A fantastic blog I'm featured in!!!

We LOVE celebrants here at Unconventional Wedding. They expand the options for your wedding day and offer such a wide range of personalisation for wedding ceremonies. And at this present time, with the ‘C’ word disrupting wedding plans, we wanted to shout about the wedding celebrants in our tribe and how they can help you
How To Celebrate Your Wedding Day Post Lockdown
As you’ll read below, wedding celebrants can offer you a wide range of choices for the location of your wedding ceremony. This is much broader than official registered venues. And yes, whilst it’s not legally binding, we know a celebrant wedding can offer more choices for a socially distanced wedding day. Whether it’s a wedding in a drive in movie theatre like Bri & Lindsey’s wedding day, or a Zoom wedding like Beth & Jonty’s wedding day, there are options available to you!

So, how about keeping the smaller, intimate legal wedding day later this year (when lockdown restrictions are hopefully eased). Then you can have a larger, celebrant led, wedding day next year on your postponed wedding date? Or what about the reverse? Bringing in a celebrant this year to celebrate your nearly-wed day and do the officials next year on your postponed wedding date.

The Legalities Of A Ceremony With A Wedding Celebrant
A lot of couples now decide to get legally married on a different occasion and make their official vows with a celebrant on their wedding day. This could be earlier in the day or a few days / weeks prior. I know of a couple who got married first thing in the morning and went to a McDonalds drive through on the way back. They then got changed into their wedding outfits and got married in front of their family & friends in a stunning outdoor ceremony by a river.

Why does it happen this way? Currently, a wedding celebrant cannot legally register you as married though some regional differences do apply (we’re not going to go into all the legal bits here). We hope there might be changes in the future (you can read more here) and it goes without saying that you need to do the research to find out what applies to your area at the time you are planning your wedding day.

Here's my take on it: we legally register a birth, yet we choose to have the celebration of that birth - in the form of a christening or naming ceremony - at another time. Similarly we are required to legally register a death, and we will then have the celebration of that life - a funeral or memorial service - at another time. So why do we feel the obligation to register a marriage and have the celebration all at the same time? Plus in an era of personalisation, customer choice and our desire to create unique, memorable and authentic experiences - why should we not expect more of the happiest day of our life?
Lisa from Celebrant in Cornwall

"A celebrant wedding is a lesser known alternative to a civil or religious wedding. Rather than a fixed format script, celebrants work as part of your wedding team to create something bespoke and personal that suits you. The reason they are less popular is that currently in England celebrants cannot complete the legal paperwork to register your marriage, although there is an active campaign to change this. Many couples choose a celebrant led wedding, separating the legal administration from the important, emotional and ceremonial aspects. This enables them to have a far more awesome ceremony - kicking their big day off as they mean to go on!"
Karen from Stand Out Ceremonies, Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire

How Wedding Celebrants Can Personalise Your Ceremony
Different Types Of Symbolic Acts For Wedding Ceremonies
Arguably, the best thing about celebrant led wedding ceremonies is the freedom! You can escape the tradition and formula and create something which is truly unique. Pick from symbolic acts which represent the vision of your wedding day – some of which we talk about below. You can mix things up a bit as well!

"... A cord or ribbon is placed or tied around the couple’s joined hands as a symbolic way of representing their union. It may well be where the expression ‘tying the knot’ came from! Handfastings usually take place outdoors and are visual, meaningful, and as creative and personalised as the couple wishes. They can range from a full handfasting ceremony based around the four elements to a simple handfasting as part of a more traditional wedding ceremony. Different colours can be chosen for the cords according to their symbolic meanings and one or both of the couple may wish to make the cords themselves and weave meaningful charms into them. Family members and friends can be involved by each bringing one of the ribbons, or by attaching smaller ribbons to the main ones."
Evelyn from Star Ceremonies, Leicestershire

Jumping The Broom
The tradition of ‘jumping the broom’ is a way to signify sweeping away the old and welcoming in the new. The broom can be decorated in ribbons to personalise to match your colour scheme. It’s usually placed on the floor (or at a slight angle) for you to jump over! You can even opt to create your own broom!

The 'Unbreakable Vow' & Loads Of Other Ceremony Ideas
"Free from the restrictions of a civil ceremony, some couples choose to include symbolic acts in their wedding ceremony. As a wedding celebrant, I work with couples to see if any established rituals fit with them, or we might create something unique to suit them. For example, this year I've got couples doing a Harry Potter 'Unbreakable Vow', juggling together, tying festival lanyards, shaking a cocktail and combining guitar plectrums! Above all, the most important thing to me is that an act reflects the couple's unique personalities and interests!"
Karen from Stand Out Ceremonies, Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire

Writing Your Own Wedding Vows
Being able to write your own wedding vows is a clear advantage of a celebrant led wedding day. The only box to be ticked is “YOU”. Your celebrant will work with you to pull these together (don’t worry you don’t need to do it alone!).

"Humanist celebrants start with a blank piece of paper. There are no tick boxes or templates! It is all about injecting your personality into the ceremony script and getting creative. Sounds daunting, but humanist celebrants will guide you through the different elements. By the end of the planning you'll have an idea of what symbolic actions best fit your ceremony, what readings, music and poems you might want, and how you'll write your own vows if that is something you'd like to do."
Lisa Bourne Ceremonies, Yorkshire

One of the fundamentals of a celebrant-led ceremony are the vows. These vows can be totally personalised to suit you as a couple and as two individuals. Your celebrant will have met you face-to-face and will know your likes and dislikes and the synergy between you. Some suggestions are that you can write secret vows to be revealed on the Day or have joint vows where you speak alternately and then together at the end. There are so many ways of personalising your vows. You can use your own words, choose a poem to read or make a list of promises such as to never watch the next episode of your favourite TV programme before your partner! So many ideas! Which would you choose?
Susan from Susan Denton Celebrant, Leicestershire

Outdoor V Indoor Wedding Ceremonies
Another great thing about wedding celebrants is that their ceremonies can be conducted anywhere! This is different to legal ceremonies which can take place outside but they must be under a fixed and permanent structure.

So this opens the door to 101 different opportunities for your wedding ceremony and you can really personalise it just for you! How about a wedding ceremony in a forest, a field, in your parents back garden, on top of a mountain … the options are endless. It just needs to be a place that means something to you both! It also ticks the box for enabling socially distanced wedding days which unfortunately are going to be around in the short term.

Here are some of the strangest places for wedding ceremonies from our celebrant tribe members. Evelyn from Star Ceremonies (based in Leicestershire) has done a wedding in a cattle market. Of course it was closed at the time! Karen from Stand Out Ceremonies (based in Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire) & Lisa from Lisa Bourne Ceremonies (based in Yorkshire) have both done Zoom weddings from their living rooms!

"An outdoor space lets you to be as creative as you like. You can play with seating arrangements using haybales, mix/match chairs, or logs. [You can put them ]... in a horseshoe, spiral or circular shape which would allow for interesting entrances and exits. If there are trees around, they are great for hanging bunting, banners and handfasting cords. There will probably be plenty of space for a procession, e.g. a musician could lead all the guests to the ceremony area. A night time ceremony can be magical, lit with flares, solar lights, and candles, and there can even be fireworks! However, you do need to be prepared for the elements! You could provide blankets for warmth, a marquee for rain, umbrellas for shade and ensure things are tied down in the case of a breeze. Also, be aware that you may need to provide parking and toilets!"
Evelyn from Star Ceremonies, Leicestershire

"Outdoor ceremonies do take a little more planning than indoor ceremonies! Unlike a registrar, a good celebrant will work as part of your team to plan your ceremony in full, including a 'stage layout' and 'stage directions'. They'll map out the seating, how you're going to enter and leave the ceremony and where you will all stand. I also offer a full PA system to use for me, any readers and to project music throughout the ceremony."
Karen from Stand Out Ceremonies , Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire

What To Expect On The Day With A Wedding Celebrant
Is a celebrant led wedding day different to a registrar led wedding day? Definitely yes! After all, there is only one wedding happening at your wedding venue on that day! So expect a much more personal approach to the finer details. Celebrants aren’t attached to a rigid timetable – if you need to dodge a rain shower, you can wait! They’ll make sure everything is set up perfectly for you so you just have to turn up!

"When you choose to have a Wedding Day that begins with a celebrant-led ceremony; you’ve gifted yourselves the chance to have an amazing time! No clock-watching: family and friends can rock up, chat, and renew friendships over a glass of wine before the ceremony begins... They will have checked that everything is in its place and that everyone who is taking part is prepped. The celebrant is there to ensure that the ceremony goes like a dream and only leaves once that job is done! Now let’s get the party started!"
Susan from Susan Denton Celebrant, Leicestershire

"I always offer a rehearsal, usually the day before or when everyone involved in the ceremony can be there. We go over all the entrances, exits, music, readings and any symbolic ceremonies. This ensures that when it comes to the actual ceremony everyone knows what they’re doing and everything flows smoothly."
Evelyn from Star Ceremonies, Leicestershire

"Unlike registrars, celebrants only take one ceremony per day. I always arrive a minimum of an hour before the ceremony. If you're one of those brides who likes to make an entrance, I'll wait as long as you like! This does have practical benefits. For example at an outdoor wedding on an 'inclement' day you have the flexibility to hold off 15 minutes for the dark clouds to pass; something not usually possible with a registrar. Celebrants are part of your team and will do anything we can to solve problems, both before and on your big day."
Karen from Stand Out Ceremonies, Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire

How To Choose Your Wedding Celebrant
It goes without saying that you need to choose your ‘DREAM TEAM’ to support you on our wedding day. Choosing a wedding celebrant is no different and you should treat them like any other supplier. So we’ve teamed up with humanist celebrant Lisa Bourne Ceremonies to give you our top tips for choosing your celebrant. And of course, you can also check out the celebrants listed in our directory here.

"It's important that you choose a celebrant that you feel comfortable with, who you feel will best represent your style and personality. My ceremonies are relaxed and friendly. There's usually laughter and tears, colour and fun but they're still packed full of meaning and the focus is on the couple."
Lisa Bourne Ceremonies, Yorkshire

Our Top Tips ...
It's important you get on with your celebrant as they are leading your wedding ceremony. We LOVE Lisa from Celebrant in Cornwall's comparison to finding the perfect fit for your wedding dress - see more below

Take a look at all the different celebrants in your area. It's not always about price. Does their vibe work with yours? Have they worked at your venue before?

Have a look at what training they've undertaken. For example, a humanist celebrant, like Lisa and Karen, are accredited by Humanists UK and have to complete specific training

Have a scroll down their social media. Check out awards, reviews or recommendations. Make sure they are genuine. How many ceremonies have they done?

Always check out postponement / cancellation policies and make sure they have insurance / DBS checks in place

Is your celebrant up for doing something different? Have they used the technology before?

A bit like finding the perfect dress, or the right photographer, choosing your celebrant very much comes down to fit. Having a good rapport with your celebrant is simply top of your 'must-have' list, as they may be part of your ceremony planning for a year or more. If you can find someone you feel totally comfortable with, who gives you confidence, understands your humour, gets your nerves and who will ‘have your back’, then you might just have found your perfect match.
Lisa from Celebrant in Cornwall