What is a Celebrant and why would I have one conduct my wedding ceremony?

Why Should I consider a Celebrant

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
YvonneA 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.
LisaThese 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
SueAs 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.

An interview with 3 wedding celebrants to help you understand the difference between a Celebrant led wedding ceremony and a Registrar led ceremony. Blog by sayidoonabudget.com

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?
YvonneNo. 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.
SueIdeally 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?
YvonneI 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.
LisaIt would depend on your requirements, you may find a celebrant is a very cost effective option.
SueNot 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?
YvonneI 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!
LisaWe 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 

An interview with 3 wedding Celebrants on what a wedding celebrant is. Blog by sayidoonabudget.com

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.
SueWe 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

Pro 1 = Meeting with your celebrant months ahead of your special day and getting to know her/him means that it feels relaxed and comfortable having her/him officiating on the day.  Whereas it is extremely unlikely that you would meet your registrar until a few minutes before the ceremony.
Pro 2 =  Good celebrants book only 1 ceremony a day – there is no clock-watching if things don’t run to plan, or if the Bride is late/delayed. A registrar has more than one ceremony a day and will rush you if you are late.
Con = an in demand Celebrant gets booked up way ahead, so if this type of ceremony appeals to you, then don’t hang around! 

Yvonne’s 2 Pros and a Con:

Pro 1 = A celebrant ceremony is totally unique and personal and can incorporate any and all your ideas and wishes without any restrictions.
Pro 2 = A celebrant ceremony allows you to use any venue or even your family home and outdoor spaces like parkland or beach mountain or woodland.
Con = 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.
 Wedding Celebrant Post


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: 

The day you are born on is the day you class as your birthday and therefore the day you celebrate each year as the anniversary of your birth. Your birth will be registered sometimes up to a few weeks after your birth, but you don’t celebrate your birthday on the date your birth was registered. 
It can be the same for your wedding. Think of the legal ceremony as you registering your marriage. You may ‘register’ your marriage days/weeks before or after your wedding, but you will still celebrate your anniversary each year from the day you had your wedding day. 

If you wish to find out more about Lisa, Yvonne and Sue I have provided links to their Facebook pages, Twitter profiles and their websites below:

Sue’s Website, Twitter profile and Facebook page

Lisa’s Website, Twitter profile and Facebook page

Yvonne’s Website, Twitter profile and Facebook page

Once Upon a Time in New York City

Since bringing you the interview with Carly from Epic Elopement many of you have contacted me asking for more posts on eloping and advice on planning a destination wedding.

Some of the hardest parts of trying to plan a wedding outside of the country you live in is figuring out what everything will cost and trying to find reliable suppliers. In this post Claire from Wed in Central Park, provides a basic breakdown of the costs involved in a British couple getting married in Central Park on a budget…

Wed in Central Park Header

I have been planning weddings for couples who want to get married in New York’s Central Park for almost five years.  One of my primary goals since founding this business is to offer a great service with talented, reliable and enthusiastic people for a good value price.  I checked what my main competitors were charging to plan a wedding in Central Park and I was certain that I could do it for a lower price, without cutting any corners in the quality of wedding that we deliver. 

Some of the clients I work with are aiming for a big, lavish wedding with a huge group of family and friends from far away, with an expensive gown and a big reception somewhere exclusive and characteristically ‘New York City’.  I can help to provide that, and I am very happy to do so.  I am naturally a frugal person, though, so I cannot help but get excited when I meet a couple who are looking to have a great day on a budget, and are willing to be creative and work a little harder to do so.  I love that you can get married in New York City and have a unique and breath-taking wedding without breaking the bank, and I want to share this idea with as many people as I can.  What follows is a basic breakdown of the costs involved in a British couple getting married in Central Park on a budget.

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Writing Personal Wedding Vows


It probably isn’t a surprise to you that the ceremony IS THE WEDDING in my eyes. Without the ceremony it wouldn’t be a wedding – it’d just be an expensive party. I’ve done a number of posts on how you can personalise your ceremony such as this one from 2015 and this one from 2012, and I always mention how I well up listening to a couple say their vows to each other.

The husband and I including personal vows in our ceremony was something I wasn’t going to negotiate on. In the UK you have to say certain vows to make the marriage legal, although you get to choose which legal vows you say from a pack the registry office/church give you. These vows can be incredibly beautiful on their own, but I wanted to write extra vows ourselves so we could say our own personal promises to each other.

What I did not realise, is how difficult writing your own vows can be. Every time I sat to think what I wanted to promise him my mind went blank. After quite a bit of time though we both manged it, and I’m incredibly proud of the vows we gave each other.

Here are my tips on how to go about writing your own vows:

  • Before you go anywhere near a search engine, sit and think about what makes your relationship unique, and what silly little things are features of yourself, your partner and your relationship. Note these things down.
  • Note down little things he does for you that you’re thankful for.
  • Jot down what sort of things you’d like to promise your loved one.
  • When taking notes of all these things don’t worry about wording it in any set way, and don’t worry about if the things you’re jotting down are things you definitely want to include in your final wedding vows. This is your initial ideas stage.

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Wedding Customs

Bridesmaids were traditionally used to ward off evil spirits by being dressed similarly to the bride in the hope that the evil spirits would become confused and the bride would be left unaffected. The tradition of the bridesmaid being dressed similarly to the bride is seldom followed in modern weddings, although many brides do choose dresses for the maids that have the same neckline or are made out of a similar material.

Almonds are the traditional favour as they symbolise fertility, longevity, wealth, health and happiness. That’s why pretty much everyone has been to a wedding where the favour has been sugared almonds!

It is customary for the Bride to stand to the Grooms left during the wedding ceremony. This custom dates back to the Anglo-Saxon times when the Groom would hold his Brides right hand with his left so that he could hold his sword in this right hand in case anyone tried to steal the Bride from him.

When it comes to the speeches the first one should be given by the brides father, followed by the groom with the best man last. Slowly more couples are choosing to break this tradition by having the bride say a small speech after the best man speech.

The top table should be ordered from the left as follows: Chief Bridesmaid, Grooms Dad, Brides Mum, Groom, Bride, Brides Dad, Grooms Mum, Best Man. This top table arrangement is to symbolise the joining together of two families. This custom has all but fallen by the wayside due to complex family issues, meaning many couples opt a non traditional seating plan. If you don’t want to stick to this tradition why not have a sweetheart top table for just the two of you with parents ‘hosting’ tables, or have the top table with just the couple, bridesmaids, best man and ushers.

Something old, something new, Something borrowed, something blue And a silver sixpence in your shoe is the traditional list of what a Bride needs to be kitted out with for her wedding day. Although the Silver sixpence in the shoe is rarely still practised, old, new, borrowed and blue often still is.

In the past Saturday was not the favoured day to get married as although is isn’t an unlucky day it isn’t a lucky one either. In days of old most couples got married on one of the first three days of the week.
Monday for wealth
Tuesday for health
Wednesday the best day of all
Thursday for losses
Friday for crosses
Saturday for no luck at all

May has been considered an unlucky month to marry in for a number of reasons. In Pagan times the start of summer was when the festival of Beltane was celebrated with outdoor orgies. This was therefore thought to be an unsuitable time to start married life. In Roman times the Feast of the Dead and the festival of the goddess of chastity both occurred in May. The advice was taken more seriously in Victorian times than it is today. In most Churches the end of April was a busy time for weddings as couples wanted to avoid being married in May. Queen Victoria is thought to have forbidden her children from marrying in May.

Rings worn on the third finger of the left hand. This tradition dates back to the Greeks who believed that a vein in this finger lead directly to the heart. Technically all veins lead to the heart, buy we’ll let the Greeks off as their belief dates back long before a proper understanding of the circulatory system was gained.

White wasn’t always worn by the bride. White was first worn by rich brides in the sixteenth century and the tradition was given a boost by Queen Victoria who chose to wear white when she got married to Prince Albert in 1840 instead of silver which royal brides usually wore. Before wearing white became the norm after Queen Victoria brides just wore their best dress, which could have been any colour. A bride wearing green was uncommon unless she was Irish as it was seen as a sign of promiscuity (think rolling in the grass casing green stains).

Veils have a few different customary backgrounds. According to records veils were first worn by Roman Brides. Wearing a veil became popular in Britain in the 18 hundreds and is associated to modesty and chastity. In some Eastern countries the bride is left veiled until after the ceremony is complete.

Carrying the bride over the threshold is a popular wedding custom. Where this custom came from is unclear as different sources provide different reasons for why this custom came about. One belief is that because the bride was supposed to be a virgin before her wedding night, the groom carried her over the threshold to save her from the embarrassment and scandal of looking too keen to loose her virginity. In ancient culture people believe that bride was especially likely to be taken by evil spirits that would lurk in doorways and enter the bride through the soles of her feet, therefore the groom carrying her over the threshold protected her from the evil spirits.

Lessons Learnt from Attending a Wedding

10 days ago I published a post about how I choose a wedding guest outfit as I had bought a dress to wear to a wedding I attended on Saturday. Below I have reviewed each element of the wedding and given the lessons I have learnt.

The Venue
Newbury Manor Hotel

The Ceremony
The ceremony was at 3:30PM. The Bride who was wearing a cream mid length straight cut lace dress looked a picture of pure happiness walking down the isle with her father. The vows were short and sweet with two heartfelt readings given, one by a daughter of the bride and the other by the grooms daughter. Decorating a narrow shelf that went the whole way round the room at about chest height was a synthetic vine and candles with the only other decoration being chair covers finished with gold bows. The pictures after the ceremony were taken outside by one of the Brides daughters. Between the ceremony ending and the wedding breakfast beginning was about 1 hour.


The Wedding Breakfast
The couple decided not to do a receiving line, instead opting to enter the room together once all guests were seated. The wpid-imag0880_1.jpgstationary theme was birds and bird cages with simply elegant laser cut style bird cage place cards and favour boxes housing three foiled wrapped chocolates. Generally the food served at weddings isn’t the best, however all three courses were incredibly enjoyable.

I am also glad to report that the happy couple arranged the seating plan so that guests were sat with people they already knew. Lets just say I am not an advocate for seating guests from the brides side on the same table as guests from the grooms side if they do not know each other. Although when two people get married it is two families becoming one, in the modern world the reality of the two families ever spending any time together after the wedding is slim; so why sit them together under the pretense of it being important for them to get to know each other.
The decorations for the wedding breakfast seemed to be usual package wedding decorations with a classic floral display atop a mirror plate and scattered table sparkles.

disappointment arrived in the form of the speeches. The father of the bride (TFOTB) gave a succinct speech hitting all the key points; memory of the bride, sentiment about the groom and welcoming the grooms parents to the family ending in a toast. Despite the good start to the speeches made by TFOTB the Grooms speech bored everyone to tears by bring ridiculously long. He hardly mentioned his wife, opting to talk mostly about his sister, which was sweet but odd. After the longest speech in the history of wedding speeches it was the turn of the best man. Unfortunately the Best man did not give a good speech either. In total contract to the groom who loved the sound of his own voice the best man shook like a baby in snow, spoke as quietly as a door mouse and did not include even one joke or story about the groom. NOT EVEN ONE!


The Reception
The reception was held in the same room as the wedding breakfast, so after a quick turn around where everyone mingled outside or by the bar we re-entered the room for the reception. The newly weds cut the cake and had their first dance. I left with the people I arrived with at about 23:00.

A buffet was served during the reception and even though the buffet was smaller than average more than half was left untouched.

What I’ve learnt from attending this wedding
If you are planning on a budget you will come across times when you have to make a decisions on what is more important to include such as whether or not to include favours or whether or not to get that entertainer. Therefore I have included below things that people really wont notice if you decide to cut them from your day.

  • Decorations in the ceremony room – choose one or two decorations only, such as flowers on the register table and bows on the back on the chairs. The ceremony room doesn’t need loads of decorations as people will be concentrating on you and the commitment you are making to each other.
  • If yours and your partners families don’t get together much you can forego any entertainment as your guests will be more than occupied catching up with each other. The wedding mentioned above was a family wedding where there was no entertainment provided and to be honest it wasn’t needed because we were all enjoying chatting to each other because we rarely all get together.
  • You may decide not to do thank you gifts for a range of reasons; possibly because you have planned the day without any financial support from anyone else, or because you have decided not to have bridesmaids and groomsmen or because you simply can’t find the room in your budget. Thank you gifts have become customary for the couple to give to parents and the bridal party plus other people who have been especially helpful. Usually the thank you gifts are flowers, a bottle of alcohol or a personalised gift. If you still want to thank people but don’t have the budget for gifts then you can thank them in the grooms speech and out cards and a heart felt personal thank you written inside, or just thank them verbally without handing out gifts. It is a relatively new customer so people wont mind if the gifts are absent.
  • Forgoing the expensive evening buffet is a very good idea for the couple on a budget. So much of an evening buffet goes to waste, but people do still like to have a nibble to help absorb some of the merry drinking. Consider serving just your cake and some bacon rolls/small cones of fish and chips as this will give your guests the much needed nibble in the evening while reducing the cost of the evening catering by about half!

Things To Try and Include
One of the most important things I have learnt from the wedding on Saturday is when looking at venues consider how the reception room will impact on your day. If the reception room does not have a bar within the room this will mean that about half of your guests will be where the bar is, which will mean the reception could feel empty. The reception room at Newbury Manor Hotel did not have a bar which did mean half the guests were in the room the bar was in. If you feel this would negatively impact on the feel of your reception try to find a venue where there is a bar within the reception room.

You don’t choose a best man based on their ability to give a speech, you choose them because they are important to you. But if your best man is incredibly shy or extremely under confident with public speaking bear in mind the possibility of having two best men, each given separate duties; one could be in charge of the rings while the other is given the responsibility of giving the best man speech.

Grooms Reaction To Bride Walking Down The Isle

I’ve always said for me the ceremony is the wedding; everything else is just fluff. If I couldn’t afford the full day wedding celebration I would be perfectly happy to have “just” the ceremony. The ceremony is when the couple commit their lives to each other in front of their nearest and dearest. When I have the pleasure and honour of attending someones wedding my favourite part of the day is the ceremony. There is a real magic to a wedding ceremony: the brides walk down the isle, the grooms reaction to seeing his love in her bridal finery, the vows, the signing of the register – it’s the culmination of all those months planning. If the ceremony is personalised with personal vows, tailored readings or an addition to the norm such as a sand/rose or tree planting ceremony, I will cry – without fail.

Whenever I think about my wedding day my mind drifts to how my H2B will react to seeing me walk down the isle. I would be disappointed if he doesn’t turn to look at me as I walk down the isle. Assuming he will I hope to see a big reaction from him; whether that be his eyes growing and him mouthing “WOW!”, or a few tears falling from his eyes as he smiles a big smile at me or him gasping in shock, I crave to receive that emotionally charged positive reaction from him.

A part of me (maybe the part that wants to protect myself from total disappointment) is skeptical about the reactions from grooms seeing their bride for the first time that can be found on all corners of the internet. Some of the reactions are so strong, I wonder if the reaction is not entirely natural. Are they performing for the video cameras, providing their wife with the reaction she has told them she would like, or is this genuine love/surprise/awe they are experiencing?

Or are the men that show the reactions used to create the viral videos more emotional men day to day anyway? My H2B is of the typical cave man variety. He doesn’t express or talk about his emotions unless he is beside himself drunk, and I’ve only ever seen him cry when he is beside himself drunk and telling me about horrible events in his life. I can’t see my H2B giving me much of a reaction when I walk down the isle, but I still hope he does.

High Vows

I thought I’d share with you something I came across today. most couples want their friends and families to remember their wedding day; however it is definitely taking this a step further when you say your vows atop a high wire!

“Couple married in high-wire wedding at Wookey Hole” – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-somerset-32554088

What’s the strangest wedding ceremony you’ve come across?