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What is a celebrant, and do I need one for my wedding?

If you are currently planning your wedding, you may have come across the term ‘Celebrant’ in your research but not sure who they are, what they do or if you need one. To help answer these questions I am super excited to invite Meg, from Meg Senior Ceremonies, over to my little corner of the internet to explain the role of a wedding celebrant in a bit more detail.

What is the difference between a civil ceremony and a celebrant wedding?

“Typically, you’ll have a celebrant for non-religious ceremonies” Explains Meg: “Although this shouldn’t be confused with a Registrar who conducts civil ceremonies. Celebrant-led weddings have a number of differences, but as a starting point, you get to choose your celebrant and ultimately, who marries you. By having the opportunity to meet celebrants beforehand you can decide who's a good match; making the whole day feel more relaxed and personal.”

“With a civil ceremony, your local council will allocate someone to marry you. But you won't know who they are or get to meet them beforehand, so it can feel a bit strange. A civil ceremony will typically have simple, legal wording too, and adding your own touches is limited to poems or readings.”

“A celebrant-led ceremony is completely personalised and unique to you as a couple, which I love! When I meet with couples, I spend time getting to know them as individuals as well as a couple and enjoy hearing their love story. On the wedding day, I can add genuine comments that the couple and their guests will relate to, again making the whole ceremony more personal and fun.”

“Finally, civil ceremonies can feel quite short, formal and a little rushed – like you’re ticking off a checklist. Everyone is waiting to get to the party! Whereas celebrant-led weddings set the tone and vibe for the rest of the day, and can be seen as a ‘party starter’ rather than waiting for the party to start.”

What does a wedding celebrant do?

“A wedding celebrant essentially hosts the wedding ceremony. They’ll work with you for a number of weeks and months leading up to the wedding to ensure it includes everything you want from readings and vows to music and special surprises. A celebrant will also provide suggestions and ask the right questions that’ll help you create your perfect ceremony.”

Can a wedding celebrant legally marry us?

“This depends on the country you’re getting married in. Scotland, Northern Ireland, Jersey and Guernsey allow humanist celebrants to perform a legal ceremony, but the law in England and Wales states you can’t. This means there’ll be additional paperwork before or after at a registry office, which you can ask your celebrant or wedding planner about.”

“You may also wonder if it's not legal will it still feel real and authentic, and the answer is yes absolutely, my blog post Does a humanist wedding feel real goes into more detail on this”

Why is a wedding celebrant a good choice for you?

“This completely depends on what is important to you as a couple.” says Meg. “If you’re looking for something a bit different and relaxed for you and your guests, then a celebrant-led wedding is perfect. They are also great if you’re not particularly religious, traditional or comfortable with template vows.”

“Celebrants also make the whole experience enjoyable and stress-free. They have a lot of experience when it comes to all things wedding and can offer supportive suggestions and reassurance. Having dedicated time beforehand with the celebrant reminds you of all the reasons why you’re getting married too: your shared values, happy memories and hopes for the future. It’s a special moment that couples, and celebrants, really treasure.”

“Wedding celebrants are also a good match for any brides or grooms who are quite shy or feel overwhelmed at the thought of standing in front of so many people. There may be sentimental or romantic elements you want to include and if you’re not confident to do them yourself, a celebrant can pick these up in a way that's authentic to you.”

How does using a wedding celebrant work?

“The whole process usually takes about 6 months,” advises Meg: “and the first step simply involves getting to know each other. Every celebrant is different, but I’ll start by providing questions for the couple to talk about together; building on those foundations of why you’re getting married and helping me understand you a little deeper.”

“Once I receive your answers, I arrange a planning meeting so we can meet face-to-face and flesh out some of the choreography of the day, including the venue set-up and key people in the wedding.”

“I should then have enough to create a first draft of the day. There’ll still be a few gaps as not every couple has every decision confirmed straight away, but that’s ok, we can add in those details along the way.”

“By the time the wedding comes around, couples will have seen a final draft, although there can still be some last-minute amends! And sometimes, we’ll organise a rehearsal depending on your preferences and complexity of the wedding day. Either way, by this point, you should feel confident and excited; knowing I’ll coordinate the perfect day so you can focus on getting married and having fun.”

How do you choose the right wedding celebrant?

“This is an important decision as they’ll be a big part of your special memories (and wedding photos!). Make sure you either speak to or meet with your celebrant and choose someone who you get on with on a personal level. Weddings can be a nervous and vulnerable time, so you both need a celebrant you like, trust and feel comfortable with.”

“I would also choose someone in which your values are aligned: are they LGBQ inclusive? Are they environmentally conscious? If it’s important to you, then it should matter to them too. You could either ask them when you meet or look at their social media and website to get a good feel for them.”

Meg’s blog provides more information on how to choose a wedding celebrant, as well as the meaning of a ‘Humanist Celebrant’.

How much does a wedding celebrant cost?

“This can be influenced by lots of factors such as your location, time of year and complexity of your ceremony. But on average, wedding celebrants cost between £750 to £1,500. That’s why it’s important to find the right celebrant to marry you.”

I just wanted to add a huge thanks to Meg for taking the time to answer these questions, you can find Meg's website here Humanist Wedding Celebrant. I hope you found this blog useful and will help you on your journey to find your perfect celebrant. If you need any more guidance with planning your wedding, then please get in touch.

Photo credits: Karen Nash and Claire McClean


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