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There are endless ways to put a personalized spin on your wedding day. A wedding ceremony can be as unique or as traditional as the marrying couple wants it to be. One of the main aspects of a wedding that typically reflects a couple’s cultural, religious or spiritual beliefs is the selection of the officiant who marries them. In many cases, this is dictated by one or the other’s religious affiliation, but what if neither party has as history with or an inclination towards a certain religion? This is especially relevant if a couple wants to expressly avoid having a religious element to their wedding?

That’s where people like Joshua Lewis Berg come in. Joshua is a Humanist Celebrant who marries couples in non-denominational wedding ceremonies. For those who are unfamiliar with the Humanist tradition and what having a humanist-inspired wedding ceremony would entail, here’s a quick Q&A with Joshua about his role as a celebrant and the weddings he performs:

Is a Marriage By a Humanist Wedding Celebrant Legally Recognized?

It is legally recognized. I believe you can only be married by a humanist celebrant (also known as a humanist 

wedding celebrant)  in 48 of 50 states as of this date. However, once solemnized and certified by a state, the marriage is legally recognized in all. Therefore, always check in with your local county clerk for your state’s specific rules or ask the celebrant.

Do You Have to Declare Yourself a Humanist to Be Married By a Humanist Wedding Celebrant?

Absolutely not. Many weddings we do are for people who are looking for a non-religious officiant but have no idea what humanism is. You will be given a free year’s membership to the American Humanist Society if a Humanist Society endorsed celebrant marries you, so you can always look into it more and see if it’s a fit.

Do You Personalize the Ceremony or Do We Have to Write Our Own Vows?

My ceremonies are always personal and written from scratch.  However, you have a choice whether or not to write your own vows. If you choose to, I help you along as much as you need my assistance.

Can We Include Aspects of Our Culture or Religion into the Ceremony?

Absolutely.  The service I offer is non-religious but, humanists respect that others believe differently so I can find ways to include nods to culture or religion, if that is what the couple wants. Therefore, I may read a secular passage from a religious text, one that doesn’t mention god or the supernatural. There is a beautiful one about love in Corinthians. Also, even though I won’t mention the divine, if a family member or friend wants to say a few words, we can include them in the ceremony. Hence, I would explain that humanists respect what others believe and there’s a mutual pledge being made between the couple and their family/community to love and respect each other, so for example, I might say, “In that spirit, we invite so-and-so up to talk about their beliefs”…or something like that.

As far as cultural elements that are not religious, I love including them whenever I can.

How Do We Hire You?

Please contact me via email jbergshua@gmail.com or visit my website www.humanistweddingcelebrant.com. If you are not in Michigan, where I work, please visit the Humanist Society page state listing. http://thehumanistsociety.org/celebrants/statelisting.

Good luck and congratulations!

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Tisha Berg

Writer

Tisha Berg is a mom, wife, freelance writer and serial optimist. She has been featured on CBS’s “The Talk” and in Maria T. Bailey’s best-selling book, “Power Moms: The New Rules for Engaging Mom Influencers Who Drive Brand Choice.” She currently resides in suburban Detroit and balances writing marketing content for small businesses with raising two pre-teen daughters. She shares her best tips on work/life balance, productivity, relationships, writing, parenting and lots more via her weekly newsletter, The Write Inspiration.