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  • Writer's pictureLisa Flahant

Celebrating love, not admin....

Updated: Nov 27, 2019

Hello folks, I thought I’d write about something that happened this week that made me do a little happy dance: three couples told me (unprompted) that they felt their celebrant-led wedding ceremony was of far more significance and meaning to them than their legal wedding ceremony.

Newly wed couple embrace on a sunny park bench

And it’s an interesting one, which will no doubt rattle the cages of a few registrars and members of the clergy! I know from my own experience as a deputy registrar and ceremony officer, that the Registration Service is VERY KEEN for couples to view their legal ceremony as their wedding day.

But why should it be this way?

We legally register a birth, yet we choose to have the celebration of that birth - in the form of a christening or naming ceremony - at another time. Similarly we are required to legally register a death, and we will then have the celebration of that life - a funeral or memorial service - at another time. So why do we feel the obligation to register a marriage and have the celebration all at the same time?

Plus in an era of personalisation, customer choice and our desire to create unique, memorable and authentic experiences - why should we not expect more of the happiest day of our life?

Here are my three true stories - all couples with whom I am working to write and deliver bespoke, personalised, celebrant-led ceremonies:

“We’ve decided to have the simple legal ceremony in advance, just inviting our parents and immediate family, and then have the celebratory ceremony with all of our family and friends, in a place of our choosing, exactly as we want it, with no restrictions. In our minds, that will be our true wedding day. That day is the real deal for us.”

“Our wedding was booked, but quite late in the day it transpired our legal paperwork wouldn’t be ready in time. So we decided to go ahead with the wedding, exactly as planned (minus the legal content!) but with a celebrant. This last-minute hitch made us realise that while the paperwork legalises our partnership, it’s declaring our commitment in front of our friends and family that’s the really important part.”

“We are doing the legal bit the month before, but it’s the celebrant ceremony we’re looking forward to because that will be the real celebration with all of our friends and family. We feel pretty confident that a celebrant will ensure we have a truly special day, and it will mean much more to us than the register office ceremony.”

And here’s my (humble) take on it:

A wedding day should not be about standing quietly in front of an official, repeating the statutory wording and signing the legal paperwork. Nor should it be about rules and judgement, or scripts with limited options from which to choose the very words that bind you together.

This, my friends, is wedding admin.

A wedding day should be a joyful celebration. A celebration of love, of commitment, friendship and family, and of two people who are in it for forever. It should be neither sombre or solemn. It should be unconstrained by tradition or institution. It should be fun, flexible, creative and expressive. It should be whatever you want it to be.

And this is why I think my three true story couples feel the way they do; they recognise that celebrants celebrate love, not admin.

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