Your guide to celebrant weddings
Celebrant weddings are fast becoming one of the most popular ways for couples to celebrate their love. Whether you’re looking for a celebrant-led wedding in the UK or you want to jet off for a destination wedding, who better to get all the info from than a registrar-turned-celebrant? We spoke to Debbie Skyrme of Celebrant Spain to get her tips for celebrant weddings…
Image credit: Simon Duggan Photography
What’s the difference between a marriage and a wedding?
Basically, a marriage is a legal contract and a wedding is the fun part afterwards when the memories are made! Traditional religious marriages often combine the contractual marriage element with the ceremonial wedding part. Register offices also offer a non-religious contractual marriage, and if it is at a licensed venue, this can be combined with a wedding ceremony too.
However, nowadays, many couples are completely separating the two elements by contracting the most basic register office marriage and then having the wedding ceremony of their dreams at a later date. This wedding can be where they want, when they want, and is often written and officiated by a celebrant.
So what is a celebrant?
A celebrant is a person who has perhaps the most joyous job in the world! The celebrant officiates the ceremony or blessing according to the beliefs and values of the couple and may include any rituals or traditions that they want.
In the case of multi-faith marriages, a celebrant is unique in that they can take parts from each of the belief systems and blend them into a totally bespoke ceremony that satisfies the needs of both partners and both families. This is something a religious minister or a registrar cannot legally do.
Image credit: Rose and Rainbow Photography
For couples who do not follow any particular religion or for those who see themselves as humanist, a celebrant can incorporate traditions such as hand-fasting. This is when the officiant loosely binds the couples’ hands with cords – and where the origin of “to tie the knot” comes from.
There is nothing more heart-warming than seeing a wedding ritual that involves the couple’s children or that brings two families together. The lighting of a unity candle, a sand-blending ceremony or one of countless other rituals is a beautiful and meaningful way of bringing people together and recognising the creation of a new single family unit.
There are also celebrants who will officiate a traditional wedding ceremony for you, with all the words you are accustomed to hearing at a traditional marriage, with the benefit of it being in the exact location of your choice – overseas, for example (more on that later).
Choose a celebrant who shares your vision
All celebrants are lovely people! If they weren’t wonderful, empathetic wordsmiths, they wouldn’t be doing the job. So how on earth can you choose the right celebrant for you?
Well, it all comes down to your vision of your perfect wedding. What does your wedding ceremony look like? Where is it? Is it Wiccan? Are you choosing a theme? Is it outdoors, or overseas? You see, most celebrants have specialities, so start by looking for a person who thinks like you do, who shares your vision. Most celebrants will be only too delighted to have a face-to-face chat with you over Skype, Whatsapp video chat or FaceTime, so contact one or two celebrants. By getting to know them, you’ll discover which personality resonates with you. Then, book them quickly!
Image credit: Rose and Rainbow Photography
There is no such thing as a sample ceremony
Because the majority of celebrants write a totally bespoke script for each and every couple, it is impossible to give one generic ceremony. At a celebrant-led wedding anything goes – everything you might find at a traditional wedding as well as whatever bells and whistles you want. Or absolutely nothing at all like any traditional wedding ceremony you have ever been to. It could be 100% humanist, and 100% you. Music or no music. Readings or no readings. Rituals or no rituals. Vows or no vows. Your wedding, your way.
Can a celebrant legally marry us?
In all parts of the UK with the exception of Scotland, celebrants cannot legally marry you. The marriage contract part has to be conducted by a religious minister or a registrar. The celebrant is the person who crafts and officiates your wedding ceremony – usually after you have gotten legally married. This avoids confusion while also giving you something to celebrate!
In Scotland, a humanist celebrant is deemed to be a minister of the humanist faith. They can therefore perform a legal marriage with a wedding ceremony. Celebrants in some other countries can also legally marry you – it is super important to check before you book to avoid misunderstanding.
What is a destination wedding?
Many couples now choose to legally contract their marriage in their own country and then travel overseas. They can then celebrate their wedding ceremony on a palm-fringed beach or at a romantic location of their choice. At this type of destination wedding, you have two choices: either find a local English-speaking celebrant abroad, or take your chosen celebrant with you (I told you it was the most amazing job in the world!).
Tiny weddings are trending
With the proven rising trend for tiny weddings, micro weddings and elopements, having a celebrant-led destination wedding ticks just about every box. Not only can you celebrate your type of wedding where you want and when you want, but if you go small then you can also celebrate with whom you want! No more distant cousins and half aunts drinking their way through your bar budget!
A wedding ceremony with just a few specially selected guests takes all of the stress out of your day. You and your partner can spend quality time with each and every guest. Decisions such as choosing the menu or the venue become a lot simpler. Each person is there because you really want them to be.
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