A celebrant is governed by certain laws and, although these are soon likely to change to allow celebrants to become legal registrars, this is the current situation in England as it stands:
Who can perform a wedding ceremony?
What are the differences between wedding officials?
Who can perform the legal segment and must it be at the wedding ceremony?
Deciding where to hold your wedding ceremony may determine who will lead it. If you have set your heart on a church wedding then it is the nominated Priest or Vicar who will help you to say ‘We do!’ The denominations for religious ceremonies are manyfold and you will usually be a regular member of that religious community in order to be eligible to wed there. In any other location, any other than a place of worship, you have the choice as to who might lead your service.
Priests, Registrars, Celebrants and Humanists are freely used terms but actually there are quite significant differences to each one and the rules and regulations which govern them are important considerations for a couple choosing to join together in matrimony, in a civil partnership and who wish to be joined together in law as well as in love. Only when you are clear about the function that each one can perform, should you go ahead and book one.
A Celebrant has the right to perform and officiate formal and informal ceremonies, and whilst most often seen at weddings they can also conduct other services like renewals, baby naming and funeral rites. Celebrants are not tied to doctrines, or scripts, or belief sets or religious rituals or atheist values and they offer incredible versatility to help couples create tailored, unique ceremonies that reflect their perspectives, personalities and passions for life, for celebrations and for each other.
Celebrants support and guide any couple in completing the necessary requirements for the marriage license, but do not, just yet, have the authority to approve it with a signature. So why choose a Celebrant?
Well, instead, they officiate a far more bespoke ceremony and where couples are diverse, where they embrace or span cultures, where they unite with different religious, atheist, spiritual or secular perspectives, where they would like more than a one-dimension approach to the art of love and marriage, then a Celebrant can lead a memorable ceremony. It takes into account your personal love story, addresses the beliefs and individual values which brought you together and which can be both warm and full of respect for your important guests and family, who sharing in your joy, may have a different perspective. A Celebrant led ceremony provides the flexibility to include religious elements, symbolic ritual, cultural elements, if they form part of your wishes. You cannot have this in any other setting and the real joy is that such a ceremony can be staged anywhere – it does not have to be a recognised place of worship, nor in an Approved Premises.
As a Celebrant, I do not promote one wedding path over another, nor any tradition, value or belief set over another, nor any wedding venue or location over another – it is my joy and privilege to embrace and incorporate the places, practices, traditions and religions that are important to you.
I hope that this section will help to clear up any confusion, but please call if you are in any doubt. I will give you free, no obligation guidance so that you can make the best, most informed choice. The legal signing does not have to be at the ceremony. As long as you have a marriage license and a signed wedding certificate, your wedding will be legal and valid – it’s the paperwork that makes it legal, not the ceremony. The paperwork can be signed at anytime, in the civil offices, with the couple and two witnesses. In most towns, there are two options for this: a purely legal signing, with no ceremony, with the approximate cost of £50. They usually offer a slightly more ceremonial, but still standard option, in a wedding designated room, most often accommodating up to twelve guests, for considerably greater cost. This is legal and binding, but generally speaking not at all personal and certainly not bespoke. At the end of this page, I provide some links to council led services.
There are no rules to specify that the certificate must be signed before, at or even after the ceremony; you can do this it at any time.
Celebrant led weddings allow you to pick and chose whichever elements or ideas you want to include, so it’s as personal and unique as you.
A combination of legal signing, with a Celebrant led ceremony ensures that you have the legal, recognised wedding of your dreams!
What’s the difference between a Celebrant and a Priest?
A Priest, as a member of the clergy, will have received formal training to perform ceremonies bound by the religious conventions and rites of their faith. They are ‘ordained’ to perform this rite.
As a Celebrant, I have been formally trained and can perform the wedding ceremony to your specification, drawing on themes, or rituals or any concept that you’d like.
What is the job of a registrar?
You should choose a celebrant led wedding when…
Registrars must, by law, officiate a legal wedding via means of a civil ceremony; in other words one which must take place in an Approved Premises, not a church, or place of worship but either a Registry Office or an approved Venue. The Venue will have been given legal clearance to permit weddings to take place there. The ceremony is purely secular and must have no religious or spiritual tones whatsoever. There is strict legislation governing the venue and no wiggle room for the delivery or script.
The registrar is in charge of processing and approving the couple’s marriage license, with the wedding ceremony acting as a formality after the legalities are taken care of. Only a Priest or a Registrar can legally solemnise a marriage or civil partnership and declare a couple ‘husband and wife.’
…you wish to remember the day forever, for the simple reason that you have designed, with my help, every tiny detail;
…you want complete choice over the way your union is celebrated and complete choice over when and where it takes place – by a moonlit lake, if you so desire;
…you prefer to decide on the order, the content, the words, the vows, the timings.
“We cannot thank you enough – it has been a truly memorable time. I knew that we were in a safe pair of hands the second I heard your voice. I will never forget the service: beautiful and perfect with the only words that come close to doing it justice.”