Demystifying Celebrants: Your Guide to Personalised Wedding Ceremonies

by | Sep 29, 2023 | Weddings, Your Ceremony

Planning a wedding can be an exciting yet overwhelming experience. With so many choices to make, it’s no wonder that couples often find themselves confused when it comes to the roles of a registrar and a celebrant. In this blog post, I aim to shed light on the world of celebrants and help you understand we they do, what we can’t do, and how we can make your special day truly unique.

What is a Celebrant?

Let’s start with the basics: What is a celebrant? A celebrant is a trained and certified professional who conducts personalised ceremonies for various life events, including weddings. Unlike registrars, who perform legally binding ceremonies AROUND a contractual exchange, celebrants specialize in creating meaningful and unique ceremonies and rituals that reflect your personalities, values, and preferences. Think of us as the architects of your wedding ceremony, designing it to be a true reflection of your love story, character, and hope for your future.

The Registrar vs. Celebrant Dilemma (England)

“We are really new at this, and trying to work out the registrar and celebrant thing.” This is a common concern among couples, and it’s essential to understand the key differences between the two. Registrars officiate legal ceremonies and are appointed by the local council and work under government law. Their role is to ensure your marriage is legally recognised and that you are legally free and willing to be married.  On the other hand, celebrants focus on crafting bespoke ceremonies that are not legally binding but are deeply personal and meaningful and can and shall reflect the energy you are after.

Seeking Guidance at the Beginning

“We are at the start of our journey, so wanted to ask for some guidance.” It’s fantastic that you’re seeking guidance early in the process. When you choose a celebrant, they can help you navigate the complexities of planning a wedding ceremony that truly resonates with you, and can guide you when navigating the legal sides of things too.  Celebrants shall work with you from the initial stages to create a ceremony that reflects your love story and values. Or, if your late to the Celerbant party, I have been called upon the NIGHT BEFORE a wedding when then groom realised his ‘friend’ who was going to take the wedding, was in fact, just going to say a prayer! So there is ALWAYS time to get a Celerbant on board – though the night before was a tad stressful!

My website, socials and you tube are full of information to explain and shed light on a celebrant led ceremony, so delve in!

Understanding What Celebrants Can and Can’t Do

“Can you explain what you can and can’t do as a celebrant?” Absolutely! Celebrants can create beautiful, customized ceremonies, write or help you write vows, and include personal touches that make your day unforgettable. However, it’s crucial to note that celebrants in ENGLAND cannot legally marry you. For the legal aspect, you’ll still need to visit the registrar to complete the necessary paperwork. You need to book your Registration of Marriage with the registrars office, rather than a wedding or a ceremony. They are not in the ‘wedding’ business, they are the legal side of things.

How Do We Get Married?

“How do we get married?” Marriage, and wedding, are two very different things.

Getting married involves two essential steps:

  1. To get legally married, you must (step 1) submit your notices and then turn up and say your I do’s! Start by visiting your local registrar’s office to complete the necessary paperwork which will  include giving notice of your intent to marry, and all being well, you can do 28 days later.  This is where they check you are who you say you are and you are free and willing to marry) . Anytime afterward of those 28 days, but within 365 days, you then do the actual marriage (Step 2) do the next part.
  2. This is the part where you say, with a witness each, and the register has a witness too, your 2 sentences, which are your declaration words, and your contracting words.  You then sign the register – or tablet as of 2020,  and that you done! 

Your wedding day, can be anytime you like! In England, it tends to be the same week you do your Step 2 of the marriage, but it can genuinely be whenever! You could get married in the morning and have your wedding in the afternoon! What ever works for you!

You work with a celebrant to plan, create and conduct your personalised wedding ceremony. This way, you get the best of both worlds: legal recognition of marriage,  and a meaningful celebration at your wedding

Combining Friend and Celebrant

“Can you help us please, we want our friend to take the ceremony but also want you.” It’s entirely possible to have the best of both worlds! You can have a close friend or family member play a role in your ceremony while still working with a celebrant. Your celebrant can collaborate with your chosen friend to ensure the ceremony flows seamlessly, creating a beautiful and memorable experience. A service I offer is a script writing service where I am with you all the way , right up to the rehearsal, ensuring your friend can ‘hold the room’ without me and they get it spot on!


The Importance of Informed Choices

It can be a confusing world out there, especially as the council’s registrar website doesn’t give you all the options, even if you really dig! So unless you ask, you won’t know what you need to know to make an informed choice. You will just get swept along with what’s the norm and what’s easier’ for them. Its about them, not you.

If you think you can do better than ‘standard,’ then head to this week’s  (or any weeks to be fair!) YouTube video! In the video, we’ll provide you with a thorough breakdown of what celebrants do and how many ways you can get married and have your wedding. I believe that your special day should be a reflection of your unique love story, and I’m here to help you make it happen.

What next?


In the world of weddings, celebrants offer a unique and personalised approach to ceremonies that can make your day truly memorable and magnificent. While the registrar handles the legal aspects, celebrants are there for the personal aspects. We create a ceremony that reflects your love story, values, and vision. Don’t be afraid to explore your options and make informed choices to ensure your wedding day is everything you’ve dreamed of.

If you would like to chat further or discuss your own ceremony, please drop me a message or call me on 07787 530720.


Helen x

Celebrant of Surrey

More Posts

Proposals – 6 tips for both of you

Proposals – 6 tips for both of you

Proposals are just a one-way thing!  They are also not a one-way ticket to a YES. It’s about taking your relationship onto another plain.   It might be you have been together for ages, and still no sign of an engagement.  It might be you have been thinking about it,...