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Celebrant or Registrar Led Ceremony? Your Questions Answered

If you're not sure what the difference between a celebrant and a registrar is, and whether you want a celebrant-led ceremony, then this post is for you!

Although historically couples have booked registrars for their ceremonies, demand for unique, personalised weddings is growing. This is where celebrants offer couples creativity and choice. With a celebrant, couples can choose their ceremony timing, style, format and content, just as you would choose every other element of your special day.

What is a celebrant?

A celebrant creates, conducts and officiates ceremonies for life's milestones such as weddings, vow renewals, naming ceremonies and funerals. Celebrants offer a highly personalised service. They get to know the love story of who you are as a couple so they can create a ceremony that is unique to you.

What is the difference between a celebrant and a registrar?

In England and Wales, registrars are employed by local authorities to legally marry couples. As such, they can only carry out ceremonies on unlicensed premises. The content and format of a registrar-led ceremony is restricted and cannot contain any spiritual, religious or symbolic rituals. Registrars might conduct several ceremonies each day and so timings must be adhered to. Often couples do not meet the registrar before the day of the ceremony.

Celebrants are self-employed and can conduct non-legally binding ceremonies absolutely anywhere. A celebrant will take time to get to know you and work with you to create a completely bespoke ceremony. Celebrant-led ceremonies do not have to follow any protocols and so you have complete freedom over the venue, timing, format and content.

Celebrants usually just work with one couple per day. If there is an unforeseen delay or you want to wait for a rain shower to pass before starting an outdoor ceremony - no problem. Your celebrant will be completely flexible to your needs, making sure your day is perfect.

What is a celebrant-led wedding like?

Celebrant-led wedding ceremonies are completely flexible and unique, reflecting your personalities, values, beliefs and interests. Often couples include many of the elements that you would expect to see at a traditional wedding (exchange of vows and rings etc.), but also lots of beautiful additional detail about the couple and often symbolic rituals, guest participation or music.

Whatever your passions in life - dogs, cocktails, nature, travel, folk music, dancing - a celebrant can find a place for them in the ceremony.

Wherever your dream venue - country garden, barn, campsite, riverside, woodland, beach, mountain, village hall - a celebrant can conduct your ceremony there.

There are no rules - it really is all about you and your love story.

How do I do the legal paperwork?

Currently, in England and Wales, celebrant-led weddings will require you to arrange the legal paperwork separately. It is possible to book the “signing room” at the local registration office, take two witnesses along, and literally just sign the documents, saving your vows, rings, and everything else until the actual celebration date.

This service usually costs around £50.00. Most couples prefer to legally register the marriage prior to the celebrant-led ceremony, but it is possible to legally register the marriage after the celebrant-led ceremony if availability is problematic.

Will it feel like I'm getting married twice if I choose a bespoke ceremony as well as doing the legal bit?

No, the legal registration of the wedding will be completely different to the ccelebrant-led ceremony. The legal signing only involves you and two witnesses. Although it may feel significant, it is more of a legal undertaking, rather than a celebratory wedding ceremony.

By saving your rings, personal commitments and vows until your celebrant-led ceremony, you will still feel the emotion and personally connect on the day, by making your commitment in your own special way.

I have more questions -can you help?

Yes - I love working with couples across North Wales and Northwest England to help them realise their perfect ceremony. Please don't hesitate to get in touch.



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