Have you considered who will be conducting your wedding ceremony?
Do you know what your options are regarding your wedding ceremony?
I’ve got to be honest, even though I’ve been a member of the wedding blogging world since 2011 I never considered my options regarding who I could have conducting my ceremony. This may be because I did stick to looking at licensed wedding venues which meant I didn’t consider anything other than booking to have Registrars from the local registry office.
In England and Wales for a wedding to be legally recognised the ceremony needs to be conducted in a licensed and registered venue by a registered registrar.
However, if you want to have your wedding at a venue that is not a licensed wedding venue or if you want to have a more personalised ceremony than the registrar conducted ceremonies are able to offer than you can opt to have your ceremony conducted by a Celebrant.
In England and Wales a Celebrant led wedding in not legally recognised, meaning couples opting to have their ceremony conducted by a Celebrant often have to have their legal ceremony conducted at their local Registry Office before or after their wedding day.
This leads me to a question that was posed by Linda on the SayIDoOnABudget Facebook page. Linda, who writes ‘Boots, Shoes and Fasion‘ asked “is there a way to make the legalities part of the Celebrant led wedding?”
To answer this question and others we have three wonderful Celebrants who offered to help us understand what a Celebrant is, how they’re different to Registrars and why you may want to consider hiring one for your wedding ceremony.
So “is there a way to make the legalities part of the Celebrant led wedding?” – Linda
Yvonne: A celebrant ceremony is totally unique and personal and can incorporate any and all your ideas and wishes without any restrictions. A celebrant ceremony allows you to use any venue or even your family home and outdoor spaces like parkland or beach mountain or woodland. The one thing we cannot do is legalise the marriage as it would need the marriage law to be changed to allow us to do this. Humanist celebrants in Scotland and now Northern Ireland are able to do so as they don’t include any religious or spiritual or cultural content which conforms to the civil marriage rules. They will of course provide a personally written non religious ceremony that’s personalised.
Lisa: These are two separate ceremonies and aren’t included in the same ceremony. Many couples do the legal part a couple of days in advance or on the morning, then celebrate their wedding with their celebrant led ceremony
Sue: As the law stands in England & Wales a celebrant cannot carry out the legal aspect of your marriage. It’s a simple 10 minute appointment in casual clothes, with 2 witnesses when you register your marriage, repeating the legally required vows, and signing the register – in exactly the same way you would register a birth for example. There is no legal requirement to exchange your personal vows or your rings – save these for your celebrant-led celebration wedding with your loved ones – if you choose not to tell them that you carried out the legal vows the day before then no-one will know.
Before we carrying on hearing their answers to our burning questions, lets find out a bit more about them.
Sue is based in Hartford, near Northwich in Cheshire and has been qualified as a diploma trained Celebrant since 2014.
Lisa in based in the North East of England and this is her first year working with clients although she has led many ceremonies for friends and family in the past.
And Yvonne is based in London but also travels to Berlin and has been a Celebrant since 2011 when she completed her training with the UK college of Celebrancy in Worthing. Yvonne is also a member of the Fellowship of Professional Celebrants.
Do Celebrants have to be registered and qualified or go through any training before they can work as a Celebrant?
Yvonne: No. However I recommend that you find a celebrant who is not only trained but has both public liability and professional indemnity insurance.
Lisa: In England which is where I am based, there are no requirements to be registered or qualified. I did choose to train with Civil Ceremonies Limited; this was a personal choice so I could be the best possible celebrant I could be for my clients. The training was excellent, we practised everything from hand fasting and reciting poetry to studying the history of marriage and the legal requirements involved in conducting ceremonies. I am also registered with the Association of Independent Celebrants, a wonderful collection of celebrants offering mentoring support and awareness of the independent celebrant movement.
Sue: Ideally yes, as there are some Celebrants operating who are not trained, insured or qualified, so, like any other supplier you hire, you should choose a qualified one.
I’m on a really small budget and I’ve heard a Celebrant is more expensive than a Registrar, is this true?
Yvonne: I recommend checking prices and services within your local area or the area that you’re getting married in. Registrars charge around £50-£60 for a simple civil ceremony at their offices or up to £600-£700 if asked to attend at a venue where they will officiate in exactly the same way as they do at their office. A celebrant will meet you and get to know you and your story ideas and beliefs and create a totally personal and tailored ceremony that has no restrictions on time format or content. We can include religious or cultural or spiritual content and many different and lovely rituals that a registrar cannot. Working with a couple may take several months and lots of emails or Skype calls or drafting along with a rehearsal too and therefore the cost is usually reflective of the time and skills that a celebrant will use. Celebrants arrive early and help with the final touches and don’t have to rush to another venue as most celebrants will only perform one ceremony on any day so as to give their couples a stress free occasion.
Lisa: It would depend on your requirements, you may find a celebrant is a very cost effective option.
Sue: Not very much more and in some areas, even less! But, the service you receive more than justifies any small extra cost.
If you could put your Wedding Celebrant service into a price bracket which if the following would be correct for you and your charges? a) under £500 b) £500-£1000 c) Over £1000
Yvonne: A. My fees are £450 for a wedding.
Lisa: A. under £500
Sue: Currently B. £500-1000
So, if I book you to be my Celebrant, what tends to happen between us agreeing the booking and the wedding day?
Yvonne: I like to meet in person or over Skype and have a good long chat about your plans and ideas and answer any questions. I then send you a booking form and ask you to pay me your booking fee if you decide I’m the right celebrant for you. After that I will ask you more questions about the style and type of ceremony you’re looking for and begin drafting. I can provide advice and suggestions on readings or poetry or internal rituals and on writing vows and promises. I can suggest ideas for the inclusion of your guests if you would like to involve them. I like to have drafts approved at least four weeks before your big day so we have no stress over the heart of your wedding day!
Lisa: We would have an initial telephone conversation to establish what you would like from your ceremony, these conversations capture details like date and time of ceremony and venue as well as understanding how you would like your ceremony to feel. We would discuss your relationship and style, your likes and dislikes, values and personality and if you’d like a traditional or none traditional day. Approx. 6 months before your day we would meet face to face to discuss in more details your wishes for the ceremony, all of the
ceremonies I write are bespoke to the couple so we would refine what and who is important to include in the ceremony. Two weeks before the ceremony I will send across the draft script for the couple to approve, edits can be made and if requested a dress rehearsal. In the meantime I will be in touch with the venue, suppli
ers and your readers to ensure things run smoothly. On the big day I arrive early to check everything is in place, say hello to the happy couple and make the ceremony happen. It’s a privilege to deliver the ceremony and play a part in making the client’s dreams come true.
Sue: We work closely together whilst I create your bespoke ceremony, tailored to be about the two of you. You will have unlimited email and phone contact, a rehearsal is always offered if it’s feasible and you wish to have one, and I arrive in plenty of time on the day to conduct the ceremony for you.
Another question posed on the SayIDoOnABudget Facebook page came from Shaun. Shaun who is a wedding photographer (and is also recently engaged) wanted to know what the benefits are of using a Celebrant and why we (as customers) should opt for a Celebrant instead of a Registrar. So to answer Shaun’s question I posed this to Lisa, Yvonne and Sue…
Being as honest as you can, please name 2 pro’s to having a celebrant lead your wedding ceremony and 1 con
Lisa’s 2 Pro’s and a Con:
Pro 1 = Your celebrant wedding ceremony can be held anywhere. From your garden to art galleries your choice of venue is limitless, your venue doesn’t have to be licensed nor do you need to marry at a certain time of day. Imagine a ceremony at midnight under the stars!
Pro 2 = You have huge flexibility on content and style, there are no rules. You can include religious content, traditional vows, dancing and music or perhaps even symbolic actions. It‘s your day have it your way.
Con = It’s not legally binding so it does require a short legal ceremony which can be completed in advance of your celebrant led ceremony.
Sue’s 2 Pros and a Con:
Yvonne’s 2 Pros and a Con:
When talking with some friends about celebrant led weddings some seemed confused about the fact you would usually have to have the legalities done on a separate day to the day you would be having your ‘wedding’ on. If this is something that you’ve been struggling with during this post then I may have a way to help you. Think of it like this: