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7 reasons to have a celebrant-led wedding

There are SO MANY reasons to have a celebrant-led ceremony that I could babble on about them until the cows came home. But I’m guessing you haven’t got time for that, so I’ve whittled them down to the 7 biggest and most important ones here.


1. Location - With a celebrant-led wedding, you can get married ANYWHERE

Having a celebrant conduct your wedding means you can quite literally hold your ceremony wherever you like. Currently, the only three places you can legally marry in England and Wales are at a register office, a licensed wedding venue or a church. For many people who want something a little different, this can be very restrictive. If you choose to have a celebrant-led ceremony, these restrictions immediately vanish. This means you can have your wedding in your back garden, on your parents’ farm, on a beach, on top of a cliff, in the woods, in the ruins of a castle… The possibilities are endless, and the only limit is your imagination!


2. Time - with a celebrant-led wedding, you can get married ANY TIME

In the same vein as the first point, if you choose a celebrant to conduct your ceremony, you aren’t restricted to the usual time slots offered by a registrar or a church. Granted, even without this restriction, the majority of couples will still want to get married at 1pm or 2pm so they have time for all the other festivities they have planned. However, popular time slots with registrars get booked up years in advance, meaning that couples are often left being forced to choose between a 10am or 4pm ceremony, or change their date altogether. With a celebrant, this isn’t a problem, and for couples who are planning something a little bit different, being able to have their ceremony at a time of their choosing is a massive advantage. Imagine gathering your nearest and dearest on your favourite beach and exchanging your vows as the sun rises. Or how about eloping to the Lake District and exchanging rings as the sun dips behind one of the peaks, the sky filling with pinks and oranges as you say “I do.” Or maybe you want to skip all the daytime formalities and give your wedding a real party feel, having your ceremony moments before you tear up the dancefloor. With a celebrant-led wedding, all of this is possible, and so much more.


3. One celebrant, one day, one wedding

While we’re on the subject of time, the vast majority of celebrants will only conduct one wedding a day, which gives you a lot of flexibility when it comes to unexpected things cropping up on your day and causing delays. Sometimes, churches will host more than one wedding on the same day, and they will certainly have to fit your ceremony in around other services, rehearsals, meetings and commitments at the church already booked in the calendar. On popular days at peak times of year, registrars can be booked in to do as many as four ceremonies in one day. This leads to a lot of watch-tapping and clock-watching if things aren’t running to schedule because more often than not, they need to dash off to their next venue as soon as your ceremony is done.


Because your wedding will be the only one your celebrant will be at that day, these time constraints fly out the window. You will have my full and undivided attention on your big day, and we can relax and just go with the flow. Half the wedding party is stuck in traffic and you don’t want to start without them? Not a problem, we can wait. An unexpected hair/makeup/dress emergency that can’t be laughed off and needs sorting? Makeup wipes/curling tongs/needle and thread at the ready! Last minute nerves stopping you from taking that first step down the aisle? Don’t worry, we can just sit and breathe, and take as long as you need.


4. You can include ANYTHING in a celebrant-led ceremony

With registrar-led ceremonies or church weddings, there are certain restrictions on what you can and can’t include in your ceremony. If you choose a celebrant, all bets are off! There’s no limit to the number of readings or pieces of music you can have, and these can come from any source. As opposed to church or civil ceremonies, with a celebrant wedding, there’s no one to tell you what’s ‘allowed’ and what’s appropriate or not. Apart from maybe your mum, and that’s entirely your choice as to how much say she gets…


You can also include any number of symbolic additions in your ceremony. You might have seen a unity candle ceremony in church, and increasingly, registrars are now offering simple hand tying or sand blending ceremonies to jump on the celebrant-style bandwagon and to give the impression of offering a more ‘“personalised” wedding. But with a celebrant-led wedding this is another area where your creativity is the limit. One of my football-obsessed grooms next year wants to do away with the traditional signing of a wedding certificate, and instead they’re opting for a football shirt signing to welcome the bride into the family. As well as the rituals mentioned above, other popular ones include drinking from a quaich, jumping the broom, planting a tree together, warming the rings, creating an anniversary capsule or a wine box ceremony.


Speaking of alcohol, it’s actually against the law to have a tipple during a civil ceremony. I once saw a registrar give a groom a real telling off for having a swig of his hip flask just before the ceremony got underway. With a celebrant-led ceremony, this rule is null and void too. So if you want to blend wines, do a cocktail making ceremony, or have everyone do a shot of tequila as part of your wedding, then go for it! Bottoms up!


5. Ultimate personalisation

When you choose a celebrant-led ceremony, you’re choosing to have a ceremony that offers you the ultimate personalisation. As I’m sure you can tell from all of the above, you can make your wedding exactly what you want it to be, reflecting you as people and as a couple in every way possible. And instead of having to listen to the same ceremony wording that everyone else gets, the same vows, the same ‘words on marriage’, with a celebrant you will have your unique love story told in all its glorious, messy, hilarious detail. This will make for the most special, meaningful and memorable wedding, and one that will be truly different from any that you or your guests will have ever been to.


6. You choose your celebrant and get to know them

When you choose a celebrant, your relationship with that person can be whatever you want it to be, but chances are you’ll be signing up for a new best friend and honorary member of your wedding party. When you have a civil ceremony, you don’t get to meet the registrar performing your ceremony until about 10 minutes before you walk down the aisle, which can make everything feel very awkward and formal and even more nerve-wracking. When you have a celebrant-led ceremony, you will meet your celebrant several times and be in contact with them throughout the planning process so that when it gets to the big day, it often feels like your ceremony is being conducted by an old friend. With vicars and registrars, you pretty much get who you’re given, but the fact that you can also choose which celebrant you go with means you get the right celebrant for you; one that shares your values and gets your ideas, and one that just clicks with you. This will definitely make for a calmer, more enjoyable experience all round!


7. Celebrant-led ceremonies are the best option for inclusion

There’s no other way to say it: a celebrant-led ceremony is hands down the best choice for couples who think traditional wedding structures are not for them; whether that’s because of your sexual orientation, your faith or religious background, or because you don't conform to what is customary with a traditional wedding ceremony. I hear stories all the time of couples’ negative experiences with the conventional route to marriage, and it’s such a shame. A lesbian couple and friends of mine were asked by a registrar where the groom was when they went to give notice to marry. Couples of mixed faith being forced into a strictly secular (non-religious) ceremony and not being able to acknowledge their backgrounds in their weddings, because the law states that civil ceremonies can’t include any references to religion whatsoever. It really doesn’t have to be this way. A celebrant-led ceremony, unencumbered by any rules and restrictions, can be exactly what you want it to be, reflecting you and your love in a way that is authentic and meaningful to you.


So there you have it. These are what I think are the seven main reasons to have a celebrant-led wedding, but there are so many. I know I’m biassed, but they’re better in every way! If you have any questions at all, send me an email on hello@witandwonder.co.uk, or click below to find out what’s involved in having a Wit & Wonder wedding!


Connie is an independent celebrant based in Manchester and Cheshire, and working across the North West and beyond. She creates fun, meaningful and highly personalised ceremonies for couples and families who want to celebrate life’s biggest moments in their own way.


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