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Celebrant vs Registrar

Celebrant vs Registrar: What You Should Know

Jun 14, 2023 | Wedding Catering, Wedding Ideas and Trends, Wedding Planning, Wedding Venue

Home » Celebrant vs Registrar: What You Should Know
Celebrant vs Registrar<br />

Image courtesy of Farlie Photography

In the UK, there are two ways you can get legally married; in a religious ceremony and a civil ceremony.

But there’s a third option that often gets overlooked – a celebrant-led ceremony.

In this blog, we look at civil ceremonies compared to celebrant ceremonies – comparing a celebrant vs registrar. 

About A Civil Ceremony

Civil ceremonies are the most common type of wedding in the UK.

Unlike a religious ceremony, a civil ceremony is a non-religious legal wedding ceremony.

The ceremony is led by a registrar and can be held in your local registry office or at a licensed venue. These include hotels, country houses and plenty of other choices, meaning you’re often able to hold your reception at the same venue and save the faff of travel for you and your guests.

Thinking about getting married in England or Wales? Search the approved premises list to see what’s in your area here.

If you’re choosing an approved premises, you usually book that first and then find a registrar by contacting the registry office closest to your venue. If you’re opting to get married at a registry office, you’ll just need to pick a time slot. 

Registrars are employed and trained by the local council and often officiate more than one wedding a day. They’re on a tight schedule. This means that the length of the ceremony itself is limited. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make it your own…

Registry offices are more restricted and have varying policies on flowers and decorations due to time constraints, but personalising your vows is a surefire way to add a touch of you into the ceremony. At other venues, you’ll usually be able to set up the space as your heart desires. Wherever your civil ceremony is held, you’ll also be able to add in readings and song choices as long as they have no religious associations.

But what can you expect on the day? 

First, the registrar will meet with both you and your partner separately to confirm your details for the marriage certificate. The rest of the ceremony consists of readings, if you’ve chosen to add them, vows and the signing of the register. You’ll need to have invited two witnesses who will also sign, and you’ll either be given your certificate at the end of the ceremony, or it will be posted to you. 

And that’s it. A civil ceremony is legally binding, and you are officially married in the eyes of the law at the end of it. For some people, that’s the whole shebang, but many couples choose to follow a civil ceremony with a reception to send them off into married life in style. 

About A Celebrant Ceremony

The most important thing for you to know about celebrant ceremonies is that there are no rules.

Seriously. A celebrant isn’t bound by any rules or regulations whatsoever and, as such, is not recognised legally. This means that you’ll need to take a trip to your local registry office with two witnesses to make it official, but it also means that you can get creative with your ceremony and make it incredibly personal and unique. 

Celebrants work independently and are typically self-employed. Many have a particular personal style which they will describe on their promotion page or when you meet… Some prefer to hold ceremonies that feel like civil ceremonies, whereas others have pagan ties or other influences. When you start looking for and meeting celebrants, you’ll quickly find out what you are and are not looking for. 

A celebrant works with you to write and create your ceremony. This can include anything you want; the ball is well and truly in your court. Songs, readings and traditional practices and rituals are all things you might like to embellish your ceremony with, and you can have as many as you want!

When you choose a celebrant ceremony, you’re choosing an event that’s a bit different…

Make It Personal

Get the kids or pets involved. Pack in the readings, perform a scene from a play, or include a handfasting or tree-planting ritual in your ceremony if it’s something that makes your heart sing. A celebrant ceremony is all about celebrating your uniqueness as a couple.

Pet friendly wedding in Essex

Image courtesy of Natalie & Max Photographers

From Dawn Til Dusk

Celebrant ceremonies can be held at any time of day; the itinerary is in your hands and not set out in time slots. 

Flexible Run-Time

Whereas civil ceremonies come with strict timings, a celebrant ceremony can go on for as long as you wish.

Location Location Location

Because celebrant ceremonies aren’t recognised by law, you don’t need to find a registered venue to hold one, although it is highly recommended as large gatherings in public spaces may be disbanded by the local authorities.

And guess what? Your celebrant can be anyone – even a friend or family member! 

Baddow Park - The Gardens

Image courtesy of Farlie Photography

Which Should You Choose?

If you’re not having a religious ceremony, then your choice is between a civil ceremony with a registrar or a celebrant-led ceremony.

It’s a highly personal decision and one we recommend talking about in-depth with your future spouse. This is a big day, and it’s important to meet everyone’s wants and needs to make sure the ceremony represents both of you. 

For some couples, it’s important to have the legal element on the day. Others prefer the freedom to include children, pets and other loved ones in a more significant way on what might be the biggest day of their life so far. 

At Baddow Park House, we have an abundance of ceremony locations to choose from, and we’ve hosted plenty of both types of ceremonies, and they have all been incredible to experience. As long as the ceremony style you choose suits you as individuals, you’ll be ecstatic with the wedding day you achieve. 

Your Ceremony Style Is A Highly Personal Choice

There’s so much that goes into planning a wedding, but the ceremony is the most important part of your day – it’s the part where you become a married couple. 

We hope, after reading this blog, that you know you’ve got options. Making big decisions like these might feel tricky, but it allows you to design your perfect wedding day exactly how you want it. 

Wondering what else there is to think about? Have a look at one of our recent blogs, Wedding Day Timeline: A Simple Guide To Planning The Perfect Running Order for a great summary of everything that goes into a wedding day.

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