CFI certified Secular Celebrants are legal to solemnize marriages in Indiana, Illinois, Oregon, and District of Columbia. We are taking action to become legal to solemnize marriages in other states.
Find a secular celebrant near you:
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Jennifer Beahan is the Executive Director for CFI Michigan, and a certified CFI Secular Celebrant. She is responsible for the day-to-day operations of CFI Michigan and is working to build a secular community throughout Michigan. Her professional interests include volunteer management, program development and evaluation, secular activism, and women’s rights. She holds a Bachelor’s of Music Education (K-12), and in addition to her work for CFI she teaches private music lessons on piano and woodwinds. Jennifer understands the importance of being able to celebrate life events in a way that is personally meaningful to the participants, and isn’t restricted to a script provided by a judge or religious leader. She will work with you to create a custom ceremony for your wedding or other life event that is deeply personal and meaningful for everyone involved.
Steve Bratteng is a semi-retired science teacher who teaches biology part-time at Austin Community College. He is the director of Center for Inquiry-Austin, a board member of Atheist Community of Austin, and one of the founders of the secular political activist group, Secular Texas. He helped found and served as President of Humanists of Austin. One of his interests is making cryptic crossword puzzles.
Ed Brayton is a writer who specializes in religion, law and politics on his popular blog Dispatches from the Culture Wars. He is a member of the CFI Michigan Board of Advisors and a recipient of the Friend of Darwin award by the National Center for Science Education. Though never married himself, he is excited to work with couples to develop their ideal wedding. He is also available to do funeral services and wakes. He believes it’s important during life’s important rituals that the person presiding over those events share a common set of values with those we are privileged to serve.
Galen Broaddus is a lifelong resident of Illinois. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English Education from Millikin University in 2009 and thereafter taught English for five years in a rural Illinois high school.
Galen’s work as a secular celebrant comes from his background in public speaking and poetry as an English teacher, his prior experience in (largely unofficial) ministerial roles, and his desire to help secular individuals fill a void in commemorating significant life events. He seeks to provide an offering to the central Illinois area that has not previously been available for both secular and religious individuals who may prefer a religiously neutral ceremony.
Galen also offers his experience as a writer and writing instructor to help individuals and couples customize ceremonies to match their unique interests, needs, and backgrounds.
He is currently in an interfaith (religious/secular) marriage with his wife, with whom he has two sons. They reside in the Decatur, IL area.
Dr. Shirley Buzzard
Dr. Buzzard is an anthropologist who has worked in cultures all over the world. She has been active in the secular movement for five years. She works closely with clients to develop all types of ceremonies including weddings, memorial services, multicultural ceremonies marking any of life’s special events.
Margaret Downey has been conducting marriages and other secular ceremonies since 2001.
Margaret is committed to secular principles and will guarantee that every event in which she is involved will be non-religious. For more information about Margaret and the celebrations she officiates, go to her website which is listed above.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania allows for a couple to obtain a Self-Uniting Marriage License. This provision allows couples to use the services of a Secular Officiant without government interference. This is not the case in most other states.
According to California Family Code Section 400, if you want to have a Secular Officiant perform your wedding ceremony, he or she must apply to become a “Deputy Commissioner of Marriages.” Doing so would grant Margaret the authority for one day to perform your ceremony. In order to become a deputy commissioner of marriages, Margaret would first obtain the application for appointment issued by the County Clerk.
To complete the application, Margaret will need the following information: date and place of ceremony, the bride and groom’s names and mailing addresses. She will need to provide a brief description of why she is seeking deputy commissioner privileges, sign and date the application, then return it to the county clerk. In most counties, a fee must be submitted with the application form. The fee may vary, but $85 is a typical amount. The application must be submitted at least six weeks prior to the ceremony. Read more: https://oureverydaylife.com/how-to-become-a-marriage-officiant-in-california-12173891.html
Martina Fern is an atheist and freethinker in Western New York. As a secular celebrant, she focuses on funerals and memorial gatherings, working closely with family and friends to plan and conduct meaningful memorials. Martina is also available for people who would like to pre-plan their own funerals, and can conduct events in German if requested.
Joe is a pharmacist, husband, and father living and working in West Lafayette. He knows that for those of us whose worlds do not include a god, there truly is no greater force of love than the love we hold for our life partners, our children, and the memories of those we’ve lost. These loves are so great they cannot be borne alone, so we share them with each other through ceremony.
As a Secular Celebrant, he hopes to help other humanists, agnostics, atheists, and others to elevate their great loves into events worth sharing. He firmly believes in the rights of all couples to commit to each other in a ceremony which does not compromise their beliefs and which treats guests of all faith backgrounds with respect.
He brings the professionalism and community engagement of his pharmacy vocation along with the artistry and stage presence of his many years in improv and scripted theater. He lives in West Lafayette but travels to Northwest Indiana and Indianapolis often. Contact him about weddings and child dedications.
Cheri is an Indianapolis attorney who worked for the ACLU of Indiana early in her career and continues to believe firmly in the separation of church and state. She and her husband were married 1994, in a secular service which they wrote themselves. She officiated at a marriage for the first time in 2000, and found it to be one of the most enjoyable activities of her adult life.
Cheri’s parents died in 2008 and 2009, giving her personal experience navigating the path to finding successful and appropriate ways to honor and memorialize loved ones in a secular fashion.
She believes that creative choice and expression unique to the individuals involved are important components of memorable rituals. She earned her undergraduate degree in Political Science from the George Washington University in Washington D.C. She also has a Master of Science degree from the London School of Economics, and obtained her J.D. from Indiana University in Bloomington.
She lives in the Indianapolis area.
Nicholas is a husband and a sales professional. He studied Classical Languages at Ball State University and appreciates the importance of myth and narratives in human life. When he and his spouse were married in 2011 their option for a non-religious wedding was a judge. While that suited their purpose at the time, he wants to be a resource to all Hoosier couples seeking non-religious marriages celebrated according to their wishes and on their time. He will be happy to discuss other milestones or events as well.
He believes himself to be LGBQT friendly and is working to further his education on the subjects related. His hobbies are cooking, reading, table games, and the hand-crafts related to block printing and book making. He lives in Marion County.
John Kiel has an AAS from Indiana University. He is employed by Ford Motor Company as a safety trainer and pipefitter/plumber (skilled trades). He is a charter member of Humanist Friendship Group of Central Indiana and Center for Inquiry Indiana. He is a member of NOW, AU, ACLU of Indiana, FFRF, and UAW Local 1111. He has taken the Dale Carnegie Course—Public Speaking.
I currently live in Louisville, KY and officiate in the “Kentuckiana” area. I’m a member of United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 862, serving on the Communications and Community Services committees.
Susan Lantzer has been a CFI Indiana Friend of the Center for three years. She is a Humanist, Freethinker, Spouse, Parent, and Professional.
As a Humanist, she is convinced that any couple who is willing to make a commitment to each other should have the freedom to do so, without limitations. As a Freethinker, she understands the need for non-judgmental, no-religious-strings-attached celebrations and ceremonies for our community. As a Spouse and Parent, she understands how important and emotional those occasions can be and also understands the desire to have those occasions be deeply personal and meaningful. In her professional life, she has noticed that all people share a need for a personal connection, respect, and dignity.
As a Secular Celebrant, she wishes to join our community in the celebrations of life, memorializing the importance of our humanity with love and respect for each other.
She lives in the Indianapolis area.
Pat is currently semi-retired after teaching for 25 years. She currently teaches two English as a Second Language classes. She has been a member of the Unitarian Universalist church for 35 years. She has been a member of Center for Inquiry for 10 years. She has been a Girl Scout leader, active PTA member, and has been an active member of Indianapolis Hiking Club for 25 years. She has 4 children and 7 grandchildren. She is an advocate for caring for and promoting individual rights and protecting our Earth. She interjects her actions with love and humor.
She lives in the Indianapolis area.
Nick Little is a Vice President and General Counsel for the Center For Inquiry. Located in Alexandria, VA, he is an accomplished orator, having won multiple public speaking awards. Educated at Oxford University and Vanderbilt University Law School, Nick will work with you to ensure that your wedding meets your needs, rather than a using pre-determined template defined by a particular religious grouping. Nick’s work centers on insuring that non-religious individuals do not face legal discrimination in the United States. As the number of non-religious grow, and as more individuals marry those of different faith backgrounds, the demand for non-traditional, non-faith based marriage ceremonies will increase. Nick is looking forward to working with couples, regardless of their beliefs, to ensure they receive the ceremony they want and deserve. Nick is also available to act as a secular celebrant in all types of life events, from welcoming a new child to saying farewell to a deceased love one.
Leighann Lord, nationally recognized author, speaker and comedian, is ready to fill your celebration with memories of fun!
She was the New York City face of the African Americans for Humanism outreach campaign sponsored by the Center for Inquiry and was also featured in The Atheist Book: A Better Life. And you may recognize her from TV appearances on Lifetime, VH-1, Comedy Central, HBO, The View or the Emmy-nominated StarTalk with Neil deGrasse Tyson on the NatGeo Channel.
Leighann brings her talents as a stand-up comedian, humorist and keynote speaker to her role as your Secular Celebrant. Whether it’s a wedding, relationship commitment, memorial or baby naming ceremony, have it celebrated with someone who understands, respects and reflects your nonreligious worldview.
Life is about milestones and memories. Let’s mark it together with love and a laugh.
Taylor Martin, as well as a secular celebrant, is a very well known professional magician. He has a flare for the theatrical and can become a character that will make your marriage memorable. Both male and female characters, he will add a touch of fun to your wedding. However, he knows your wedding is about you and will make it special to your requirements. If you need a flash of light or a magician appearance of the rings, you can arrange with Taylor to add this to your special day. Certain dates are not available, so if you are interested, get in contact with him as soon as possible. Taylor lives in Indianapolis.
Scott McAndrew is a Court Commissioner for Dane County, Wisconsin, located in Madison. He is authorized under the laws of the State of Wisconsin to perform wedding ceremonies and seeks to afford those without religious affiliation the opportunity to participate in weddings and other formal ceremonies with a format and content of their own choosing.
Scott and his family are enthusiastic supporters of CFI and the secular humanist community. In his spare time, Scott enjoys spending time with his wife and three boys and is an avid distance runner, music fan, and rock musician.
Eric is a freethinker who has been a member of CFI since 2010. He has a master’s degree in athletic training & sports medicine from Indiana State University. He is a member of Metroplex Atheists, Hispanic Secular Humanists of North Texas, was the 2014 representative from North Texas Skeptics to the Dallas-Ft Worth Coalition of Reason, and is presently an at-large board member of the Fellowship of Freethought in Dallas. Located in Irving, Eric is available for secular celebrations & ceremonies all over the DFW metroplex.
Katherine McCutchan, PhD (Spanish Speaker)
Dr. Katherine McCutchan is Co-President of Hispanic Secular Humanists of North Texas; a member of the Center for Inquiry, Fellowship of Freethought-Dallas, and Metroplex Atheists. She earned her PhD in Latin American Studies from SUNY-Albany and currently teaches Sociology at a community college in Dallas. Dr. McCutchan is a native of Panama City, Panama. She now lives in the Dallas, TX area.
La Dra. Katherine McCutchan es Co-Presidenta de Hispanic Secular Humanists of North Texas; miembro de las siguientes organizaciones: Center for Inquiry, Fellowship of Freethought-Dallas, y Metroplex Atheists. Ella tiene un Doctorado en Estudios Latinoamericanos de la Universidad del Estado de Nueva York en Albany. Actualmente enseña Sociología en un colegio comunitario en Dallas. La Dra. McCutchan es de la Ciudad de Panamá.
Joe Nickell, Ph.D. (University of Kentucky, 1987) is senior research fellow of the international Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI), formerly the Committee for Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), and an investigative columnist for Skeptical Inquirer science magazine.
US Navy veteran (Vietnam era) Honorable discharge. 1969-1972.
Alfred State Technical College Alumni.
15 Years in the financial services industry.
Registered Representative Series 6 & 63.
Currently works at Veterans Affairs Medical Center of Western NY.
I worked as a church Sexton at an Anglican Church for 10 years, I had to be in attendance for all weddings and funerals as the church caretaker/ Sexton and I was always dismayed by every service be it wedding or funeral that each minister did the exact same service for the families, only the names were changed and very impersonal and stilted non-caring feelings would fill the air.
Being a secular celebrant gives me the opportunity for people who are non-religious to embrace life events that are important to them in a manner that makes it much more personal, with a format and content of their own choosing.
Jim is committed to secular principles and will guarantee through his role as a Secular Celebrant of CFI Transnational every event he is involved with will be non-religious.
Randy Pelton is a past president of the Northeast Ohio branch of the Center for Inquiry and is currently its Vice President of Programming. He plays an active role in the Northern Ohio Freethought Society, an affiliated branch of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Randy has been a member for more than a decade of and contributor to the American Civil Liberties Union, Americans United for Separation of Church and State and Freedom From Religion Foundation. He is also an active participant in the Freethinker/Atheist community in northeast Ohio as an active member of The Cleveland Freethinkers and The Cleveland Skeptics. Randy will work with you in developing a service to meet your needs and desires in a wedding ceremony, funeral or memorial service, commitment ceremony, baby naming/welcoming ceremonies or any other type of life event with which you seek assistance. Randy lives in the Northeast Ohio area but is willing to travel to any location in the state to assist the non-theist or theist in presentation of a program free of the rituals of a traditional sectarian service or ceremony.
Randy has been a freethinker and atheist for nearly all of his 61 years. He was raised in a nominally Christian household, attended church on occasion as a child, but was skeptical of religious belief from an early age. He recently decided to become a secular celebrant to help members of the non-theist, freethinker community have life event ceremonies and memorials performed by someone who shares their worldview or is seeking simply to avoid the rituals traditionally associated with religious ceremonies. He was married for nearly 36 years and is recently widowed.
(Note: Ohio law currently permits a secular celebrant to perform a marriage ceremony but not solemnize it – sign the marriage license. There is a bill pending in committee in the state legislature that, if approved, would permit secular celebrants to also solemnize a couple’s marriage. Randy hopes that this bill is passed soon, thus avoiding the need for a legal challenge, like the one that was necessary in 2014 to permit secular celebrants in the states under the authority of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit to solemnize weddings.)
Randy is a retired high school science teacher with undergraduate degrees in Secondary Education, Geology and Mass Media Communications. Prior to teaching, he was a newspaper and magazine journalist. He lives in Tallmadge, Ohio.
Andre graduated with a B.S. Degree from University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in 1971. He then spent his working years in Wisconsin and Illinois in sales and management in both the restaurant and cabinetry-millwork fields. During those working years he also gave his time as an EMT and Certified Firefighter, and as an elected municipal trustee, while also coaching baseball for many years. He is now happily retired with Meredith in Pensacola, FL. He was raised as a Methodist and is now a member of the Unitarian Universalist Society. Andre is a Humanist and desires to offer Celebrant help and assistance to the secular non-theistic peoples of the Pensacola area as the community is heavily saturated with Catholicism and evangelicalism. Andre is also especially interested in ways for the secular community to expand it’s vocabulary in order to profess the wonderment of life as naturalists and furthering CFI’s mission to “foster a secular society.”
Celebrating rites of passage, rituals, and memorial gatherings are important to so many of us. Milestones and memorials help make life more fulfilling because shared experiences are powerful. They bring people together and enhance each person’s individual experience. I hope to be able to help those with a non-religious world view prepare and hold a celebration of a life milestone in a meaningful and secular humanist way.
Michele Shaw is a secular humanist and a strong supporter of the Center for Inquiry, FFRF, and the Secular Coalition for America. Michele is happily married to James and has raised two children free from religion. She has a B.S. in Business Administration from California State University, Long Beach. She has worked for Fortune 100 companies in Information Technology management positions and now works for a small environmental consulting company. She enjoys spending time outdoors playing tennis, gardening or walking her four legged rescue friends. She is an activist who has lobbied at both the local and national level for human rights, women’s rights and secular humanist special interests.
Michele will be honored in officiating your secular celebration or ceremony in the Northern Virginia area. As a Virginia circuit court appointed civil celebrant, Michele is authorized under the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia to perform and celebrate the rites of marriage anywhere in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Michele will take great pleasure in assisting you in commemorating your special life event.
Andi Simmons has been an attorney since 1987, and is a veteran of the U.S. Army JAG Corps. She is also an anthropologist, with a Master’s in Human Biology. Andi is a member of the Center for Inquiry–Indiana, and lives in Zionsville, Indiana. She has traveled extensively throughout the world, is an avid scuba diver, an enthusiastic gardener, a mother of five children, and a lifelong student of music, history and science.
Andi sincerely enjoys assisting couples in planning their wedding ceremonies, and officiating them, because it is an honor and a pleasure to be a part of such joyous occasions. She is committed to marriage equality. As an experienced trial attorney and frequent public lecturer, Andi is quite comfortable officiating ceremonies of all sizes. She will assist you to structure a ceremony that embraces ancient, traditional or modern orations, poetry, music, and personal expressions of love and commitment. She celebrates and honors all comers—interfaith couples, secularists, blended families, and same-sex couples. Andi is also available for memorial and funeral services, and appreciates the importance of offering appropriate, tailored ceremonies to commemorate the passing of non-religious loved ones.
Mike Slomka is a member of the Advisory Board of CFI Michigan, an event host, and the coordinator for SE Michigan. Mike has Associate Degrees in Photography and Video Production. Professionally, he has been an emergency dispatcher for 19 years. In his spare time, he is referee for multiple roller derby leagues in SE Michigan.
Mike is a secular humanist who realizes the need for celebrants that understand the values and needs of members of today’s secular community. He’ll work hard to meet all of you and your family’s need for whatever personal event you’re celebrating.
Scott is a humanist and is a founding member of CFI-Indiana. Scott has been with his partner for 19 years. Being gay and currently denied marriage equality in Indiana, he understands how fundamental it is for people to form loving and lasting relationships regardless of orientation. He strives to bring a creative secular expression to your ceremony that will celebrate your special day as a couple.
He lives in the Indianapolis area.
Jim Underdown is the Executive Director of the Center for Inquiry West and a certified secular celebrant. He has also taught Secular Celebrations Workshops at CFI in Los Angeles. He written for Free Inquiry and Skeptical Inquirer magazines and been a spokesperson for both Secular Humanism and Scientific Skepticism since 1999.
In the past 20 years, Jim has performed approximately 40 non-religious wedding ceremonies, both in and outside California. He has also officiated at several memorials and a few baby-namings.
Jim believes ritual has value because certain life events are important and deserve special attention – even for those who do not practice any particular religion. Secular celebrants are appropriate for people who prefer that religion not be mixed in with their momentous events.
Each ceremony he conducts is unique and written for that specific couple with the couple’s involvement. Jim encourages his clients to be creative and to tailor their wedding to fit their personalities and desires. Just because it’s an important occasion doesn’t mean it can’t be fun!
Reba Boyd Wooden
Reba Boyd Wooden is Executive Director of Center for Inquiry Indiana. She started Humanist Friendship Group of Central Indiana in 1999 which became CFI Indiana. She has officiated at numerous weddings and same-sex commitment ceremonies and some memorials and other ceremonies. She is a board member of ACLU of Indiana and and a member of several other progressive organizations. She is a regular blogger at CFI’s Free Thinking: Freethought from the Heartland.
She is co-director of the CFI Secular Celebrant Program. If you would like a Secular Celebrant training session to be held in your area, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
She lives in the Indianapolis area.
Stephanie Zvan is a lifelong nonbeliever. She’s a writer, speaker, organizer, and activist who’s never been at a loss for finding meaning in this world. Let her help you work through building a ceremony that resonates with you and the community you invite to witness your marriage, whether you find that in existing tradition or through creating your own.
Secular Celebrants are not currently permitted to register as marriage officiants under Minnesota law. Stephanie is working to have the law changed. In the meantime, she can discuss with you your options for having the state legally recognize your marriage.