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A 'Celebrant led Wedding'... what is that?!

Updated: Dec 12, 2022

If you are reading this, thinking of getting married then the first thing to say is

‘CONGRATULATIONS’!

Cheers! Congratulations on your forthcoming wedding! A group of people celebrating a wedding!

If you've always wanted to get married under the stars, on a beach, among beautiful gardens, beside castle ruins or at your own home, a celebrant is the choice for you. Religious and civil ceremonies can feel very limiting for some couples, which is why they turn to a celebrant-led wedding that is personal, flexible and as formal … or informal as you'd like!



What is a celebrant?

My name is James and I am a Civil Celebrant!

A celebrant is a person who performs ceremonies marking life’s biggest milestones! People may often think of us officiating at Funerals, or 'Celebration of Life' ceremonies - which are, as the name suggests, a way of saying goodbye and celebrating the life of a loved one. To be able to lead 'celebration of life' ceremonies you have to be at the top of your game - everything has to be perfect!


With Celebration of life ceremonies , the other part of the work is to be able to lead wedding ceremonies, Civil Partnership Celebration Ceremonies, Renewal of Vows ceremonies, baby naming ceremonies, family joining ceremonies, Commitment and even divorce ceremonies - the list goes on!! Whatever the milestone in life, a ceremony can be created for it.


One of the joys of working with a celebrant is that during your ceremony, there is nothing we have to do, and (within reason) nothing we can’t do! Ceremonies can be completely secular (non-religious), or we can include some religious or spiritual elements – the point is that it gives you choice to celebrate in your own way!


Every ceremony I create is bespoke, unique and written especially for you! Working together, you have the creative freedom to make your day as you want it – your day, your way!


Is there a difference between ‘Humanist’ and ‘Independent’ or ‘Civil’ Celebrants?

Well… I’ll start with the easiest bit.. a ‘Civil’ Celebrant and an ‘Independent’ Celebrant are two names for the same thing!

A ‘Humanist’ celebrant is part of the Humanist belief system and so every ceremony they conduct should adhere to that system – so they wouldn’t include any religious elements and there may be a time in the ceremony where they may speak about humanism.


As a Civil Celebrant, my beliefs are of no relevance in terms of your ceremony – it’s all about you – not about me! Your gender, sexuality, faith, style, etc dictate your ceremony and how you want to celebrate your love, not any belief system that I hold.


Why choose a Celebrant instead of a Registrar?

If you chose to marry at a licensed wedding venue or a registry office, a registrar would perform your legal ceremony. There are rules, regulations and red tape with a registrar wedding which often include you not being able to share personalised vows, not being allowed to bring in any decorations or use certain music you would like to. Additionally, a registrar is likely to have more than one wedding to attend per day, so you'll have a restricted amount of their time too!


A celebrant wedding is the exact opposite of a Registrar led marriage. A registrar will often offer you two scripts – 'A' & 'B' from which to choose and from which they are not allowed to deviate! In a celebrant led ceremony, I will meet with you, get to know you and your story and write a personalised, bespoke ceremony that’s all about you – bringing a tear to the eye and a smile (and a chuckle!) to the lips of your guests.


I’ll help to guide you, so you have the confidence to make authentic and meaningful choices, we’ll find ways to involved all of the meaningful people in your life and we’ll create a ceremony that celebrates you and your love!


You would be assigned a registrar – you choose your celebrant. It’s important to find someone who understands you, your vision and values, and who wants to give you the unique, personal day that you deserve.


Each ceremony I produce is unique because you are unique! With my background as an actor, I’m happy to dress up if you have a particular theme in mind, or it can be a more traditional theme – the important thing is that it’s all about you!

Is there a limit to where we can hold our wedding ceremony?

Nope! With a registrar led ceremony it can only take place in certain designated places, with a celebrant you can marry wherever you like (provided we have the landowners permission!) – In a field, on a cliff overlooking the sea, in a garden, in a village hall, a theatre… the choice is yours!



Are celebrant-led weddings legal?

This depends on which part of the UK you are in and the type of celebrant. At the moment, Independent celebrants cannot perform legally binding weddings in the UK though, fingers crossed that this will soon change! The Law Commission have suggested that Civil Celebrants, properly qualified and licensed, are given the right to conduct legal ceremonies… I’ll update you when we know more.


Don't let this put you off though! All that's required is that the couple make the standard legal declarations and register their marriage with a registrar.

You would make an appointment with your local registry office; it takes about 15 minutes and can cost from as little as £46 plus the cost of the marriage certificate (usually £11). You will need two witnesses for the marriage ceremony (no witnesses are required for a civil partnership registration) and there is no time limit on when it can be done.

I'm happy to chat through this, just get in touch!


Once that’s done then you can have your wedding ceremony with family and friends and celebrate in the way you want to!


It's useful to think of it like registering a child – we celebrate the birthday not the registration day! The ‘legal bit’ with the registrar is the signing of the contract. Then your wedding ceremony is the making of promises in front of family and friends - it is the day of celebration – declaring your love in front of your loved ones!


How do we choose a celebrant?

Well… a lot of it comes down to finding someone who fits with you! A quick 'Google' will show you a myriad of different celebrants and you need to find someone you can work with, who you trust to conduct your special day!

Have a search online to find celebrants in your area (though many of us will travel!) and see if you get a sense of their personality – do they feel right for you? The ceremonies I deliver are diverse, but they all have a sense of fun and class!


Are they a member of a professional organisation. This is an important thing to explore, do they have the support of a larger organisation? I’m a member of the Association of Independent Celebrants which means they have checked my qualifications, I undertake regular CPD, have a high level of training and (although everything will be fine!) I’m fully insured.


Make sure they are well trained - my training course was at the highest level in the UK and the training provider is rated 'Outstanding' by Ofsted. I undertook a long distance learning course followed by an intensive week long residential course to ensure that I am the best celebrant I can be... do you want to trust your day to someone who did an £5 online course?


Then, get in touch! We love to chat – we’re all passionate about what we do! You can contact me through Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp, phone, email, the website - I'm very contactable! Remember… there are no silly questions, you have to make sure you find the right person for you!


I’m happy to meet together for a coffee and a chat (or on Zoom/phone if you would prefer) so we can get a feel for each other. I’ll ask you some questions and start getting a feel for the ceremony you would like and you can ask me whatever you would like!


What happens once we choose a celebrant?

You might book your celebrant (and most people do!) a long time in advance of your ceremony! So what happens during that time?


Well… First and foremost, we will meet and spend a few hours chatting about you, about your

story and about your thoughts for the day. This will usually be at the venue so we can have a look around and get a real feel for the ceremony and how it will look and work in

the space.

Then – we will keep in touch throughout the time before the wedding ceremony. We’ll chat regularly and make sure that the initial thoughts you have are still right for you and if things have changed and developed we can include your changes in to the ceremony.


Its during this time that I’ll be writing, researching, and finding poems, readings, etc that I think you might like and sending them through to you to hone the ceremony. We’ll talk about people who you would like to involve – maybe friends and family members who might like to read, or have some special part in the ceremony.

A few months before the wedding I will send out my first draft for you to read through. We may then meet again to chat it through and make alterations (it’s often easier when you see something in front of you!) so we can make it perfect. I’ll re-write the ceremony and send you re-drafts until you are happy!


Once the script is signed off, I will print the various copies required for the ceremony, including a beautifully presented keepsake copy for you, along with copies of the certificates, vows, readings and so forth, and they'll all be packed away in a keepsake box.


On the day, it’s my job to make sure everything flows beautifully and I will work closely the

with the people who have a part to play in the ceremony to ensure everyone feels comfortable and confident.


On the day, I will be at the venue at least an hour before the ceremony, along with portable amp and mic if needed, and mingle with the guests, calm nerves, and generally prep for the ceremony.


I never rush off and will usually only do one ceremony per day so you can be sure of my undivided attention. I love putting my energy and time into each ceremony and my aim is to leave you and the guests (and myself on the journey home!) with big smiles on our faces!


Can we write our own vows?



Yes! If you would like to write your own vows or promises, I’ll help and coach you through the process during this time too.





How much does a Celebrant led wedding cost?

First and foremost, I should say that cost shouldn’t be your prime deciding factor in choosing a celebrant – you want the best celebrant for you and, as the wedding ceremony is the central part of the day, that fabulous celebrant you have your eye on is certainly worth the investment!

As you can see from the information above about the work that goes into every ceremony that I lead, it’s not just the standing at the front chatting for 20 minutes!!


My ceremonies start at £575 for a personal, unique ceremony, delivered with class and flair. There are things we can add on, such as certain symbolic actions, like handfasting, that come with a small additional fee – as there are items which you keep, but these can be discussed when we meet.


How do we book?

I hope you’ve found this an interesting post! If you’d like to find out some more about me, what I do and how I can deliver your ceremony, send me a message, or give me a call– it’s good to talk!

I look forward to working with you soon!


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