To me, humanism means living my life with kindness, equality, compassion and respect for other people and the planet that we share.
I was born and raised in Edinburgh and live with my husband Lloyd, our two boys Harris and Lachlan, and our Border Collie Bonnie. Before i became a Celebrant in 2015, i worked in various roles, including hospitality and management and as a private carer and for six years i ran a small agency in the heart of Edinburgh. Being a Celebrant with Humanist Society Scotland is such a fulfilling role, and i feel lucky to be doing something that i love so much.
As well as working as a Humanist Celebrant i work i am trained as a Hatha yoga teacher. I love people, travelling, music, walking, nature, learning and laughing.
My first experience of a humanist ceremony was at my uncle Douglas’s memorial ceremony in 2010. I was struck by how wonderfully the ceremony captured him and I was moved by the music, poetry and readings from friends and family.
It was then that I decided to begin my journey towards training to become a Humanist Celebrant and I have not looked back since. It has been a heart-stirring journey that has taught me a great deal along the way and continues to teach me every day.
If you would like to find out more about my ceremonies, please contact me on my mobile number or e-mail address below.
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Wedding & Civil Partnership Ceremonies
It is such a joy and privilege for me to help couples create a wedding ceremony that is a genuine, unique and personal expression of their love for each other. I hugely enjoy my role as a Humanist Celebrant, and I love working with couples to create an authentic, heartfelt and inclusive ceremony that it just right for them.
Whether you are thinking of marrying on a farm or in a castle, on a beach or in a function room, on top of a mountain or in a forest, in a hotel or in your home, I will guide you through the process.
Maybe you would like to have an informal and relaxed ceremony, or something more traditional, or a bit of both, or something unconventional. Maybe you would like something that reflects your sense of fun, your love of nature or your sense of adventure? My role is to bring this to life for you in your ceremony.
If it’s important for you to include your family and friends in your ceremony or to include music, poetry or readings or symbolic gesture's such as handfasting to reflect your love and unity, I will offer you lots of ideas to find the perfect way for you to do this.
You might want to write your own personal wedding vows, or, pick and choose from the selection that I will send you, or you might not feel comfortable reading in front of everyone; there are lots of options and we will find the right ones for you.
I will ask you to do some homework, some of which is sharing your journey with me. I will write and then tell your story in an authentic way, and your guests will share in the magic and joy of that journey with you on your wedding day.
If you need advice on the legal side of things, I will help with that too, and I will prompt you at every important milestone.
I will make sure that everything runs smoothly on your wedding day, and I will be there early for any last-minute jobs that need done.
You will decide on every aspect of your ceremony and I will provide the advice and building blocks to help you along the way.
From our first meeting, where we will talk through your plans and wishes for your wedding, I will carefully listen and then help you to design your ceremony by sending over my wedding guide to begin the process. I will then be there every step of the way to help and will be available for calls and emails whenever you need them.
Once the first draft of your ceremony is written, it will go back and forth between us until you are completely happy with it. We will then meet again or video call before your wedding and go over everything together. On the day of your wedding, I will make sure that everything runs smoothly, and I will be there early to help with any last minute jobs.
it will be my great pleasure to deliver your ceremony in a warm, genuine, professional and personal way.
"We love Annalese!
We had the luck and pleasure to be introduced to Annalese to be our humanist for our wedding in Summer this year. From our first discussions and meeting to our ceremony itself we knew we were in safe hands. Annalese provided guidance on the legal process and more importantly shared her vast experience so that we could together develop our own personalized and fitting ceremony.
With Annalese on board we had one less thing to worry about and could concentrate on the other plans for the day knowing that we would be notified when certain milestones needed to be completed and that the ceremony itself would run smoothly.
We were particularly drawn to Annalese for her friendly and caring nature and her extremely calming influence (once you meet her you will understand!). She also speaks clearly and articulately which was important given that half the wedding party were foreigners with a range of English competency.
Our ceremony was simply perfect – there were stories, laughter, tears (of joy of course!), raucous (our Aunties were flower girls) and even a bit of dancing and Annalese steered us and our nearest and dearest through these effortlessly. We really can’t recommend her enough.
Thanks again for everything you did for us Annalese."
Daniel and Stuart
"We wanted to send a note to say thank you so much for being part of our wedding day at the Glasshouse on Thursday 20th June
With us having a small and intimate ceremony it was really important that we found the right person to conduct it and we are so glad that we found you and that you were happy to be there. You made it so personal to us and delivered it with such warmth and compassion, we couldn't have told our story any better ourselves
It is a very nervous and emotional day but having you there made it feel easier, having met with you and seeing how kind and generous you were helped us know we were in safe hands. You put our family at ease, helping them all play their part, and we couldn't have imagined it to go any better. Even the weather seemed to agree, the wind only interrupted you briefly..."
Alan and Gemma
When we remember the day you will be a big part of those memories and for that we are very grateful
“Annalese was so warm and organised. She really took the time to get to know us and was incredibly flexible with arranging calls and such around our busy work schedule and the fact we live in America, so accommodating with the time difference too.
She was very thorough and gave us the direction we needed but also incredibly open to our ideas and suggestions.
Would recommend Annalese to my friends and family, she will help make your special day even more special”
Nikki and Damian
"Annalese, thank you for being our wonderful celebrant. Even on a beach, in the rain you brought elegance and charm to the ceremony. For those who are thinking of having Annalese at your wedding, PLEASE DO!!! She helped us create such a personal ceremony, exactly the way we wanted it. She was excellent. I felt very safe she was driving the ship, she was calm, smiling, and controlled the ceremony in a very understated way, whilst being one of the gang. If she hadn't been the celebrant we would have wanted to invite her just to be there with us. Plus she didn't bat an eyelid after the ceremony when I went swimming in my boxers and hadn't remembered to sign the marriage papers! "
Matt Brownlie and Laura Wilson
"Thank you so much for delivering THE most amazing ceremony. We really can't thank you enough, every one of our guests complimented not only the ceremony but your delivery too. We couldn't have asked for a better day and don't think we have stopped smiling yet"
Sam Sills and Lesley Ingram
"When Annalese walked through our door , sat down and calmly talked to us, she put us at ease immediately, listening to our stories and aspirations, leading us on a journey that led to our ‘perfect day’. Annalese first of all has the gift of creating a supportive environment where we were able to share our journey and shape the day to what suited our personalities and wishes.
On the day Annalese’s calmness and organisation were invaluable in the ceremony. Everything worked exactly as we hoped and the guests were overcome with compliments for the quality and structure of the ceremony and were extremely impressed with Annalese’s natural and professional style , blending sincerity and humour into a wonderful ceremony.
It’s difficult to put into words how important it was to have a ceremony so meaningful and how perfectly this was delivered , we will always be grateful to Annalese for creating a special connection with us that enabled this memorable day to be so successful and enjoyable." Alan and Amanda Watt
"Annalese's demeanour is one of positivity, earnestness and cheerfulness through and through; with her presence in the room being one that is understated yet valuable." Sarah Miller
"I do not have enough words to say how much we loved our ceremony. Annalese is a beautiful person inside out, she radiates delightfulness and positivity and she creates a magical atmosphere, simply beautiful. The ceremony was short and sweet just like we asked for, she made people cry, then laugh, then cry again. We could not have chosen someone better to marry us! We are both very grateful to Annalese for our gorgeous ceremony" Alexandra and Intars Bergmanis
"Annalese thank you for the lovely relaxed wedding ceremony you did for us! We were keen not to be too formal involving our kids, friends and leave space for laughter. You encouraged us and helped us to make a ceremony that worked for us. While we were nervous about our vows you gave us space to craft words but just enough feedback to steer us away from being too wordy. You accepted even last minute changes remaining calm- you even managed the handfasting knot despite input from a three year old- well done!" Laura Armstrong
"We had the pleasure of Annalese conducting our wedding ceremony and she was brilliant. We were let down by our humanist and annalese stepped in a couple of weeks before our big day and she really was amazing. She made the ceremony very personal and added a little humour which we loved. She made us feel calm and at ease and made sure we knew what we were meant to be doing. We really couldn’t recommend her enough" Siobhan and Raymond and Robson
"Annalese was brilliant as our celebrant - guiding us gently along the way with a real personal touch. We're both absolutely delighted with the way everything turned out!! As someone else has said, she brought a real touch of magic and smoothed us out when we needed it (often), and really reminded us about what we were doing and why and made it all so much fun in the process. Great stuff."
"Annalese was a wonderful celebrant for our wedding in November. She created a friendly, relaxed and welcoming environment for us and our guests, while still making it a poignant occasion for us all to celebrate. She made the whole process very easy and collaborative, making it a very personal event. We've had many comments from guests about how enjoyable the ceremony was. We highly recommend her!"
Gemma and John Harrison
"Annalese was our celebrant at our wedding last month, and we could not have been more happy with every aspect of her ceremony! She is incredibly warm and kind, and she made us feel relaxed throughout the whole nerve-wracking process of preparing for a wedding. We are both so happy we had her conduct the ceremony, and would completely recommend anyone else looking for a celebrant for anything to contact her."
Emily and Allan Rae
Naming & Welcoming Ceremonies
To me, there is nothing more wonderful than celebrating life and helping you create a unique and personal ceremony for your loved one. Every naming ceremony is different and is centred around each family’s individual needs. Naming ceremonies are a fun and joyful occasion to celebrate with family and friends and an opportunity to mark this momentous occasion in your life.
Your ceremony will give you the opportunity to express your love and commitment to your baby, older child, or adopted child, or it may be that you would like a ceremony to name both of your children together or to celebrate your own change of name. A naming ceremony can be a lovely way to welcome an adopted child of any age into the family and can be an important step in acknowledging the importance of their place within the family.
Many naming ceremonies are held to coincide with their childs first birthday, which is a lovely way to celebrate both occasions. Like all humanist ceremonies, each naming ceremony is unique and is composed especially for the family. If a couple who are getting married already have children, it is often possible to incorporate a naming ceremony into the wedding ceremony and have a double celebration.
Friends or relatives can be asked to act as guide-parents; showing how much that person means to you and how important their role will be in your childs life. Grandparents, children and other family members can also be encouraged to take part in the ceremony by reading poetry, personal readings or joining together to sing or play music. Anything goes and i am always up for trying something new.
If you decide that you would like me to conduct a naming ceremony for you i would ask to meet you in advance to discuss the format and content of the ceremony and help to advise you on any readings, poetry and music if need be. We would discuss your family history, the pregnancy and the journey that you have been on as partners and parents to be.
At the heart of the ceremony will be the promises made to your child as parents and if you wish, by the guide-parents. Symbolic gestures can also be included, such as lighting candles, planting a tree or shrub, cutting a cake, taking a handprint or giving presents. You may also wish to sign a certificate as a memento of the occasion. The ceremony can take place in a venue of your choosing
After discussing all the above, i would then go home and write the ceremony and e-mail to you for your approval. I will be there throughout the planning of the ceremony to help should you need it and on the day of the ceremony I will be there early to help you set up and to meet family members in advance.
After the ceremony i will give you a copy of the ceremony and certificate as a keepsake for you and your family.
"We couldn't recommended Annalese highly enough, she was totally accommodating and supportive of all our choices and requests. On the run up to the naming ceremony she stayed in close contact with us to ensure we were happy with everything.
On the day she held things together during the set up and delivered the service in an absolutely lovely manner.
We have already passed her details on to two people and know we will pass to more. Everyone was so impressed by how well put together and personal the service was.
Annalese made Emily's day extra special and for that we will always remember her fondly."
"Annalese was fantastic at my sons naming ceremony. She took the time to get to know us and delivered an extremely personalised ceremony where all our ideas were taken into consideration. She is so calming and kind it just made my sons naming day all the better. Thank you so much Annalese!!"
Being able to help a family to create the ceremony that is right for their loved one is a true honour and a big responsibility. Conducting humanist funeral ceremonies is the most fulfilling and interesting work that i do and i see humanist ceremonies as an opportunity to celebrate the life that has been lived in a meaningful, respectful and dignified way.
I respect the fact that there may be people present at a humanist funeral who have a religious faith and I always include a period of silent reflection which they may choose to use for silent prayer.
If you decide that you would like me to conduct a funeral ceremony for you, the next step would be for me to come and meet with you and your family either at your home or at a place of your choice. At this first meeting we would talk through the ceremony together and gather the story of your loved one’s life, weaving it together to make up the main part of the ceremony. I like to get real sense of who your loved one was – what were they like? what did they love? who did they love? and what made them laugh? as well as the facts and dates of their life. If possible I like to include stories from family and friends and memories of times gone by.
If you wish to include poetry in your ceremony I have a poetry collection that I will bring along to the meeting, or you may have already chosen something yourselves. Music is an important part of the ceremony, so we will talk through any choices that you might have and I also have a library of music if you need any suggestions.
After our meeting, I will go home and write up the first draft of the ceremony and within three or four days I will send it to you by e-mail. I will ask you to read over the ceremony and make any changes that you wish and most importantly make sure that you are happy with the ceremony before the funeral.
On the day of the funeral I will conduct your ceremony with kindness and respect for your family and your loved one. I will be the last one to leave after the funeral and I will give you a printed copy of the ceremony for you take home with you to to have as a keepsake from the funeral.
Many people give thought to their funeral, including the type of ceremony they would like and how they would like their life to be celebrated. If you have been thinking about your own funeral, and want to explore options or record your wishes, you may find the HSS Funeral Wishes form helpful.
I would be more than happy to meet with you to discuss your thoughts and wishes.
"I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart, you did an amazing reading of my Mum & her life.
Many people commented on how you presented the ceremony, clearly spoken & with shared eye contact across the room.
Most of all everyone knew it was Mum's life & her kind nature.
It's a very impressive talent you have for listening & getting the best out of what you heard when we met in person and to then put that into a eulogy"
Pauline & Family
"Our devastating loss of our eldest teenage daughter Stella brought us to a unique crossing of paths and family / friend recommendation to approach Annalese McDermott.
With little time to prepare, Annalese initially met us, privately at home and from this first meeting, her sensitive and professional skills, listening and gathering of our daughters shortened life story and experiences, gave us instant assurance that we had the right person to advocate for us and Stella.
This was reflected in our farewell service and we can not thanks Annalese enough; her calmness in front of a very large gathering came from her inner maturity. It is with the highest regard that i would have confidence in sharing her skills to families who are looking for support via a humanist."
"We took great comfort from the service that you put together, which was exactly what we had hoped it would be"
"I can not thank you enough for what you did for my mum. The service was amazing. "
"Annalese made the ceremony feel special and made everyone in the room feel that they could relax. I feel that she really got to know my dad's life story without actually having met him and she really took her time in getting to know his story which was really lovely to share. "
"It was a genuine pleasure to work with Annalese, her manner was warm, professional, knowledgeable and insightful. In her practice in delivering mums story, she did so with care passion and decorum. As a family Annalese had our best interests at heart and we wouldn't hesitate to recommend her."