Which Wedding Officiant?

Apr 20, 2021
civil celebrant at the ready

I’m often asked what is my role. How can I conduct a wedding? Surely, that’s got to be  either a priest (or equivalent) or else the registrars?

What people often don’t realise is that those are not the only options.

As we’ll find out, there’s also a civil celebrant (like me!) who can do the job.


If you opt for a full religious service in England & Wales, then of course you go to your church (or equivalent). They will explain all that’s involved. Not every branch of Christianity is catered for here, though. Church of England, Quaker or Jewish are the only types of religion included.

For other sects, you can marry in a non-C of E church (say), but the marriage will not be legal until you have made an appointment and been to the Register Office. Without the registrars’ participation and the pronouncing of certain words, you will not qualify as legally wed.


If you choose the civil route, you need to know that the service must be totally non-religious. You can be sure that it will be a totally secular ceremony, even though the content may vary a bit from registrar to registrar.

The Register Office service will cost in the region of £100. Pre-COVID, they could come out to a venue licensed for weddings, albeit for another £500 or so. As I write, this is no longer possible, and, anyway, wedding numbers are still limited severely.


There is another option, however, which all too few people know about. It is particularly useful if:

  • You may not want a full religious service
  • You may want one, but are prevented from marrying in your church/synagogue etc. For example, you are a (Catholic) divorcee or yours is a mixed-faith ceremony
  • You (or even your parents!) want to have just a smidgen of religion in your service

Note that, a humanist celebrant, like the registrars, will not allow any religious references. So go for an independent celebrant, and you can enjoy a personalised ceremony with as much or as little religion as you want.

Again, this is not a legal ceremony, so you still have to go to the registrars. Afterwards, you can enjoy the ceremony you actually want, compiled and conducted by your civil celebrant. It can be in the venue of your dreams, and, to all intents and purposes, be your actual wedding.  It can reflect your personalities and beliefs, with inspiring spiritual – or even funny – readings, and contain personalised sections, such as self-written vows.

So don’t go thinking that your big day can’t be the way you want it! Because it can!

Have a chat with me, and I’ll show you how.