In this section
What should I look for when choosing a wedding Celebrant?
What is the difference between a Humanist and a Celebrant?
Why would I choose a wedding Celebrant over a Registrar?
We married abroad but would like a ceremony in my home town, can this be done?
Getting Married in Spain: The ultimate guide to a Spanish destination wedding
Getting married in Scotland – The ultimate guide to a Scottish destination wedding
Getting married in Greece: The ultimate guide to a Greek destination wedding
Getting married in The Middle East: The ultimate guide to a UAE destination wedding
Getting Married in New Zealand – The ultimate guide to a Kiwi destination wedding
Getting Married in Edinburgh: Tips for getting married in Scotland’s capital city
The Ultimate Guide to Celebrant Led Weddings
Celebrant-led weddings have grown enormously in popularity in recent years. And we’re not surprised. These amazing ceremonies provide a flexible, personalised way to create the wedding of your dreams; something we are incredibly passionate about.
Celebrant weddings can be held in the most glorious of locations. Meaningful spots, settings of unimaginable beauty… this alternative to a civil registrar led or church based ceremony opens endless doors.
They also give you the chance to choose a celebrant that you can genuinely connect with. Someone who will take your ceremony and make it feel perfect.
But, we understand that there’s a lot to consider before making a decision; it’s your big day, after all… you shouldn’t rush into anything!
That’s why we’ve created The Ultimate Guide for Celebrant Led Weddings. We hope it helps you craft your idyllic ceremony.
What is a wedding celebrant?
So, what actually is a wedding celebrant? In its simplest form, a wedding celebrant is someone who leads a ceremony.
There are five different types of celebrant in the UK, and while their overall role of a celebrant remains the same, there are some considerable differences in the way they perform a ceremony. The five celebrant professions are:
- Interfaith Ministers
- Independent celebrants
Whichever category they fall into, a celebrant can be professionally trained and should be fully insured. As well as leading the ceremony, a wedding celebrant should have the background and skills to support couples in the actual creation of their bespoke ceremony.
In a nutshell, their role is to perform and officiate a formal ceremony: this will most commonly be a wedding, but a celebrant may also conduct ceremonies such as baby naming, vow renewals and funerals.
What is the difference between a humanist and celebrant wedding?
A humanist celebrant and other celebrants (particularly an independent celebrant) possess a good deal of similarities in how they write and officiate a ceremony. They all tick the box of delivering a highly personalised ceremony (one that can be held in any location) and offer an alternative to a more typical registrar or church service.
The main difference comes from the parameters in which a humanist celebrant will add into their ceremony. A humanist celebrant believe in the human experience, they don’t believe in religion. Because of this they will offer a secular or non-religious ceremony; their service is based purely on humanity and reason.
An independent celebrant opens up to ceremonies that may include religion: they are able to include whatever the couple want in the ceremony. This could include an act of worship.
Both humanist and independent celebrants will give your ceremony the personality and punch you want. Both are just as fabulous!
What’s the difference between a celebrant and an officiant?
There is actually no difference between a wedding celebrant and a wedding officiant as both are responsible for writing and performing wedding ceremonies.
The only difference is their global position. For celebrants working in the USA, you are more likely to hear them referred to as an officiant, whereas in the UK, Canada, New Zealand and Australia they are recognised under the term celebrant.
What is the benefit of having a celebrant-led wedding?
A celebrant-led wedding allows you to overcome the strict, traditional restrictions that are found in religious and civil ceremonies.
They give you the opportunity to inject personality and heart into your special day, creating something that is truly unique and captures the essence of your relationship.
Just a few of the reasons couples opt for a celebrant-led ceremony include:
You can have an outdoor wedding ceremony with a celebrant
Taking the wedding ceremony outdoors is one of the biggest draws for a celebrant-led wedding. Celebrants officiate thousands of ceremonies on beaches, woodlands, open spaces, estate grounds and gardens. As a UK based celebrant doesn’t require a wedding license and the legalities are done in a separate service, there really is no limit to your options.
This means that if you have a significant spot (perhaps the area you first met or somewhere that holds precious memories for your family) you have the freedom to host your ceremony there. The only problem is deciding on the best spot!
You can write your own wedding vows with a celebrant
Something that couples love about celebrant-led weddings is that they have the option to write their own vows.
The celebrant will spend time getting to know you so that, if needed, they can help you compose your vows. They will give you advice on readings, music and any other symbolic acts that can shine a light on your love and bond.
They will also create their own ceremony script based entirely around your personalities and hopes for your wedding. You will get the chance to check this before the big day to ensure you adore it.
Celebrants offer more flexibility
Because you aren’t tied to any specific requirements, the world is your oyster with a celebrant-led wedding.
Fancy getting married abroad? Do it. Keen to involve your family and friends in the ceremony? You bet. Want to add pagan elements? Absolutely!
There are absolutely no restrictions, meaning you have the potential to build a wedding that fulfils every single one of your desires.
Celebrants help you to create the perfect day
Which leads us onto you creating your perfect day.
Your celebrant-led wedding is 100% personalised. They will meet you (either virtually or ‘in real life’) and they’ll get to know you. Then they will create a ceremony from the ground up.
You may be asked to fill in a questionnaire about your history as a couple. What led you here? How did you meet? What do you hope for the future?
Armed with these answers, your celebrant will sculpt your perfect ceremony. It will feel natural and a flawless representation of your relationship.
Choosing the perfect celebrant
If you want the perfect wedding, it stands to reason that you’re going to need the perfect celebrant.
You get to choose precisely who will lead your wedding. And while this may seem like a big task, there are tons of tools to make your decision easier, including The Celebrant Directory. It’s just another way that you get to take control of your wedding and ensure that your ceremony is everything you hope for (…and more!).
How do I choose my celebrant?
Of course, there are a few things you’ll want to think about before hiring your celebrant.
You should feel comfortable with your celebrant and confident that they will deliver the ceremony you want. They will all have different styles – some will be more humorous, others more serious, while many will opt for a symbolic approach to their ceremonies – and it’s important that you find a style that works for you.
You always have the option of contacting a few of your favourites to get to know them more. They will understand and appreciate how big of a decision this is for you!
However, whatever style feels right for you, it’s worth making sure your celebrant:
- Is a strong communicator
- Do they listen to you? Do you think they will take on board your thoughts and needs?
- Has positive reviews
You can tell a lot about a person from your first meeting; remember that those first impressions count, and this could be both a practical and emotional decision.
Can I have a celebrant officiate a wedding in a church?
This one isn’t a clean cut answer – because, really, it depends!
If you have your heart set on your celebrant officiating a ceremony in your favourite church, you will need to ask a member of the clergy. Ultimately, it will come down to their final decision.
What venues can I choose to have a celebrant led wedding?
The beauty of a celebrant-led wedding is that you are not limited by location.
Whether you want your ceremony to be indoors or outdoors, it is essentially up to you what you want your backdrop to be. Since a celebrant cannot legally officiate a wedding, the venue doesn’t even require a wedding license.
Go take a look at some of the best venues out there that LOVE working with celebrants in our venue directory.
What are some of the best celebrant wedding ceremony ideas?
There are so many ways to add a personal spin to your wedding ceremony.
Many couples choose a celebrant wedding as they want to incorporate an element of spiritual symbolism in their wedding: this could include Hand Fasting, candles, crystals, trees… the list goes on!
You can include traditional wedding elements with a celebrant
Another way in which people personalise their ceremony is by tying in relevant traditions (such as a Jewish glass smash or Chinese tea ceremony) or cultural points; this could be something that has been passed through the family, or a totally new tradition that you want to set for future generations!
You can involve guests in a celebrant led wedding
You could involve your guests with special readings, songs or even to play a part in your tradition. This adds an extra layer of flexibility, meaning you can choose the people that are special to you and give them a key role in your day.
You can have a ceremony abroad and at home with a celebrant
We’ve mentioned the huge plethora of venue options when you have a celebrant-led wedding, including ceremonies abroad. But a popular aspect of these ceremonies is that it gives you the option to have both home and away.
For those that can’t attend your abroad wedding, you could use a celebrant to renew your vows back home or have a second wedding altogether.
What will typically happen at a celebrant led wedding?
While your celebrant-wedding will be tailored around you, there are some common features that might occur:
- The couple will arrive (together or separately)
- There will be an introduction and welcome speech
- Script related to love, bonds and commitment (free from religion)
- A reading or a poem
- The couple’s unique story
- How the couple define marriage
- Another reading, poem, song or hymn
- The vows / promise
- A symbolic act
- The exchange of rings
- Final wish of happiness
- The close
This is by no means a set in stone structure; the couple will choose what they want to include and how long they want the ceremony to be.
How much does a celebrant cost?
How long is a piece of string? Since there is so much variety in what a celebrant can provide (and where they will do so), there is no set fee structure. A celebrant can cost anywhere between £450-£4000.
As a general rule of thumb, you could expect to pay between £450-£1,500 for a celebrant.
Can a celebrant at a wedding legally marry a couple?
This is all dependent on where you live in the world.
In England and Wales, celebrants are unable to legally marry a couple. However, in Scotland and Northern Ireland you can have a legal celebrant-led wedding if you use a humanist celebrant or part of a faith based organisation.
In Australia, New Zealand and the USA, qualified independent celebrants or officiants can legally perform a marriage or civil union.
If your celebrant cannot legally marry you, then you will need to register your marriage elsewhere such as a registry office.
But watch this space – The Wedding Celebrant Commission and Humanists UK are lobbying to extend the rights of celebrants in the UK and Wales. We may see some changes very soon…
What’s the difference between a marriage and a wedding?
Here’s how to separate your marriage from your wedding ceremony and have both on different days, in totally different locations if you want to! One former registrar-now-celebrant explains how separating your marriage from your wedding can literally open up a world of opportunities.
Is a celebrant led wedding the right choice for me?
If you want a ceremony that is personal, doesn’t stick to traditions and feels like a seamless reflection of your love for one another, then YES.
Celebrants are open and inclusive, and are an option for everyone regardless of sex or faith.
A celebrant-led wedding will revolve entirely around you, the couple. It means you can explore different options until you find a format that feels right. No blueprints. No instructions. Just a bespoke portrait of your unique bond for all your loved ones to enjoy.
Now you know what a celebrant-led wedding is all about… it’s time to choose your celebrant! Our Wedding Celebrant Directory is a brilliant way to browse a huge range of celebrants from all walks of life. Take a look and kick-start your dream wedding.
Photographer Credits: Simon Biffen, Alisa Roberts
Celebrants: Celebrant SJ, Nikki Wood, Samantha Kelsie.