Your Questions Answered

If you have any questions not included here, please contact us and we will be happy answer them for you!

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What are your qualifications?    

Scott Rhoades has been a Humanist Celebrant of the Church of Spiritual Humanism, licensed to practice official marriage ceremonies since 2011. In 2014 he was endorsed as a Humanist Celebrant by the Humanist Society, which was founded in 1939 and has provided Celebrant Certification to members of the American Humanist Association since 1991. His certification gives him the full rights and responsibilities of ordained clergy and authorizes him to attend to the pastoral and ceremonial needs of Humanists and all others seeking these service in any state in the United States. He is also the president of a non-profit group, helps organize a yearly state conference, supports LGBT rights, and has extensive public speaking experience.Humanist Society Celebrancy Certificate- expires 4-30-21

Are you associated with a religious group?

The Humanist Society, though fully recognized as a legal ordination body, has no affiliation with any faith or religious creed. Our goal is to provide a ceremony that is all about the couple, rather than any ideology or religious tradition. We understand, however, that some family members may come from a religious tradition and, we endeavor to be respectful of this when providing a service that is non-religious.

What does “Secular” mean?

Secular basically means “without religion”. In the context of the wedding ceremonies we offer, this means that we provide non-religious ceremonies that focus on the couple and their love for each other rather than relaying a religious message.

What is Secular Humanism?

Secular Humanism is a philosophy for the here and now. Humanists regard human values as making sense only in the context of human life rather than in the promise of a supposed life after death. official_aha_logo Humanism is also a philosophy of compassion. Humanist ethics is solely concerned with meeting human needs and answering human problems-for both the individual and society-and devotes no attention to the satisfaction of the desires of supposed theological entities.

Humanism is, in sum, a philosophy for those in love with life. Humanists take responsibility for their own lives and relish the adventure of being part of new discoveries, seeking new knowledge, exploring new options. Instead of finding solace in prefabricated answers to the great questions of life, humanists enjoy the open-endedness of a quest and the freedom of discovery that this entails.

You can find more information on Humanism here.

How does a Humanist Ceremony differ from a religious ceremony?

A Humanist ceremony is completely devoted to the couple, with no religious content. In working with you to prepare your ceremony, we discuss your own desires for your special day. Your wedding is yours to build in full and we feel privileged to help you make every aspect tuned to the people you are and the couple and family you will become.

We want you to perform our ceremony.  How do we engage your services?

The first thing is to give Scott a call at 570.205.3887 or e-mail him at When you contact him, he will work with you to answer any questions and concerns you have, as well as helping to fulfill your ideas and dreams about your special day. To aid you we can provide you with a wedding ceremony workbook, which we will send you for free via email and without obligation as soon as you contact us for a consultation. Why not call us today and see how we can help you take the next step forward?

What types of wedding ceremonies do you perform?

We work with you to build the ceremony you most desire. Our personalized ceremonies are focused on the couple and their love for one another. We strongly welcome all ideas you have for your service, but can also suggest many elements we have seen work successfully from our experience. We are happy to incorporate any texts or traditions from your family or background. Our goal is to offer you the widest of possibilities and to help you build a unique and personal day.

Do offer discounted services for those on a budget?

Yes we do! Details on our Discounted Wedding Ceremony and Elopement Wedding Ceremony options can be found on our pricing page

Is a rehearsal necessary?

I recommend a rehearsal so everyone involved in the actual ceremony is aware of their role and where to be and when but have broken it out as a separate fee for those on tighter budgets. I am very happy to attend your rehearsal and am able to guide you through the ceremony process from Processional to Recessional. If you have someone coordinating for you and choose to forgo a rehearsal, it is not necessary that the officiant attend as we are fully experienced in our usual role. Not having your celebrant at the rehearsal can be a way to save costs, but a full rehearsal can ensure your day goes as smoothly as possible and will give you peace of mind. If you have a large wedding party or many people involved in the ceremony, additional elements such as a Unity Ceremony, or guests offering readings, I highly suggest that you have a rehearsal.

Will you include religious elements in our ceremony if we request it?

My ordination through the Humanist Society prevents me from including religious elements in ceremonies I officiate. That being said, I understand the occasional need to include something religious in order to satisfy personal requirements or appease family members. In those cases, I will allow a friend or family member to recite a short religious message as a reading. For Christian readings, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (“Love is patient, love is kind…”) is often a good choice for this reading. The terms of my ordination prevent me from reading a religious message as part of the ceremony.

I can also write secular versions of religious traditions to include in the ceremony, such as the breaking of the glass in Jewish wedding tradition. This satisfies the feeling of religious tradition without actually being religious in message.

I’ve never been married before and have no idea what I am doing. Can you help?

New Traditions offers years of experience in helping you plan your ceremony from beginning to end. We do not expect you to be marriage experts. Our intake process is comprehensive and covers all aspects of the ceremony, including things that you may have never considered. We can guide you through the planning an offer suggestions to make your ceremony great. We not only cover the ceremony but also walk you through the legal requirements for marriage in Pennsylvania and what you need to do in order to obtain your marriage license. 

Do you offer LGBT services?

Absolutely! I am a strong advocate for LGBT rights and would love to officiate at your same-sex wedding. Any services I offer are available to all U.S. citizens no matter who you love. New Traditions simply does not discriminate against anyone.

Can we get married at your location?

Unfortunately, I don’t have a venue at my location and cannot host ceremonies per my rental agreement. I can, however, recommend many venues around the area that will fit with various budgets as well as local parks where a small ceremony can be performed at no additional cost.

Is my deposit refundable if my circumstances change?

As soon as your deposit is received we pledge and contract for the time of your ceremony and will turn away any other work for that date and time. For this reason, we cannot refund any deposits.

Do you do Emergency or Last Minute wedding ceremonies?

Sometimes an officiant will back out on a couple only days before their wedding. Emergencies happen in everyone’s lives, and officiants are no different. I have provisions for possible backups if anything were to prevent me from performing my duties as an officiant, but not every officiant does. I am happy to take over for another officiant if they are unable to honor their commitment. However, as I often have weddings scheduled closely together, sometimes over two years in advance, and would have to interrupt my planned work schedule in order to help, I ask an additional $100 fee if you schedule a wedding less than three weeks before the ceremony date (This excludes the Elopement Package and Certificate Signing). You would also only be able to choose from either the Standard or Budget options for any wedding scheduled less than two months in advance. I can officiate using an existing ceremony script or you can choose one of these options.

I will do my best to fit you into my schedule if your officiant is unable to fulfill their obligation! Contact me immediately and find out if I can help you put your plans back on track!

Will you officiate a ceremony on a holiday?

If I don’t have concrete plans for a holiday, I am willing to officiate your ceremony. However, as this means spending time away from my family, there will be an additional $100 fee for holiday ceremonies. Holidays include Memorial Day, Easter, the 4th of July, Labor Day weekend, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day. 

What do you wear during the ceremony?

Every ceremony is crafted to your requirements. Although it is standard to wear a formal suit we are able to tailor tie colors, and more, to your plans. I make a great effort that my color choices do not clash with your wedding colors. In the event that you require Scott to wear a tuxedo, you will be responsible for any associated rental fees. If you wish to have a theme wedding, we will do our best to achieve whatever look you would like. As with every aspect of our service we are eager to adapt to your needs and desires for your special day.

How long is the ceremony?

The ceremony is yours to build and we take pride in working with you to craft an occasion of any length and style you desire. The average simple secular ceremony lasts 20-30 minutes. Obviously, the number of readings and additional elements you choose to include will affect the length of your ceremony. Our costs remain the same regardless of ceremony length.

Do you have recommendations for potential wedding venues?

The Lancaster area is a highly desired wedding destination due to its rustic charm and historic buildings. We have many wonderful public green spaces but also many other outdoor venues. Riverdale Manor is located here in Lancaster and overlooks the banks of the Conestoga River. They offer the use of 6 riverfront acres, the ballroom, atrium, farmhouse, decks and terraces for the entire length of your event. There is also the old world charm of the historic 1741 Meeting House or the hillside Amphitheater at the Ephrata Cloister. The Cameron Estate Inn, just west of Mt. Joy, offers many venues such as their Carriage House Gazebo, Donegal Spring Garden, Old Stone Bridge, Stone Steps, the Mansion Front Lawn, or Mansion steps as well as offering reception venues in the Mansion and Carriage House. You can find a list of some local places that are more suited for smaller events here. These are only a few of the many outdoor venues in the Lancaster Area. Any wedding venue will likely be booked well in advance, so be sure to plan ahead!

We want to get married in a church but are not members anywhere.  Are there churches that will rent out their facilities?

It is becoming increasingly less likely that a church will allow you to use their space if you are not a member. Exceptions to this are the Unitarian Universalist Church of Lancaster and some Quaker Churches. If you are looking for a venue with some historic charm, the Lancaster area has many alternative locations that would qualify.

What geographical areas do you cover?

Although we are based in Lancaster County in Pennsylvania, we are also happy to travel worldwide if requested by you and travel and lodging expenses are met. .

Do you require premarital counseling?

No. We are not licensed counselors but if you have questions or concerns about your ceremony or vows we are very happy to offer advice from our experience. We assume and hope that you have given the fullest consideration to your decision and that this will take you with confidence into your special day and beyond.

Is it proper to provide a gratuity to the officiant?

If you feel that we have performed beyond your expectations or gone above and beyond our duty, we will happily accept a gratuity. You can find a guide to tipping wedding vendors here.

Will we get to read and approve the written ceremony before our wedding day?

Absolutely! A script will be provided for you to review before the ceremony. If there are things you would like to change about the ceremony I have personally crafted for you, we will work together until you are completely satisfied. 

What other types of services do you provide?

In addition to weddings we are able to perform any ceremony marking important moments in life and community. We offer end-of-life ceremonies that truly celebrate the importance and memories of your loved one. We also offer ceremonies such as baby-namings to welcome new life to the world in a personal and unique way. Beyond ceremonies which celebrate the milestones of life we can also help mark community occasions such as formal addresses to military events, building dedications, or other events.

How do you officiate Memorial Services?

A New Traditions Memorial Service is one of celebrating the life of the deceased. I ask family and friends to share fond memories and funny stories that demonstrate how the one they lost has touched their lives in various ways. As an Officiant, I facilitate this kind of service rather than speaking much about the life of someone who I have most likely never met. At past services I have attended, it bothered me when officiants took advantage of such situations to preach or pretend a familiarity with the deceased that the family is aware is not true.

Do you insert your beliefs into the Memorial Services you officiate?

Absolutely not. I am fully cognizant of the fact that most of the guests attending any of the ceremonies I officiate are going to be of mixed religious backgrounds and that it is not my place to insert my opinions or beliefs into any service I offer. The words I offer are religiously neutral and serve only to bookend the sharing the memories of loved ones and to shape a structure in which this can happen.


If you have any questions not covered here please don’t hesitate to contact me at 570.205.3887 or and I will be happy to answer them for you.