My Three Years as a Humanist Celebrant

Photo of wedding on ski slope

By Halde Pottinger, HSS Registered Celebrant. Originally published in Spring 2017 Humanitie magazine

Les Coches, France. December 2008. Skis. Genepi. Pink Floyd music videos and a Scottish-loving Parisian barman named Phillipe. This was the setting when I met my now wife, and, unknown to me at the time, my first step along the road to becoming a Humanist Celebrant.

I was already a Humanist at this time, my wife-to-be was living her life as such, so it was a very quick and easy decision to symbolize our love through a Humanist wedding. And then it hit me, the whole being a Celebrant thing looks bloody cool!

Photo of HSS Celebrant

Halde Pottinger, HSS Registered Celerant

I am now into my third year as a registered HSS Celebrant, and the craic has been phenomenal! I was always one of those guys who never really knew what they wanted to be, but now I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

I have married couples in front of hundreds and in front of two. I have married couples in the most beautiful venues around the country.

I have even done a world first by conducting a wedding on a mountaintop where both couple AND “officiant” were wearing skis.

I have welcomed children into the world in front of families and friends. Released balloons and lit fires, ate cake and even stroked reptiles (seriously, one naming had a petting zoo for the kids after).

Some of my best celebrant moments have been helping a family dealing with tragedy to smile and laugh. I have met some amazing people, been challenged, travelled, and learnt so much about different cultures.

I love talking about humanism, telling people about it, seeing their faces change when they realize we are part of a global movement, dedicated to promoting ethics, rationality, and free thought.

I take massive pride in everything I do as a humanist celebrant. I love getting that phone call from a couple or a family, and each ceremony I do I always learn and develop. If I could offer some advice to anyone about to embark on this journey, it is this: Remember that being a celebrant is huge responsibility. You are the introduction to life and the final stand at a funeral. You are the creator of dreams and the stunt peacekeeper. You are the kind ear and the hippy weirdo, the soothing voice and the conflict resolver, the person many will now see as a friend. Being a Humanist Celebrant is more than a job, it is a way of life.

Photo of Wedding Ceremony: Hamish Frost Photography

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