When you’re planning your wedding, if you are anything like me before I joined the wedding industry, you might not have ever heard of a Celebrant. You will probably have seen 100’s of church or registry office weddings but never understood the flexibility and originality that theycan bring to your wedding ceremony. So this guide encompasses everything you need to know about Celebrants and how they can help you create a unique and alternative wedding day.
What is a Celebrant?
Let’s start at the beginning.
A celebrant is someone who can perform your wedding ceremony for you.
How does a celebrant ceremony different from a normal ceremony?
A celebrant ceremony is totally flexible – literally! You can have a ceremony based on the key elements of a traditional wedding or even go as far as a pagan inspired Handfasting. More on the types of ceremonies later.
If you’re looking for a ceremony which is a little different, perhaps fun and quirky, whilst also being very personal to yourselves, family and friends – a celebrant ceremony might be the one for you!
The important thing to remember is that a celebrant ceremony is not legal. You’ll be getting married in front of family and friends, but the legal stuff is done at another time.
OK so how does that work? I’m won’t be getting officially married with a celebrant?
Unfortunately, at this present time in England, a celebrant cannot legally marry you.
Most couples do the official bit at a local register office a couple of days before. This can be with a full audience, or alternatively, with the couple plus two witnesses. They can then enjoy the full celebration, even the giving of the rings, on their wedding day, with family and friends, starting with the celebrant-led ceremony.
Tell me more about the different types of services
Some of the most popular types of ceremonies
- Modern: with a fun and relaxed atmosphere
- Themed: such as a Harry Potter, Alice in Wonderland or Star Wars
- You might be part of a group like Steam Punk or the Sealed Knot and want to reflect this in the ceremony
- Or a mix of any of the above! It’s really up to you!
You can also include other elements such ‘Jumping the Broom’, sharing a drink together such as shots or using a quaich – a loving cup; creating your own time capsule or having a unity candle ceremony. There are a vast range from which to choose!
You can include family and friends in the ceremony, not only to read a poem or play an instrumental piece but, for example, to surprise family by singing a favourite song! Also, they can be included in the Handfasting, partaking in a cake and mead ceremony or the couple’s children can join in with the Sand ceremony or with a tree planting ceremony.
Pets can be included too! Maybe, the couple want their dog to take an active part in the ceremony and be their ring bearer or the bride may choose to have her favourite horse in the field near-by.
A family could even combine a wedding with a naming ceremony! All these elements can be included in a celebrant ceremony as there is no set scheme or order to the event! The celebrant will design the ceremony to suit the couple!
Where can I get married with a celebrant?
Literally anywhere (within the realms of reason, of course!). Celebrants are in the unique position to be able to give their couples the type of ceremony they want and most often in an unusual location.
Usually services happen in outdoor settings – think a field, woodland, gardens, on a beach or festivals! You could even have the ceremony up a mountain, down a cave, on a submarine, in a haunted castle or in a quarry!
The venue doesn’t have to be licensed as all the official bits happen elsewhere as we’ve mentioned above.
OK so I’ve decided a celebrant service is for me – what should I look for when looking for one?
Two key things – character and creativity. You want to find a celebrant who genuinely loves people and weddings. And most importantly someone you get along with.
So how will it work once I’ve chosen my celebrant?
You’ll usually have a chat on the phone and agree on an initial meeting, usually face-to-face but sometimes via Skype. In that you’ll spend time talking about what exactly you want from the ceremony and how it will contribute to the wedding day. Your celebrant should get to know you and your relationship. And that’s when the fun begins! Do you want a relaxed fun ceremony? A Handfasting ceremony? Maybe a combination of both? The ceremony can be as short as twenty minutes or as long as an hour for a full Handfasting ceremony.
You might have already picked your key theme for the Day – maybe it’s English summertime, Peeky Blinders, or, Boho. Whether you want personalised wedding vows or a Ring blessing, your celebrant will assist you with making all these choices. They’ll even help you with their vows.
Usually you can have whatever type or number of songs, music, readings or poems you want to create the perfect ceremony that matches your personal values and lifestyle. It truly is flexible!
So lets wrap it up!
What’s not to like about having a celebrant! They’re truly flexible and you get the ceremony that you want. A unique, personal occasion which is an integral part of your wedding day.
Susan is a celebrant based in the Midlands who specialises in unique and alternative ceremonies for couples looking for something a little bit different. Whatever the location, Susan can help create a personal and unique wedding just for you. Also a member of the Leicester Wedding Network. All photo's of Susan below courtesy of Chris Stuart. Click on Susan's logo to the left to find out more.
Ben from Thomas Thomas Photography is one of our featured tribe members. He specialises in natural, relaxed photography across the UK from his base in Newark, UK. All photos courtesy of Ben apart from Susan's pictures above.
Buffy Jones (otherwise known as The Wedding Slayer) is an alternative wedding coordinator from Arnos Vale Cemetery. We know what you’re thinking…a wedding in a cemetery? We’re feeling Tim Burton vibes here! Arnos Vale is a gorgeous location, with acres of woodland and a beautiful chapel. This same sex Corpse
Federica Cosentino is an alternative nature wedding planner. When she sent us her collaboration with photographer Valeria Forno, we were enchanted by the romantic, elvish wedding world they created. These Tolkien inspired photos tell the story of an elvish elopement in beautiful ivy woodlands, and we think you might just
This gorgeous, editorial style photoshoot was born out of the concept of ‘Bridal Wilderness’ and is an expansion on the idea of an unconventional bride- bold and fearless. Captured by Timothy James Photography, it aims to explore themes of elegance, femininity and power, telling a story of the rebellious bride