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No registrar available! What are my options?

Posted by Debbie Skyrme on Friday 24th April 2020
No registrar available! What are my options?

With registrars in some countries coping with a backlog of legal marriage registrations, what are your options? Do you have to reschedule the entire wedding?

One experienced UK celebrant tackles the questions head on.

Perfect Words Ceremonies 8

Photo Ben Davies Photography

What are my options if a Registrar isn’t available for my rescheduled wedding?

If you are a couple in England or Wales who have had to reschedule your dream wedding due to the Coronavirus, then my heart goes out to you, on the positive side, you are still getting married and you now have a little longer to plan and save for it! 

To reduce stress levels, it is important that you take control of the situation and liaise with your venue and suppliers to find a new date that hopefully suits everyone.  

However, many couples are finding that with Local Authorities not taking bookings for Registrars at the present time, this makes it impossible to commit to a new date.  It is also worth bearing in mind that once lockdown restrictions are lifted, there will be a huge surge in demand for Registrars for not only rescheduled weddings, but also new weddings in 2021 and you may not be able to book a Registrar for the date and time that you had hoped for. 

Perfect Words Ceremonies2

Photo Jasmine Andrews Photography

What are my ceremony options?

Many couples are finding that having a Celebrant officiate their wedding ceremony gives them more flexibility; most Celebrant’s only officiate one ceremony a day and they are highly likely to be available at your preferred time. 

In this current climate, it is important that both couples and venues know that they have the option of a Celebrant ceremony to allow the wedding to proceed.

What is the difference between  a registrar and a Celebrant?

The main difference is the legal element; Registrars work for the Local Authority and are responsible for the administration of registering births, marriages and deaths, they are authorised to conduct legally binding marriage ceremonies at licenced venues or Register Offices.  Celebrants are self-employed and it is important to note that in England and Wales a Celebrant ceremony is not legally binding.   

The other very important difference is the ceremony itself, Registrars have a set legally prepared script whereas a Celebrant ceremony script is written from scratch and is unique to each couple.

Perfect Words Ceremonies3

Photo Ben Davies Photography

How do we complete the legal part so we are actually married?

In England and Wales for your marriage to be recognised, you will need to complete the legal administration at your local Register Office ideally before your ceremony as part of your wedding preparations.  This is a simple and quick process in a “no frills” service.  You only need to attend with two witnesses, say the contracting words and sign the marriage register.  All the meaningful elements such as exchanging your personal vows and wedding rings are left to your Celebrant ceremony.  Some couples prefer to book a medium legal signing allowing them to invite immediate family.

In the event that you are unable to attend the Register Office to complete the legal aspect prior to your big day you can book an appointment soon after your ceremony, however, at no point in your ceremony will your Celebrant infer that you are married or pretend to marry you, the script will be carefully worded in this respect.

Can we complete the legal aspect at our Venue with a Registrar after our Celebrant ceremony?

Yes you can, however, there are a couple of things to consider.  Firstly having a Registrar and Celebrant attending will be very costly as you will be paying twice the fees.  Also, you will want to be celebrating with your guests and having your photos taken with your photographer, so nipping off to complete the legal admin is not ideal.

Perfect Words Ceremonies7

Photo Caterham Photography

How different will a Celebrant-led ceremony be to a Registrar?

Your Celebrant will meet with you either through video calls, or if restrictions are lifted, in person.  They will listen to your ideas and take time to get to know and then carefully craft your beautiful, tailor-made ceremony that reflects you as a couple and tells your story.  There are no rules; the format of your ceremony is completely flexible and you can involve members of your family or friends should you wish to. Your Celebrant will also have many wonderful suggestions and ideas of ways to enhance your ceremony.

You are also not restricted to where your ceremony is held; it can take place in the venue’s licensed ceremony room, or it could be held in the beautiful gardens. 

Perfect Words Ceremonies5 

Photo Meryl Herniman Photography

Will a Celebrant Wedding Ceremony feel less real?

Most definitely not!  Most guests do not even realise it is not a legal ceremony. Your wedding ceremony is the moment you declare your love and commitment to each other in front of those closest to you and your Celebrant will create and deliver a beautiful, bespoke ceremony full of love that perfectly captures you as a couple, leaving your guests very impressed and wonderful lasting memories to treasure. 

 Banner photo: The Enlight Project


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Featured Celebrant: Nikki Wood

Featured Celebrant: Nikki Wood

Surrey based Celebrant Nikki is an experienced Celebrant who is approachable, friendly and passionate about creating beautiful, unique, relaxed ceremonies that bring your vision to life.

Read Nikki's profile here

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