Celebrations - Using a Celebrant

Baptisms, weddings and funerals have always marked the significant events in our lives, and the lives of those we love. Traditionally these were governed by the religious beliefs of the family concerned, and the format for the service was laid-out with very little room for change.

Today, many people prefer to personalise these life events, so that the whole celebration is just as they want it. The assistance of a celebrant in writing and performing an individual ceremony just for you can be invaluable – so what exactly does a celebrant do?

Celebrants, humanists and registrars – what’s the difference?

UK registrar services are forbidden from including references to religion and follow a scripted ceremony.

Humanist services are non-religious and are unscripted.

Celebrants’ services, such as naming ceremonies, wedding celebrations and funerals, can include as many of the traditional religious aspects as you would like.

Is it legal?

Wedding ceremonies performed by celebrants aren’t legally binding (in England and Wales – different rules apply in Scotland). It is therefore necessary to have a legal marriage first and then you can have whatever kind of celebration party you like, perhaps with a celebrant officiating. This summer, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie got married this way and so did George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin.  Both couples had their wedding ceremony in two parts – a brief legal part and a ceremonial element. There are no legal requirements for naming ceremonies and funerals.

Where and when?

Civil ceremonies must be conducted in a licensed venue. By contrast, celebrants’ services can be held anywhere and at any time – there are no legal restrictions to their form or location. So, you can hold your celebration on the beach, in a private garden, at a stately home, in a forest or the local pub!

What can you include?

The beauty of it is, you can have whatever you want and your celebration will be personal to you and your family. You can personalise your vows, choose any style of music and include as many aspects of the traditional baptism, marriage and funeral services as you like.  You can choose the running order, and include any of your own symbols, whether that’s rings, candles, hand fasting, jumping the broom or sand ceremonies.

Celebrant Judy Mansefield of Cherish Ceremonies says, “I love to research content with my couples to reflect their personalities and their culture. I’ve written celebrations incorporating Icelandic traditions and Japanese tea ceremonies. A favourite was a couple from a Greek family, who wanted to include some of their heritage. I loved the wedding where we included a chuppah and breaking the glass from the groom’s Jewish heritage, together with the Catholic bride’s sister singing ‘Amazing Grace’ just after their vows.”

Where to find a celebrant?

Look for celebrants on social media, using a web search (many have their own websites), by personal recommendation – either from your venue or a friend, at wedding fairs or using one of the associations which train and list celebrants, such as The Fellowship of Professional Celebrants or The UK Society of Celebrants.

Why use a celebrant?

In much the same way as you might choose your venue based on the experienced and helpful staff, having a celebrant arrange your ceremony means having an expert to guide you. You’ll have the opportunity to get to know them in advance, to arrange things exactly as you would like them and know that they are on your side to make everything go smoothly.

Judy Mansefield says, “Would you like a blessing in Gaelic? How about a greeting for your German guests? Or a welcome in Cantonese? Or perhaps the whole ceremony in French? Yep, I have done that, too! Have a chat with a celebrant - you may be surprised at just how personal your ceremony can be. You are only going to have this moment once. Make it beautiful!”

Clevedon Hall is a licensed venue and civil marriages can be held here. We are also able to accommodate naming ceremonies, wedding celebrations and wakes celebrating the lives of our loved ones. Ask us about using a celebrant at Clevedon Hall.

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WeddingJohn McCarthyComment