Weddings are probably at the top of the list amongst our happiest memories. They are a part of the journey we take in life, whether for ourselves, or with others. They are one of the major milestones in our lives, and to do them justice, I believe we all want to mark those days forever in our minds and hearts with a beautiful and joyous ceremony.
What most couples I meet want is a ceremony that represents them, their relationship, dreams and goals. Over 70% of couples now choose a civil ceremony, sometimes as a compromise if they have different faiths, but more frequently because they are not regular church-goers.
Celebrant or Registrar – What’s the Difference?
In the past, their only other option was to have a short civil ceremony at the Town Hall, or in one of the 4000+ venues which are licensed by the local authorities as suitable for the registration of marriages. In civil ceremonies couples are in effect entering into a legal contract, and therefore the service itself must be totally secular. Couples must abide by rules relating to the ceremony content, wording of Vows, music, readings, timing and so on. The Registry must also be of solid construction with four walls and a ceiling, therefore an outdoor ceremony is mostly out of the question, however there have been some recent relaxations to this following COVID19 easing and some Local Authorities now offer an outdoor ceremony in the grounds of an approved venue, but this has to be on the same day as the legal registration, and was offered by the Government as a temporary solution while the review of the law pertaining to Marriages is carried out.
It is important for couples to recognise and understand the difference between the Celebrant led wedding ceremony and the Registrars Registration of the Marriage. They are bound by rules and regulations which they also pass on to the couple. They cannot in law be flexible or deviate in any way from the templates they offer. They will ask to vet your vows and music and any readings beforehand, as no religious or spiritual content is allowed.
The cost of hiring the Registrars at the couple’s chosen venue – two are needed – is in addition to the venue hire cost and can be in the region of £600 to £900 depending on the local authority rates, which are based on the day and time of the marriage. The same ceremony at the register office in a Standard 2 plus 2 service (the couple and two witnesses) costs generally between £50 – £70. The choice of having the marriage legalised in a venue as against the registry office is obviously one for the couple to make, but it’s the same service at either location, as it is a legal contract and the 32 Declaratory Words and Contracting Words cannot be changed.
Couples who have chosen a Celebrant for their bespoke wedding ceremony can simply book the Standard Marriage Service at the register office with either two witnesses or a small close family and friends group- and book their celebratory Wedding ceremony with their chosen Celebrant at their approved/unlicensed venue, outdoor location or even their homes and private gardens, with no restrictions placed upon them.
There is a Review of the Marriage Act taking place, and we hope that in the near future, independent Celebrants, alternative Celebrants and Humanist Celebrants are able to offer bespoke ceremonies and also the legal registration documentation, as is the case with Marriage in the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
If couples want a Wedding Ceremony that represents their values and beliefs and personality, performed at sunrise, or dusk, any day of the year, indoors or outside, in any language, any setting, such as a country house estate, a private home with a beautiful garden, in a magical woodland, your favourite place – park, lakeside, mountains or beach? Well then you’ll need to hire a Wedding Celebrant!
Alyssa and Ryan on Lake Riessersee in Bavaria! Photo by In Love with a Wolf Kate and Peppy’s Big Love Wedding at Ham Yard Hotel London. Photo : WeAreTheClarkes
A Celebrant can provide a totally unique ceremony – along traditional lines with maybe a modern update, or perhaps a favourite theme – Star Wars/Disney/Harry Potter/Game of Thrones to name a few! Here’s a photo of a wonderful Henry V themed wedding at Warwick Castle for Paul and Bree whose guests all participated at the ceremony dressed in theatrical historical costumes for the wedding which was planned during the Christmas Week.
You might want to include ancient rituals, such as a Hand Fasting or Jumping the Broom, Seven Steps, 13 Coins, Hand or Foot Washing.
Maddie and Scott tie the Knot at Frillensee Bavaria. Photo : wild connections photography
Every Celebrant led ceremony is unique and written from a blank sheet. Celebrant ceremonies celebrate the bonds of marriage, the unity of partnership and can also include beautiful visual and emotional rituals such as Rose, Sand or Unity Candle Lighting.
Melissa and Shane’s Handfasting and Beer Blending Loving Cup Ceremony at Lake Eibsee, Bavaria. Photo: In Love With A Wolf
Celebrant Ceremonies are delightful and novel and allow couples to express themselves exactly how they wish. Family members, children and even pets are often included.
Maria and Ravis bilingual ceremony included their young nephews as ring bearers. A German tradition!
Customs and heritage can be blended too. We respect all couples and work together with them to create a wonderful one of a kind unforgettable wedding ceremony.
Choosing a Celebrant is then a major part of the planning process, and here are a few tips on what to consider when making that choice
- Check the credentials of your Celebrant! Whilst there is absolutely no need for a Celebrant to be trained or accredited there are many who are and receive ongoing support and development. There are a number of institutions and organisations that train and accredit Celebrants, and offer ongoing support and guidance and training so that their Celebrants remain up to date, and follow a professional code. Ensure your Celebrant has up to date insurance – Public Liability and Professional Indemnity Insurance is key. Particularly as these may be required by your venue. They should also be able to show you their Terms and Conditions so that for example should they not be able to attend on your day, there is a plan in place for a substitute Celebrant from the same institution to take charge.
- Meet your Celebrant! Some people only meet their Celebrant on the day of their wedding. I would advise meeting in person and talking through your ideas and style and ensure you are making a connection with the Celebrant. An initial meeting on Zoom if not ideally face to face can really help a couple to decide they are choosing the right person to work with and with whom they will be creating this important, personal ceremony and guiding and supporting them for what can be several months (and of course with COVID19, several years).
- Ask your Celebrant for testimonials and reviews from other couples – established Celebrants will of course have many clients and ceremonies which they can discuss and from whom they will have received feedback. Check their Google Business Reviews which can only be added by the clients themselves, and can all be verified. Athought not all can be award winners, you may find that they will most certainly havesome exceptional skills, experience, and have some wonderful personal reviews from their clients.
- Allow your Celebrant to advise you! When it comes to creative ideas, themes, ritual and choreography – most celebrants are very experienced and can offer some great suggestions as well as understanding your own ideas and plans, and finding ways to weave everything you desire into your Ceremony! In particular they will be able to advise on a number of different rituals that can really give drama and romance, and theatre to the event, for example a Hand Fasting, Ring Warming, Wine or Beer Ceremony. Your personal Vows and Promises are key to the ceremony and a Celebrant will be able to assist with ideas and suggestions so that you’ll feel you really are having your day, your way, and true to your love story and beliefs.
I hope these top 5 tips have helped to answer some of the questions you may have had about hiring a Celebrant for your Wedding Ceremony, but should you have any further questions please don’t hesitate to contact me for an informal chat. As a member of the Fellowship of Professional Celebrants myself and my colleagues would be delighted to have the opportunity to create and conduct your wedding.
Katja and Hayley – Bilingual Ceremony in Yorkshire
This content was originally published here.