Hi - thanks for checking out my profile and I look forward to working with you. Helping to create, craft and deliver unique and personal ceremonies is a joy and it is such a privilege and a gift to be able to assist and guide you and your family through the whole process.
I live in Newburgh, Fife and so ceremonies anywhere in Fife, Tayside, Angus, Kinross and Edinburgh are close - although I am often asked to venture further afield.
Over the years I have travelled extensively and have had a varied career in the law, in theatre, in sociology, in travel and in the environmental movement. I have been a Celebrant since 2009 and Celebrant work is undoubtedly among the most enjoyable and rewarding work I have ever done. In 2015 I became President of the European Humanist Professionals based in Antwerp.
My wife, Tricia, and I have been happily married for decades! (40 years and counting!) … and we have 2 fab grown-up sons....I conducted my elder sons's wedding in September 2017... such fun. My passions and hobbies include music, renovating old houses, organic gardening, walking, travelling, cooking (and eating!) environmental studies, writing and reading.
What humanism means to me ...
For me, humanism is integral to who I am and my place in the wider world/cosmos and is a positive approach to making sense of day to day living and about trying to live a congruent and ethical life. Respecting the environment and my fellow human travellers regardless of who they are or what they believe is an important part of my humanism. For me humanism is about what helps bring us together, what we share and what we hope for – it is not about walls and flags and tribalism and divisions. As a Humanist Celebrant it is a real gift and a privilege to be in a position to help and guide so many people through some of the most challenging/exciting/ daunting/uplifting events of their lives ; see some testimonials below…
Check My Availability
Busy Limited Available
Wedding & Civil Partnership Ceremonies
I love being part of what is one of the most joyful and important days in a person’s life…and it is such fun. I like the adventure of meeting and spending time with couples well in advance of the wedding and helping them plan their own unique ceremony. We usually meet face to face but for people who live far afield we often have our first meeting on Skype.
I have been fortunate to have seen weddings from so many angles that I have become a sort of "wedding planner"! This experience allow me to guide couples on all of the positives and the politics and the pitfalls. I encourage couples to be fully involved in shaping and crafting the ceremony and, ideally, to write part of the story themselves. Having said that I find most couples are looking for templates and suggestions so after I have met with a couple I usually prepare a draft script which we then evolve and improve together by email. I am also strong on reminders and deadlines…on the day, don’t forget the Marriage Schedule!
People fascinate me and hearing the tales and stories of two people who are in love and fully committed to each other is always life affirming. I relish the challenge of turning those tales and stories into a fluent, personal, ceremony which expresses all the couple want to say on their wedding day… and I love a good laugh – I defy anyone not to have a good laugh (and often a wee weep) at a wedding. And together… we will produce and perform the most memorable wedding ceremony. As one of the guests at a recent wedding said to me “You turned it from being a ceremony into an experience”…
My initial advice to you ...
If it all seems a bit scary and your minds are a blank at this stage – don’t worry… when we meet we will go through everything in fine detail and together we can explore a host of various ways to craft the very best ceremony possible…and with phone calls and emails keeping us in touch we’ll all have a great time.
In my role as a Celebrant I have had more cards and emails of thanks than in all of my other careers put together!!...here are a selection of some recent ones –
We just wanted to say thanks very much for such a personal and beautifully executed ceremony last weekend. We can’t thank you enough for delivering it so well and in a way which was personal to us.
To say the task of ‘writing’ our own ceremony was daunting at first is an understatement. But you were absolutely fantastic from start to finish and made us feel so welcome and relaxed each time we were in your home (which is beautiful by the way).
The day itself could not have gone any smoother and we had simply the greatest day of both of our lives so far. You played a massive part in helping us to achieve that so thank you so very much for doing so.
As non religious people, humanism was our only option but we were still uncertain at first as to how it all worked, even after being at a humanist wedding last year. But you were simply amazing from the moment we first met with you and helped us to deliver and achieve exactly what we set out to in the beginning.
We will defiantly be recommending yourself to any family and/or friends who are considering having a humanist wedding in the future. Thanks again and I hope our paths cross again someday. All the best,
Scott & Amy” September 2019
I just wanted to say a massive thank you for giving us a fantastic service at our wedding. Everyone was so impressed and loved it, especially us! Thank you much for travelling all the way to Fyvie too! We really enjoyed our day, it was over in a flash. As you know we are not overly lovey dovey people but you made us feel so relaxed.
Jenni and Scott” August 2019
“Good Afternoon Neil,
Chris & I just wanted to say a huge thank you to you for being our celebrant for our wedding! We have received so many compliments and comments on the ceremony and your delivery - everyone absolutely loved it! The personal theme of the script and vows really resonated with the guests! We loved it too; I felt so relaxed and calm throughout the whole ceremony! So thank you once again - it was an absolute pleasure to have you as part of our day. I've attached a couple of photos of the ceremony that the photographer sent through! All the best,
Chris & Frances” June 2019
Thank you for conducting our wedding ceremony on 15 June. The ceremony was everything and more than we could have imagined and we are so grateful that you were able to make and be part of our wedding day. You gave us one of the best gifts we could have asked for by announcing us as Mr and Mrs!
Fiona and Steven” June 2019
Thank you for conducting such a fantastic wedding ceremony for us. We loved our wedding and all of the personal touches that were included in the ceremony – thank you for all your help and inspiration. You made the whole process very easy and enjoyable. I have lost count of the number of people who said our ceremony was the most enjoyable, relaxed and personal one they had ever been to. Hopefully our paths will cross again in the future at someone else’s wedding. All the best
H and M” May 2019
Hope you are well. We are just getting round to emailing everyone now to say Thank you so much for conducting our wedding ceremony. You were absolutely perfect for the occasion and really got us! We have had so many lovely comments from our guests about how much they enjoyed the ceremony and the way you conducted it. (my Granny was asking if you also did funerals!!). Thank you also for keeping us right with all the forms. We are so glad that we chose you as our celebrant and thank you for contributing to our unforgettable day. All our best wishes
E & M” May 2019
“To Neil – We hope you are well! Thank you for ensuring that our ceremony was such a big success – it was entirely down to your guidance beforehand and steady hand on the day. Many people have, without prompt, said it was one of the best ceremonies they’d been to! With our warmest wishes
D and A” April 2019
Thank you again for leading our ceremony, you did a fantastic job and we are still reliving all the happy moments – the tears, the laughs, the sunlight coming in, everyone looking so happy.
I keep remembering how it felt when I walked into the Granary, I could really feel the joy! And it just got better and better! And I knew I could just relax because you had everything under control. Many of our guests commented on your delivery and sense of humour, we are so grateful to have met you.
Your advice and guidance and support, your patience and kindness and enthusiasm, in creating the script was incredible. We are both so grateful for having created something so special together. Thank you again,
J and A” March 2019
Thank you so much for being our celebrant. The ceremony was perfect and we did indeed have our guests both laughing and crying. In particular, our Irish friends and family said it was the most personally meaningful marriage service they’d ever experienced. Thank you for your support and guidance through the whole wedding planning process. With very best wishes
F and D”
“Good evening Neil,
Now that we're just about settled back into reality we just wanted to take the chance to get in touch and say thanks for all your help and work over the last 18 months and particularly on the day itself.
Between issues with the speakers, the microphones and E. managing to forget the marriage schedule (!) we threw just about every obstacle at you but you were great at keeping Ewan calm and keeping everything on track.
The ceremony itself was absolutely fantastic and we loved every minute of it. Having had our practice run in your front room and all the emails in between, we knew what to expect and there were no nerves. The ceremony is the part of our wedding day which we've had most compliments about over the last couple of weeks, it was such a big hit with family, friends and everyone else.
We really can't thank you enough for playing such a key part in our day.
Thanks again and take care. E. and B.”
“Just wanted to say a huge ‘Thank you’ for all your help and support at our wedding. The ceremony was perfect!. It was so nice we managed to keep everything local too – we greatly appreciated your flexibility – and calmness!! Best wishes, J. and J.” .
I never got the chance to thank you on Saturday. As the proud parents of the groom both V. and I thought your ceremony was absolutely perfect. It summed up Jess and Craig so well and was delivered in such a lovely way. Thank you also for putting us and all the participants at such ease before speaking. We received no end of compliments on what a perfect ceremony it was, and it just set the whole day up so well to be the triumphant success it was. Thank you. Kind Regards. G and V”.
Just a quick email from the new Mr. and Mrs. S to say thank you again (so, so much!) for helping to shape (and deliver with aplomb!) such a wonderfully unique and intimate wedding ceremony! Everyone present thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience - the words "amazing" and "emotional" were in common parlance! 🙂 The ceremony really did set the tone for the type of weekend we we're aiming for. It was everything we hoped for and more! The marriage schedule is back with the registrar, the wedding cards are on the sideboard and the cat is blissfully uninterested in his basket!
Thank you! Warmest regards and best wishes, M and H”.
“Neil – We just want to say a huge thank you for all your help! From our initial meeting to the final ceremony, we couldn’t have asked for more. We had SO many compliments on the ceremony from our guests, who loved the relaxed and personal style that you gave it! Thank you so much for all your knowledge, advice and support throughout the process and for keeping us calm on the day. Love Hugh and Rachel”
To Neil – Just a wee note to say a HUGE thank you for giving us the most perfect ceremony! I think almost all of the guests said it was the best ceremony they have ever been at. There were so many laughs, all the way through, along with tears and lots of love. It really was the most amazing start to the best day. We have watched it over and over on the video and I’m sure we will continue to for years to come. Thanks again for everything. Sarah and Bill xx”
“Neil – We wanted to send you a heartfelt thank you for making our ceremony so amazing and personal. It was relaxed just as we wanted and with laughs thrown in, it was just perfect. We received so many compliments as some guests hadn’t been to a wedding like it and loved how personal it was to us. From our first point of contact you were friendly, helpful and provided much guidance to help us have the ceremony we hoped for and will remember fondly. Again, many thanks. Mr and Mrs J.!” .
Just want to say thank you for Saturday. The ceremony was amazing. There were loads of compliments and everyone was really impressed with you and how you conducted the ceremony. Thank you again. Shona”
Hope you are well, and still keeping busy with all the weddings! We are back in Shanghai now and back to normality again. The wedding seems like such a long time ago, but we do have so many fantastic memories from the day! Just wanted to say, a massive thank you for making our special day unbelievable! We loved every moment of the day, wish it could've gone slower LOL. We are both so pleased with the preparation and organisation from your side, especially doing it all from Shanghai/Scotland, we couldn't have asked for anything more. All of our family and guests had a fabulous time during the ceremony, you made it serious, yet light hearted and kept everything flowing so smoothly! You have a special talent for this, thanks for all your energy, passion and calmness, we were certainly freaking out inside, when the big moment was happening LOL. Hope to see you again soon, next time we visit Scotland. Much love Chum & Claire
Many, many thanks for making our special day a truly memorable event. Your ceremony was beautiful and we will carry that memory and treasure it for the rest of our lives together. All the best and hoping to meet you again soon. David and Camille”
Just a note to say thank you again for making our ceremony so special and memorable. It really was just perfect and was everything we wanted it to be. Thank you also for keeping us right on the run up to the big day with all the paperwork etc.…we wouldn’t have had a clue. All the best, Louise and Jamie.
Just wanted to say a massive thank you for a wonderful ceremony. You were very calming and professional and delivered the service with humour and emotion. We couldn’t have asked for any better. It was so special and you received so many compliments from the guests. Thank you so much again. Louise and Shaun
Thank you so much for composing and carrying out our beautiful ceremony. It was everything we dreamed of and more. Many of our guests had never been to a humanist wedding before and they loved how personal it was, we did too. Thank you for everything you did on the day and for making us feel relaxed, we were so nervous. Everything was perfect. Thank you. Lots of love. Mr and Mrs McIntosh.
We just wanted to say a huge thank you for being our celebrant at our wedding. You immediately put the room at ease and provided us with a relaxed ceremony which made it truly memorable. Many of our guests complimented us on it and how much it related to us. Thank you for making it so special
Christine and Robbie”
Can’t thank you enough”. You have taken us on a brilliant journey – from looking at your profile; to choosing you to be our celebrant; to meeting you at your splendid home, planning our wedding; giving us homework; and finally conducting our ceremony. We had so many comments regarding the excellent quality of the ceremony. Thanks for keeping us right throughout. Kareen and Brendan.
“Hi Neil, myself and Claire would just like to thank you for the perfect ceremony! We are so delighted we chose you and couldn't be happier. We have your card and 110% will be recommending you. Everyone couldn't believe how good the ceremony was. When our photos arrive we will send some down to you. Thank you again for everything and all the best for the future. Scott and Claire
Thank you very much for all of your time and skills in being our Celebrant for our wedding. We both enjoyed the ceremony SO much and feel that you understood us and our humour to a T. So many of our guests came up to us later and said it was the best ceremony they had ever been to – many of them never having been to a humanist ceremony before. Mums and Dads both enjoyed it too. We really cannot thank you enough for being such an important part of our special day.
Best wishes Stuart and Shonagh
“Good afternoon Neil,
I just wanted to thank you so much for the marvellous wedding ceremony you conducted for our daughter Hayley and Richie last Friday. It was very personal, moving and also amusing and so many of our guests have commented on how much they enjoyed it. We were all delighted to see them so happy and relaxed. I know that the father and brother of the bride also really appreciated your guidance about the music and running order too. Thanks again.
With best wishes
Thank you so very much for being our celebrant for our wedding. We cannot thank you enough for helping us to have our perfect ceremony, which would not have happened without your guidance, patience and support. THANK YOU! We wish you the very best and brightest of futures – keep in touch.
Jo and Stefan”
Thank you very much for conducting our ceremony at the wedding – it went so quickly, but we thought it was perfect and exactly how we had hoped! Everyone commented on how good it was and loved how personal it was. We had a really great day and hope you enjoyed the ceremony too.
Thanks again for giving us a great start in our married life – we are very excited about our future together!
All the best
Sohyla and Alasdair”
Hamish and I want to thank you for being our celebrant. You really made our ceremony so special. It was so personal and really brought out who Hamish and I really are. We could not have been happier with how it all went.
From our first meeting on Skype to you welcoming us in your home – you made us feel so special and comfortable.
Our wedding was perfect and our ceremony magical and wonderful. Thank you for being a part of it and for everything you did to make it so lovely.
All the best xx
Kristen and Hamish”
Naming & Welcoming Ceremonies
Naming or Welcoming Ceremonies are such fun! Kids running about – some of them aged over 40 – friends getting together, families congregating >>> big or small, a Naming Ceremony is a fantastic opportunity to bring people together to celebrate a new birth, a growing family, an adoption, or, even a change of name.
One of my very favourite things about a Naming Ceremony is the chance it gives to be creative, even wacky, and to involve some or all of the guests in art, music or just plain laughing.
There is no strict format to follow and so this allows the freedom to involve others, whether they be grandparents, siblings, guide parents or even the entire guest list...
Readings, poetry, sand mixing, singing, music, tree planting, handprints, wish lists - there are so many things you can do to make your child's Ceremony meaningful and memorable and unique.
I also enjoy preparing a certificate of the event to be signed by the parents and also, if appropriate guide parents… and while the ceremony should be fun and relaxed there is an element of gravitas at the point where all of the guests join in the official naming of the wee one/s… yes, you can have a double ceremony and even combine a Naming Ceremony with a Wedding Ceremony…all up to you!
If you are considering a Naming Ceremony the best way forward is to drop me an email or give me a ring and we can talk things through and then arrange to meet up either at my home or yours or somewhere in between!
Some recent testimonials –
“Just want to say thank you so much for Emily’s naming day ceremony Neil. We were all very relaxed and had a lovely day – just what we wanted. Thank you. A, K and Emily.” August 2018
Conducting a funeral is a real privilege and a huge responsibility. It is such a rewarding thing to be able to do and, paradoxically, it is life affirming. Every time I am asked to help a family through what is often a really difficult time I feel honoured to be invited into their lives.
Given that I seldom know the families I am helping in advance it is crucial that I put people at their ease as much as possible and so I usually travel to visit the family at their home – where they feel most relaxed. In helping the family plan the funeral and also come to terms with all that entails my approach is to listen, ask questions, empathise and to respond to the family’s needs in ways with which we all feel comfortable. We are celebrating a life and so as well dealing with the sadness of loss it is important we don’t lose sight of the happy and amusing memories and stories.
Helping you to grieve in your own way and to begin to say goodbye in a way that feels right for you is my aim - and if I get it right for you then that is almost reward enough. If I can make you and your fellow mourners smile and even laugh that is a bonus – it all helps in the grieving process.
The period before the funeral can be an emotional roller coaster – and so it is often best to stay busy and occupied; there is a lot to do and think about and I always make myself available to families so that they can call me if they have any queries or worries in the lead up to the ceremony. It’s a great cliché that life is not a dress rehearsal and this is certainly the case for a funeral and so it is vital to have the ceremony you really want for your loved one – you only get one chance to say a formal goodbye, so together we have to make it special.
Some recent testimonials…
“Neil – now it is over I wanted to thank you again. What you did you did brilliantly. Everyone felt he had a respectful and lovely send off. You are brilliant at this difficult and stressful event. The pitch and what you said was just right and helped me a great deal. Truly grateful Thank you Neil. John”
My Dad and I want to thank you for conducting my Mum’s funeral service last week. After meeting you, we felt reassured that her service would be in safe hands. And it really was. You gave us the dignified and personal tribute we had hoped for and you pitched it absolutely right for my Mum.
We are sincerely grateful for your calm and gentle expertise and the comfort we gained from the service being done so well.
With heartfelt thanks
Susan and Bert”
On behalf of my Mum, S., D., A. and myself we would like to offer thanks for conducting such a beautiful tribute to our Dad/Husband and brother on Friday. As difficult as it was we took such comfort in the service which was such a wonderful celebration of his life. We would also like to thank you for taking the time to spend with us getting to know our wonderful Dad. We are all in agreement that had Dad met you we think you two would have got on really well. Many thanks again. Wendy”
The script is perfect – you have captured Mum’s character and personality perfectly. There are no changes to be made whatsoever. It really is beautiful. The poem you have chosen is also very touching. We can’t thank you enough. It really is beautiful. Thank you so much. Sara”
I just wanted to send you a quick email on behalf of my mum and all the family to thank you for all you done yesterday at my dad’s service. We all appreciate your kind words about my dad and he would have been very proud. Thank you again.
Please accept the heartfelt thanks of S. and myself for the thoughtful and very professional way in which you prepared for and conducted R’s funeral. You have made a frankly unimaginable time a bit more bearable.
With best wishes.