FAQs and expert advice about celebrant

Here is a selection of Q&As from Your Surrey Wedding magazine whether it be about flowers, hair and makeup, fashion, wedding themes, health & beauty, cakes, stationery, legal advice. If you would like your question answered by our experts, please email it to editor@yoursurrey.wedding

 

Just the two of us

Just the two of us

Q. How can a celebrant make our ceremony extra special?

A. Rebecca Douglas says: Having a celebrant write and deliver your ceremony means it has been created especially for you as a couple. Each of my ceremonies are completely bespoke and choreographed to fit your wishes. To legally marry in England and Wales you have to say two very simple statements which are very boring and unromantic. That means every civil ceremony sounds almost identical and has very little in terms of personalisation or flexibility. With a celebrant, you can marry anywhere and have your ceremony at any time.

You can include elements that are special to you, this could be nicknames, your love story, other members of your family, a keepsake that you always have with you, your children, or even your pet. The list can go on as there are no limits other than your imagination. A celebrant-led service is also special as you help to create it. You will work closely with your supplier to plan something that is both important and meaningful to you. You can choose to include any of the ceremonial aspects of a civil ceremony that you wish or if one doesn't suit your style, then there is no need to include it.

You should build a good relationship with your supplier through the several meetings you will have. They will be able to offer advice on different ways to make your wedding individual to you and will talk you through the day, helping to get rid of any performance anxiety that you may have. It's a fun experience to help create your own wedding ceremony, I did it and I wouldn't have had it any other way.

Rebecca Douglas, RD Ceremonies
rdceremonies.org.uk

 

Sing for love

Sing for love

Q. We want to incorporate our love of musicals into our ceremony. Do you have any ideas of how we could do this?

A. Janet Shell says: A celebrant-led ceremony is the perfect way to incorporate your theme into your day. You could hire a singer to serenade the bride as she walks down the aisle or find a local barbershop quartet to sing during the signing of the certificate.

Alternatively, a harpist could play a medley as you both exit or it may be worth asking your celebrant to perform as a few of us are trained professional singers. I have been known to sing One hand, One Heart from West Side Story during a hand-fasting ceremony, and I'm planning to sing a bride down the aisle to I'm Kissing You with a string quartet accompaniment.

Do any of your guests have musical talents? If so, it's an ideal way for them to be a part of the day and create something memorable.

You can decorate your venue with musicial-inspired décor or have the bridesmaids and groomsmen dress in a particular style such as 1940s glamour. There are so many options, so if you're stuck for ideas, ask your celebrant for some suggestions.

Janet Shell, Janet Shell Ceremonies
janetshell.co.uk

 

Personal touches

Personal touches

Q. We've just started wedding planning, and I'm slightly confused about what a celebrant does! Can you help?

A. Rebecca Douglas says: It's not uncommon to feel confused when planning a wedding as there are so many choices. The main part of the day should be the ceremony, without it you would just be having a big party. There are several options available when it comes to your service if a religious venue isn't for you. A registrar, for example, will marry you in a licensed venue, but the ceremony is very prescriptive and doesn't allow much opportunity for personalisation, and any content you wish to add is heavily restricted. This can prevent including elements from your culture which may be important to you or your family as any religious content is not allowed. This is where a celebrant comes in. With an independent celebrant you can get married anywhere (obviously permission is needed from the owner), including a forest, a theatre or onboard a plane.

Your supplier will make the ceremony more personal and tailored to you and will be able to include any religious content. You can also include rituals, friends and family into your vows or even include your pet. There is much more freedom to make the ceremony about you.

A celebrant ceremony isn't legally binding, however, so you would be required to go to your local registry office to officially get married, but this is a small price to pay for the ceremony of your dreams.

Rebecca Douglas, RD Ceremonies
rdceremonies.org.uk

 

Treasured memories

Treasured memories

Q. We're having a celebrant-led wedding and want to do something a bit different that will keep our guests talking. Do you have any suggestions?

A. Janet Shell says: Each ceremony is as individual as the couple involved, so think about what you both what on the day. Here are a few suggestions:

As the guests arrive, have your rings available, and ask them to take a moment to hold the rings and imbue them with their love and wishes for you. Remember to keep the rings in a small pouch and pick somebody reliable to keep an eye on them at all times!

During the ceremony, a traditional handfasting is always a talking point. The celebrant talks everybody through the choices of colours, symbolising different qualities such as steadfastness, passion and honesty, and the couple can even say their vows while bound together. You could involve any children at the ceremony by having them bring up the ribbons/bindings/material one by one and presenting them.

Another fun thing to do is create a selfie at the end of the service with your guests in the background – this may be something your photographer can help facilitate.

Leading up to the ceremony, the celebrant can ask key guests to prepare a few words on what makes the couple special.

You could even abandon the traditional seating arrangement and go for a semi-circle to create a more informal feel.

Ask your celebrant if they have any ideas, and remember the only limit is your imagination.

Janet Shell, Janet Shell Celebrant
janetshell.co.uk

 

Especially for you

Especially for you

Q. What questions should we ask a celebrant before booking?

A. Rebecca Douglas says: Choosing a celebrant for your wedding will allow you to create a personal and bespoke ceremony, giving you the opportunity to include elements that are unique and special to you. There are many suppliers available and it's important therefore that you find one who you connect with, as they will be responsible for creating, what I consider, to be the most important part of your day. Without a ceremony, you are basically having a party in a very fancy frock! I would always suggest speaking with a celebrant before booking as this will give you a good insight into whether they have the same values as you and can see the vision you wish to create.

Find out what style they have, as some celebrants have a particular image. For me, however, the most important questions would include how do the celebrants work with their couples? Will they meet you before the ceremony or plan multiple visits? How much involvement can you have with ideas for the ceremony? Do they work from a script, or will what they write be personal to you? Find out if they can include any religious elements or rituals as some celebrants will do this and others may not.

The best advice I can give before you arrange a call with a celebrant is to decide, as a couple, what the most important parts of the ceremony are and what tone you are hoping to create. When chatting with a celebrant you will soon see if you're compatible.

Rebecca Douglas, RD Ceremonies
www.rdceremonies.org.uk

 

Just the two of us

Just the two of us

Q. My hubby-to-be and I are looking for a celebrant to make our ceremony fun and personal. How do we find the perfect supplier?

A. Rebecca Douglas says: To ensure you get the celebration you both want it's important to find a supplier that shares the same values as you. There are several ways to find a supplier, for example, search engines, wedding magazines, websites or The Celebrant Directory. I advise reading bios and visiting the websites of those you like so you get a feel for their style and how they work with couples. Each celebrant will differ in how they work or the style in which they conduct the ceremony. Some offer specialities such as rituals, outdoor weddings or a particular theme. Once you've looked at enough websites, organise a call with your top three and see who you click with best. It's important to have a good rapport with your supplier so you can be open with them. I meet with my couples after the initial phone call as I think it helps build the relationship, and I like to keep them involved when I am writing, so I can ensure I get everything spot on. One bride who contacted me used the same words to describe how she and her fiancé wanted their ceremony as I used to describe mine to the celebrant I chose, so we just clicked automatically. Whoever you choose though, I wish you a wonderful day and a lifetime of happiness.

Rebecca Douglas, RD Ceremonies
www.rdceremonies.org.uk

 

The love of my life

The love of my life

Q. We want to write our wedding vows. Can you offer us any tips?

A. Tony Dunne says: Writing your own vows can be daunting, but if you follow some simple guidelines, then it can be the emotional highlight of your ceremony. It's important to discuss your vows with your partner before you start composing them, so you can agree how long they should be, whether you would like them to include humour or to be traditionally sentimental.

Remember to be yourself. If you're a romantic person, then this is the time to be as affectionate as you wish, and don't forget to tell your partner what you love most about them.

Read your vows out loud a few times before the day to ensure you're very familiar with them, as you may be nervous on the day.

Finally, keep your vows secret from your partner until you're declaring them at the ceremony. This will heighten the emotion and love felt by both of you and your family and friends.

Tony Dunne, Stylish Celebrant
www.stylishcelebrant.co.uk

 

Planning SOS

Planning SOS

Q. We've just started wedding planning, and I'm slightly confused about what a celebrant does! Can you help?

A. Helen Noble says: The ceremony is the heart of the day, and a celebrant will set the vibe, tone and energy for the rest of your nuptials. A celebrant-led ceremony allows you to make it personalised, heartfelt, silly or fun. We bring your vision to life. We can weave your words and songs into a tailormade one-of-a-kind service. There are no rules, regulations or limits to what you can and can't include.

Your supplier will explore what you're about as a couple. What your hopes and aspirations are, so you can begin married life feeling happy and excited about your future. They will rehearse with you so you can manage your anxiety, get the timings right, support the reader as they share your readings and make sure you're both 100 per cent ready for the day.

Usually, as a celebrant, my couples would have done their marriage license ahead of the ceremony, but occasionally the registrar kicks off the ceremony with the legal details, introduces me, then leaves, and I take over. Sometimes I conduct the ceremony, then whilst the guests have canapés, the couple register their marriage and join us afterwards.

Helen Noble, Helen Noble: Celebrant of Surrey
www.helen-noble.co.uk

 

You're the one

You're the one

Q. My wife-to-be and I are thinking of hiring a celebrant, but there are so many to choose from. How do we find the right supplier for us?

A. Helen Noble says: It's a fantastic choice to have a celebrant as it means you're able to create and bring your style to the heart of the day. The ceremony is the reason everyone is there, so it's important to choose the right supplier. There will be a celebrant out there to suit everyone, so work out your style, energy or vibe. What feeling do you get from them? What's their energy? Do you like their style? Will they come to your chosen venue? What is your biggest worry about the ceremony, and do you feel that they could resolve that issue for you? Do your other suppliers know them? Even though the wedding industry is huge, the networking is incredible, and if a celebrant is being supported by other suppliers, that's always a good sign.

There are directories out there you could look at, and venues may have their own recommended list. Above all, the best way to find a celebrant is to pick up the phone and call them and see how they are there and then. It's all about live interaction. Of course, have a little noisy on their website and social media, but the most important thing is who they are as a person because that is what you're hiring. Try video calling, a phone call or meeting in person, and you will know within moments if they're the one for you.

Helen Noble, Helen Noble: Celebrant of Surrey
www.helen-noble.co.uk

 

Love of my life

Love of my life

Q. How can a celebrant help us make the ceremony extra special?

A. Helen Noble says: The beauty and advantage of a celebrant-led wedding can be seen when this opportunity is truly utilised. A celebrant is your supplier. You choose them. People often don't realise you can choose the person to stand up with you on one of the most pivotal moments in your life. A celebrant is not a stranger in the room. You have hand-picked them to suit your style, vibe, partnership and feel of the day. There is a supplier out there to suit everyone. We are creative, romantic wordsmiths and will bring so much to the table that the hard part will be working out what not to use! There are ring warming ceremonies, rose ceremonies and cocktail ceremonies – the list is endless. With so many rituals available I would say the main thing, for me, that I think is extra special is that you have freedom of speech. We make your ceremony 100 per cent you. We help you find the words you want to say and the way you want to say them. Marriage is about giving your word. It's about a choice. A celebrant will enable you to say your words truthfully and beautifully with all your heart.

Helen Noble, Helen Noble Celebrant
www.helen-noble.co.uk

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