Frequently asked questions.

What is the difference between a registrar and a celebrant?

I find it helpful to think of Registrars carrying out marriage and Civil Partnerships. Celebrants lead celebratory wedding and partnership  ceremonies.
A Registrar will ensure the legalities of a Civil Partnership, which is a signing with two witnesses; it does not have to be part of a ceremony. They also conduct your civil (ie not a church) marriage, ensuring all the rules and requirements are carried out so that your marriage is legally valid.

It does have to be a part of a ceremony, even if just a brief one.

Registrars are employed by the county council and answerable to the Registrar General.

They therefore must follow the regulations as set out by the State. They are forbidden to allow any religious content or use words from the church marriage service.

They will seek to make your marriage ceremony meaningful and lovely. Currently they are not able to guarantee that the person conducting the ceremony is the same one who meets you at the office when you go to give your Notice of Marriage.

They will try to personalise your marriage within the rules - you will be able to choose your own readings and music.

They are not currently able to write a ceremony that is for you only, nor collaborate with you on the content.

Registrars must take a marriage at either a venue licensed for legally valid marriages or at a Registration office.

They will usually have to perform several marriages or Civil Partnerships on the same day and so have to limit their time with you.


A celebrant works independently and is not constrained by any marriage regulations or limited in choice of venue.

Celebrants do not usually conduct more than one ceremony in one day.

A celebrant works closely with the couple to write the  ceremony words that are for them and about them and can include many interesting elements as well as ones that involve their guests and their children.

A celebrant led wedding or partnership will not in itself make you legally married or civil partnered, but is a very personal, relaxed and special celebration of your legal union which has either already taken place at a registration office or is due to happen soon.


What is the difference between an independent celebrant and a humanist? 

We are all celebrants and we all seek to create fabulous ceremonies.

Some celebrants are self taught but many independent celebrants are trained by a celebrancy training organisation.

Humanists celebrants are usually trained by the Humanist Society. Humanists represent "people who seek to live good lives without religious or superstitious beliefs" and therefore are expected not to include religious of spiritual elements in their ceremonies.
Independent celebrants do not restrict you from including religious content and welcome spiritual elements and the inclusion of your own cultural traditions.

Is there anything we have to include?
Nope. It is your ceremony and you can chose what you would like to include.


Will a celebrant meet us before the wedding day?
Almost always, even if by video link.
You need to know if she/he/they are the right celebrant for you.