Updated: Oct 18, 2021
This week we bring you a guest blog from Kelly Hawes, an independent celebrant based in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire. She specialises in writing and performing unique ceremonies for wedding celebrations, renewal of vows, commitments and naming or welcoming ceremonies for children. You may recognise Kelly from Married at First Site UK as she was the celebrant who conducted the ceremony for Tayah and Adam.
(Photo credit - Jon Whiles Photography)
For many, the role of a Celebrant is still very unknown. So when I tell people what I do for a living they often look confused. “Isn’t that called a Registrar?” is often the reply.
There are many differences, and I’d like to explain them here;
In England, Wales and Northern Ireland you can only be legally married by a Vicar in a religious ceremony or a Registrar in a Civil Ceremony. Whilst marriage law has been long debated and definitely needs modernising, as I write this blog – this is still the case.
So, how and why would a couple choose to have a Celebrant if it is not a legal marriage?
(Photo credit - Steve Mulvey Photography)
There are many answers to this question. Most of the answers lie within the fact that what we do is not the legal part of the marriage – you see, along with the legalities come many rules – mainly;
- There are certain words that must be used in all legal marriage
- The ceremony must take place either in a church, registry office or a licenced venue (the rules for a licenced venue in itself are pretty exhaustive)
- For a Civil ceremony (with a Registrar) you must not include any religious wording, readings or music.
- There is strict timing to a Civil Ceremony – this is both due to the working hours of the
Registrar as well as the fact that they are often booked for multiple ceremonies and must be on time for each.
- There must be no alcohol consumed for 1 hour before and during the ceremony.
So, in short – if what you are looking for is anything outside of the average ceremony then you need to employ a Celebrant.
Here’s some examples of reasons you would need to have a Celebrant
(Photo credit - Purple Rose Photography)
1) You would like some more personal wording to be used and for your love story to be featured within your Ceremony
2) You would like to hold your Ceremony in a woodland, on a boat, in a beautiful venue which isn’t licensed (gardens, marquees, museums, restaurants, old chapels …)
3) You would like to blend two faiths into one ceremony (I love these so much!)
4) You would like to incorporate some kind of symbolic action such as hand tying, candle lighting or sand ceremonies
5) You have found a perfect venue and it has a licence …. BUT you want to use a room which isn’t included under the licence. (Venues often licence one or two rooms but perhaps you love their staircase and would like to hold the ceremony there or in a smaller room for only 30 guests)
6) You would like to hold an evening ceremony (note, some Registrars have started to offer this service). Go straight from ceremony to party! Not only that but if you are choosing a barn with twinkly lights, the best time to see their beauty is when the light is starting to fade!
7) You would like to incorporate alcohol within your ceremony – wine sharing, shot drinking or merely a toast of bubbles.
Other reasons you may like to choose a Celebrant;
(Photo credit - Ami Louisa Photography)
1) You want the person officiating your wedding to be someone you have met and bonded with over the months and weeks leading up to your big day.
2) You would like to incorporate your pets or other animals into the service (venue permission also required!!)
3) You have found the perfect venue but the Registrars cannot offer you the time of ceremony you wanted
4) You are not religious and don’t mind having non religious wording in your big day but the song that is special to you would be rejected by a Registrar because it has some religious words
5) You want to feel the person officiating on your wedding day has invested a lot of hours into making it just the way you want it. They are totally committed to offering you a bespoke service and are not merely showing up and going through the motions.
6) You want your ceremony to be remembered by all your guests because it’s something they will never have heard before.
But, wait – what about the legal bit?
(Photo credit - Kelly Hawes (Celebrant)