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  • Writer's pictureLisa Flahant

A celebrant-led ceremony need not cost more…

Updated: Nov 27, 2019

One of the common concerns I hear from couples booking a celebrant-led wedding ceremony is – surely booking a legal ceremony AND a celebrant ceremony costs a lot more than just having a legal ceremony?

And my response is – not necessarily! And in some cases I am delighted to advise that it might actually work out cheaper.

Newly wed couple hold hands in the sunlight

How so? Allow me to explain: if you want to go ahead with a celebrant-led ceremony, you will still need to complete the legalities at the Register Office, in what is known as a statutory appointment. This will take place in a Registrar's office, and cost around £50 (plus your notice fees). Be aware that appointments can be limited - Cornwall, for example, now only offers these from Monday to Thursday. Here is the link to Cornwall Registration Service if you want to check it out!

Then add your celebrant fee – which might be, for argument's sake, £500 – and you’ll have a total fee of around £550 for your legal paperwork and your personalised, tailor-made, unique celebrant-led ceremony.

Now let’s look at the other option: you decide to book just one ceremony in a licensed venue, which Register Office staff will attend to lead your wedding. So this means you complete the legalities as you would in a Register Office ceremony, but it takes place in a venue instead. In my area, the local authority charges £500 for such a ceremony on a weekday, £550 on a weekend and a staggering £850 on a Bank Holiday. And if your ceremony is after 6pm or before 8am, then there is a supplementary fee of between £150 and £250.

So it’s an interesting one! Depending on the time of day and day in the week, having just one ceremony rather than two *could* result in a similar price, but equally it could be cheaper, or it could be much more expensive.

But here’s the thing: having an independent celebrant-led ceremony gives you the total flexibility that the Register Office cannot. Firstly, you’ll meet and get to know your celebrant. He or she will prepare a ceremony completely bespoke to your story. There will be the option to include spiritual or religious elements, should you choose. You can include a symbolic ritual, such as a hand-fasting or a sand ceremony, should you desire. You can incorporate any readings, poems and music you want – without restrictions. You can hold your ceremony anywhere you like (no licence needed, but the land-owner’s permission is advisable!). You can hold your ceremony at any time you like – sunrise and sunset included. Your ceremony will be completely unlike any other ceremony that your guests will have heard – no scripts, so standard lines – just a completely authentic and personal ceremony delivered by someone with a genuine interest in your partnership and journey through life.

And a couple of other points about celebrants: unlike the Registration Service, they rarely charge extra for ceremonies at weekends, bank holidays or ‘out of hours’. Plus a celebrant will happily attend a rehearsal, should you choose to have one, which a Registrar cannot. And a celebrant is most likely to only officiate at one wedding a day, unlike a Registrar who on a busy day might have up to 8 ceremonies.

So perhaps booking a celebrant ceremony actually offers you far more value than the registrar-led option! Let me know what you think.

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