ceremony a wedding in itself or think of it as a celebration of your marriage – whatever suits you best. That said, in practice most couples in such circumstances choose to make promises to each other and (re)exchange rings.
We want to get married abroad. Will you come with us?
I would be delighted to conduct your ceremony overseas – I love to travel!
Get in touch and we can discuss your plans.
Do you still have questions? Call me today, I'd be delighted to help!