What are the main differences between registrars, humanists and independent civil celebrants?
Good question! It can be confusing, not helped by current U.K. law. Although there are similarities, a celebrant offers the most flexibility and choice.
Independent celebrants - Unlike humanists and registrars, independent celebrants are happy to include any religious or spiritual elements, including prayers, in their ceremonies. As ceremonies are not (yet!) legally binding, we are able to conduct ceremonies practically anywhere, inside or outside. We offer a highly personalised service focusing on the needs, beliefs and values of the client. Our own religious beliefs are irrelevant. Independent civil celebrants, like myself, are self-employed and not tied to any organisation or company.
Humanists – Broadly speaking, humanist celebrants conduct ceremonies in accordance with the Humanist belief system. Ceremonies are personal and meaningful, although religious elements (when permitted at all) are usually very limited. In Scotland and Northern Ireland, the law recognises humanist marriages but this is not presently the case in England and Wales.
Registrars - Government employees who, in addition to recording births, deaths and marriages, complete the legal formalities of marriage at a registry office or approved premise. Registrars offer limited choice around time-slots and content, including wording and vows. Also, you may not meet the registrar who will be conducting your ceremony until the day itself. Please check council websites for further details of registrar services in your area.