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  • Writer's pictureLisa Flahant

What to expect from a celebrant-led wedding?

Updated: Nov 27, 2019

If you are currently planning your wedding, then congratulations! And if you are still in the process of considering your ceremony options, then you’ve arrived at the right place.

Wedding couple walk barefoot on the brach

Unless you are marrying in church, you probably know that a legal marriage has to take place in a Register Office or licensed venue and be conducted by Registration Service staff.

Depending on your local authority, there are a number of options from simple to more elaborate ceremonies, all of which are based on a series of templated scripts. Having given your notice at least a month before, you will arrive at the Register Office or venue on the day of your wedding, along with two witnesses. You will meet your two Registrars briefly, then confirm all the details you have previously provided are correct, and proceed into your ceremony. It will be complete in 10 – 20 minutes.

If you have opted for a wedding led by an independent celebrant, the process will be quite different.

Firstly, you will have selected the celebrant yourself. You will have taken time, great care and thought in choosing someone who complements you perfectly and who you can confidently place your trust in to craft and deliver a completely authentic ceremony. They will be someone you click with, who gets your sense of humour and who you feel completely comfortable with from the outset.

You will then build a relationship with your celebrant over a series of months, through conversations, email communications and face-to-face or video meetings. He or she is going to become a big part of your life over your wedding planning process! They will be working with you and supporting you to design every detail of your ceremony. There will be no templates or scripts – your celebrant will interpret your thoughts, ideas and the journey you have been on and translate these into a unique ceremony, personalised just for you.

If you require ideas, inspiration and guidance, that’s exactly what your celebrant is for. He or she will devise a structure for your ceremony (which can be as traditional or unconventional as you want), then can help with suggestions for readings, music and poetry, assist with writing your vows, suggest rituals to add more meaning to your ceremony, as well as ways in which you can involve some or all of your guests. And if you want to incorporate any spiritual or religious content, you can go right ahead and do that.

Your celebrant can also advise you on the legal process for marrying, for which most couples book a simple legal ceremony with the Register Office, a few days in advance of their wedding celebration, in order to complete the legal paperwork. They are then free to enjoy the ceremony of their dreams.

And if you are need of inspiration for a wedding venue, your celebrant will be able to advise you. Of course the beauty of a celebrant-led wedding is that it can be held pretty much anywhere and any time! So don’t be discouraged if your favourite venue is not licensed for weddings (they don’t need to be) or if you’ve dreamed of getting married under the stars (and were told it’s not possible) – EVERYTHING IS POSSIBLE WITH A CELEBRANT-LED WEDDING!

On the day of your wedding, your celebrant will arrive early to ensure everything is exactly as it should be and unlike a Registrar, is unlikely to have any other commitments that day. If you have chosen to have a rehearsal, you can do this in advance of your wedding day or just before. However you will have been fully prepared in the lead-up – so there will be no surprises on the day, and nothing for you to be worrying about! You will feel calm, prepared and hopefully excited as you begin your ceremony, and your celebrant will support you every step of the way.

And, given that you will have developed a meaningful, warm and sincere relationship with your celebrant, it’s very likely that you will stay in touch following your ceremony. In fact, many couples choose their wedding celebrant to lead ceremonies for the naming of their children or renewing their vows in years to come!

So there you go – so many ways in which a celebrant-led ceremony differs from a church or registration service ceremony. Want to chat more about this? Then drop me a line at Celebrant in Cornwall!

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