Isn’t a Civil Celebrant a Luxury?

Isn’t a Civil Celebrant a Luxury?

Well, of course, you need to define what you consider luxury.


There aren’t really too many cons, in truth. The bottom line is that you can have a ceremony without a celebrant. If it’s a wedding, you can go down the Church or Register Office routes. They cover everything.

If a ceremony doesn’t need official documentation, technically anybody can conduct the ceremony. So you can ask a friend or relative to do so.

Therefore, technically, using a celebrant is indeed a luxury.


To despatch the second objection first, if you’re not using a professional celebrant, you may not get the ceremony you are hoping for. It may be difficult to design a suitable service without the guidance and ideas of a celebrant. Moreover, a celebrant knows how to present in public, and will do a lovely job. They will enhance the ceremony.

The first objection is a matter of choice.

You can opt for a religious ceremony (Church). You get the standard service and you know what you’re getting. It won’t be personalised, but that’s fine for some people.

The Register Office service is also standardised. It won’t really be personalised and, in contrast to the religious ceremony, it will be totally secular. You can’t mention God at all, for example. Most Registrars haven’t been trained to present with panache, so the service, which lasts about a quarter of an hour, is rarely particularly special. However, some couples are content with this.

Of course, until such time as the law changes (which should happen this summer), you need to use one of the two above options to comply with the law.

So, in that respect, using a civil celebrant would almost be duplication.

However, the professional services of a celebrant normally include the following:

  • The chance to discuss your vision of your ceremony and build a unique service
  • Advice and ideas based on (possibly) years of experience
  • Respect for your input
  • Numerous conversations/emails and drafts to get the order of service just right
  • Help with the choreography of a big event
  • A trained public speaker
  • Professional pride and passion

One of my USPs is that I offer knowledge of languages (French, German, Russian, ability to read Hebrew and Czech), which has proved useful and popular.


Some celebrants’ package will cost over £1,000. Some will ask half that. (As I write, I’m somewhere in between.)

I would love the chance to make a real difference to your special day.Do contact me for a non-obligation chat.

People who use me are convinced that I am not a luxury!


Let me finish with a quote from just one of my happy couples:

“From our first meeting with Michael we came away feeling very confident we would like to use him for our ceremony. His calming yet assertive demeanour put us at ease and we knew he would blend and adapt to what we had planned very well. Michael injected some fantastic ideas along with some beautiful readings and on the day there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. The whole process was very fluid and professional but always with a smile. We couldn’t recommend him enough.”

photo: Matt Penberthy

Luxury London Venues (iii)

Luxury London Venues (iii)

This is my third and final review of luxury London venues for your wedding/vow renewal. I rather wish it wasn’t coming to an end – reviewing these establishments wasn’t much of a hardship, in truth!

[Please note that my disclaimers (from my previous articles) still apply.]

The Rosewood

The Rosewood in High Holborn could hardly be more central and convenient. The signage was so discreet that I wasn’t sure which of the doors led to the Reception!

However, once in, I was very impressed by the appearance. Only three years old, at the time of writing, the hotel looked well cared-for. It was spacious, elegant and classy (without being snooty).

I’d love to have included my photos, but something went amiss. At least, here’s one picture (from the website), and that will give you a feel for the place.

Source:                  Rosewood London

Service is very important, clearly, and anyone who books a wedding here will be well looked-after. The ballroom, which includes a PA system, can take 280 people, and its foyer around 240. There is also a “living room” (capacity c. 30) and dining room (c. 20). Both the latter could be ideal for a smaller event, such as a Vow Renewal.


The Rosewood have recommended suppliers and would organise whatever is required. But as quite a number of weddings here are Jewish, outside kosher catering is brought in. You can arrange most other suppliers yourself – florists, for example.


Stylish and professional, the Rosewood will not be cheap, but you will surely get what you pay for here.


The Lanesborough

The Hotel is in a remarkable location. It is situated on Hyde Park Corner (literally), in a beautifully restored 18th century building that was once a hospital (now St George’s, Tooting).

It is flexible, as far as meeting the needs of its clients is concerned, and has a variety of rooms suitable for weddings or vow renewals of differing sizes.

I believe the hotel’s reputation speaks for itself – the decor is glorious and I appreciated the friendly attentiveness of the staff, who clearly aim at keeping the customer happy. They are only too pleased to help.


The Goring

Perhaps surprisingly for Central London, The Goring is still a family-run hotel (and has been for over a century). It has been much frequented by royalty, so the decor is opulent and the service discreet, but thoroughly attentive. The Goring is the only hotel in the world to be granted a Royal Warrant by HM The Queen for Hospitality Services.

There are two rooms suitable for holding a ceremony and reception:  The Drawing Room and The Garden Room.  They are both intimate and intensely tasteful. The Garden Room has its own private sunken terrace, which leads to the unexpectedly large and attractive private garden, with its own private terrace, which is a lovely feature.


The Drawing Room at Night

The hotel, full of lovely chandeliers and tasteful decor, oozes class, yet does so without pretension. For enquiries, please email


The Garden Room at the Goring

Luxury London Venues (ii)

Luxury London Venues (ii)

After my first piece on the subject, I am continuing my trawl through the luxury London venues (well, someone has to do it!).


I paid a visit to the Ritz Hotel. My expectations were high, I confess.

The reception I received was extremely friendly, although the elegance and opulence of my surroundings took my breath away! I was pleasantly surprised how quiet the building was, despite fronting on to Piccadilly. The decoration of the rooms is stunning, particularly in the part that, though only belonging to the hotel for about 10 years, is actually the oldest.

The Ritz has three relatively informal rooms for smaller gatherings and one that takes about 75. One of the small rooms overlooks the Ritz’s own garden (I didn’t even know they had one!) and Green Park. The rooms cannot be said to be under-stated, and the ceilings are amazing!

My visit certainly didn’t disappoint.

Moving to Knightsbridge, my next port of call was The Berkeley. I’m not sure it actually announced itself with a sign outside, but perhaps it doesn’t need it!


I was immediately struck by the service. Someone is employed to greet everybody entering the hotel and offer them help. As the hotel proved a little labyrinthine, this was welcome!

This hotel too is being refurbished (January – March 2017), although it looked in excellent order to me! It has a ballroom, currently seating 100-180, which will be extended, and will accommodate nearer 220. As a celebrant, I was relieved that a microphone and built-in speakers are available as part of the package.

The hotel has its own recommended suppliers, but, if the client prefers to bring someone in from outside, this is not an issue.

This is a hotel with considerable style.

By contrast, I went a little out of London (Elstree) to visit the Village Club Hotel. This is a very modern building with little of the character of the two others. However, it has its own atmosphere, and modern facilities (and, not least, free parking).

Flexibility is the watchword, seemingly. The ballroom can fit in 180-200 maximum, but divides up, so smaller numbers can be accommodated. There is a terrace outside, which is available. There is also a reception area, as you come in, offering a private bar.

The hotel will provide catering and the like, but, subject to certain conditions, welcomes outside suppliers.

There are also smaller rooms that may suit cosier affairs.

As your ever-obliging civil celebrant, I plan to submit one further review, and I hope to be offering useful service.


Luxury London Venues (i)

Luxury London Venues (i)

Do you really have the time and stamina to scout out the luxury London venues for a possible wedding or Vow Renewal? There’s no shortage of choice!

Maybe I can save you some trouble and start you off?

I thought it might be helpful if I visited a few top hotels, saw the ceremony rooms, and reported back on my general impressions. I’ll publish my findings over two or three blogs, possibly on a fortnightly basis.

There will be omissions – not least, from some establishments who refused to return phone calls! But this may give you something to start from, and that’s got to be good.

I have tried to be professional. I hope my comments are useful and impartial. But I think I liked everything I saw to some degree, so if you’re hoping for vicious critiques, read no further!


The Mandarin Oriental (above) has a splendid setting overlooking Hyde Park. It is licensed for weddings (so the registrars will come out there for you). It is flexible, catering for a maximum of 200 guests (with a dance-floor) in the ballroom. There is also a cosy room with a balcony that can accommodate about 30 people.

The downside is that the hotel is currently undergoing major renovations, and these will continue into 2018, although they seemed to be managing the inevitable disruption extremely efficiently. You’d have to ask about this when you visit.

The Four Seasons Park Lane (top of page) is an elegant venue, surprisingly discreet considering that it is virtually on Hyde Park Corner. You can have your ceremony elsewhere and come on for the reception afterwards, but the hotel is licensed for weddings, so you can do everything in the same premises.

The Hamilton Room would be ideal for a Vow Renewal, accommodating 20-30 people, but the ballroom can take 220 people seated.

They have an in-house florist and onsite AV facilities.


The more homely Chiswell Street Dining Rooms can be found close to the Barbican Centre. The venue is a bit different and ideal for a slightly less formal ceremony. 100 people can be seated – or a buffet for up to 200 can be offered. The panelling and decor provide an historic atmosphere. There is a bar area and restaurant, and there are spaces available after the meal for dancing and celebration. If accommodation is required, the premises are actually part of the comfortable and luxurious Montcalm London City Hotel.

I’ll be reviewing some more luxury London venues later this month. I hope this instalment has been of use for now.

A word of advice

Perhaps your curiosity will be piqued and you’ll want to visit a venue. When you go, take a list of questions with you. Don’t hesitate to ask the wedding planner anything that concerns you. After all, you will be paying enough for services the hotel will offer!

You’ve got to feel comfortable with their terms and conditions, and ASK if something is unclear. But the bottom line is that you must also LOVE the atmosphere of the venue, otherwise there’s no point taking it any further.