Is a celebrant wedding legal?

What to do if you want a legal marriage but a Celebrant-led wedding ceremony

Following on from enquiries about how to organise a wedding ceremony, I thought I would share some ideas, as often the question comes up how you have a legal marriage with a celebrant-led wedding.

What does a Celebrant do?

The first aspect to consider is what does a celebrant do, that a registry wedding doesn’t?

The answer is in the detail. Celebrants are trained and have specialisms in this area writing ceremonies from scratch, giving advice how to design the content that matches the couple’s personality and beliefs.  

They will also make suggestions, if required, of having mini ceremonies included within the main wedding ceremony to make it tailored for you, which many guests will not have experienced before.

Whilst ceremonies performed with registrars are loving, they do not have the time to write these 100% personalised ceremonies and often come with pre-written words to choose from. A specialist celebrant will spend as much time as the client wants and needs. Registrars cannot perform ceremonies outside and are often restricted to when they can conduct, whereas for a celebrant they can perform ceremonies 365 days a year, anytime of the day and anywhere the couple choose to have their ceremony.

The best advice to couples is to separate the legal aspect and then focus on a wedding ceremony that is right for them.

How to have a legal marriage with a celebrant ceremony?

Step One - Book a basic statutory ceremony/meeting with your local Registry office, (likely cost approx. £45-£50).   

If you intend to use a Registry office not local, then you will need to book an Intention of Notice with your local registry office and then book the basic statutory ceremony/meeting with the registry office of your choosing. 

Don’t forget you will need to take evidence you are able to marry (ie you are not already married) and bring two witnesses on the date of the basic ceremony.  

Think of this like registering a birth or death, you are there to obtain the marriage certificate, there won’t be any vows or ceremony, simply it sorts out the legalities so for many couples they do not dress up wanting to keep their special clothing for their wedding day ceremony.

Step Two – Book your wedding ceremony with your Celebrant, and then work together curating a service you have dreamed about together curating a service you have dreamed about, and the way you want it. A Celebrant can suggest ways to bring out your personalities, your heritage and how to retell your love story, weaving in your future goals and aspirations; in various ways such as traditional, fun or romantic for example. It you could involve children or guests within the ceremony, include any religion, spirituality, beliefs or none.

Is there much difference in costs between a Registrar and Celebrant?

As an example in Somerset the Registry Service charge approximately £470-£620 for their wedding ceremony they conduct at a venue that has a wedding licence. In addition there is the registry service charge of £70 for notices, registered building fee (£97) and any additional certificates (£11).   

A Wedding Celebrant, in contrast can offer their clients a personalised and tailored service which won't be available from a local authority employed registrar. Wedding Celebrants charges can start from as little as £495 and go up to £1200. Celebrant prices tend to be based on experience, reputation, quality and the type of ceremony you wish to have.

The fantastic benefit of using a wedding Celebrant is they are not restricted to a venue which requires a license. This means a wedding Celebrant can perform your ceremony anywhere inside or outside. If however you prefer to have a licensed venue then you can still choose this as an option.

The only additional fee for using a Celebrant is the basic statutory fee of £57 to the registry to obtain the marriage certificate.

Why do Celebrants charge different prices?

Like any product or service, each has its own value and what’s included. For Celebrants, it's important to ensure that you have the right rapport with that person, do they put you at ease, do they have a good sense of personality, do they listen to you and understand your vision?   

Then look at their experience and measure that value. What is their background, and are they nervous when conducting ceremonies, or do they bring warmth and charm retelling your love story?  

Some celebrants specialise in certain areas, such as spirituality. Ultimately it's about connection, reputation and having a fantastic journey together ensuring your dreams become reality; I’m sure with some laughs along the way!

The main value of having a celebrant conduct your wedding ceremony is that they can do it the way you would like rather than a registrar who will likely perform a set service which has likely been performed many time before.

How do I know which Celebrant to use?

As you will expect its important to choose the right Celebrant for you. After all, they are representing you on one of your biggest days of your life. Celebrants will differ due to their personalities, experience, and their styles. A good tip is to look at their websites, look who they are affiliated and trained by, and any testimonials they have and invest in time talking to the Celebrant when you are searching for them. Ask them questions, they won't mind! After all, it's important for them to ensure that they are a fit for you, and you to them. Most Celebrants are self-employed and such it's worth checking they have insurance etc before booking them.

Amanda-Louise Knight Ceremonies. I am affiliated with and trained at The Institute of Professional Celebrants. I have a wealth of experience and regularly work with clients wanting personalised luxury ceremonies in the UK. Contact me on hello@alkcelebrant.co.uk or 07879 220 046

Written by
Amanda-Louise Knight

Amanda-Louise is the creative director of her UK award winning business, Amanda-Louise Knight Weddings Proposals & Events. She provides advice to modern couples who want unforgettable weddings that set the tone about their celebrations and love.

Amanda-Louise is a current celebrant, and has been involved in the events industry for over 30 years. Her love for logistics, she is wedding and marriage proposal planner in the South West of England. A dog lover herself, she is owner of Somerset Wedding Day Dog Chaperone Service ensuring furry babies are included or cared for by her team.

She is mentor to other celebrants and venue consultant to her corporate business clients dedicating her time to helping them grow their own businesses.

And it all starts with making a date with Amanda-Louise!

‍Blog Disclaimer - the article is opinion based by the author only, the content is for information purposes only, and as such is not guaranteed. Whilst its intended to be accurate there may be some unintentional errors, mistakes or omissions and therefore may be subject of updating. In accordance with any advice articles should the reader wish to rely on this information, they do so at their own risk. Any prices quoted are accurate at time of writing content.


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