Choosing a Wedding Celebrant – Everything you need to know step-by-Step

What is a wedding celebrant, and what do they do?

There’s a lot of pressure involved in planning a wedding nowadays, with so much to do in a relatively short time. And with everything going on, a helping hand is always welcomed.

When couples consider getting married, they usually consider one of two options: a religious ceremony or a civil ceremony with a registrar.

But what if there was another option: having a celebrant marry you. Celebrants (also called officiants) are professionals with expertise that can offer some intimate touches to your ceremony, and their primary role is to make sure you’re relaxed and stress-free on your wedding day.

Photo of RoxyRocks provided by Bird and Boy

So, why would you choose a celebrant at all? We have gathered today… everything you need to know when choosing the right wedding celebrant for your special day to help you make it a success.

What is the dividing line between a Humanist and an Independent Celebrant??

When it comes to celebrant-led weddings, there are two types of celebrants that you may be familiar with – the Humanist Celebrant and the Independent Celebrant. But what is the difference between them?

One of the key differences is that a Humanist Celebrant is an employee of a humanist society or organisation. They might lead a secular ceremony or use a religious ceremony from the Humanist Society. On the other hand, an independent celebrant is not affiliated with a particular religious organisation or society and can offer their services individually, which means that they will provide a personalised ceremony to suit your needs and beliefs.

Shot of Nat Raybound by Leanne Jade Photography

It is essential to consider whether you want to have someone who represents your religious beliefs when you are getting married or prefer someone who is not affiliated with any faith.

A celebrant is a suitable choice for you if you’ve always wanted to get married under the stars, on a beach, among gorgeous gardens, beside castle ruins, or in your own house. Some couples find religious and civil ceremonies to be too restrictive, which is why they opt for a celebrant-led wedding that is personalised, flexible, and as formal as you want it to be.

Photo by Butterfly Event Styling

What are the advantages of using a celebrant instead of a registrar for a civil ceremony?

Many couples choose to have their wedding ceremony with a registrar, but it’s essential to consider the advantages of choosing a celebrant over a civil ceremony.

A registrar will conduct your lawful civil ceremony if you marry at a licensed wedding location or register office. There are restrictions, regulations, and red tape that may prevent a couple from sharing personalised vows, bringing in any decorations, or playing particular music with a registrar wedding. Furthermore, a registrar is likely to attend multiple weddings every day, so you’ll only have a limited quantity of their time.

Your celebrant, on the other hand, will spend time getting to know you. They’ll go further to support and guide you so that you may make honest and meaningful decisions. They’ll figure out a method to involve and incorporate all of your favourite people, and, in the end, they’ll create a ceremony that honours your love.

While you will be assigned a registrar, you will always choose your celebrant; they will be someone with whom you are comfortable, who understands your vision and beliefs, and who wishes to provide you with a one-of-a-kind, personalised day.

So which officiant is right for me?

When planning your wedding, it’s important to remember that no two weddings are the same. What makes one ceremony more romantic than another may not be the same things that make the ceremony itself unique.

Your wedding day will contain many memorable moments, but it’s the officiant who adds an element of magic and enchantment that makes all the hard work worth it. In today’s modern-day society, with the ability to communicate instantly using social media networks, there’s never been a better time to find the perfect officiant for your ceremony.

When you’re planning your wedding, you want someone knowledgeable and experienced.

You may want to choose a registrar for your civil ceremony when you marry at a licensed wedding venue or registrar office. There are restrictions, regulations, and red tape that may prevent a couple from sharing personalised vows, bringing in any decorations, or playing particular music with a registrar wedding.

Photo by Ante

Humanist Celebrants will lead the ceremony according to their beliefs. That implies they hold weddings for non-religious people, and the vast majority of these ceremonies will be devoid of religious features such as prayers.

You don’t have to be a Humanist to have a Humanist wedding, but practically everyone will discover that they share Humanist beliefs. It all comes down to making the most of the one life you have and being excellent in the absence of God.

On the other hand, Independent Celebrants aren’t concerned with ceremonies or traditions but with celebrating the love and commitment between a couple in the provider role. These celebrants are trained to respect human differences and understand your relationship’s unique context – yours and theirs. Also, they are not tied to any religious group.

Why is a celebrant ceremony so special?

If you haven’t had the pleasure of attending a celebrant ceremony yet, you might be wondering what makes them so unique? And more importantly, how do you find someone who can help you create a special ceremony for your wedding day?

Photo by Lance Nicoll

With so many ceremonies taking place every day, how do you find one that is truly memorable? And more importantly, how do you find someone who can help you create a ceremony for your special day? The possibilities of what you can do at your wedding ceremony are, quite literally, endless, and before making your final decision, here are some things you should consider.

Have your ceremony wherever you want (Location, Location, Location)

Have you ever dreamed of having your wedding ceremony in a field or a historic castle? From beaches to secluded forests in the mountains, why not choose to host your wedding ceremony wherever you want?

No need to be restricted by traditional venues or registry offices. If you’re getting married soon and would like to know how to plan your wedding ceremony outside of a traditional venue, consulting a wedding celebrant is the right thing for you.

Get married whenever you want (not when others are available)

One of the most exciting things about getting married is that you can do it whenever you want. As previously mentioned, a registrar is likely to attend multiple weddings every day, so you’ll only have a limited quantity of their time and attention. And If you don’t book your wedding ceremony months or years in advance, you might be left out choosing a date that you don’t want.

Within a celebrant-led ceremony, there are no such limits. It can happen whenever and anywhere you like – summer or winter, Sunday or Monday, Bank Holiday or Christmas day – say the word, and they’ll show up in their finest attire.

Say exactly what you want

Photo by Chris Barber Photography

For some of us, the most important part of the wedding is the actual ceremony. Most of us know the traditional wedding ceremony script by heart. But isn’t there a better way to tell your unique love story?

If you want to infuse some creativity and personality into your wedding planning so that your ceremony can reflect the two of you, choosing a celebrant might be just the right choice for you and your partner.

Involve all your loved ones on the day

Photo by Fernanda Latronico

The wedding day is a joyous occasion, and the best way to make it memorable is to involve all your loved ones – including both those who can or cannot physically be there. We think the more of our loved ones are involved; the more things will run smoothly on your big day.

After all, it is your day, but everyone has a part to play, and that includes the guests. You should involve all your loved ones on the big day to ensure it remains memorable for everyone.

Include symbolic rituals

Photo by Gift Habeshaw

Wedding planning shouldn’t be just an endless series of decisions made weeks or months ahead of time. It should be a time of sharing with friends and family the excitement and wonder you feel as you’re uncovering the origin of your future spouse.

Symbolic rituals can help make the process easier and exciting at the same time, and they help create the vibe you’re looking for on your wedding day. Here’s where the celebrant comes in to help you choose the rituals that you genuinely believe in. Just make sure you choose a celebrant who shares the same values of respect, passion, and creativity that you embrace.

What to expect from your wedding celebrant

The wedding day celebrant’s role can vary greatly depending on the couple that is getting married. So, what purpose will your wedding celebrant have in your special event? It isn’t only about that lovely moment when you and your partner exchange vows.

Your wedding celebrant will play an important role in your preparations before, during, and after the big day. Your wedding celebrant is responsible for delivering a ceremony that’s tailored to your needs, tastes, and beliefs. But what can you expect of them? And where do they fit into the overall picture?

Photo by Eleanor & Pete

It’s critical to understand what to expect from your wedding celebrant and who is responsible for what and when. Clear expectations will assist you in staying organised, and the planning process flows smoothly.

Decide the tone of your ceremony

You’ve probably been to a few weddings or read enough wedding magazines to figure out what kind of ceremony you want.

Ask yourself if you want an informal ceremony filled with laughter and a relaxed tone or if you want your ceremony to be formal and follow a traditional structure. Or would you prefer a mix of the two? This will ultimately serve as the framework for your search, guiding you to the ideal match.

Photo by Evan Rich Photography

A good Celebrant will ask these questions and work with your style and needs to create something truly unique. They will understand your sense of humour, confidence, shyness, or nerves and should put you at ease so that their creation makes you feel entirely confident about your special day.

Just how unique can our wedding be?

Seriously, it’s one-of-a-kind! And we can’t help to share a few weddings that our celebrants have performed, and you can see how the couples have embraced their passions and choose venues that are meaningful to them.

Photo by John Ray Ebora
  • Michelle dressed up as “Dumbeldora” and waved her magic wand over the happy couple at a Harry Potter-themed wedding.
  • Laura married Freddie and Mathias on the back of a wooden wagon built by the bride’s father and overlooking a lake. They arrived in a vintage open-top Land Rover and drove down the aisle to ‘March of the Valkyries.’ They were then joined by friends and family to assist with their hand-fasting.
  • Michelle officiated at a Bletchley Park 1940s-themed wedding that included a crossword puzzle as part of the ceremony.
  • At Sarah and Phill’s wedding, they bravely asked their guests to share their thoughts on why they thought they were a perfect match. They wrote their responses on cards and shared a handful of them during the ceremony. “It added an element of risk, but it also provided us with some of the biggest laughs!” says Laura. 
  • Laura hosted one wedding in the garden of couple Sarah and James’ family home, in the centre of a circle of Poplar trees. James had cut a branch from one of the trees and used it to inlay pieces in their wedding rings.

Before the day

After booking them and securing them with a deposit, your wedding celebrant will first get to know you both as a couple. They’ll want to know how you met, how he proposed, memorable moments you’ve shared, and what you adore about each other. This will assist them in customising your ceremony to reflect your distinct personalities and the bond you both share. 

They will then require some documentation from you, such as your birth certificate and forms of identification. This will allow them to put together all of the necessary legal paperwork, including your wedding certificate, before the big day. Your celebrant must also witness and accept your Notice of Intended Marriage.

Photo by Rachel Claire

To begin drafting your ceremony, your celebrant may send you some questions to help them fill in the blanks and personalise the proceedings. They should also welcome your input or collaboration on how you want the ceremony to unfold. This will enable them to present you with a first draft of the ceremony for your approval (you might get goosebumps just reading it) 

Once you approve your ceremony, you can choose to practice it with your celebrant before the big day. You’ll also send your wedding run-sheet to your celebrant so they know when to arrive and how the day will proceed.

On the day

Your celebrant will arrive on the day of your wedding to set up their PA systems and any other agreed-upon equipment, such as a signing table or chairs. Because they will be among the first to arrive at the ceremony site, they will greet and mingle with your guests as they arrive. 

Photo supplied by BestDayEver Venues

While they wait for you, your chosen celebrant will stand beside the partner who is waiting (if there’s one) and help calm their nerves.

Then they will then conduct your ceremony after you arrive. This includes ensuring that all legal requirements are met, assisting you with your vows if necessary, and ensuring that everything runs smoothly. And then they will then declare you officially married!

Your celebrant will pack up their equipment and leave the venue once the ceremony is over and your certificate has been signed and witnessed.

After the day

Photo by Twisted Oaks Studio

Following the wedding, your celebrant will send your marriage certificate and any other necessary documentation to the appropriate registry to register your marriage officially. That’s it – you’re now married! Congratulations!

So you may be asking: Are celebrant-led weddings legal?

Yes, totally! Although they are not legally binding by themselves. For that, you will need to give notice at your local register office and arrange to have a ‘Statutory Ceremony’ to register your marriage legally.

This is the ‘admin’ part of the process and does not need to be treated as a formal ceremony. This can be done either before the wedding ceremony by the couple or after the wedding day by the couple or by your celebrant.

Where can celebrants marry you?

You can marry wherever you want! Because your ceremony is not legally binding, you do not need to use a licensed wedding venue. Just make sure to get permission from the venue owner before inviting everyone. :)

Does it matter what culture, faith, or religion I am?

No, a celebrant ceremony’s content is not limited to any culture, faith, or religion. You are free to incorporate a cultural or religious tradition into your ceremony if you wish to.

We don’t want to legalise our marriage at all, is this allowed?

Yes. A Celebrant Led wedding ceremony does not have legal ramifications. It is about celebrating your love and relationship in a unique way for you. It is not a problem if you want to confirm your commitment to each other without any legal ties.

Questions to ask

After you’ve narrowed down your celebrant search to a few candidates, the next step is to schedule an initial consultation. An in-person or video call consultation will allow you to connect with this person and see how well you communicate and collaborate. 

It also means you can ask all of the important questions upfront, avoiding surprises later on. Some topics should be covered early on before signing any contracts, ranging from legalities to deposit payments and responsibilities.

  • Are you available on the day of our wedding?
  • Are you officially registered and qualified?
  • What is your process when it comes to writing the ceremony? Is it a collaborative effort with us, or do you follow a standard template?
  • What information do you want to know about us as a couple?
  • How will you personalise our ceremony to reflect us as a couple?
  • Can we read over the ceremony before the day?
  • Can you assist us in writing our wedding vows?
  • How many weddings have you officiated so far?
  • What is your favourite aspect of being a celebrant?
  • What inspired you to become a celebrant?
  • What will your role be on the day?
  • Do you need a rehearsal for the ceremony?
  • Do you have a PA (portable audio) system and a microphone?
  • Do you have a signing table and chairs available?
  • Do you have business insurance?
  • What if you are unwell or there is an emergency on the day? Do you have a backup celebrant lined up, and how will that work?
  • How well do you deal with any unexpected problems on the day?
  • Do you accept more than one wedding ceremony booking per day? What does this mean for us if we are running late?
  • What kind of documentation do you need from us, such as birth certificates and identification?
  • Do you require a deposit, and if so, how much is it?
  • What are your fees, and what do they cover?
  • Are there any additional costs to be aware of?
  • When is the final payment due?

If your celebrant can put you at ease with these questions, you can be confident that they are the best possible fit for the job.

Where to find a wedding celebrant?

Choosing between wedding celebrants can be tricky, especially if you don’t just want to select one at random. There are hundreds of people using online mediums like forums and social media to help choose wedding celebrants for them.

Photo by Los Muertos Crew

While we can’t help to be biased and recommend our celebrant directory as all our wedding suppliers are vetted to be lgbtq+ friendly, we also have thought of other mediums and recommended getting starting with the following:

Friends and family

A wedding celebrant must be more than just a pretty face. To bring your ceremony to life, they must have the right personality and presence! If you want to know how a celebrant works on the big day, you should ask those who have worked with them before. 

Photo by Cleyder Duque

Begin your search for a celebrant by asking recently married friends and family for recommendations based on their own wedding experiences. Inquire about their candid thoughts on everything, from their personality on the day to the behind-the-scenes organisation, planning, and communication.

Wedding fairs

Attending wedding fairs should be your next step in your search for the ideal celebrant. Yes, there are plenty of online directories, and finding the right celebrant may be as simple as an online search – but a wedding fair allows you to meet and chat with celebrants in person. This is priceless when you consider how personal and intimate their role is on your wedding day.

Photo by fu zhichao

With many local wedding fairs taking place each year, take advantage of the opportunity to speak with some celebrants and observe how you communicate with one another. Do you feel at ease, or does it feel awkward and tense? Use these wedding fairs to meet and talk with a celebrant in person.

Other supplier recommendations

The wedding industry is a tight-knit community where everyone knows everyone! So why not take advantage of this by asking any wedding suppliers you’ve already booked, such as your venue or wedding planner, for their top celebrant recommendations.

Your chosen suppliers are likely to work with a variety of different celebrants every weekend. They will be able to provide you with an honest recommendation based on their previous experiences. Keep an eye out if the same name keeps appearing, as you could be onto a winner.

Read the reviews

It’s fantastic when wedding celebrants receive feedback. You can learn a lot about them by reading real-life reviews and researching the reviewer! The couples who left reviews will give you a good idea of the celebrant’s style and flexibility.

How much does a celebrant usually cost?

Hiring a celebrant can vary greatly. Celebrants can range in price from £300 to £1,500, depending on their experience and where you plan to host your wedding ceremony. It also depends on what’s included (meetings, writing, rehearsing, printing, and ceremony delivery).

We always advise not to be swayed by price when selecting your wedding suppliers. What is most important is that you’ll end up with the supplier that meets or exceeds your expectations.

How long before the wedding should we book our celebrant?

Most celebrants are frequently booked up a year in advance, so it’s best to decide whether you want a celebrant early in the planning process. If you’ve already decided on a non-traditional wedding venue, you’ll know you’ll need a celebrant, but there are plenty of other reasons to choose one as well.

With the high number of postponed weddings in 2020 and 2021, we’re in an unusual situation, so you’ll want to contact your potential celebrant as soon as possible.

It doesn’t matter if your wedding is still a long way off; it’s best to get these things scheduled as quickly as possible.

Finally, how comfortable do you feel when speaking to them?

Using our celebrant directory, you can get a good understanding of your chosen celebrant’s style in advance, as well as read their reviews, so you are well-prepared before contacting them.

However, you must have a good rapport with your celebrant because they will be a part of your wedding journey for some time. If you are unsure, schedule a consultation and meet with them in person or by video call before deciding.

Get to know them and trust your gut

You should have made your decision by the time you go to meet with a celebrant. This is simply a chance to confirm the research you’ve already done and see if you match in real life.

They will want to get to know you as well, but you should get to know them as well. Ask questions to find out what they have to offer that other celebrants don’t. Inquire about their procedure. Inquire with them about what is expected of you.

At this meeting, you want to build a relationship with that person while also learning about their service. A good connection will eventually lead to a good experience.

Final Words

Choosing a wedding celebrant is a very personal decision that should not be taken lightly. It could be one of the most important decisions you make when selecting the best suppliers to help bring your dream wedding to life. 

Some couples will only meet with one celebrant, and if they like them, they will book their wedding with them. Others will consult with a small group of celebrants before making a decision. There is no correct or incorrect way to do it. It’s an important decision, so approach it in whatever way works best for you.

Photo by Oliver Li

When you consider how much work is involved both behind the scenes and on the big day, it’s easy to understand why the best celebrants are in such high demand. Your celebrant will be a part of one of the most special and memorable moments of your life, so finding the right match is critical.

Every celebrant will have their distinct personality and viewpoint on marriage, so take your time in selecting the celebrant who best identifies with your wedding vision and how you envision the day unfolding. 

It may appear to be a daunting decision at first, but if you keep the above tips in mind, you’ll know exactly where to look and what questions to ask to find the perfect celebrant for your needs. Our number one rule: follow your instinct. If it feels right, it probably is!

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