Why I might not be the Celebrant for you!

Why I might not be the Celebrant for you!

The following script is based on the transcribed words from my latest podcast show, titled "Why I might NOT be the Celebrant for you"


Hey, welcome to the ‘Life’s Celebrations!’ Podcast - with me, your Host - Tim Downer.

This is a podcast for anyone who loves a ceremony, or is planning an amazing celebration for themselves or indeed, for someone else. And to be fair, as human beings, we do love to get together and celebrate life events! A good old wedding, a retirement party or a birthday {and the list goes on!} . . . which is why I have named this Podcast ‘Life’s Celebrations’

Not only will I be talking about different ceremonies - and I will be upfront and say that I will be mainly talking weddings . . . but also during this journey of podcasting I will be interviewing some amazing wedding professionals along the way, talking to them about what they do and also offering you some ideas and some tips and insider knowledge - PLUS I will be asking them what questions we should be asking them to make sure we get what we actually want or need. 

This is episode #1 recorded today on Saturday, April 3rd 2021 and the title of my first episode is “Why I might not be the Celebrant for you!“

So, in this, my very first episode I just wanted to introduce myself to you, and to delve into the Celebrant life . . . what we do and why we do what we do . . . and hopefully during the course of this Podcast series, help you with some ideas and inspiration for your up and coming celebration!

So who am I? Not only am I the Host of this Podcast, but I am also a Celebrant!

My name is Tim Downer and I trained with the Fellowship of Professional Celebrants back in 2018. This training, which was over a couple of days was really enjoyable, educational, and informative. We went through the history of weddings and other traditions  -  and compared them to today's celebrations. We of course studied the typical format of a wedding . . . but with the caveat that all Celebrant led weddings are different, but it was good to know what a structured wedding ceremony could look like, just for some guidance.

We also studied some of the common symbolic ceremonies that we typically see in wedding ceremonies today, such as a sand blending ceremony, a unity candle ceremony, a handfasting {and in later podcasts, I will dig deeper into these symbolic ceremonies and many others, with their history and meanings . . . and how you could implement them in your ceremony today}.

. . . and then, it was our turn to create a ceremony based on a fictitious couple and perform it in front of the group . . . . which to be fair, was quite nerve racking in front of other celebrants and a trainer!! 

There were about 8 or 10 of us there on the training and we all went home as trained & informed celebrants, and since then, do you know what I have found? I have found that I love my role as a celebrant. . . . (now, here come several more things I love about being a celebrant . . . ) 

  • I Loved creating my website, {yes, I did create this myself!!} - I am a Nerd! But I do Love my website and am often updating it with blogs etc
  • Being a people person, I love meeting up with new couples like you, getting to know you and finding out what you like - and not like so much. 
  • And after getting to know my couples, I love creating something special and personal for their ceremony, and more than all the above . . . especially as I have the best seat at the ceremony . . .
  • I love to watch and listen to all my lovely couples say their very own personally written vows to each other . . . Now that's my favorite part of the ceremony, and it's Awesome.


So as I have said . . . Celebrations - we all love one and not just weddings - we also have baby naming ceremonies, vow renewal ceremonies, and retirement ceremonies . . . and I have even heard of moving into a new house ceremony??? And dare I mention it?? Divorce ceremony!!! 

Anything you can think of celebrating, a celebrant can work with you to create an amazing personalised script for your ceremony!

So, thinking about our weddings:

If you are wanting a ceremony in the forest, or on the beach . . . or in the restaurant where you had your first date {how romantic would that be??} . . . a celebrant can perform your ceremony there, and it does not need to be a licensed venue either which you do need to have when using a registrar . . . although recently some councils now allow their registrars to perform their ceremony in an unlicensed place, but you will still need to go to the registry office to do the legal part!!

. . . and it is about here on many celebrants websites that they will add the following information regarding the legality of your wedding ceremony when using a celebrant. Mine states:

*Important to note! – I am a celebrant and NOT a registrar, therefore for your marriage to be recognised by law, you must complete the legal formalities at a registry office before or after the ceremony – This is usually done by couples earlier the same day of the wedding ceremony, or the day before. Typically in Hertfordshire you hire a small room for £48.00 for you two and two witnesses, sign the paperwork plus £11.00 for the certificate

Now, I do not know how organised you are with your planning arrangements, but I have found this generally to be true . . . whichever the ceremony is, you will have many important suppliers on your list, but one {and I am biased on this} is usually left to last, if not nearly forgotten!! 

Unless you are having a wedding ceremony in a church! Then this has to be your celebrant to perform the ceremony . . . 

You choose a venue (check) You choose your dress (check) You choose your cake (check) and theme for your wedding (check) which in all fairness is all you see on Facebook groups, and of course you do need to book in all the suppliers you need, depending on your budgets and wants, to have an awesome ceremony . . . and then you think: 

“Oh! Who's going to officiate and perform the ceremony for us??”

So yes, having a celebrant to officiate at your wedding is an important role to fill, but you will really need to spend a little of your time getting the right celebrant for you!

  • I am here jumping up and down here, waving my arms on the air - yes, this will be your celebrant trying to get your attention!!        “Pick Me, Pick Me!!”

But before you run to the nearest celebrant and book them, What is a Celebrant?? And how do you know which one to pick??

So what is a celebrant?  Are they the same as a registrar or a member of the clergy?

Well, a Celebrant isn't bound by any religion, statute or doctrine, which means that Celebrant ceremonies enable us as Celebrants to create and perform completely personalised and bespoke ceremonies for you. And whilst Celebrants may have a personal belief, these beliefs are just that, personal and will not be pushed or promoted during your ceremony.

Ceremonies that are carried out by the clergy, most often contain religious wording, prayers and religious hymns, leaving little room to talk about the couples story however this may be ideal for you if you both are wanting a church wedding.

Ceremonies carried out by registrars must adhere to the required statutory words and any music played or wording said, must NOT contain any religious or spiritual connotations . . . when my wife Claire and I were married, we had a registrar at our wedding ceremony {I didn't know about celebrants back then!!} Claire wanted to walk down the aisle to Ava Maria, but because of the religious wording in the song, they said we couldn’t have it!! - However, at a wedding fair we met this amazing singer whose name was Gemma Samuels and she sang Beyonce’s version of this tune which we were eventually allowed, as the religious wording was not in this version . . . it’s not often, especially as a man, to go to a large wedding fair and end up shedding a few tears when someone is on stage singing!!!

But choosing a Celebrant, your ceremony can contain any wording you want whether religious, spiritual or personal. A Celebrant led wedding ceremony is there to tell the story of you and your partner and Celebrants are merely the storytellers of your love story.


A Wedding Celebrant will create a completely personalised wedding ceremony for you based on the choices and requirements of YOU as a couple. Each ceremony is different and unique - which is why I have the quote on my website: “No two people are the same, so why would you want your ceremony to be like anybody else’s?” and Celebrants are trained to do the same for commitment and vow renewal ceremonies too.

A Family Celebrant does the same as a wedding celebrant and are involved with many other life ceremonies such as a baby naming ceremony, where you would welcome the newborn into the family and the world, adoption ceremony, a family blending ceremony where two people with children meet and introduce their children to each other's family, divorce and engagement ceremonies. It's all about you and what you want . . .


I am sure you will agree - a celebrant should be someone that you feel comfortable with, can respect and have confidence in, especially as they will set the tone for your ceremony and make your guests feel welcome.

I heard on another podcast last week that it doesn't matter about the ceremony, it is the party that makes the celebration!! . . . however, if you choose the right celebrant for you, the ceremony will set the tone for the whole day!

If you can remember the title of this podcast episode: 

 “Why I might not be the Celebrant for you!“

The reason why I chose this as a title is that believe it or not, Celebrants around the UK, and around the world . . . WE ARE ALL VERY DIFFERENT!! ??


We all have different belief systems, backgrounds, styles, personalities and different life experiences which makes us all individually unique . . . and you need to make sure the celebrant you choose fits in with your style of ceremony and personality.

Some celebrants are spiritual, some are more religious. We have celebrants who are more than happy to dress up as a wizard for your harry potter themed wedding ceremony, {and, if this is what you are looking for, I will put you in contact with an amazing celebrant who would do this for you, and no, this is not me} 

“. . . oh the things we do as celebrants to make your special day happen!”


But for me, I am more of a traditional celebrant who likes process and order. I am just as happy to reference and use the bible through the ceremony and talk of god in your relationship, as I am to create and perform a non-religious ceremony . . . and to be fair, I would say that over 90% of ceremonies I am asked to work on are non-religious! 

It is your day and we as celebrants are there to help make your day happen.

Yes, you did hear me correctly  -  A Celebrant is there to Help you . . . because we do not do all the work! You too will be involved in the construction of the ceremony, the creative process, so that every word and every moment, will come directly from your hearts

I will go through in more detail how we would involve yourselves in the creative process in another podcast . . .


So, choosing your celebrant!! Easy, right?

Well, here are some things to think about when looking for, and choosing your celebrant . . . have you got a pen and paper? Have a think of the following thoughts and write down your answers - and I will be transcribing this Podcast for you so all the information will be available in written down form for you to read later:

Well, I would say that the number one way to make choosing a celebrant easier is to know what you want!! This requires some preparation work on your part, but, it will save you a lot of wasted time going down paths that don’t lead to your destination.

“But, I hear you say, I have never done this before, how do I know what I want?”

I do get it . . . You probably have not been married before, so you don’t know what you don’t know! You could therefore ask yourself what it is you do not want! Think about the weddings you have been to:

  • Was there anything that you really didn't like
  • Why didn't you like it? 
  • How could it have been done better?

You can ask these same questions on the other side, with what it was that you loved about other wedding ceremonies!

Next, think about the style of the ceremony you’re after:

  • Are you going traditional?
  • Do you want a ceremony that is going to be quite creative? Relaxed? Emotional?

Either way, you will want to make sure the celebrant you choose is willing and able to deliver what you want.


The next thing to consider is personality:

  • Do you want a celebrant that is going to put on a show, entertain your guests and take the limelight off of you?
  • Or do you want someone who is still warm and friendly, but maybe a bit more laid back? 
  • Do you want someone who is more of a facilitator than an entertainer?
  • Are you looking for someone who makes you feel comfortable and helps the two of you create something special, something magical?


Celebrants come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, styles and personalities. The thing to remember is that there is no right and wrong choice . . . there is only what is right or wrong for you as a couple!

And it’s not all just about the personality and delivery on the day! Most of the interaction you will have with your celebrant is in the lead up to your day, so you will want someone who also matches the way you like to work. 

For example, do you want to work with someone process-driven, who is responsive with lots of communication? Or do you prefer someone more laid-back that doesn’t ask too much of you?

Once you have defined all the above and worked out what you are after, it is now time to do your research and make a shortlist of potential celebrants.

When you have found someone you like the look of and the feel of online {or from recommendations} ask yourself: “Do they fit my brief?”

You may love someone's work or meet a lovely celebrant at a local wedding fair and really admire their work, but that doesn’t mean that they are the right fit for your ceremony.

If they have any videos on their website, watch them. 

If they have blogs on their website, read through them.

Do they have reviews on their website or social media? 

What have people said about these celebrants? Do their experiences of working with this celebrant match with your brief?

If you think a celebrant will be the right match for your style, personalities and ceremony, then you will need to engage with them and find out if they are available on your wedding day . . . there’s nothing worse than getting your heart set on something, doing all the research and being so invested only to find out that it cannot be an option in the first place because they already have a wedding ceremony on your date!


Starting a conversation with a celebrant will also give you a feel for them and the way they work:

  • Did they respond to your initial query promptly?
  • Did they answer your questions?
  • Do they match your budget?

Also, make sure you are giving them enough information to serve you properly! 

Simply asking a celebrant what their fee is isn’t very helpful! Most celebrants fees depend on things such as location, time of day, what type of ceremony you are wanting . . . etc

Share your brief with them, such as venue location, time and date of wedding, and anything you want included such as a theme of if you want to be dressing up! Any symbolic ceremonies, readings etc and they will be far more invested in working with you, and will be able to provide you with all the relevant information you need.

By the time you get to meet with a celebrant, you should pretty much have made your decision. This is just the opportunity to confirm the research you have already done and to find out if the match works out in real life!

The celebrant will want to get to know you, but please make sure you take the time to get to know them too. Ask them questions:

  • Find out what they have to offer that differs from other celebrants?
  • Ask about their process?
  • Ask them what is required of you?
  • Ask them why they became a celebrant?
  • And ask them about  -  their family, their interests and where they are from . . . this stuff may not sound like it is relevant to your wedding {and you're right, it is not} but it can be the thing that forms a connection.

You will want to form a good relationship with your celebrant as well as finding out about their service. A great connection will ultimately lead to a great experience.

Some couples will only meet with one celebrant and if they like them, they will lock it in. Other couples will meet a handful of celebrants before making a decision.

Now, there is no right or wrong way to do it but it is an important decision to make, so go about it whichever way works for you . . . ultimately you have just got to trust your gut . . .


So, based on those thoughts, and as not all celebrants are the same, would you agree therefore, that it would be a good idea to get in contact with several celebrants and arrange for a face-to-face meeting?

 As we discussed a few moments ago, this first meeting, the consultation if you like, will also be an ideal time to ask as many questions as you can think of about the celebrant and how they work, what their terms and conditions are, their cancellation policies, ceremony prices etc

Under the current circumstances, with the pandemic at the time of recording, this is usually done through the medium of skype and zoom - that being said, as much as I love meeting up for a scrummy coffee - we are all busy and a video call saves a lot of time for us all, especially at the beginning of your fact finding mission to find your celebrant. 

Armed with your questions answered, and a better and informed idea of what you are getting for your cost for the ceremony {that's our fee!} and all the other points you have covered, you may feel that you can make a decision on your choice of celebrant at last . . . THEN, it might be the ideal time to set up a cafe meeting with your celebrant face-to-face!

What should you expect when you have chosen your Celebrant?

Well, I will just briefly discuss my process, which generally will be the same process for most celebrants out there:

  • Consultation = Zoom/Skype call to say hello, and answer questions you may have (20 minutes or so)
  • If you have decided to choose me, I have an online booking form on my website, which is very simple to fill out and take a minute to fill out and send. Other celebrants may have similar, or they will send you a booking form on email - Once I have received this and the booking fee, then your day is set in stone
  • About 4 months before the date of your ceremony, I would send out to you a ceremony questionnaire (presented)
  • I will always be available to answer your questions on phone or email
  • You can have as many changes to the script as neede

Exciting times - You are getting married!! You have what everyone has or yearns for - Love, Happiness, Romance and your loved ones . . . 

 . . . So, let’s Celebrate!!



That's it for this episode - I do hope you found it helpful and informative, and will walk away from this podcast episode with a better idea of what a celebrant is, and have a better idea of how to choose an awesome celebrant for your ceremony.

Remember to head over to my website at timdownercelebrant.com for more information on ceremony pricing, blogs etc and please make sure to ‘hit’ the subscribe button on here so that you do not miss any other episodes on this podcast.

And if you have learnt anything from today's podcast or it has given you any inspiration for your ceremony, or have something you like me to discuss in a future podcast episode - then I would love to hear from you . . . 

. . . and if you could, I would appreciate a rating and a review  -  it really means a lot to me when you guys do a review, plus it helps other people to know whether or not this is a good, informative podcast to listen to . . . . plus it's awesome to read through your reviews.

The music for this podcast was download with permission from Joseph McDade from josephmcdade.com/music

Follow me on Instagram and Facebook by looking for me at: timdownercelebrant

And you can email me at: timdownercelebrant@gmail.com

Anyway, that’s it for this episode and thank you so much for listening, and I will catch you next time.

Take care, and stay safe and let’s keep on celebrating . . .


You can find my Podcast series on mainstream podcast platforms just by searching for 'Life's Celebrations' or click on the image below:


If you would like to check my availability or would like any more information, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me and I will get back to you as quickly as I can.

To contact me please email: timdownercelebrant@gmail.com or call / text message: 07557803814

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