To view more expert advice on a different topic, please select one from the list below.
Q. We've just started wedding planning and I'm slightly confused about what a celebrant actually does! Can you help?
A. Carol Cranfield says: If you're looking for a one-of-a-kind wedding that's totally about you and your partner, then a celebrant-led wedding may be for you. For a start, you can get married where you like – in a venue, in the garden or woods, on a boat, at home; let your imagination flow. Although not legally binding in the UK at present, this is currently with the Law Commission, and going to government for consideration this year. In the meantime, the legal part of the marriage still needs to be signed and witnessed by a registrar or authorised religious dignitary, which can be done before or after your wedding. That being said, celebrant-led ceremonies are becoming more popular in modern couples wanting to do-away with stuffy traditions that don't mean much to them. I only perform one ceremony a day, so I can concentrate fully on you as a couple. I can help choose poems and readings that best represent you and that are suited to the vibe of your wedding. I can even get your fur-baby involved in your ceremony if you wish – why not have them as your ring bearer? Anything is possible if you choose to use a celebrant.
Carol Cranfield, Carol Cranfield Celebrant
Q. How have couples changed their approach to wedding planning for 2022 and beyond?
A. Clive Burgess says: The post-Covid period is a challenge for many in the wedding industry, but more especially for couples in love, waiting to make their commitment ‒ many of us have shared the journey and the frustrations. Listening to stories, are couples doing things differently as we head into 2022?
Cost is often one of the first questions couples ask, but I also encourage couples to think about finding the celebrant who is the right fit for them, who will help and advise them while listening to their dreams for their big day.
Couples are beginning to understand the alternative way to plan their wedding that exists beyond the registrar at a venue, registry office or church. Celebrants bring experience, flexibility, value and much more to weddings. Established wedding venues are beginning to realise that a celebrant adds some exciting options for couples, creating totally individualised ceremonies incorporating different religious beliefs and secular ideas and traditions. Over the latter part of this year, many weddings are being arranged at relatively short notice, and that's a trend that seems to be continuing. I've found there is much excitement about all of the options available including: a sand ceremony, hand-fasting or jumping the broom, using candles and writing their own vows, coloured smoke bombs, unrestricted musical choices rather than having to stick to the more traditional options. Couples can opt for that unusual venue they love, on a beach, in some woodland, or in their garden, the list is never-ending and doesn't bring the usual restrictions.
Clive Burgess, Special Moments Celebrants
Q. Following the last 18 months, how has the wedding industry changed? Our local suppliers, experts in their field, give us the lowdown...
A. Amanda Wheal says: There has been a fair degree of positive change for celebrants post-pandemic, and it's certainly an exciting time for couples and celebrants. The demand for celebrants has increased not only because of the backlog of postponed weddings, but more importantly, couples want to celebrate differently. They really want to share their celebration with family and friends in creative and fun ways, having been through so much and waited so long they really want to go to town on their wedding.
Regardless of whether they have previously had their legal registry office ceremony, many want something more special, personalised and to share their vows with as many people as possible. I tend to get requests for more hybrid ceremonies with a mix of modern and traditional aspects, and it's a pleasure to create something different for each couple. There's also more of an emphasis of involving family members within the ceremony and, for some, honouring those they have sadly lost.
Celebrants solve many new dilemmas caused by the pandemic, for example couples who married abroad pre-covid and had to cancel their UK-based celebration now want a special celebration created just for them, which may or may not involve vows and ring exchanges given the time that has passed from their original date. Some couples who legally married during lockdown in a small ceremony have since had children, so I'm creating a new ceremony which combines a wedding and a baby naming!
It's certainly an exciting time and couples are embracing the flexibility and freedom that ceremonies without limits can give them. I hope that the recent changes in marriage laws continue, so that the government passes legislation supported by the wedding commission, that allows celebrants to perform legal weddings.
Amanda Wheal, Amanda's Beautiful Ceremonies
Q. After postponing our big day, we've found that there's a huge backlog of weddings and we may have to wait even longer for a registrar. What are our options?
A. Shelley Bell says: We're living through difficult times, with registry offices struggling with demand in some areas and personnel changes meaning that they are unable to accommodate as many bookings. This is when a celebrant is a great option.
As people across the country prepare to celebrate with their nearest and dearest again, wedding suppliers are diversifying to meet the needs of their couples, while staying as true to your wedding vision as possible. With a celebrant, you can have a ceremony anytime, any day and almost anywhere. You can get friends and family involved and hold it in front of a small or large gathering of loved ones. Couples can state their vows for married life, exchange rings and even sign a certificate commemorating the day. The choice is yours and there are no limitations, you'll just need to sign the legal paperwork when you can. If you've had to reschedule or your original date is fast-approaching, get in touch to see how we can make your dream day a reality.
Shelley Bell, Shelley Bell Independent Celebrant
It takes two
Q. We aren't sure how to plan for our wedding because of the pandemic. My friend suggested a sequel wedding, but what exactly does this mean?
A. Clive Burgess says: Sequel weddings are becoming increasingly popular as a way to meet the needs of modern life. They're great for couples who want to mark this important life event under COVID-related restrictions or as a way of having a more personal ceremony after the formality required in a religious or short legal ceremony. Perhaps the wedding took place abroad and excluded friends and family?
After a formal legal ceremony, the following sequel wedding offers an opportunity to create a very personal expression of love that can acknowledge different beliefs and tastes in a way that a traditional ceremony can't. It can be held at any time and in any place – there are no restrictions. It can be as formal or relaxed as you like and can incorporate elements from varying faiths and ethnic traditions. It can also allow the acknowledgement of the blending of families and enables couples to fully express their personalities and values.
As a celebrant, I will work with you to create a unique and memorable wedding that's full of expression, shared stories and love.
Clive Burgess, Special Moments Celebrant
Your day, your way
Q. We've found out we can't legally get married outside. What are our options?
A. Amand Wheal says: Currently, celebrant-led ceremonies are not legal. However, they offer the most freedom of choice in terms of ceremony content and location. Anything goes, whether you want to get married on a farm at sunrise, in your back garden or under a woodland canopy at night.
If you book a registrar to conduct your ceremony at a licensed venue, it's basically the same as what you get in a registry office, just in a venue; all the same legalities and restrictions apply. Even if you want to tie the knot outside, you'll have to do so under an approved structure such as a gazebo or pavilion.
Instead, many couples will have their standard legal ceremony at a registry office on a weekday when it's least expensive. Then, they'll splash out on their personalised celebrant ceremony for themselves and their guests at a venue or location of their choice. They will then have total freedom in all aspects to have the bespoke ceremony of their dreams.
Amand Wheal, Amanda's Beautiful Ceremonies