‘How did I become a Celebrant?’ John Leo Scott, AKA The Silver Celebrant, shares his inspirational journey.

John Leo Scott, AKA The Silver Celebrant shares his inspirational journey to becoming a Humanist Celebrant.

(photo captured by Phil Gorry Photography)

It all started when he enrolled on to the UKCAPSA Celebrant and Public Speaking Diploma.

“I was at a crossroads in my life. I had spent 22 years working for myself in a town centre restaurant servicing white and blue-collar workers. It was long hard hours, and in the beginning, it felt quite rewarding. What I failed to realise was that I missed out on big moments of my two girls growing up.

I started the business in 1992, however when 2007-2008 hit, the repercussions of the financial crisis slowly rippled through to my footfall, which ultimately meant a pretty tight bottom line. Every year was a fight and ultimately it took its toll, the business failed, and it was time for pastures new.

Absolutely remarkable to think that I had started out my life as an Engineer, morphed into running my own restaurant, became a chef and ultimately the biggest change of all, a celebrant.

My sister knew someone who was looking to recruit and mentioned me in the conversation. I set up a meeting and chatted about celebrant life. It totally freaked me out!

I could not think of anything worse than standing up in front of 150 guests and delivering a forty-minute ceremony.

Still, it pricked up my ears, and I ended up going through the UKCAPSA Diploma training course, shadowing celebrant mentors, and ultimately delivering my first knee quivering ceremony.

I was a wreck, felt like vomiting and my stomach was upside down. Not only did I have to pull off talking in front of 150 strangers. I also had a legal responsibility. One which meant I had to fill out legally binding paperwork. I could not get it wrong!

This question might come to your mind – why would anyone choose to do this, why put yourself through such gut-wrenching anguish? However, anyone that knows me, knows I persevere.

Always in the back of my mind was the thought “this could be fantastic” Each ceremony I delivered I became more and more confident, until I reached that moment when I realised this is truly the most wonderful, rewarding, and inspirational job I have ever had.

I have had an awesome journey in the years I have been a celebrant. It has been humbling. As a celebrant we are asked to conduct one of the most joyous times in a couple’s life. It is “the” day they get married.

Every single wedding, I conduct I invest my time in, getting to know that couple, their kids, dogs, cats and occasionally their little bunny rabbits.  It is so much fun, when they open that door and let you into their lives. Sometimes the most intimate moments are shared, that rarely make the edit, and others share stories of how they met, which are sometimes bumpy journey and ultimately the proposal.

There is also a line which I love when I meet a Tinder couple. It normally starts like this “we weren’t looking for love” … oh really? Tinder’s filter is incredible, it takes couples who are looking for one thing, not marriage, waves its digital fairy dust on them and next thing you know their head over heels in LOVE.

I have married some wonderful couples, met their children and sadly on one occasion had to conduct an end-of-life celebration for the son of a couple who I had married. This was one of the most humbling experiences of my life, sharing in their joy the day they were wed and unfortunately sharing in their sadness the day they had to say farewell to their son. I see this as the ultimate honour, someone putting their trust in you to deliver a tribute and ease their pain.

I have travelled from Gretna to Aberdeen and most places in between, marrying couples on beaches, in castles, hotels, and town halls.

I have shared some unbelievably personal moments with couples and families, who have allowed me to experience incredible joy and deep sadness. This is something that is not lost on me.

I wear my heart on my sleeve and even though outwardly the eyes are dry, inwardly they are full of tears of sadness but mostly tears of incredible JOY.

Ultimately this job is about caring.

Feeling inspired? Want to train to become a qualified celebrant too?


John Leo Scott
John Leo Scott

Humanist Celebrant