Deciding the who, what, why, when, and where of your wedding ceremony can open up many areas of debate. It can feel confusing, trying to understand all the laws and regulations. It can also feel deflating, if you realise you can’t have the ceremony you had hoped for. Unfortunately, I can’t answer all your questions in one blog post (get in touch if you would like to talk – firstname.lastname@example.org). For now, however, here is my expert view on having a celebrant led wedding ceremony.
What is a Celebrant?
A Celebrant is an independent body, not associated with any religion or registry office. They conduct symbolic or humanist ceremonies, completely personal to the couple. They allow romantic commitments to take place wherever and whenever your heart desires.
A celebrant doesn’t have to follow a set of approved words. They aren’t limited to a certain building or time of day. They can help couples create a ceremony that feels true to them.
The current UK marriage laws don’t recognise symbolic or humanist ceremonies as legally binding. The UK government are reviewing the marriage laws but as things stand you need to have a civil or religious ceremony in addition to one conducted by a celebrant, in order to be legally wed. This could impact the cost of getting married. You can read more about the potential changes in my previous post: ‘UK marriage laws might be changing’.
Some couples feel they are somehow cheating their guests out of a ‘proper ceremony’ if they choose to have a small, legally binding ceremony and a separate symbolic or humanist commitment for their friends and family to attend. It’s so important to remember who the wedding is for and what lies at the heart of the union. The focus is you two, as a couple…not your guests. Don’t let your guests’ expectations rule your special day. Make decisions based on what means more to you both.
Being able to create a ceremony with complete freedom of expression is, of course, one of the biggest advantages of using a celebrant for your wedding ceremony. Couples have more say in the tone and mood of their ceremony, the words and vows used, and every element that creates their heartfelt union. Another advantage is being able to choose a meaningful location. With a celebrant led ceremony you don’t have the restriction of needing an approved building. You can hold a ceremony anywhere you feel a connection.
Approved ceremony buildings (other than registry offices or religious buildings) can have high venue fees. Then there is the additional cost of a registrar’s attendance fee. Therefore – choosing a simple legal ceremony with a separate celebrant led ceremony, in a low-cost location, might save you money.
With a celebrant conducted ceremony you can choose any time of day or night. You can combine two cultures and embrace meaningful elements of both. You can also develop a relationship with your celebrant, feeling a connection with the person conducting your ceremony, rather than turning up on the day not knowing who will marry you.
If eloping and having a celebrant led ceremony, there is no need for witnesses (as it isn’t legally binding). This means you can intimately celebrate your commitment to one another just the two of you. Equally, a symbolic or humanist ceremony removes the, often complex, legal requirements of a destination wedding – not to mention the stress involved in the logistics.
A celebrant conducted ceremony also opens up the opportunity of a romantic commitment to one another if, for some reason, one or both of you are unable to meet legal requirements for a destination wedding or perhaps haven’t been able to extract yourself from a previous marriage.
I spoke with two of my favourite celebrants to get their perspective on choosing a celebrant led wedding ceremony.
The lovely Yvonne Cassidy, an independent wedding celebrant based in Dublin, said: “The beauty of a celebrant led ceremony is the freedom it gives. By completing the legals separately with the state, couples are then free to have whatever type of ceremony they want. It is like having a blank piece of paper, the possibilities are endless and modern couples are really stepping away from what is considered traditional or expected and they are having fun creating their own ceremony and one that reflects them. The celebrant is there to guide the couple, and then deliver their personal and unique ceremony on their wedding day. The ceremony is such an important part of the wedding day, I recommend that couples choose the celebrant they feel a good connection with, rather than make their choice based on price.”
Carmela Cesarano not only scripts personalised ceremonies but also works with Town Halls and couples as an interpreter for legally binding civil ceremonies and unions in Italy – she said: “Some people believe that without the legal aspect, a wedding ceremony won’t feel real. I believe your ceremony is as real as you make it. Not being limited by legal requirements or restrictions, a symbolic ceremony can be just as you wish and the legal aspects can be dealt with expediently elsewhere. After all, if your birthday is on a Tuesday and you celebrate on a Saturday, it’s no less of a birthday party.
A wedding celebrant can craft a personalised ceremony telling your story in the most apt and beautiful way possible, guiding you in selecting those wedding ceremony elements that best fit you and your personalities, weaving them into an incredibly special, unique and personal celebration.”
I hope this post has informed you about celebrant led wedding ceremonies, and helped you decide if the option is right for you as a couple. If you would like more information, or some personalised advice, please get in touch email@example.com