So you are in the early stages of planning your wedding ceremony and you do not know if you want to employ the services of a registrar, where it will be the same impersonal words and vows as all other couples getting married . . . or to use a wedding celebrant? Is there a difference?

So, what can a celebrant offer that a registrar cannot offer?

Firstly, let’s have a look at what the two are and see if there are any differences:

registrar is a government official, responsible for keeping legal records. A wedding ceremony performed by a registrar must take place within a registry office, or a venue licensed for marriage using specified contractual wording to legalise the union. Religious or spiritual content is not allowed in a registrar wedding ceremony.

celebrant is an independent individual who is trained in providing you with a custom-made ceremony designed to celebrate any special moment in your life in a way which is personal to you, without legal obligation or government restriction. There are very few limitations as to what can be included in a celebrant wedding or life event ceremony.

A married couple holding hands during a vow renewal ceremony by Tim Downer Celebrant

A Celebrant – As a celebrant, I will meet with you personally as a couple to have a chat about your vision for your wedding ceremony and using your own personal love story, along with what you love to do as a couple, what makes you laugh, what makes you cry, and using your very own personal vows and promises, I will create a tailor-made, bespoke wedding ceremony for you both based on our discussions, and the beauty of having a celebrant? . . . You get to approve every word of the ceremony.

This ceremony could include any symbolic ceremony you desire! This could include such ceremonies as the unity candle ceremony, or maybe a sand ceremony, a hand-fasting ceremony . . . the world is your oyster here and I will be delighted to include any ceremony you guys want. You can have any reading, poem or music you want too . . . it will be your day, your way. Nothing is restricted!

Your guests can take part too! For example guests can take part in the wedding ring warming ceremony where the rings are passed round to each guest, who then hold the ring and ‘warm’ them with their love and wishes for your future as a married couple. You can include any readings, religious, or spiritual themes and nothing is vetted or restricted.

A Celebrant can conduct ceremonies at any time of the day and at any venue. So you can marry at dawn on a cliff top or at dusk in a forest, or have it in your garden if you want to. When using a celebrant, your venue choice does not need to have a licence, so the options are truly endless.

You can if you wish include religious content (which a Registrar cannot). You can include your family, your children, your friends or your pets. You can really go for a theme – the more creative, the better – if you want to conga down the aisle, then go for it. The only limit is your imagination!

A married couple having a photograph on a beach during their wedding ceremony - Tim Downer Celebrant


A Registrar – A registrar has to stick to a rigid script and, whilst you may be able to include readings, you will not be permitted to have anything with any religious or spiritual content. You may get the chance to meet with your registrar once beforehand if you are lucky, however in my experience this is unlikely and he or she will not be able to spend much time getting to know you.

Also, a registrar ceremony will typically be around 20 minutes and your ceremony will be one of many the same day. A Registrar is only able to provide a limited amount of personalisation and absolutely cannot perform the ceremony outdoors (unless under a licensed structure) and is not able to offer rituals like a Unity Candle Ceremony, handfasting or Ring Warming Ceremony.

And as a celebrant, I will only ever do one wedding per day, so you can have a ceremony as long or as short as you wish, knowing I won’t be rushing to or from another couple.

No two couples are the same, your love story as a couple is unique so why would you want your ceremony to sound like everyone else’s?

A married couple just after getting married - Tim Downer Celebrant


If this sounds like something you would like to have for your ceremony, or you wish to know more, then please give me a call on 07557 803814 or fill out the contact form and I will get back to you.


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