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  • Writer's pictureMegStanierCelebrant

How do we legally marry if we hire a celebrant in England?

Updated: Jun 8

Looking for a bespoke ceremony which suits your personalities and reflects who you are as a couple, well hiring a celebrant is 100% the right choice for you! A celebrant will get to know you, your story, your plans for you day and work with you closely to prepare your personalised wedding ceremony.

However, there's a slight catch – celebrant-led ceremonies are not legally binding in England. While it may seem a bit silly, hopefully, one day we will have the opportunity to legally unite our amazing couples. But for now, we'll have to work around this limitation!

So, let's start from the very beginning...

Finding your venue!

When choosing a wedding venue, consider unique options. With a Celebrant, any location is possible with permission. Unlike Registrars, Celebrants can conduct ceremonies at any time or setting, offering flexibility for a memorable wedding at a venue you love.

When securing your date with your venue, don't feel pressured to book a registrar for your day unless YOU want that. The number of couples I've had enquire who were told they HAD to book a registrar for their big day is countless! Explain to your venue you are going to hire a celebrant for your wedding date, and you will sort a statutory ceremony to legalise the marriage separately.

Hiring your celebrant!

After choosing and securing your dream venue, research and book some calls with celebrants. When reaching out, toss in your date and location so we can let you know if we're available, we usually only do one wedding a day so you're our only priority! Most celebrants offer a free discovery call over zoom or a coffee date – after all, picking a celebrant is like dating! We've got to click as we'll be telling your story and be at the heart of your big day, you need to feel comfortable with us! It's your golden ticket to ask any burning questions too!

Here's some questions to ask:

·       Their wedding ceremony planning process, how it all works from booking to your big day!

·       What is the back-up plan if they're ill? (most of us have celebrant pals we can call on!)

·       Clarity on their pricing & how to pay (what's extra, current price, what's included e.g. my price includes vow/reading cards)

·       Struggling to find suppliers? Ask who they've worked with!

·       If you have any initial ideas, they'll love to hear them!

Contact your local register office

Before moving forward with your wedding, it is essential to officially announce your intent to marry. This declaration is a crucial step regardless of whether you choose a registrar or a Celebrant. This process enables the registration service to arrange your legal documentation and record the details of your marriage.

You must give notice at least 29 days before your ceremony and hold the legal ceremony within 12 months. Remember to organise this with your register office.

Get in touch with your local council register office to notify them of your decision and confirm your choice of having a Celebrant. A simple 'statutory' ceremony will be required to finalise your legal paperwork and declarations with 2 witnesses. Typically, this is a date closer to your wedding day, however, I have had couples do their legal ceremony with the registrar 3 months in advance! Just whenever is easiest for you!

Costs of Statutory Ceremony (Based on my area) 

Booking Fee Ceremony/Civil Partnership Formation

2 x marriage/civil partnership certificates

£81.00 (Last checked June'24)

Every area is different, check your local council website for fees!

Your statutory ceremony

When attending your legal service, remember that you can save your vows and ring exchanges, along with other personal details, for your Celebrant-led ceremony. It is not mandatory to include these during the paperwork signing. Simply notify the registry office of your preference.

During the process, you will need two witnesses and select one legal statement. 

Some people make this 'legal' day into a mini celebration! I've had couples hold mini photoshoots, go out for meals or have an afternoon at their venue after to get excited for their big day.... but you can also just go for a chillaxed day and get the job done! It's up to you!

Now that your venue is locked in, your Celebrant is on board, and your marriage plans are officially known, it's time to dive into wedding planning mode! Your celebrant will be SO excited to start creating your one-of-a-kind ceremony!

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