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Bridget Garrett Ceremonies

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What the heck is a Civil Celebrant and what do they do?

Posted on July 22, 2015 at 8:05 PM

It's quite possible that you've never even heard of a Civil Celebrant and what they do - I hadn't - until I discovered that I wanted to become one during a Google search one day!

You may have come across one if you've ever had to organise a funeral for a loved one who didn't really have a particular faith, or you've been to a wedding that seemed a bit less formal and much more personal than the run of the mill registry office job.

To bring in a Celebrant means bringing in so much more variety and choice to a ceremony, all the things that will make it seem more personal to you and ultimately more memorable.

Given that we are now in the throes of Wedding Season my first foray into blog-world will focus on how a Celebrant can make a difference to your Wedding Celebrations - and boy can they make a difference!

Who are we?

Celebrants have been trained in all aspects of planning, writing and conducting ceremonies. From choosing music and readings, poems and symbolic actions, they will listen and interpret your ideas.

A celebrant will start with a blank sheet of paper and will fill it with all your personal stories, history, cultural and/or religious traditions and particularly, your humour. It will be recognisably your story with your stamp on it.


How is it different to a Civil Ceremony?

No couples are the same, your path to love is unique and why would you want your ceremony to sound like everyone else’s?

Every Celebrant led wedding ceremony will be personalised. The Celebrant will help you write the whole script and your special vows. You get to approve every word of the ceremony. You can if you wish include religious content (which a Registrar cannot). You can include your family, your children, your friends or your pets. You can really go for a theme - the more creative, the better - if you want to conga down the aisle, then go for it. The only limit is your imagination!

A Celebrant can conduct ceremonies at any time of the day and at any venue. So you can marry at dawn on a cliff top or at dusk in a forest, if you want to. Venues do not need a licence, so the options are truly endless.


Is it a legal marriage?

No. Celebrants cannot conduct the legalities of a marriage so you have to legally register before a Registrar. You can easily do this by using a short registration service at your local Registry Office before two witnesses - no rings, no vows, no fuss, until your ‘real’ ceremony with a Celebrant.


Why Choose A Celebration Ceremony When It’s Not Legal?

Ask most people what the focal point of a wedding ceremony is and they’ll say it’s the joining together of two people in love. It’s an opportunity to get all the family and loved ones together to celebrate that love and witness the declaration of the vows the couple make to one another for the years ahead.

The focus has very little to do with the ‘legal registration’ of that marriage. That’s just a hoop to jump through in the process.

A Celebrant led wedding celebration ceremony will put the focus firmly on you, the couple, at the centre of the day.

You have the option WHERE your wedding ceremony is held

You are not restricted to venues with a wedding licence. You can hold your ceremony outside in your garden or on a beach, in your favourite restaurant or a friend’s barn.

Even if the venue has a licence, sometimes you cannot get the Registrar on the date you would like but using a Celebrant can get around this problem - you just register your marriage in the days or weeks running up to your wedding at the Registry Office. Weekends in the summer months are very busy and sometimes you don’t want to wait for another few months.

You have the option WHEN your wedding ceremony is held

No longer are you restricted to the hours of 8am to 8pm. At any time of the year, if you want a midnight wedding ceremony, or one at dawn, you’ll find a Celebrant to do it.

You can include WHAT you want in your wedding ceremony

You can be as creative as you like with your wording, your vows, your content and format. You can include any poem, music or reading. You can incorporate some religion if you wish - Registrars cannot. This can be very useful for couples coming from different faiths who can include certain rituals into the ceremony. Symbolic elements such as hand-fasting, ring warming or sand ceremonies can be used creatively to personalise your ceremony too without time restrictions.

You can include WHO you want in your ceremony

You can include your family, friends, your children, even your pets!

You get HELP in putting your ceremony together

A Celebrant will meet you months before the celebration ceremony. They will get to know you and help you write your vows and the ceremony, liaising with you in the months running up to the big day. They will rehearse with you and work with other wedding professionals.

You are the ONLY wedding ceremony on that day

 A Celebrant won’t have to rush off to another ceremony on the same day, this builds in some flexibility if things are running a little late - so no need to panic!

What does the service include?

A Celebrant becomes one of your wedding team. They will meet you in person, often at your venue, to discuss your ceremony. Over the following months they will work on all aspects of the ceremony until it is perfect, liaising with you via email, Skype or meetings in person. Significantly, Celebrants rehearse with you before the event so you know exactly what to expect on the big day. They will work with all the other wedding professionals in your team, so your day goes according to plan.

Most Celebrants will give you a presentation copy of your ceremony to keep and of course you’ll have all those fantastic memories of your very own personal wedding ceremony to look back on.

What does it cost?

Prices can vary, some Celebrants will quote for each wedding, others have a fixed price, but most start from between £300-£500. It’s around the same price as using a Registrar to come to a venue, but the added value you get from a Celebrant is significant.

Choosing a Wedding Celebrant for your wedding will give you more control, wider options and a much more personal and memorable ceremony for your special day.


So why choose a Celebration Ceremony?

The advantages of using a Celebrant to conduct your wedding celebration ceremony by far outweigh that 10 minute visit to your local Registrar during your lunch hour to get the legal bits done. Ceremonies for key life events really matter, so make sure your wedding ceremony is as memorable and as personal as you can make it.

Bridget Garrett is an Accredited Civil Celebrant living and working in the Ipswich area.

She can be contacted at [email protected] or by phoning 07913 203177 or check out the website at




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