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Ultimate guide to hiring an independent Wedding Celebrant

Celebrant-led weddings have been growing in popularity year on year. In fact here at the UKAWP we are predicting a surge in these non-religious, *non-legal ceremonies in 2021. We have some amazing celebrant members, we spoke to them to get their top tips for couples planning a celebrant led ceremony.

* a celebrant led ceremony is not legally binding, more on this further in this article

White Rose Ceremonies / Nelson Photos

What is a wedding celebrant?

In essence a celebrant is someone performing / officiating a formal ceremony, this could be a wedding, funeral, baby naming. They are not bound by religious or government law. Lets compare to some other terms you may come across

Registrar – someone that is employed by the government to conduct legally binding ceremonies at a register office or licensed venue.

Rabbi – a spiritual leader conducting Jewish ceremonies

Priest / Father – ordained by the Catholic Church to conduct catholic ceremonies

Vicar / Minister / Reverend / Pastor /– terms used in Christian ceremonies

A wedding celebrant is someone hired by the couple to conduct meaningful ceremonies , often in addition to a previous legal ceremony.

A celebrant officiates a bespoke wedding for a couple that may want something a little less traditional or conventional. A celebrant is someone with no restrictions when it comes to content, and for this reason is often popular among those with no religious affiliations. Celebrant-led weddings allow you to pick and choose whichever elements, themes or ideas you want to include so these weddings are often extremely unique and personalised to the couple. Sonal Dave

Why do couples choose to have a celebrant led ceremony?

At first glance you might wonder why couples would choose a celebrant ceremony if it is not legally binding. But the majority of couples will hold a *legal ceremony in the weeks or days leading up to their wedding. This could be because they want a ceremony that is truly personal to them with no restrictions on the vows hence hiring an independent celebrant. It could also be that they want to hold a ceremony *outside. You might wish to create a ceremony that includes religious or spiritual elements if you wish as well as any family or cultural traditions.

  • in the UK it is a venue that is licensed not the registrar meaning to have a legal ceremony, it has to take place under a permanent structure. And although there are some open structures in venue gardens, there are still far and few between.

Your ceremony is a celebration of your love, so rather than focusing on the legalities, a Celebrant ceremony focuses on the two of you; your love and the story of how you have arrived at this most significant moment in your lives.Nikki WoodPerfect Words Ceremonies

“Remember that you will be working with a celebrant over months, probably. You’ll be discussing intimate feelings with them. You’ll need to like and trust them. You’ll need to be sure they’ll do what you – not what they – want.” Michael, Vows that Wow

Celebrant led ceremony

Perfect Word Ceremonies / www.stephaniedreamsphotography.com

Where can my ceremony be held?

Literally anywhere as long as you have the landowners permission. So this could be in your garden, on a beach, in a boat, at a restaurant or at a wedding venue (but you are not restricted to using only a licensed room, it could be the venues garden for example)

“Festival and Woodland weddings are becoming increasingly popular, especially for 2021 in light of the recent pandemic and many couples want the flexibility of being able to hold their wedding ceremonies in an areas where they can spread out, allowing for the possibility of social distancing.” Nikki WoodPerfect Word Ceremonies

Where can I find a celebrant?

You can pop onto our , remember all our members have been checked and vetted before being accepted. You will also find easy links to their listings at the end of this article. You can also ask for recommendations from your wedding planner or venue, and of course you can pop onto google. Ensure you do interview your celebrants before choosing who to work with. And never hand money over without a signed contract.

One size does not fit all. There are so many celebrants to choose from – consider, style, dress, delivery, warm personality, quiet/ reserved or more outgoing, even flamboyant. Are they articulate, experienced and above all a professional who is  trustworthy ?

Bernadette French, Precious Moments Ceremonies

Wedding Celebrant

Vows That Wow / Elwood Photography

How to choose whom to work with

Hiring a wedding celebrant is similar in some ways to hiring a wedding planner. It is vital you choose one that you connect with. That you trust to create your perfect meaningful. In order to feel confident with who you choose it is vital to have either a meetings or a video call.

Look at websites and check the style and vibe of previous weddings. Every celebrant is different, some are logistical, some are creative, some are bubbly and loud, some are quiet and gentle. What type of person do you want? What personality traits are aligned with yours? Its important to see if you connect initially from their website and social media before arranging to meet or call those you shortlist. Never underestimate the important of trusting your “gut”

It is really important that couples click with their Celebrant, so having a face to face or Zoom meeting is a really good way to find out whether you resonate with each other and will therefore enjoy working together.” Nikki WoodPerfect Words Ceremonies

There is a Celebrant out there to suit everyone. Quirky or quiet, loud or loving, studious, or silly. This is your choice so enjoy finding a celebrant that will tell your story in a way you haven’t even thought possible. For example I was a Theatre Manager in London, so staging a production and being part of a creative team is second nature to me, so you will be in very safe hands! ” Helen NobleHelen Noble Celebrant of Surrey

“Think about the ‘vibe’ of the wedding and who fits that the best. Some celebrants really niche their ideal couple so a woodland celebrant who favours the pagan, free-flowing nature side of things, might not suit a couple who want a stylish, elegant wedding with more structure.” Rebecca, White Rose Ceremonies

Supplier Member

Helen Noble Celebrant of Surrey / Weddings by Nicola & Glen

What questions should you ask your celebrant?

Remember you are not only ensuring you have that personal connection, but you are also checking their credentials and suitability. Here are some questions you might wish to ask during your meeting or video call.

  • How long have you been a Celebrant?
  • Where did you train and what are your qualifications?
  • Can I see independent testimonials?
  • Are you insured?
  • What is your fee and what does this include?
  • How do I secure my booking?
  • What is the process of creating our wedding ceremony?
  • Will you help us write our own vows?
  • How can we include family and friends in the ceremony?
  • Will our ceremony be personal to us?
  • Can we have a rehearsal
  • Can we include religious, ritual or cultural elements to our ceremony

“Sometimes local authorities and their registrars are unable to offer a couple the day, date , time and place their choosing. A celebrant can help in these situations ensuring they can still have a ceremony on that date. They just need to take care of the legal formalities separately, either days or  hours before the big day  or afterwards.”  Bernadette French, Precious Moments Ceremonies

What does a wedding celebrant typically do?

Firstly celebrants work beautifully with wedding planners, in fact you might say they are the dream team. Your celebrant will create a ceremony script that is completely personalised for you. Often talking about stories of your relationship you want to share with your friends and family.

The duties of your celebrant will generally depend on whether there is a wedding planner. For example some celebrants will coordinate the ceremony, contacting suppliers before hand. Whereas others, will only liaise with the couple planning their ceremony structure, before turning up on the day. If a wedding planner is organising the wedding they will work closely with the celebrant to ensure timings and logistics are aligned for the ceremony.

The script is written for you, and with you, and you see it ahead of the day. Perhaps most importantly, I am not going to tell you what spouse you are going to promise to be. I’m not going to make you promise things you haven’t got ownership of. YOU write your promises, you have ownership of your vows, and I shall weave it in and give you the space to say them.” Helen Noble, Wedding Celebrant of Surrey

A celebrant will create a personalised bespoke ceremony that focuses on the couple and how they would like their ceremony to be.

Weddings these days are far more culturally diverse and flexible. Couples can choose to include music, poems, chants, quotes and even pets in their ceremonies. Celebrants are often more than happy to lead ceremonies for LGBTQ+ couples, interracial couples, and couples from different spiritual backgrounds who want to include both cultures in a custom ceremony. Sonal Dave

How do wedding Celebrants charge?

A Celebrant fee typically ranges from £500 to £1200, it is worth establishing what is included in their price to ensure that you are comparing like with like.

For instance, does a Celebrant who is charging £500 write a completely bespoke service and include a rehearsal and the various different mini ritual elements? Some Celebrants charge a different fee for a weekday’s ceremony to weekend ceremonies and also some charge higher fees during peak wedding season. There is a wide range of fees, but it is definitely worth making sure that they are offering a level of service that you are seeking.

Wedding Celebrant

Sonal Dave / James Howard Photography

We hope you have enjoyed our guide to wedding celebrants. Feel free to contact any of our members we have mentioned to help you with your ceremony. We will leave you with this quote from Rebecca White Rose Ceremonies.

“Find one that you click with. If you don’t feel that you can share your journey with your celebrant and enjoy the laughter with them, then look for another one.” Rebecca, White Rose Ceremonies

Photo Credits

Feature Image – Member Helen Noble photographed by Chebirch Hayes 

Title image of Whiterose Ceremonies photographed by Nelson Photos

Same sex ceremony conducted by Perfect Word Ceremonies and photographed by Stephanie Dreams

Ceremony in a field conducted by Vows and Wows, photographed by  Elwood Photography 

Indoors ceremony by Helen Noble photographed by Nicola & Glen 

Ceremony with dogs conducted by Sonal Dave and photographed by James Howard

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