What is a wedding celebrant, anyway?
The wonderful Jane from Petite Weddings UK recently interviewed me about all things celebrant, and in these strange times, it was truly lovely to be reminded how uplifting being a wedding celebrant is! Here is an extract from the blog - which you can of course read in full - thanks Jane, for some great questions!
What is a wedding celebrant?
A wedding celebrant creates and delivers personal, meaningful and totally bespoke ceremonies for couples wanting a unique and authentic wedding experience.
Each celebrant works slightly differently, but broadly, we start by building a relationship with the couple, getting to know you and what makes the two of tick. We tailor the ceremony to exact requirements, writing it from scratch so it is a completely distinctive and hand-crafted event; it can include traditional or unconventional elements, symbolic rituals or spiritual acts, bespoke vows, singing, dancing and even audience participation!
Wedding celebrants are a great option for couples who think outside the box. Personally, I’m always happy to join in, even dress the part and get on board with a theme if you want me to! My job is to be 100% focussed on making sure that your big day is exactly you imagined it to be.
As your wedding celebrant I’ll not only ensure that everything runs smoothly from the planning to the actual ceremony, I can guarantee that the experience and memories of the day will be truly one of a kind.
What drew you to this role?
My background is in performance, marketing and training. I trained and worked as a professional dancer and then spent 20 years in the corporate sector organising high profile events, writing creative marketing material and standing up to speak in front of large and - sometimes demanding! – audiences.
On escaping the rat-race and moving to Cornwall, I took a part-time role in the Registration Service, legally marrying couples every weekend, sometimes three, four or five couples a day. It took me a short time to realise that while I totally loved being part of a couple’s special day, I really didn’t like the conveyor belt of legal weddings. I also witnessed many restrictions and limitations imposed by a legal ceremony, resulting in couples needing to compromise or change their plans at the last minute.
In my mind, this was not how weddings should be. I wanted to deliver ceremonies that were joyful celebrations, full of fun, flexibility, creativity and expression. I wanted couples to have the chance to fully personalise their ceremony and have the opportunity to share their unique story. I wanted couples to have the chance to get to know their celebrant, feel like they are in a safe pair of hands, and not feel rushed, constrained or institutionalised.
So I decided to trade on my experiences and skills, play to my strengths, and train as an independent celebrant – and I’ve not looked back!
What is the difference between a registrar-led wedding ceremony and a celebrant led-ceremony?
You’ve probably got the gist of a celebrant-ceremony by now – it offers complete flexibility and personalisation. It can take place at any time and in any location. It is written in a deeply sincere style, which fits with the couple’s values and lifestyle and reflects the individuality of the partnership.
A registrar-led ceremony is a civil ceremony in which the focus is stating the legal declaratory and contracting words. There are limitations as to where it can happen and as to what the ceremony can contain. The ceremony is likely to be one of many ceremonies taking place that day in an allocated time slot, and it’s highly unlikely you’ll meet the registrars before the ceremony. And finally, the ceremony ‘script’ is one that is recycled time and time again – possibly not the most creative or exciting ceremonies you’ll ever hear!
What sort of places can we have our wedding ceremony conducted by a celebrant?
Quite simply, you can have it anywhere you want. The only caveat is that if it’s on private land not belonging to you, that you have the land-owners permission. So you don’t need to worry about having a licenced venue, and you can have your ceremony in a private home or garden, your local pub or village hall, your favourite hotel or restaurant, on a beach, in a meadow, under a tree, along a riverbank, on a train – you get the idea!
Will you ever be able to conduct a legal wedding ceremony?
Yes, I hope so. The Law Commission is currently consulting on provisional proposals to reform the law governing how and where couples can get married – and this includes a framework that could allow independent celebrants to conduct legal weddings. Time will tell!
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