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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What does a civil celebrant do?

A civil celebrant specialises in creating, writing, and delivering personalised ceremonies to celebrate or mark key life events like weddings, funerals, and baby naming.


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What is the difference between a wedding ceremony conducted by a Registrar and by a Celebrant?

Only a Registrar can deal with your legal marriage (This can be a low-cost mid-week ceremony at the Register Office with just the couple and 2 witnesses) If you use a Registrar for your full wedding your choice is constrained by the length of time you are allocated, what vows you can give, the types of readings and music you can use.  A celebrant ceremony can take place where you want, can last as long as you want and gives the complete freedom to include elements you want. If you want your pet Labrador as the ring bearer - no problem!

Is a celebrant led wedding a legal marriage?

No. In order to get your marriage legally registered you must have a formal appointment with your local Registrar.  Only you and 2 witnesses need to attend. It is quick, cheap and straightforward.  Just ask for a 2 + 2 appointment. 

Do I need to be married before my celebrant led wedding ceremony?

It is not mandatory to be legally married before a celebrant led wedding ceremony.  Most couples prefer to have their statutory legal marriage in advance.

For a celebrant wedding ceremony do I have to use a venue that is licensed for marriages and civil partnerships? 

No because your legal ceremony will have taken place at a Register Office (This can be a low-cost mid-week ceremony at the Register Office with just the couple and 2 witnesses)

Can I , therefore. have my celebrant wedding ceremony anywhere?

Yes. Subject to any legal constraints you are free to choose the location you want.  If there is a stunning view from your local farm, or you want to get married in your local vineyard you are free to make your own arrangements with the owners to hold your ceremony there. Equally, if you want to have the ceremony in your garden- no problem.

How does the Law Commission Report “Celebrating Marriage: A New Wedding Law” affect my wedding plans?

The report has not changed the current law on marriage in England and Wales. 
It is the first step in providing the government with a suggested blueprint of how the marriage laws could be changed to modernise all aspects of getting married.  The government will respond and decide whether the proposals (or some of them) should go through the process of being passed into law. This could take a long time yet.  
In the future it may be possible for your civil celebrant (if approved and registered) to deal with your whole marriage in one ceremony.  But if you have a celebrant wedding ceremony booked your celebrant cannot conduct your legal marriage. 
So, at present (summer 2022) your wedding planning options remain the same – a church wedding, a civil marriage (in a register office or with the Registrar at a venue licensed for civil marriages) or, a legal marriage through a short appointment with the Registrar followed by a celebrant led wedding ceremony. 
For more information on the recommendations in the Law Commission’s Report please see my blog The Law Commission Report: Celebrating Marriage: A New Wedding Law – A Bright Future? 

What does the Law Commission Report on Weddings mean?

The report has not (yet) changed the law on marriage and will not do so unless/until it is legally adopted through a formal act of parliament. Even if the ideas are agreed, it may take a year or more to become law.

However, if it is adopted, it could lead to the possibility of:
1. Couples being able to legally marry in any location, including at sea
2. Religious ceremonies being able to be held in other than places of worship
3. Government approval to allow both registered civil celebrants and non-religious belief celebrants to be able to conduct legal marriage ceremonies.

For more information on the recommendations in the Law Commission’s Report please see my blog The Law Commission Report: Celebrating Marriage: A New Wedding Law – A Bright Future? 

What are the current options for getting married in England and Wales?

Wedding Options
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Vow Renewals

We are thinking of renewing our vows.  Will we be able to write our own vows?

Absolutely! A celebrant will help you devise a ceremony that is unique and highly personal to you both.  Your vows could be one of many elements used to reflect your love for each other.

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Baby Naming

Can we include our other children in our baby naming ceremony?

Yes. A baby naming ceremony is not a religious service so does not need to follow set protocols. With your celebrant you can create a fabulous and joyful ceremony which is as inclusive as you want it to be.

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We want a ceremony when we inter my father’s ashes. Can a celebrant do this?

Yes, provided it is not a religious ceremony on consecrated ground.

What is the difference between a Humanist Ceremony and Independent celebrant led ceremony?

A Humanist ceremony follows strict protocols and must not contain any religious elements. With an Independent celebrant it is possible to include some religious elements like hymns and prayers alongside secular readings, songs, and music. 

Do I have to have a funeral in a crematorium or religious place of worship?

No.  There are other options like a natural burial. There are some beautiful natural burial sites around the country. Visit The Natural Death Centre website. Subject to any legal constraints you can have a funeral ceremony pretty much where you want.

What is a eulogy?

This is a speech to commemorate and honour the life of the person who has died. It is an opportunity to reflect on the deceased’s qualities and achievements and their place in the lives of their loved ones.  It is given during the funeral or memorial ceremony by a member of the family, a close friend, or the celebrant.

Can I plan my own funeral service before I die?

Yes - and this is something which your friends/relations will probably be very grateful for. You can select a celebrant to come and meet with you. Together you can discuss and plan the type of service you want including music, readings and any special requests or themes you want to be incorporated.  You  will be able to build a rapport with the person who will deliver your funeral service.

What is a Living Funeral?

A gathering and ceremony to mark and celebrate someone’s life with them before their death. This is most common when the person concerned is terminally ill.
The central figure has a blank canvas to design their living funeral so that they control how they wish to say goodbye. From the venue to all the elements of the ceremony they decide the when, where and how.

What is a Direct Cremation?

When the deceased is cremated without a funeral service in the crematorium chapel or service hall. An unattended Direct Cremation takes place with no family members or mourners present in the chapel. An attended Direct Cremation allows family members to attend for a few minutes to see the coffin in the chapel. There is no funeral service.

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