Google+ FAQ | Galen Broaddus, Secular Celebrant


Questions? Check here for the answers to some commonly asked questions. If you don’t see the answer you’re looking for, you can submit your question here.

Can you legally marry couples in the state of Illinois?

Yes! Prior to January 4, 2017, Secular Celebrants were unable to solemnize marriages in Illinois, but due to a federal court decision in Center for Inquiry v. Bean, the statute that excluded Secular Celebrants was ruled unconstitutional. As such, I am now able to perform marriages, from officiating to solemnization, in Illinois. 

Will you marry me and my same-sex partner?

Yes! I will not discriminate on the basis of gender or sexual orientation in my services.

Do you require marital counseling before you will officiate our ceremony?

No, although I do encourage it if you think there might be concerns that should be addressed prior to being joined together in marriage. (This may especially be true for couples that do not share religious views.) I am not qualified to provide such counseling, and I would recommend searching for qualified professionals through the Secular Therapist Project.

Are your services anti-religious?

No, the ceremonies I offer are non-religious, not anti-religious. Religion just doesn’t matter much in them, and the perspective and values of my ceremonies reflect a secular view.

Can I include anything religious in a ceremony?

Yes, but it is important to remember that the ceremony should retain a neutral tone as much as possible. Religious material is not off-limits, provided that it has literary or poetic merit and avoids excessive mention of supernatural elements. Excerpts from the thirteenth chapter of I Corinthians might be appropriate for a wedding or commitment ceremony just as some of the poetry of Khalil Gibran would; however, Psalm 23 would not be appropriate for a secular funeral or memorial service. The best thing to do is ask: I want to listen to your desires as much as possible, and if too much inclusion of religion is desired, then it may be necessary to have a conversation about whether my services are appropriate for your needs.

Why secular celebrants?

The number of non-religious people in America is growing, with the youngest generation (the so-called Millennials) being by far the least religious age demographic with approximately 1 in 3 being religiously unaffiliated according to a 2012 Pew survey. For many of these secular Americans, marking important life events is still important, and they need not settle for a religious ceremony merely because it’s the only game in town. Secular celebrants are here to change the game and provide another option.

But I’m secular and don’t care at all for ceremony or ritual.

That’s not exactly a question, but don’t worry, I won’t be offended if you don’t feel the need to seek out my services. I’m just here for people who have such a need.

Are you just going to tell everyone that my loved one is just worm food now and that all we have to look forward to in death is oblivion and nothingness?

I hear this frequently enough, and no, I have no plans to deliver a message of despair, nor will I make promises about seeing your loved one in the hereafter. The main purpose of a secular funeral or memorial service is to remember the individual and bring some degree of closure to their family, friends, and loved ones, and it is their life and the memories of others that will be the focus of the ceremony. Religion and any purported afterlife will simply be omitted from the service.

What about other ceremonies besides weddings and funerals?

Certainly! You may find that you wish to commemorate moments like a new birth with a naming ceremony, the achievement of adulthood (by whatever standard) with a coming-of-age ceremony, or various other important milestones. If I don’t already have a ceremony to fit your need, I’m flexible and can work with you to create something that helps mark your special event.

What are your qualifications?

I am certified as a secular celebrant by the Center for Inquiry (CFI), which required an in-person training with Reba Boyd Wooden, the co-director of CFI’s Secular Celebrant program. I also have a great deal of experience with weddings as a pianist, and I have served in a pastoral role on multiple occasions. My background as an English teacher gives me useful knowledge of and experience with oratory and poetry that is invaluable for a celebrant, and I have equal training and ability in crafting language to evoke emotions in the listener, which will aid in composing a custom service for you.

What is CFI?

The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization based in Amherst, NY. More information can be found on their website at

Is a secular celebrant the same as a humanist celebrant?

Secular Celebrants may often identify as secular humanists, but Humanist Celebrants (at least in the United States) are generally individuals certified by the Humanist Society, a wing of the American Humanist Association that is chartered as an ecclesiastical organization.

Will you meet with me/us to discuss the ceremony?

Absolutely! In fact, this is practically a requirement for me to be able to provide the best service for you as a Secular Celebrant. If possible, I would love to meet with you in person to discuss your specific needs and desires for a ceremony. If time and/or distance do not permit, I am open to phone consultation or an video chat (e.g. Google Hangouts, Skype).

How much do your services cost?

I will be happy to discuss specific costs with you on our consultation (which is free). Each service has a base price, which does not include travel and/or lodging (only applicable if the event will be located outside the Decatur or Springfield areas) or any extensive customization or composition of a ceremony. Feel free to contact me to discuss your needs.

Can you help prepare any other aspects of wedding or funeral services?

Yes, I would be happy to make recommendations on appropriate wedding processionals and recessionals, as well as appropriate funerary music.

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