Weddings are probably at the top of the list amongst our happiest memories. They are a part of the journey we take in life, whether for ourselves, or with others. They are one of the major milestones in our lives, and to do them justice, I believe we all want to mark those days forever in our minds and hearts with a beautiful and joyous ceremony.
What most couples I meet want is a ceremony that represents them, their relationship, dreams and goals. Over 70% of couples now choose a civil ceremony, sometimes as a compromise if they have different faiths, but more frequently because they are not regular church-goers.
In the past, their only other option was to have a short civil ceremony at the Town Hall, or in one of the 4000+ venues which are licensed by the local authorities as suitable for the registration of marriages. In civil ceremonies couples are in effect entering into a legal contract, and therefore the service itself must be totally secular. Couples must abide by rules relating to the ceremony content, wording of Vows, music, readings, timing and so on. The Registry must also be of solid construction with four walls and a ceiling, therefore an outdoor ceremony is mostly out of the question.
The Registrar will ask to vet your vows and music and any readings beforehand, as no religious or spiritual content is allowed. The cost of hiring the Registrars – two are needed – is in addition to the venue hire cost and can be in the region of £600 to £900 depending on the local authority rates, which are based on the day and time of the marriage. The same ceremony at the register office in a Standard 2 plus 2 ceremony costs generally between £60 – £70. The choice of having the marriage legalised in a venue as against the registry office is obviously one for the couple to make, but it’s the same service at either location. * With the easing of restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic, the registration of marriage is going ahead again but in a very reduced way – your local office may well have given you an update but the likelihood is for services to be no more than 15 minutes with a max of 10 people present. This is a very challenging time and couples will want, even need, to legally marry for so many reasons. Most couples who have chosen a Celebrant for their bespoke wedding ceremony will book the Standard Marriage ceremony at the register office with either two witnesses or a small close group- and book their celebratory ceremony with a wedding Celebrant, in 2021.
If couples want a Wedding Ceremony that represents their values and beliefs and personality, performed at sunrise, or dusk, any day of the year, indoors or outside, in any language, any setting, such as a country house estate, a private home with a beautiful garden, in a magical woodland, your favourite place – park, lakeside, mountains or beach? Well then you’ll need to hire a Wedding Celebrant!
A Celebrant can provide a totally unique ceremony – along traditional lines with maybe a modern update, or perhaps a favourite theme – Star Wars/Disney/Harry Potter/Game of Thrones to name a few! Here’s a photo of a wonderful Henry V themed wedding at Warwick Castle!
You might want to include ancient rituals, such as a Hand Fasting or Jumping the Broom, Seven Steps, 13 Coins, Hand or Foot Washing.
Every Celebrant led ceremony is unique and written from a blank sheet. Celebrant ceremonies celebrate the bonds of marriage, the unity of partnership and can also include beautiful visual and emotional rituals such as Rose, Sand or Unity Candle Lighting.
Celebrant Ceremonies are delightful and novel and allow couples to express themselves exactly how they wish. Family members, children and even pets are often included.
Customs and heritage can be blended too. We respect all couples and work together with them to create a wonderful one of a kind unforgettable wedding ceremony.
Choosing a Celebrant is then a major part of the planning process, and here are a few tips on what to consider when making that choice
- Decide if you want a Humanist Celebrant or an Independent/Civil Celebrant. https://humanism.org.uk/ . Humanists believe in logic and science and that humans have only one life. Humanists are non-religious and therefore all Humanist celebrants will celebrate the person and couple in a non religious ceremony. Humanist ceremonies are legal in Scotland and Northern Ireland and are currently seeking legal status for ceremonies in England and Wales. If you choose an Independent Celebrant, religious or spiritual content can be included in your ceremony should you wish it, and they will happily advise on spiritual and religious content for vows, blessings, and readings. Ceremonies can include prayer and hymns and celebrants will also work with your priest /pastor / rabbi / Iman in a blended ceremony. It should be noted too that independent celebrants include ordained and lay preachers, pagans and druids and other belief systems.
- Check the credentials of your Celebrant! Whilst there is absolutely no need for a Celebrant to be trained or accredited there are many who are and receive ongoing support and development. There are a number of institutions and organisations that train and accredit Celebrants, and offer ongoing support and guidance and training so that their Celebrants remain up to date, and follow a professional code. Ensure your Celebrant has up to date insurance – Public Liability and Professional Indemnity Insurance is key. Particularly as these may be required by your venue. They should also be able to show you their Terms and Conditions so that for example should they not be able to attend on your day, there is a plan in place for a substitute Celebrant from the same institution to take charge.
- Meet your Celebrant! Some people only meet their Celebrant on the day of their wedding. I would advise meeting in person and talking through your ideas and style and ensure you are making a connection with the Celebrant. An initial meeting by Skype or face to face can really help a couple to decide they are choosing the right person to work with and with whom they will be creating this important, personal ceremony.
- Ask your Celebrant for testimonials and reviews from other couples – established Celebrants will of course have many clients and ceremonies which they can discuss and from whom they will have received feedback.
- Allow your Celebrant to advise you! When it comes to creative ideas, themes, ritual and choreography – most celebrants are very experienced and can offer some great suggestions. In particular they will be able to advise on a number of different internal ceremonies such as Hand Fasting, Ring Warming, Wine or Beer Ceremonies, to name but a few. Your personal Vows and Promises are key to the ceremony and a Celebrant will be able to assist with ideas and suggestions so that you’ll feel you really are having your day, your way, and true to your love story and beliefs.
I hope these top 5 tips have helped to answer some of the questions you may have had about hiring a Celebrant for your Wedding Ceremony, but should you have any further questions please don’t hesitate to contact me for an informal chat. As a member of the Fellowship of Professional Celebrants myself and my colleagues would be delighted to have the opportunity to create and conduct your wedding.
Katja and Hayley – Bilingual Ceremony