What qualifications do you have?
A good celebrant will naturally have the skills, personality and attributes to ensure a relaxed, stress-free (as far as possible) and fluid ceremony, but should also have been trained by a professional organisation.
For me, I completed my training with the Fellowship of Professional Celebrants (which is in partnership with The UK College of Celebrancy) and I have my certificate which means that I have successfully attended and completed the training, and proven to the tutor that I am competent to complete a marriage ceremony, baby naming ceremony, renewal of vows (and any other ceremony that you desire) by the Fellowship of Professional Celebrants.
Will I be legally married if I use a Celebrant?
As I have said in my blogs, a Celebrant does not marry a couple, a Celebrant is there to create something special with the lovely couple a ceremony that is personal to them. You would still need to complete the ‘legal’ part of the marriage with the registrar.
Here you will just need to speak the 32 word declaration and sign the documentation in front of your two witnesses, and you can save all the personal content such as the exchanging of the rings and saying your personal vows to each other in front of your guests for the Celebrant led ceremony.
Many couples choose to go to the registry office in their jeans and t-shirts and save the dressing up for the wedding ceremony. At the registry office you are only paying for a basic registrar service which is less than £50 (at the time of writing this article) and then you can further save money by holding the ceremony at a location of your choice!
What does a Celebrant offer that a Registrar cannot offer?
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!
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 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.
Where can a ceremony be held?
A ceremony can be held wherever you like, as long as you have permission from the land or property owners, you are limited only by your imagination! This could include a hotel, a museum, a gallery, woodland, a beach, a field, your old school, a night club, your garden, a tea room, the place where you first met, in barns and even a hot air balloon!! You can book any venue that hires out rooms for social events or gives you permission to do so, whether licensed or unlicensed
If you have a venue in mind that means something to you both, with a Celebrant you could have an amazing and wonderfully personal ceremony here.As i have said already, you are only limited by your imagination.
If I wanted my ceremony to have some religious element to it, would that be okay?
You can have whatever you want in your ceremony; after all, it is YOUR day, not the Celebrant’s day. You will have full control of the time, location and content of your wedding.
If you wish for a blending of faiths to be a part of the ceremony, then this can of course be done. If you want a scripture or two used or a prayer said, we can do this. I was brought up as a Christian but no longer practise a faith.
You can also have symbolic faith based rituals such as holding a Chuppah, Breaking the Glass, Seven Steps Ritual, Hand Washing Ritual, and many more.
The same would apply for those couples who want no reference to religion – your ceremony means your words.
What is the usual length of your ceremonies?
This depends largely on the number of readings and if the couple has a hand-fasting or a sand ceremony for example, but a typical service with exchange of vows and rings will be about 20-30 mins. Otherwise there is no time limit . . .
A lot of preparation takes place so that a memorable wedding service can happen. There is no rush, a Celebrant is not on a tight deadline, and there is no one else out in the corridor waiting their turn. A Celebrant is there for you and you only.
I have been married before and I have children, does that matter?
It makes no difference to a Celebrant how many times someone has been married or what the circumstances were. A Celebrant only cares about your wedding and will be committed to delivering something memorable. Celebrants will happily work with couples and families with varying circumstances and proudly embrace diversity.
Does a registrar have to be present at my wedding ceremony?
No. As this is not a legal ceremony couples do the ‘legal bit’ either before or after the main event, as mentioned above.
I have heard about old traditions that can be included in my ceremony, like ‘Jumping the Broom’ and ‘Handfasting’. How can I find out more about them?
During one of the first conversations you have with a Celebrant, they will offer you the opportunity to include any old traditions and more. Every Celebrant should be able to make you aware of what choices you have to include any number of old traditions.
If you know of a tradition that your Celebrant has never heard of, rest assured, if you want it and it is possible, they will research it and build it into your ceremony. We are celebrants and here to celebrate this special day with you guys, we are not all knowing oracles and do not know everything!!
Why is it so important to have a unique ceremony? What’s wrong with a registry office or church wedding?
Nothing is right or wrong about the choices you make, however when you consider the time you spend on the look of the wedding, the dress, the make-up, the hair stylist, the food, the decorations etc, then taking just a small chunk of that time to consider the impact a personalised ceremony will have, it’s got to be worth it.
No two couples are the same, and many couples are more than happy to get married at a registry office or at a Church. There is nothing wrong with this at all, it is your choice.
Do you include a ceremony rehearsal?
I will always try to hold a rehearsal with you a day or two before the ceremony if you wish. Depending on your location this may incur a small fee for mileage, but I will happily confirm this when you make your booking.
I want a traditional wedding, is a celebrant for me?
Yes! Celebrants don’t only cater to the ‘weird and the wonderful’ when it comes to weddings. Your ceremony can be as simple and traditional as you please. It’s more about making it personal to you.
Why Choose A Celebration Ceremony When It’s Not Legal?
Ask most people what the focal point of a wedding ceremony is and they’ll say it’s the joining together of two people in love. It’s an opportunity to get all the family and loved ones together to celebrate that love and witness the declaration of the vows the couple make to one another for the years ahead.
The focus has very little to do with the ‘legal registration’ of that marriage. That’s just a hoop to jump through in the process. A Celebrant led wedding celebration ceremony will put the focus firmly on you, the couple, at the centre of the day.