Making a Civil Celebrant Work for You

Making a Civil Celebrant Work for You

When you buy a car, you usually know what features you will be getting. The same with most products. So when you’re booking a service like that of a civil celebrant, why should things be any different?


However, not that many people really know what a celebrant does. For example, they assume that a civil celebrant and event planner are the same.

No! The event planner usually books and organises the venue and suppliers. The one thing they don’t do is to organise the ceremony itself. (That’s usually their only time out the whole day!)

The weight of the ceremony falls squarely on the shoulders of the civil celebrant.

A lot of people also assume that a civil celebrant is either a “vicar” or a humanist. An independent celebrant can be anything they want to be – the clue is in the word “independent”. They may be prepared to include religious elements despite their own personal belief, and the opposite may be true too.

So what does a civil celebrant do (apart from conducting the ceremony on the day)?

Behind the Scenes

There’s normally a discovery conversation to start the ball rolling. That way, the couple can see if they even want to work with the celebrant – and the reverse is true too! What is also important is to discuss the couple’s vision for their big day. If the celebrant feels they can’t achieve it or opposes or even ignores it, it ain’t goin’ ta work!

Assuming the Ts & Cs have been agreed and both will work together, the celebrant prepares a draft and e-mails it to the couple in due course. They will probably want some changes, and there’s some toing and froing to be expected before the final version is agreed.

That way, there are no unpleasant surprises on the day, and the couple get exactly what they want.

On the Day

The visible role of the celebrant comes into play on the wedding day. As for me, I like to arrive about an hour before the ceremony is due to start. I can check that everything is set up correctly and sort it, if not.

I nudge relevant people, such as Best Men (“have you got the rings?”) and make sure any Event Planner knows I’ve safely arrived. The same goes for the bride (where accessible) and groom. A lot of it is about putting their minds at ease. I also collaborate with musicians (do they have the same playlist as me?) and photographers (“who is standing where?”). I try and remind those in the bridal train to process in slowly and remind them where they should end up.

As for the half hour or so in the spotlight, that’s our big moment. As celebrant, I never forget that it is not about me, but about the couple standing with me. I conduct the ceremony in the tone we have already agreed – usually solemnly, in places, humorously, and welcoming in others. I facilitate the events calmly and clearly. Sometimes there’s the unexpected to deal with. Then I rely on my years of experience.

The important thing is to make the ceremony memorable, enjoyable, meaningful and special for all concerned.

Much of what goes towards making the ceremony so special happens in the days and months preceding the wedding, and that is what a civil celebrant can do for you!

Feel free to have a chat to find out about how you could put together your special ceremony.


Choosing your Wedding Venue

Choosing your Wedding Venue

We were lucky with our wedding venue. A year or so before our wedding, my wife and I were invited to a celebration dinner at the Grim’s Dyke, Old Redding. We fell in love with the place, and choosing our wedding venue proved to be ‘no contest’.

There are those who may get a helping hand from other people’s recommendations, but most have to start from a blank slate.

That usually means trawling through websites. Naturally, the pictures are flattering and the descriptions are tantalising, but don’t rely on those alone.

Contact the wedding planner by phone or (less good) e-mail. You’ll have questions, and they should be able to answer them. If the answers don’t meet your needs or wishes, then go elsewhere.


However, if possible, make an appointment and pay a visit.

That way, you’ll meet the planner and get a feel for them. Obviously, you need to know if the date you want is available.

Are they going to be with you on the day, or will somebody unknown take over? Does the planner seem willing to listen to your vision and plans? Do they seem excited?

What will you get for your money? Does the price seem extortionate? (More on costs later.) What are the payment terms?

Can the planner recommend a celebrant (if that’s what you want)? Can you see the room(s) you’ll be using?

You will probably want to discuss refreshments, catering and service, as well as eventuality-planning (what happens if the weather is bad?).


You must follow your head (if you have a strict budget, then you may have to reject the venue), but you must always follow your heart. If you arrive at a venue and both love it (like we did with the Grim’s Dyke), then go for it. Don’t select a place just because you can afford it. This is probably going to be the biggest day of your life, so the venue and atmosphere is very important. You will want to remember the day for the rest of your lives, so the memory will have to be highly positive!


If you feel that you can’t afford the price, there are some strategies you can try. Why not suggest hiring the venue Monday-Thursday? Those can be quieter times, and the planner will be glad to fill the place then.

Equally, if you go for a date that is outside the peak summer (and Xmas and Valentine’s Day), you may also be able to negotiate with the planner. Same reasons. And hiring the place for the afternoon, rather than the evening, may bring down the price.

If you don’t ask, you’ll never find out!

So, see what you can do – you may be able to secure a bargain! At all events, make sure you both absolutely want to marry there.

For further suggestions, feel free to contact me.