If you've ever wondered what the role of a celebrant involves and why you should, perhaps, choose a celebrant for your big day, keep reading!
We're delighted to have met Jenefer Woodhead - a celebrant who not only loves her work but has been kind enough to share the following advice to those thinking about making their ceremony EXTRA special and personal...
Planning a wedding is such an exciting time and there’s no doubt you will be hoping – and expecting - to have a truly special celebration on your big day.
Many people choose not to have a church wedding but there is an alternative to a ceremony at a registry office ceremony or a registrar-led ceremony at an approved legal venue.
By choosing to have a celebrant you can have the most amazing, personalised and unique ceremony that reflects who you are as individuals and as a couple.
Here are a few things you might like to know about celebrants and the types of ceremonies they can offer.
Is a celebrant-led ceremony legal?
Celebrants cannot yet legally marry couples in England (they can in some other countries) so you still need to give formal notice of marriage or civil partnership through a registry office at least 15 days before the day and either attend a registry office to complete the minimum legal requirement for marriage or have a registrar attend a celebrant-led ceremony at an approved venue.
Many couples choosing the former simply turn up at the registry office in casual clothes to complete the formalities (essentially it is making two statements before the registrar and two witnesses), saving the dressing up, rings and vows for the main ceremony later.
If you choose to have a registrar attend at an approved venue, they can complete the legal requirements first, leaving you then to continue with your personalised, memorable ceremony.
If we still need the involvement of a registrar why have a celebrant?
Choosing a celebrant allows you to combine the legal requirements of a marriage or civil partnership with a separate, personalised ceremony in a place of your choosing. It will be a unique, inspiring occasion that will define your bond – an event you, your friends and family will remember for ever.
There are fairly strict guidelines about what can and cannot be included in a registry office or registrar-led ceremony (for instance nothing religious) and limited choices for the actual script. There is usually also a limit on how long your ceremony can be.
A celebrant is bound by no such restrictions and can create a bespoke ceremony that is as long or as short as you like and that contains just the kinds of elements you would like. It can include religious or spiritual content or not, and have as many different parts as you wish. It really is about how you would like it to reflect you both as a committed couple and as individuals.
Can a celebrant-led ceremony take place anywhere?
Pretty much - with the exception of consecrated places of worship or private land without the landowner’s permission. As it is not a legal event it does not need to be held in a legally approved wedding venue – unless you choose to have a registrar attend to fulfil the legal requirement in which case it must be held at a venue with a licence to hold weddings.
Using a celebrant means you could hold your ceremony indoors at home or elsewhere, in a garden, in a park, on the beach, in a location that is special to the two of you (perhaps where you met), in a hot air balloon … the possibilities are endless which makes it so much more exciting – and personal!
What will a celebrant do?
Most celebrants offer a free, no obligation meeting to discuss your thoughts and ideas for your wedding ceremony. It’s a chance to meet and get to know each other a little – it’s important both parties feel comfortable with each other. After all, the celebrant is going to work with you to write and deliver some of the most important sentiments of your life!
Once you have booked a celebrant he or she will usually meet with you again and begin work on a ceremony script incorporating your wishes and desires. He or she will also offer lots of guidance and suggestions on what you might like or what could be included. Further meetings and/or Skype or e-mail sessions usually follow.
You have complete control over the script – it is your wedding day and not the celebrant’s day - and changes can often be made up to within a few days of the ceremony.
On the wedding day itself, your celebrant will conduct your beautiful, personalised ceremony, ensuring you, your family and friends celebrate your commitment in the most memorable of ways.
What could I have in my ceremony?
Virtually anything you like! There is usually an exchange of vows - and rings if desired – but the rest is up to you as a couple: you might want a friend or family member to give a reading with special meaning; someone else might sing or play a musical instrument. Pets or children could be involved or you might choose to include a ‘mini’ ceremony such as the lighting of a candle, a hand blessing or the release of a dove. The sky – and your imaginations and the celebrant’s - are really the only limits.
Could we write our own vows?
You certainly could. Writing your own vows is as personal as it gets and a celebrant can help in this process if you wish. It’s an opportunity to really think about the commitment you are making to each other and what words you would like to use to make particular promises to each other.
Some couples read from little cards while others choose to repeat a few words at a time led by the celebrant.
Does it matter if one or both of us have been married before?
Not at all. The joy of using a celebrant is that they are committed to providing you with the best and most beautiful ceremony that meets your hopes and expectations.
How much does it cost to have a celebrant?
Costs can vary quite significantly depending on what is involved. Some celebrants provide an indication of costs on their websites and others will be happy to provide estimates. The best approach is to look at a few celebrants – and meet them – to be sure of finding someone you are comfortable with.
A wedding is such an important milestone in life and a celebrant can help ensure you celebrate it in a very personal way that will have a truly special meaning for you, your family and friends.
*The team at Pink Wedding Venues would like to say a HUGE "Thank-you" to Jenefer for sharing this, interesting and useful, information with us.