Many people assume that a wedding needs to be held either in a religious building or in the register office. Well, those are not ideal for all, but fortunately there is the option of a civil celebrant .
As a lot of people don’t know that civil celebrants even exist, here’s some general information that should be useful.
Can a celebrant marry me legally?
The short answer, according to current English legislation, is no. However, there are two workable options to allow you to marry legally and also to enjoy the ceremony that you actually want.
1) you can have a registrar in attendance at the celebrant-led ceremony (provided the venue has the appropriate licence) or
2) you can marry legally (with 2 witnesses) at the Register Office the morning or day(s) before the ceremony. The celebrant can then conduct what to all intents and purposes is a full wedding or a wedding blessing ceremony (in the venue of your choice). That way, everything is covered.
What’s the difference between the Registrar’s and Celebrant’s ceremony?
The short answer is personalisation.
A registrar will keep to a script, without departing from it at all. The ceremony must contain no religious references. The time-slot is limited (there is usually a ‘conveyor-belt’ system in operation). You won’t normally have met the registrar who will be conducting your wedding.
None of the above applies to a civil celebrant. In addition to the personal and bespoke service that a celebrant offers, you also have freedom of choice of venue and even hour.
Would it be a humanist service?
It depends on the celebrant. A humanist, like the registrar, is not permitted to offer any religious content. A civil celebrant, like myself, can tailor the service absolutely according to your beliefs and wishes. I recently conducted a handfasting wedding, which was a fusion of paganism and Judaism! And it worked!
How are celebrants overseen?
Many celebrants belong to a body that has strict codes of ethics (I belong to UK Society of Celebrants, for example). These normally ensure that standards are being adhered to, although the celebrants I come into contact with are clearly professional, competent and trustworthy.
What about fees?
These will vary between celebrants and, obviously, need to take into account travel, possibly, board and lodging, and any unusual accessories requested.
The amount of work that will go into creating and performing a ceremony will depend on the type of ceremony required, so there’s no hard-and-fast rule. Personally, I usually give clients a firm quotation after our initial chat.
My fees include (virtually) unlimited contact with clients and as many revisions to the script as we need. Naturally, I conduct the service too. There are details of what is included on my website (www.vowsthatwow.co.uk) and I always send a clear summary in my Ts & Cs, once I have had the introductory chat with my clients.
What restrictions are there to the ceremony?
Beyond what I have already mentioned (especially on the legal side), as long as your requirements are within the realms of decency and reason, you can have what you want at your wedding.
- If you want to dance down the aisle or wear Superman outfits, you can!
- You can get married where you want (within reason) – that includes outdoors, of course, and could be in a hot-air balloon, say
- Your ceremony can include your choice of music, readings, rituals and participants
The idea is that we are working towards your big day. It should reflect your personality and be fun (where appropriate), meaningful and memorable.
That’s where a good celebrant comes in …