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© AndresTheCelebrant.com    |    Andrés Allemand Smaller    |    Tel. +41 77 431 68 38    |    andres.allemand@gmail.com    |    Genève, Suisse

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>>> Does it make any sense to have a non-religious wedding ceremony or funeral service?

Yes it makes sense. From the very beginning, social rites have been linked to spirituality and community. Whether religious or secular, a ceremony always has to do with the meaning of life and a sense of community. With non-religious ceremonies, the only thing that is missing is the institution. I am a secular celebrant and I create ceremonies for people who do not wish to - or who cannot - have them within a religious institution. Everyone lives by their own values and principles. Everyone is looking for a meaning to their existence. Also, everyone interacts with their own network of relatives, friends and colleagues. 

>>> Aren't rituals supposed to be traditional?

First and foremost, a "ritual" is a symbolic act that you perform during a ceremony to assert meaning. For example, you do not just light a candle because the place has turned dark, but because you want to symbolise the new life that is born, or the bond between a bride and groom, or the very lively memories of the deceased... This "ceremonial act" doesn't need to be traditional but it must carry a powerful symbol.

 

It is true however that, in a given religion and a given culture, the same rituals are used again and again. Traditional ceremonies always follow the same "pattern". It connects you to the rest of the community throughout the world, but also to your forefathers and foremothers. Secular ceremonies do not follow one exact pattern, so in that sense they are not traditional. However, I would argue that a wedding always expresses a commitment between two people, a funeral is always about saying farewell to a loved one. When you organise a ceremony, it connects you to the community formed by your relatives and friends. It also connects you to mankind, because weddings, funerals and all sorts of "rites of passage" are celebrated around the world. That is the tradition you are honouring.

 

>>> Why do we have to pay for secular ceremonies? Aren't religious ones done for free?

You may not receive a bill after a religious ceremony, but usually people are expected to make a donation. Also, religious institutions are supported financially by practicing members, in order to cover all sort of costs. Ceremonies in particular have a cost because you need a celebrant to prepare them and to officiate on the day of the event. In the case of a secular celebrant, there is no institution paying a salary. But by paying a fee directly to the celebrant, you expect him to be at your service rather than at the service of an institution. 

>>> What is the difference between a "celebrant" and an "officiant"? 

The two words mean the same thing. "Celebrant" is used in the UK and in Australia, whereas "officiant" is more common in the US. Also, some people argue that you can "celebrate" a wedding but not a funeral service, therefore they feel more comfortable with the word "officiant". 

>>> Do you organise ceremonies outside Switzerland

Yes, absolutely. So far, I have celebrated weddings in Spain, Morocco, the US and even Australia. Also, I have organised ceremonies in Switzerland for couples who live in the Netherlands and in the US. Our meetings can take place on Skype, FaceTime, Zoom or other video call services.