What’s the difference between a registrar and a celebrant?
A registrar is a government official who performs legal marriage ceremonies in licensed venues. They must use specific contractual wording and they cannot allow any spiritual or religious content in their marriage ceremonies.
A celebrant is a very different beast to a government official! A celebrant is a writer, a listener and a performer - trained in the art of ceremony - who will get to know you before your wedding and then create a unique ceremony, just for you - from scratch. Because a celebrant-led wedding ceremony isn’t legally binding, if you choose a celebrant you are absolutely free to do whatever you want (so long as it’s legal and your venue allows it).
How involved will we be in planning the ceremony?
Just as involved as you want to be; if you’re bursting with ideas and know just what you want, I’ll help you to make them happen. If you know you want something unique and personal but you’re not sure what, I’ll take the time to get to know you and I’ll keep firing off ideas until we find something that feels just right for you. Every step of the way, you’re in charge. I’ll keep working on your ceremony script until I know you love it.
Is this a real wedding ceremony?
A good celebrant-led wedding is as real as it gets because you won’t speak a single word or make a single vow that doesn’t come directly from your own hearts. But it’s not a legal ceremony. Most couples pop to their local register office a day or two before the big day to complete the paperwork. In my local register office, in Cheshire East, the fee for this is £50. You can do it in a few minutes, wearing jeans and t-shirts.
And what does all this cost?
If you ask me to create your wedding ceremony, the cost is about the same as arranging for a registrar come to your chosen venue. (Have a look at my website to see full details of my fees.) Registrar costs vary from county to county but, in terms of value for money, the registrar spends an hour or so working for you on your wedding day, whereas I’ll have spent more hours than I can bear to count lovingly creating your ceremony from scratch.
Are you a Humanist?
No. A celebrant is a bit different from a Humanist because we’re truly independent. Our ceremonies are about your beliefs; not ours. So, whereas Humanists owon’t include anything spiritual or religious in their ceremonies, an independent celebrant will write a ceremony that reflects your beliefs. Many celebrant ceremonies are completely non-religious but we’re also happy to include music, poetry, prayers and rituals from any religion or spiritual belief system - if that’s what you want.
Can we have a handfasting or a sand ceremony?
Absolutely! There are dozens of rituals and traditions from around the world you can weave into your wedding ceremony - from jumping the broom to lighting a unity candle or breaking bread together. We can also create new rituals - that are unique to you. Talk to me if there’s a part of your story that you’d like to bring into your ceremony with an original ceremonial act. This could be something as simple as lighting a candle to represent a loved one who can’t share your day with you; or it could be something really innovative and different that makes your ceremony feel more memorable and personal.
Can we write our own vows?
Can we have an outdoor wedding?
Is there anywhere we can’t have our wedding?
No. So long as you get permission from whoever owns the land/flies the plane/skippers the submarine, your wedding can be wherever you want!
Can you write a ceremony that involves our children?
Yes - one of the lovely things about a celebrant ceremony is that you can create roles for anyone you want included. There are dozens of ways to involve your children, whatever age they are, and to make sure that their role fits their interests. Not every child wants to be a bridesmaid or a pageboy - but maybe they would like to do a reading, light a candle or plant a tree. We can make anyone you want a central part of your ceremony: in traditional weddings, it’s only really the bride’s dad and the best man who get a look in but, with a celebrant, even women are allowed to speak…
Will it definitely be you who conducts our ceremony?
Yes - unlike booking a registrar, one of the big benefits of using a celebrant is that you’ll know the person who conducts your ceremony. There will be no surprises on the day, no worries about getting the right message to the right person if you have any last minute changes of plan. You’ll have my mobile number. We’ll speak in the week before your ceremony to double check how everything’s going. If it’s a complex ceremony and we need a wedding rehearsal, we can have one the night before and I only ever do one wedding a day, so you know I’ll be there, I won’t be late and I won’t rush off for any other bookings. In the very unlikely event that I suddenly got ill and couldn’t do your ceremony (never happened yet), I am a member of the Fellowship of Independent Celebrants - an active network of professionally trained celebrants - and we all support each other to ensure that no-one using an FOIC celebrant would ever be left without a celebrant on their wedding day.
Do you do LGBTQ+ weddings?
Er... You mean weddings? Hell, yes! #youdontneedtoaskhere
Do our guests need to know this isn’t a legal wedding?
No - not unless you want them to. Your ceremony doesn’t need to draw attention to whether this is or isn’t the legal bit. If you’ve already signed the legal paperwork at your local register office, it’s entirely fitting to pronounce you married at the end of the ceremony. If your celebrant ceremony feels to you like your real wedding, that’s how it will feel to your guests too.
Can we have a vow renewal ceremony?
Absolutely! Vow renewals are some of the most moving and beautiful ceremonies we celebrants offer. Whether you're celebrating a big anniversary, marking a new phase in your lives or moving on from a period of illness or challenges, it's absolutely magical to stand before all your friends and family - both those who were there at your original wedding and those who weren't - and to say to each other 'we still do'!
How can I plan my own funeral?
It can be terribly hard for your grieving family to plan your funeral service if they don't know what you wanted - or if there are big gaps in their knowledge about periods of your life. The first thing you can do - right now - is to jot down things you definitely do and don't want. Even if you just answered the top two questions (1. Burial or cremation? 2. Religious or non-religious?) and wrote down five pieces of music you love and five you hate, you'd be doing your family an enormous service.
You can tuck your notes away wherever you keep all your important documents or even post them to the solicitor who's looking after your will (if you've got one). If you want to take this one step further, write down as much as you can about your life story - especially focusing on the parts that your friends and family are unlikely to know. It doesn't have to be beautifully written. It could just be bullet points. Names, places and dates are useful; so are anecdotes and surprising stories or old photos with a post-it note on them explaining what's going on.
If you would like me to help you to plan your funeral service, please do get in touch - by phone or email or the contact page on this website. I don't charge anything for an informal chat on the phone. If you'd like me to come and meet you so we can work together to write your whole ceremony in advance, I just charge my standard funeral fee - which you can either pay completely upfront or you can pay half now and leave the other half to be paid when the time comes and I am there to officiate at your ceremony. (Either way you'll get a receipt to file away or give to your family).
Can we have a celebration of life instead of a funeral?
If you have a funeral service to arrange for a loved one, your ceremony can take absolutely any form you want. And you can hold it anywhere - it doesn't have to be in a crematorium or a church. Working with a celebrant and a supportive funeral director or a natural burial ground, you can do justice to your loved-one's memory in a way that feels right to you and matches what he or she would have wanted. I recently led a celebration of life ceremony in a beautiful wedding venue (Heaton House Farm in Cheshire). Natural daylight flooded into a room filled with flowers, food, drink, photographs and a quite astonishing amount of love. There was live piano music, laughter, stories, personal tributes, toasts and customs reflecting the heritage of the lady we were there to remember. It was moving. It was sad. It was happy. It was a true celebration of a magnificent life lived.
Do you do pet funerals?
Yes. Our animals are such an important part of our families - the sense of loss and shock we experience when they leave us can be every bit as huge as when we're going through a human bereavement. It can be immensely comforting to say a proper goodbye to your beloved pet. My pet funerals focus on the life and personality of your animal, in much the same way as most of my funerals for humans do. I'm a huge animal lover - in fact my lap is covered in cat as I type this - and I will treat your grief, and the memory of your beloved pet, with the utmost compassion and respect.