Getting the Most out of your Celebrant

Getting the Most out of your Celebrant

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.

Correen & Steve Farnborough Canal Centre

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 ( 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 …



Spreading the word “celebrant”!

Spreading the word “celebrant”!

In the celebrant world, there is a certain amount of competition, but I think we’re a close-knit bunch. I was certainly delighted, earlier this month, as my friend and colleague Judy Mansfield gained a huge boost for her business when she was profiled by the “Guardian Professional”.

Judy trained with me last year and we have met at subsequent training courses, as well as at quarterly FOIC meetings. She is a lovely and supportive person, and I am so pleased that she has had this success.

Judy’s article has also done a lot to put celebrancy on the map, so I am delighted to highlight it as my blog of the week. Here it is in full. Enjoy!


Marketing and PR excellence: Cherish Ceremonies

“It’s vital that my clients connect with me – after all, I’m involved in huge events in their lives”

  • Guardian Professional, Wednesday 9 October 2013 17.01 BST

Judy Mansfield connects to potential clients via YouTube videos. Photograph: PR

Name: Cherish Ceremonies
City: Southam

I launched Cherish Ceremonies in January to design and deliver heartfelt ceremonies for all life occasions, including weddings, vow renewals, baby namings and funerals.

The question I get asked most is, “What is a celebrant?” I decided to harness the power of YouTube and made some short videos to introduce myself and what I do.

It’s vital that my clients connect with me – after all, I’m involved in huge events in their lives. The best advice I’ve had is not to be afraid to let the passion for my business shine through, and it seems to be working.

Social media opens doors that would remain closed trying to connect through more traditional ways. But it is vital not to spam.

Building relationships is key, and as well as my blog, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube have been fabulous at enabling me to do this. It takes time, it takes energy, it takes commitment, but it is doable. The uppermost thought on my mind when I interact online is, “How can I be of help to you?”

Sharing what I’ve learned through online Q&A sessions has been amazing too. ‘Givers gain’ and ‘paying it forward’ works. It’s like sowing the seeds – the harvest in the form of sales will come (and is already happening).

Judy Mansfield is the celebrant at Cherish Ceremonies

Judy has clearly worked very hard and she is an inspiring lady. I am looking forward to seeing her again later this week near Northampton, and congratulating her in person on her achievements.

I shall be following her example – in fact, I film my first video next week, so YouTube, watch out!

Michael Gordon can help prepare and conduct a tailor-made life-cycle ceremony in or around London or, indeed, in Europe.

Dynamic moves afoot for Civil Celebrants

“Dynamic” might not be the word that comes straight to mind when talking about associations for civil celebrants, but actually that fits the bill quite well at present.

Not so many people have heard of civil celebrants, and far fewer will know (or care!) about their governing bodies, but I thought I would put that straight.

Although Civil Celebrancy, while not exactly in its infancy in the UK, is relatively unknown, it appears to be gathering momentum nowadays. There are several unions/fellowships for celebrants to belong to, but these organizations wield limited power and do not agree in every respect.

Last week I attended the quarterly meeting of FOIC (Fellowship of Independent Celebrants) near Coventry. Representatives of ARC (Association of Registered Celebrants) were there, with potentially exciting news.

ARC is an umbrella association for all celebrant organisations. In time, ARC will be able to lobby government on our behalf.  FOIC is in the process of drawing up an approved syllabus and examinations for celebrants.  ARC intends to qualify across-the-board accreditation, and those who fulfill the criteria will be able to call themselves “registered celebrants”.

FOIC celebrants will be full members of ARC.

Personally, as a FOIC-trained wedding and also funeral celebrant  (with a growing portfolio of successful services behind me as evidence), I may not be far away from applying for registered status. This will afford still more credibility, both to the public and also, for example, to Funeral Directors, who often call upon me.

I am very excited!

I shall shortly be going on a family holiday, so will have to disappoint my die-hard fans, who are expecting a blog next week! I hope you can get over it!!

Michael Gordon can help prepare and conduct a tailor-made civil ceremony in or around London or, indeed, in Europe.