Doing without a Wedding Planner

Doing without a Wedding Planner

A wedding planner can be wonderful! At the very least, she should ensure peace of mind for you. Let her take care of all the arrangements. She will look after you in the run-up to, and of course on, your big day.

Of course, not unreasonably, there’s a cost involved.

If, however,  you prefer not to go down that route, here are a few tips to bear in mind.

If you want the full church service, then of course your priest will be able to give you all the advice you need. Note that the service will be prescribed, rather than personal.

A register office ceremony may well be brief, but will be standardised and not really personal either.

For a unique ceremony reflecting your personalities and which can be tailor-made, work with a professional civil celebrant.

Starting the Process

Whatever you do, in addition to reserving your venue, you will need to formally give notice (together and in person) of marriage/civil partnership and book the registrars.


Option One

An excellent plan, if you are having a civil ceremony, and wish to choose a venue that is not actually licensed for weddings, is to go down to the Register Office (make an appointment first!) with two witnesses the morning or day(s) before. You can wear your ordinary clothes.  Ten or so minutes later, you become legally married.

You can enjoy exactly the ceremony you want afterwards (free of anxiety). Why not finish with a certificate-signing (not legally binding) for that photo-opportunity for your guests?

Option Two

However, if you are marrying in licensed premises, registrars will still need to be present (and, therefore, pre-booked). (You can have your bespoke ceremony straight afterwards.)



It is up to you whether you choose a licensed venue or, for example, the great outdoors, as long as you bear the above paragraphs in mind. If you are planning to use private land, ensure you ask permission first!


It is beyond the scope of this article to go into each element in depth, but, depending on the scale of your ceremony, some of the things you will need to consider – in good time – are:

  • Dress
  • Catering
  • Guest list
  • Invitations
  • Flowers
  • Seating plan
  • Transport
  • Order of service booklet
  • Entertainment
  • Potential accommodation for you and/or guests
  • Officiant

And, not least, the content of the wedding service itself.

The Wedding Ceremony

Do you want the traditional bits? Or just some of them? Do you prefer a modern service? Do you want hymns? What music do you want? Who will participate (eg as reader(s))? Who should walk down the aisle? What about including some less orthodox rituals (handfasting, Unity candles, etc.)?

A lot of questions! But these are all things that the civil celebrant should be able to advise you on. They will construct the ceremony with you and you will approve every bit of it along the way, so that you (and, your guests) will enjoy a unique, personalised, tailor-made ceremony.

Like the sound of that? Given time, you can organise all this yourself quite successfully, save money, and still have the memorable, delightful ceremony of your dreams.

Even without a wedding planner.

But I do suggest using a civil celebrant!


Tailor-made Ceremonies

Tailor-made Ceremonies

As a celebrant, most of the ceremonies I conduct are reasonably conventional (although all are unique –  specific to the couples or individuals concerned, because I specialise in tailor-made ceremonies).

Every so often I get asked for something a bit more way out.

Of course, “way out” means one thing to some people and something quite different to others. So perhaps it would be easier if I defined what I had in mind by the term “conventional”.

church wedding - 22


A “conventional” wedding will contain most, if not all, of the following:

  • an introduction or welcome;
  • readings, sometimes delivered by friends or family – these can be prose or poetry, and can be chosen specially by the couple or suggested by the celebrant;
  • music – this is unlikely to be “traditional” – although there’s nothing to stop people throwing in a hymn or the like. It may well reflect the couple’s personal preferences or a significant moment in their relationship;
  • the vows – these may be written by the couple (with or without celebrant input) or simply suggested by the celebrant. They may be memorised or (more advisable!) read from a card or repeated after the celebrant;
  • a ring blessing;
  • a celebrant address – this may be something on the importance of marriage combined with the couple’s ‘story’ ;
  • maybe, a ritual or two – for example, lighting a unity candle.

Such weddings may feature the bride in white; several, many or no religious elements; and a variety of choices of music and texts.

Venues can be just as varied, of course. Provided the legal part of the wedding has taken place (ie before registrars), imagination or budget would seem to be the main limitations as to where you hold the ceremony.

More ‘way out’


However, I am occasionally asked to do a couple of less middle-of-the-road ceremonies. One was a naturist wedding (I’m afraid, I have no photographs!) and another, a pagan wedding with a difference.

This wasn’t an ‘ordinary’ pagan wedding – if any can be thus termed – as the pagan was marrying a (half!) Jew, so elements from both cultures had to be combined (and explained to guests).

It was a handfasting ceremony, so that also set this apart.


The venue was certainly striking, as we were on top of Old Sarum, near Salisbury. This was of particular significance, because this iron age fort is very exposed, as the photo above shows, and the chances of a dry wedding were very poor. However, whether it was due to the combination of cultures, or mere coincidence, the sun actually shone (briefly) on the ceremony, and we were all able to enjoy the most wonderful experience.

Be bold!

So you have choices. Weigh them up and decide wisely. Bear in mind that a personalised wedding can be so special. Do give it consideration!