Harper’s answers to all of your questions about having a wedding celebrant ceremony in the UK, featuring the helpful advice of Knight Ceremonies.

If you’ve always dreamed of saying your vows under the stars or you want to celebrate getting married but in a slightly less formal manner at your dream wedding venue, then hiring a wedding celebrant could be ideal for you!

What is a wedding celebrant?

A wedding celebrant is a professionally trained and fully insured officiant, with the skills and experience in place to create completely bespoke and personalised ceremonies.

How does a ceremony with a wedding celebrant differ from a civil wedding ceremony?

A celebrant has no restrictions in terms of the content, format or style of a wedding, and can therefore be completely personalised. “My ceremonies contain many of the elements that you and your guests would expect to see at a wedding (exchange of vows and rings etc), but also lots of beautiful details about the couple and often guest involvement too”, says Jenny. This means the ceremony is warm and relaxed, and ensures we create lovely lasting memories for everyone attending.

Do we need to get legally married before we have a celebrant ceremony?

Yes, weddings with a celebrant will require a couple to arrange their legal paperwork separately from their actual ceremony. They can book the “signing room” at their local registration office, take two witnesses along, and just sign the documents saving their vows and rings, and everything else until their actual celebration date. This option saves both time and fees as you are literally just signing paperwork, and the registrar is not then required to print a ceremony script, or reserve space for you.

Can a ceremony with a wedding celebrant be held both indoors and outdoors?

It certainly can, and with trends for outdoor weddings on the rise, a celebrant can often unlock the potential within a dedicated wedding venue as celebrant ceremonies are not required to take place underneath a permanent licensed structure. “The vast majority of my weddings are outdoors (with marquees as a wet weather back up plan), and this provides couples with much more flexibility in terms of setting.” If you opt for an outdoor celebrant ceremony then you can position yourselves anywhere so long as the wedding venue has granted permission for you to do so. Why not take advantage of fantastic views at a venue, and have these as the backdrop to your day, and use the inside space for the wedding breakfast and evening reception? Explore all possibilities for ceremony settings at your venue and remember it does not need to be licensed if using a celebrant – you really can have your dream location!

Are there specifications in terms of where, when and what time a wedding celebrant ceremony can take place?

Not at all, you can select the time YOU want, without restriction on time slots or indeed location. Many couples will still opt for an early afternoon ceremony time but some couples prefer an altogether different plan for their celebrations and will perhaps have a roof terrace ceremony under the stars followed by cocktails and dinner for example. More and more couples are thinking outside of the box and doing away with tradition, and indeed opt for something a little more ‘unexpected’ and unique to them. “I have a fully portable wedding PA system and so I can literally work anywhere, be it in the middle of a field or by a lake, miles from mains power. My equipment is all wireless too so there are no messy leads either!” A celebrant wedding ceremony offers couples complete flexibility!

How long does a ceremony with a wedding celebrant take?

This varies, depending on the content of your ceremony. “The vast majority of mine are around half an hour and are created with a fantastic flow. My speaking parts are always creatively punctuated with guest readings or involvement in some other way so that the ceremony feels like everyone there has a role in the proceedings, and indeed in supporting the couple. It becomes a lovely experience rather than someone just standing and reading to a group of people which can otherwise feel quite cold by comparison.”

Can guests do readings in a ceremony with a wedding celebrant?

Of course! “I actively encourage it, and have lots of lovely ways in which this can be done. Guests can select a popular piece of poetry online, or they might want to write something personal about the couple that is shared on the day, but there are lots of other options too. I work with my couples and ensure that the content accurately reflects who they are, and that those doing readings are comfortable with everything on the day too.

I love to use guest involvement to really add something a little bit special to the ceremony, and depending on the couple, we can add elements of religion, acknowledge a cultural background, or even a family tradition. I have included a Sri Lankan lamp lighting ritual into a ceremony, numerous Celtic mini-handfasting variations, the creation of marriage time capsules, sand ceremonies and a whole host of other lovely activities too! You really can make it truly personal, and unique to you.”

Can any type of music be played during a celebrant ceremony?

Yes, indeed. Your celebrant can talk you through various music options with you in advance. Why not walk down the aisle to your favourite song, or sign your certificate with your favourite band playing in the background? There are no restrictions when it comes to music during your celebrant ceremony at all and so you can opt for something that you both love, and not feel limited in your choices.

Wedding celebrant ceremonies: frequently asked questions

If one or both of us have been married before, can we still have a ceremony with a wedding celebrant?

“Absolutely. This has no bearing whatsoever on your ceremony with me.” Most celebrants will happily work with couples and families with varying circumstances and proudly embrace diversity.

Will we need to sign any documentation during our celebrant ceremony?

Signing documentation during the ceremony is not obligatory but many couples do like to sign a commemorative certificate which can then be presented to them with a beautiful keepsake folder at the end, with copies of their personal vows and readings inside too. You can even choose to have ‘witnesses’ to join you to complete the signing if you wish, and this is a nice way of involving other family members that perhaps were not part of the legal proceedings.

How long before we choose to get married do we need to hire a wedding celebrant?

As with all suppliers in the wedding industry, the earlier the better as it means your date is secured, but there are some legal requirements for the paperwork side that you will need to bear in mind. The law has changed in the last couple of years and so you must now register your intent to marry within 12 months of your wedding, and no later than 28 days prior to your big day.

Would we get to write our own vows or would the wedding celebrant read them to us?

“This is a really personal part of the ceremony and I tend to try to keep this as modern and relevant as possible. There are three styles that can be used, the “I do” that many people expect to hear, the ‘repeat after me’ vows where I read a sentence and this is repeated by the groom then the bride, and of course, personal vows written by the couple and then read to one another during the ceremony. Many of my clients like to do all three, and so I weave these into the flow of the ceremony, but some prefer just to do one or two. I can provide lots of great ways in which you can deliver your personal vows and am happy to help my couples in terms of creating something special, and ensuring they are similar length and tone.” says Jenny.