Two brides exchanging vows in front of a gazebo.

Should we choose a Registrar or Celebrant?

Hey lovelies!

As you embark on your wedding planning journey and start scouting for the perfect venue, here’s an important question for you: “Does a Registrar have to officiate our ceremony at a UK licensed venue?” Well, you’ll be happy to know that the answer is a resounding “No!” You actually have a choice!

First off, congratulations on your upcoming wedding! It’s such an exciting time, and I’m so happy that you’re exploring all the possibilities available to you. From choosing your venue, flowers, and music to selecting the heart of your day – the ceremony – you get to have a say in it all!

Now, let’s clarify a few things before we proceed. The information we’re sharing here refers to venues in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. If you’re tying the knot in Scotland, different rules apply.

So, when it comes to officiants, you have two options: a Registrar or a Celebrant.

You might wonder why some venues don’t offer you a choice. Well, some venues work closely with the local Register Office for bookings, making it easier for them to stick to just one option. Plus, they might not be familiar with the role of a Celebrant.

Now, let’s talk about the difference between the two:

A Registrar is employed by the local authority and can legally marry you. However, the format and content of the ceremony are limited by legislation, and no religious or spiritual elements can be included. Registrars often conduct several ceremonies each day, so they stick to designated times. You’ll typically have a pre-ceremony interview with the Registrar, and any readings must be approved beforehand. Due to time constraints, meeting the Registrar before the actual day of your ceremony is unlikely.

On the other hand, a Celebrant is a self-employed professional who will take the time to get to know you and create a beautiful, bespoke, non-legally binding ceremony that reflects your unique love story. By separating the legal aspect of marriage, your ceremony can be all about love and not legalities. There are different types of Celebrants, including Humanist Celebrants, Civil Celebrants, and Independent Celebrants. Both Civil and Independent Celebrants offer non-religious ceremonies, but the latter are also open to including spiritual and religious elements.

A Celebrant is not restricted to licensed areas, so you have the flexibility to choose where to hold your ceremony within the venue. How about a beautiful spot in the grounds? Many Celebrants also offer wedding rehearsals to ensure you’re relaxed and ready for your big day.

Now, let’s talk about completing the legal part of getting married. You’ve got a few options:

– Complete the legal aspect at the Register Office before your wedding ceremony: Many couples opt for a small ceremony at the local Register Office with two witnesses in the week leading up to their Celebrant-led wedding. This takes care of the legal requirements and leaves the vows and exchanging of rings for the Celebrant ceremony.

– Get legally married overseas: Some couples choose to have a small legal marriage abroad and then have their Celebrant ceremony overseas or in front of family and friends upon their return to the UK.

– Complete the legal aspect with a Registrar followed by your Celebrant ceremony at your chosen venue: This option involves having a Registrar marry you at your venue with only immediate family present. After the legal ceremony, you can have a beautiful Celebrant-led wedding in front of all your loved ones.

One question you might have is whether your guests will know that your ceremony is not legally binding. Well, that’s entirely up to you! A Celebrant ceremony is a real and incredibly beautiful wedding ceremony where couples declare their love and commitment to each other in front of family and friends. Many couples choose not to reveal that it’s not a legal ceremony, and their guests are none the wiser. In fact, guests often comment that the personalised touch makes it even more special than other weddings they’ve attended!

Whatever you decide, take your time choosing the option that feels right for you as a couple. We all want the same thing: for you to have an absolutely wonderful day filled with love and cherished memories.

So, embrace the freedom of choice, enjoy the journey, and here’s to your magical wedding day! 


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