What’s The Difference Between a Registrar and a Celebrant ?

What’s the difference between a wedding celebrant and a registrar?

The answer is in the name.

One will register your wedding, the other will celebrate it with you.

What does a wedding celebrant do?

When we think about what makes a beautifully memorable wedding day it’s not just about the dresses and flowers, it’s about the people. It’s one day in a lifetime that flies by in the blink of an eye. 

What will be left are the stories of human connection: the tears and hugs; the little mishaps that turned out alright at the end and of course, the words of commitment that bond two people together.

Quietly at the centre of all of this is the person there to conduct the ceremony. The one you choose to be present when you bring all of your months (or in some cases years) of preparation together into one pivotal moment when you say ‘I do’.

The limitations of a registrar

I’m a celebrant and I have been joining happy couples together in this way for 3 years. I love what I do but I’m not a registrar. It’s easy to confuse the two and when you’re planning a wedding, it’s important to know the difference.

A change in the rules means registrars are now able to attend venues even if they are not licensed, to perform the ceremony. Whilst this may seem like a cheaper option, you should be aware of the disadvantages:

  • Having to officiate several services in a day, they may have to arrive just before the ceremony and leave straight after, leaving little room for personal engagement or flexibility and they won’t be there beforehand to help you create your perfect day.
  • What do you want in terms of the words said, the format, the structure and the style? Choose a registrar and you may be limited in what you can say and do as part of the ceremony. You won’t be able to include any religious or spiritual elements.
  • Your registrar will be allocated for you and you won’t have time to get to know them beforehand.

It’s important to note that the legal part of your wedding will need to be officiated by a registrar but this can be done at their office for a nominal cost before your wedding day.

Celebrate your wedding with a celebrant

I said the clue was in the name.

We’re here for the whole day and in fact, we’re there for the whole journey. Hand-picked by you, we’re at the end of the phone leading up to your big day. We become part of the team that makes something wonderful like a wedding happen.

These are a few things you can expect from a celebrant-led wedding:

  • Pick your venue, somewhere that means something to you – under the trees, in a country house, underground in a cave or in a beautiful estate garden.
  • If you choose, they can be part of your wedding and planning support network, happy to share their expertise, experience and advice. We have lots of fantastic contacts in the industry.
  • The freedom to choose the content and the style of your happy day. This can include handfasting, crystals or candles. This allows you to bring spiritual symbolism or religion if desired into your wedding or the freedom to be entirely secular – the choice is 100% yours.
  • Planning your ceremony from scratch with the person who is going to be there to perform it opens up a unique space for creativity so that your day is truly yours.
  • Incorporate family traditions or get everyone involved – encourage others to share their words, songs or performance as part of the ceremony. This way, everyone gets to play their part and join in.
  • Guests can enjoy a drink before and during the ceremony, you are not allowed alcohol with a registrar.
  • We are usually just one person, so when you call we will get back to you. With big organisations you can be missing phone calls and emailing each other for days before you finally talk to a human !
  • Celebrants will conduct your ceremony even in snowy, wet and cold conditions, a registrar can refuse to conduct a ceremony if the temperature drops below 16 degrees.

Being a celebrant is more than just being there for the ceremony. We have regular contact during the planning process and get to know each other. Its truly such a personal and unique service.

Making it a day to remember

There are as many stories as there are couples I have worked with but here are a few of my favourites:

  • I dressed up as the fairy godmother from Cinderella to officiate the wedding of a couple who were mad about Disney. The bride always wanted to get married by her fairy godmother so I made her dream come true.
  • At a wedding, I weaved in a lovely adoption ceremony which was a complete surprise for the little girl. She knew it was going to happen but didn’t know it was now all official until I announced it. The groom also made a vow to her on the day.
  • I have included a hand tying in several ceremonies. Different coloured ribbons are draped over the couples hands by important people in their lives. Each ribbon has a different significance. The ribbons are then loosely tied together and then the bride and groom each pull an end and tie the knot.
  • I have officiated services where the bride and groom are of different religions, so I have incorporated both of their faiths into the ceremony.
  • I have had a couple jump the Besom Broom. This signifies jumping into their future and sweeping away the past.

Each one of these ceremonies has meant something deeply personal to me and I’m happy to have been there for them on their day.

Festival handtying

The choice is yours

The important thing to remember is that incorporating a celebrant into your wedding gives you greater flexibility and you can draw on their experience and creativity. If you want to bring nature into your wedding, weave spiritual elements into your ceremony or honour your family traditions, then choose to celebrate with a celebrant.

After all, what we do is in the name.

It’s not always about the big ideas, sometimes the beauty is in the details. If you have budding plans for a traditional or a very different kind of wedding and you’d like a chat, please book a call with me.

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