Celebrant-led weddings and commitment ceremonies are wonderful celebratory occasions, made completely bespoke to each couple.
Making a lifetime commitment to the person you love is a beautiful and life-changing experience. You may wish to make this commitment through marriage, civil partnership, or in a less formal way – whatever you choose, with a celebrant-led ceremony you can celebrate your love exactly where, when and how you want.
Celebrant ceremonies can incorporate anything you like. You may wish to include some cultural, religious or spiritual elements in your ceremony; you might want the celebrant to tell your story; or you might like to include readings, blessings, a handfasting, or even a sing-song! With a celebrant ceremony you can acknowledge and weave in all beliefs, cultures and sentiments – as much or as little as you like – and create a ceremony that truly reflects you.
Can celebrants perform legal ceremonies?
As the law stands in the UK, independent celebrants cannot yet conduct legally binding ceremonies. But by completing your legal marriage or civil partnership formalities separately you are free to hold your ceremony anywhere and in any style you like – traditional or festival-vibe; grand or relaxed; from country estates to romantic, secluded woodlands – the choice is yours. There are no restrictions on location, time or content.
The majority of couples complete their legal marriage or civil partnership before their celebrant ceremony. This can be done at a register office in a very simple and cost-effective way with just you, the registrars and two witnesses. Or you may wish to hold a separate ceremony to complete the legalities – some couples get legally married in a different country or have a service in a place of worship. However you choose to sign on the dotted line, your celebrant ceremony will offer you the freedom to celebrate that commitment in any way you wish.
What’s included in a celebrant wedding?
Some people worry that without the legal part, their ceremony won’t feel as special. But they soon realise that a celebrant ceremony is everything you might expect from a wedding… and much more!
The legal part involves the simple process of identifying yourself and reading out a few declaratory and contractual words. Everything else is purely ceremonial (including the exchange of rings). And it’s the ceremony itself that makes your wedding so special.
Although a celebrant cannot use the specific declaratory and contractual words that a registrar would use, they can incorporate everything else you would expect from a wedding, such as walking down the aisle, making your vows to one another, exchanging rings, and the big “you may now kiss” moment!
Alternatively, you might not want your ceremony to feel like a traditional wedding – and many couples now choose to do things a bit differently. Some couples choose to walk in together or stand facing their guests for a more open and inclusive feeling. Couples with children often make them a key part of the ceremony. And some like to incorporate religious, spiritual or ancient customs into their ceremonies. No two ceremonies are the same – they can be as traditional or as alternative as you like, and everything in between.
A celebrant knows that your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life – months of hard work and planning for just one chance of perfection. And the ceremony is the key aspect of the day – it’s the very reason you’re there, so it has to be right. So our members will work closely with you and guide you every step of the way as together you create your dream ceremony.
How do I find a celebrant?
Simply visit the AOIC celebrant directory to find the right celebrant for you amongst our membership. All our members are expected to follow the AOIC core values of best practice to ensure they always deliver a professional service to the highest standards. They are also fully covered by public liability and professional indemnity insurance.
Finding the right celebrant is important, so do some research, ask some questions and then go with your instinct when it says: ‘this is the celebrant for us’. A good celebrant will listen to what you want, provide plenty of ideas, write you a ceremony as per your wishes, and work with you until it is perfect. And finally, they will conduct your ceremony with professionalism and warmth, so that you can relax and enjoy every moment.