We all want to mark important events in our lives - new arrivals in the family, weddings and partnerships - and, of course, to commemorate those we have loved when they die. For those with no religious beliefs, it's important to mark these occasions in ways that are consistent with their principles.

Humanist ceremonies mark these special occasions with honesty, warmth and shared love and affection. They are not generic. They are unique and personal, appropriate to the lives of the people involved. They are created especially for each occasion by an individual or a family, along with a humanist celebrant, who helps guide the process of creating the ceremony. Beyond the appropriate legal requirements, there are no special rules or particular things that need to be observed.

Humanist ceremonies celebrate all that is encompassed in the definition of Humanism used by the British Humanist Association: "Humanism is the view that we can make sense of the world using reason, experience and shared human values and that we can live good lives without religious or superstitious beliefs. Humanists seek to make the best of the one life we have by creating meaning and purpose for ourselves. We choose to take responsibility for our actions and work with others for the common good."

Families and groups of people with mixed religious beliefs often choose humanist ceremonies because they can all agree on the non-religious and personalised content.

BHA accredited celebrants will be happy to conduct non-religious ceremonies for funerals and memorials; for births and adoptions; for weddings, including civil partnerships for same-sex couples; and for general civic occasions.

To find a local celebrant who will be happy to discuss your needs and assist with your humanist ceremony see our list of celebrants or visit the BHA website www.humanism.org.uk

You can also contact the BHA on: 020 7079 3582 or email ceremonies@humanism.org.uk

The BHA publishes practical guidelines about the three main ceremonies, to help families and inexperienced practitioners: 'New Arrivals', 'Sharing the Future' and 'Funerals Without God'. These can be ordered from the BHA office - email info@humanism.org.uk or ring 020 7079 3580.

This page was up to date on 19/04/2013.