I am often asked about the process of booking a celebrant, and indeed the legal part, and so I have put together this blog piece to provide an outline of the steps to be taken.
In summary, you should:
- Book your venue
- Secure your celebrant
- Register your intent to marry
- Book your signing (only) at the registration service
- Enjoy the rest of your planning!
Find your dream wedding location! Remember that it need not be a licensed space if you separate your legal signing, which then opens up a multitude of different options to you. If you love a stately home, but want an outdoor wedding, have a wander around the grounds and pick somewhere with great views, or perhaps with the house as a backdrop.
There are no restrictions if using a celebrant when it comes to location, so long as you have permission from the land or venue owner.
Did you know that celebrants will work outside at any time of the year?
Registrars are restricted by guidelines that state that once the temperature drops below 16 degrees, they will automatically move the ceremony inside. I have conducted woodland ceremonies in Autumn for example, and myself and the guests just dressed accordingly!
Once you have found your dream location for your day, the next thing should be to research and book your officiant, and if that is to be a celebrant, then you will need to check their availability, and of course, have a consultation in order to confirm if they are the right fit for your and your wedding.
The benefit of this is that you can actually choose who conducts your wedding, and build a relationship with them before your big day. Having a say in your ceremony content, format, and flow is a huge benefit and can mean the difference between a choice of three pre-set government scripts and a truly personal and unique one! Most celebrants will only conduct one wedding a day, thus making sure you can choose the best time, and one that suits you both, rather than accepting whatever is left.
I recently wrote a popular blog post about the benefits of a celebrant-led wedding, and further details of this can be found here.
You will now need to register your intent to marry. This must be done in all cases, whether you choose a registrar or celebrant, as it enables the registration service to prepare your legal documentation and record the details of your marriage.
You can contact your local office and advise them of this, and state that you have already booked your celebrant, and will just require the "signing room" facility to complete your paperwork and declarations. This is then booked in on a date nearer your wedding day (check which day their 'signing day' is, to ensure this takes place prior to your ceremony date as the registration service prefer that this is done in advance of your ceremony).
When you attend your legal signing day, it is worth remembering that you can save your vows and your ring exchanges, along with all other personal details for your celebrant-led ceremony. It is not a legal requirement to do this when you sign your papers. When it comes to your wedding day, I can prepare a commemorative certificate for you to sign as a keepsake of your ceremony, along with copies of your vows and any readings too!
Depending on your location, the signing only fee is around £50 and you will be required to take two witnesses in order to complete this. The process takes about ten minutes and you are then free to hold your ceremony wherever and whenever you like!
Over the past couple of years, I have conducted ceremonies on the beach, in beautiful woodlands, castles, stately homes, on working farms, in rustic barns, at lakeside settings, and in fields with tipis, fire pits and cows!
For images of the styles of ceremonies and the interesting settings, please click here.
Now that your venue is booked, your celebrant secured and your intent to marry logged at the registration service, you can set about planning your big day with gusto, and without restrictions!
The same process applies for destination weddings too. If you are wanting to have your ceremony abroad, why not separate the legal signing and avoid all the red tape at your wedding destination. Upon your arrival abroad you will often have to complete documentation and visit several government offices and associations in order to satisfy their requirements. It's a lot simpler this way! Click here for my destination wedding page with details about the planning of your ceremony and the legal side relating to this.
It really is a simple process, and so if you are considering having a unique and personal wedding, I would be happy to chat to you and run through your plans.