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Have you ever been to a celebrant led ceremony?

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When I tell people that I am a celebrant and explain that I create and lead weddings, funerals, baby and child naming ceremonies, it takes a while for some people to understand what that role really means and why someone would choose to have a celebrant rather than the usual choices.

In this blog, I'll explain what a celebrant is, what they do, why you would choose one, and the benefits of having one. It’s best to read this blog along with my other ones and my website, to help you get a full picture of what a celebrant does.

A happy quirky and stylish  couple smiling on their wedding day, standing in front of a bench and many pink and peach flowers
A quirky couple on their wedding day

So, what is the meaning of a celebrant (also known as an officiant)?

A celebrant is defined by the Cambridge online dictionary CELEBRANT | English meaning - Cambridge Dictionary as a 'priest who leads a religious ceremony or a person who leads a ceremony such as a marriage or a funeral'.

In fact, independent celebrants (who are usually not affiliated with any religion) are more than this; they are modern-day storytellers, weaving together words and emotions to create unforgettable moments.

Where did celebrants start?

Independent celebrants have existed for 50 years in Australia; in the 1980s, the UK followed suit. Now, awareness is rising, thanks to programmes such as Married at First Sight. Indeed, the Economist estimated that 10,000 celebrant-led weddings took place in England in 2019.


The role of a celebrant in ceremonies

From weddings to funerals and everything in between, celebrants play a crucial role in bringing people together to celebrate and commemorate life's most important milestones. Unlike traditional religious figures or legal officiants, celebrants have increased flexibility in offering a more personalised approach.

An independent celebrant usually is not affiliated with or trained in any religion. After taking time to talk to and get to know families and couples, a celebrant creates and writes individualised, personal ceremony scripts for funerals, weddings, and naming ceremonies.

So why would someone opt for an independent celebrant if other options are already available?

Independent celebrants add another level of choice and difference for everyone. For example, a family may not want a religious service for their deceased relative, or perhaps at a wedding, the couple may wish to have a mixture of cultures included into the ceremony.  A celebrant can help and include these aspects to suit individual couples and families.

So what is a celebrant at a wedding?

Did you know that according to Hitched and the Metro, a celebrant-led wedding is one of the biggest trends for 2024?

At first glance, having a wedding celebrant may seem unnecessary if you are already going to see a registrar anyway for your marriage to be legalised.

However, if you want the added level of personalisation and unique ceremony to your wedding ceremony, it is becoming a popular choice in the UK to have a brief registrar ceremony at their office (which is cheaper than them coming to your licensed wedding venue), see here Quirky Weddings & Vow Renewals | Rites of Way for more details and then to have a celebrant led wedding ceremony before or after the registrar visit.

You can then have the celebrant at your choice of venue (which, surprisingly, is often cheaper than the registrar attending) If you don't believe me I suggest you investigate!.

Did you know that wedding celebrants can conduct ceremonies in a wider range of places than registrars are legally allowed to? So think back gardens, beaches, hotels, pubs, community halls, barns, etc.- make sure you have permission from the landowner.


I also advise you to consider the flexibility of having a celebrant if you are planning a celebration of life or a naming ceremony. (An independent celebrant, I am not currently licensed to officiate a legal marriage in the UK although we await changes as a result of the Commission on Wedding Law reform)

The process of working with a celebrant

The advantages of asking an independent celebrant who has been trained specifically for this role are that they will take time getting to know you as a couple and as a family to learn your information, stories, and values relevant to the funeral, wedding and/or naming ceremony.

You will need to speak with them on the phone, meet with them face to face or online, communicate via email, text, and WhatsApp, receive questionnaires, check the draft ceremony scripts and complete the necessary contract documents since you will be purchasing a service from them.

Get to know your celebrant and ask how they would help you with your desired ceremony. Remember that when speaking to different celebrants, keep them updated with your decisions since they are small business owners balancing the books.

The benefits of hiring a celebrant

Ultimately, celebrants are MCs, masters of ceremonies. Their primary objective is to create a ceremony that reflects your beliefs, values, and love story and is tailored to your preferences.

They will help you with your questions, give you support,  advise how other people can be involved in the ceremony, liaise with your venues and other suppliers, advise on vows, eulogies, funeral directors, readings, poems, and music, and the general order of the ceremony.

In contrast, a minister of religion or registrar must adhere to a particular approach and form of words by law or according to their belief. That may be more appropriate for you and your family; as I mentioned before, this is about extending choice when often people are unaware that they have one.

Sands holding a beautiful old book which has light coming from the pages of magical stories
A book of magical stories

A celebrant has the flexibility of not keeping to a standard form of words and, as a result, creates a different type of meaningful and unique experience for you and your guests by increasing the level of storytelling about a person’s life shared during the ceremony. For many people, this is a very new and refreshing experience.

They can also add symbolism at the request of families and couples, such as sand, wine, rose and candle ceremonies, jumping the broom, hand tying, blessings, and anything you suggest, within reason! See here for more information.


How to choose the right celebrant for your ceremony

Spoiler alert, everyone in the world is different! Celebrants too come in all shapes and sizes, which is helpful since one size does not fit all.

Some celebrants specialise in different spiritual approaches, LGBQTIA+ focus, paganism or humanism, cultural understandings, life experience or in my case including the love of dogs!. Use a web search to find local or specific celebrants. Use word of mouth, social media, and website directories to find the ideal celebrant who is right for you.


Conclusion: The importance of a celebrant in creating meaningful and memorable ceremonies


Celebrants create an emotional connection between you and your guests, making the experience meaningful and unforgettable. Let them create a ceremony that celebrates your love, journey, and legacy. These can become unforgettable experiences and memories.

So, if you want to add a touch of magic to your special occasion, consider hiring a celebrant. That’s because a hidden hero exists in a world filled with endless love stories and unique life journeys - the celebrant. But then I would say that wouldn’t I ?!

 Don't hesitate to contact me on 07305002858 or to discuss your ideas, tell your story and how I can help you make your dreams come true.

Please leave a comment below and subscribe to future blogs. Thank you!

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Ian and Maureen Holt from Burgess Hill married 53 years ago and renewed their vows with Father Christmas at the new grotto at South Downs Heritage Centre, Hassocks. Photo: Archie Tipple
Ian and Maureen Holt from Burgess Hill married 53 years ago and renewed their vows with Father Christmas at the new grotto at South Downs Heritage Centre, Hassocks. Photo: Archie Tipple

Thinking about renewing your wedding vows and wondering how to create a truly memorable ceremony? Maybe you have seen the vow renewals on the Married at First Sight Channel 4 reality show and wondered if this could be something for you. ( I mean renewing your wedding vows, not being part of the show!)

Jamie Oliver and his wife Jules recently celebrated 23 years of marriage and had a vow renewal ceremony in the Maldives.

Jamie said: "It was my wife’s idea, and I thought I’d go along with it. Saying the vows a second time around actually meant something more – you’ve earned it rather than just saying it, and I loved it.  It was actually a very nice thing to do, very romantic, and I ended up enjoying it more than anyone else."  

Read on and discover how to create your own unforgettable wedding vow renewal ceremony that celebrates your love and commitment and how a celebrant can help you make your perfect day come true.

Why couples choose a renewal of wedding vows

Renewing vows has become an increasingly popular trend among couples. Some couples renew their vows to celebrate a milestone anniversary, such as 10, 20, 50 or 60 years of marriage. Sometimes this can be a surprise present to their spouse at a birthday, Christmas or on the actual anniversary itself! It's a way to honour the years they have spent together, the obstacles they have overcome, and the love that has grown stronger.

Others may choose to renew their vows as a way to reaffirm their commitment to each other after facing a challenging period in their relationship. It can be during a time when one or both of the couple are unwell, and they wish to take this opportunity to have a wedding vow renewal, which they have been thinking about for some time.

Renewing vows can also be a way to include loved ones who were not present at the original wedding but also to remember and commemorate those who were there initially but are no longer with us. Perhaps you had a small, intimate wedding, and now you want to celebrate with all your friends and family. Or you may want to involve your children or grandchildren in the ceremony, making it a truly special and inclusive event for everyone.

No matter the reason, renewing vows is a beautiful way to celebrate the love and commitment that has withstood the test of time. It allows couples to reflect on their journey together, express gratitude for one another, and look forward to the future with renewed hope and energy.

Planning a renewal of vows ceremony

Planning a vow renewal ceremony requires careful thought and consideration. While it may seem similar to planning a wedding, there are some key differences to keep in mind. First and foremost, you have the advantage of experience. You know each other better now than you did on your wedding day, and you have a deeper understanding of what truly matters to both of you.

Start by deciding on the scale of your vow renewal ceremony. This will affect your budget. Do you want a small, intimate gathering with just you two, your close family and friends, or are you envisioning a larger celebration?

Consider what type of wedding vow renewal dress or suits you will wear, and will you be expecting wedding vow renewal presents? Will you be having a honeymoon afterwards, and if so, will you be taking family members with you?!

Choosing a meaningful location and think about how this affects your choice of outfits

The location and venue you choose for your vow renewal ceremony can enhance the overall experience. While some couples opt for a destination vow renewal (check out wedding vow renewal packages online or at your local travel agent), others prefer to keep it local. Think about places that hold special meaning to both of you, such as the beach where you had your first date, the park where you got engaged, or even your own, a friend’s or family’s garden, the local hall or church. Alternatively, consider having your wedding vow renewal abroad. There are many bespoke wedding vow renewal packages available. The world is your oyster!

For example, an American couple decided to renew their wedding vows in their nursing home in America. Another British couple chose Father Christmas to help them renew their marriage vows at a garden centre!

Celebrants who officiate at wedding ceremonies and vow renewals are flexible as to where and when they can be with you and will give you tips about how to make your day perfect. They will also dress up as Father Christmas if you ask nicely!

Your location for the renewal of wedding vows will also determine the outfits for the renewal of wedding vows. Do you want to use the ones you used for your original wedding? Or don't they fit anymore? Or would you like to choose different outfits for the renewal of wedding vows tr fit in with your new location and any colour scheme?

Also, don’t forget to think about who will take your photographs. A friend, family member, or an experienced local wedding photographer whose work you have seen at a wedding fair near you.

Selecting the perfect date and time

When choosing a date and time for your vow renewal ceremony, consider the season, weather, and any significant dates that hold meaning for you as a couple. If you're renewing your vows to celebrate a milestone anniversary, it may be meaningful to have the ceremony on or around the same date as your original wedding. If you have a particular time of year that holds special significance for you, such as the season you first met or the month you got engaged, consider incorporating that into your decision.

Think about the time of day that will create the desired atmosphere for your ceremony. A sunrise or sunset ceremony at the beach or on a mountain can add a touch of magic and romance, while a midday ceremony allows for a more casual and relaxed vibe. Consider the lighting, temperature, accessibility, and any other factors that may impact the overall experience for you and your guests.

Once you have decided, you can start thinking about choosing, designing, and sending out your wedding vow renewal invitations. There are so many online options now that you will be able to find what is perfect for you both.

Writing heartfelt vows for the ceremony

One of the most meaningful aspects of a vow renewal ceremony is the opportunity to express your love and commitment to each other through heartfelt vows. Take the time to reflect on your journey together and think about what you want to say to your partner. Consider the challenges you have faced, the growth and fun you have shared, and the love that has kept you strong.

“Perhaps it is our imperfections that make us so perfect for one another.” — Emma, Jane Austen

When writing your vows, be sure to speak from the heart. Avoid generic or cliché phrases and instead focus on the unique aspects of your relationship. Share specific memories, inside jokes, or qualities you admire in your partner. Be honest, vulnerable, and sincere in your words. It’s possible that when you were first married, you did not have the opportunity to write your own vows. This will make this time round beautifully touching. Remember, the goal is to create a moment that is both heartfelt and memorable for both you and your partner.

Don’t forget to ask your celebrant for support with your vows and to practice them aloud before the big day, but not to your spouse. Your wedding vows need to be a surprise!

Incorporating special touches and personalisation

To make your vow renewal ceremony truly unforgettable, consider incorporating special touches and personalisation. This is your chance to showcase your unique love story and celebrate it in a way that reflects your personality as a couple.

One idea is to involve your children or grandchildren in the ceremony. They can play a role, such as walking you down the aisle, reading a poem or a passage from a favourite book, performing a song or dance, and/ or playing an instrument. This not only adds a personal touch but also creates lasting memories for your entire family. Will you be having your pets with you during the ceremony? Think about how they will be involved and where they will be, and who will look after them.

A good celebrant is worth her weight in gold according to Carolyn the Celebrant

Ask your celebrant about including additional elements such as a sand ceremony, where family members, including children, pour different coloured sand into a bowl, or a rose ceremony, where family members place rose stems together, a ring warming ceremony, where your close family and friends bless your rings or create a wedding cocktail between the two of you. The ideas are endless. You may also wish to include any cultural or family transitions into your day to reflect your background and shared personal history.

Another way to personalise your ceremony involves close friends and family members. Ask them to share their favourite memories of you as a couple or have them write letters or messages that can be read during the ceremony. They can then be collected in a special container you keep at home to look at in the future. This creates a sense of community and reinforces the importance of the relationships you have built over the years.

Consider incorporating elements from your original wedding into your vow renewal ceremony. This could be your wedding song, readings, the same colours or flowers, or even the same cake flavours. This not only adds a nostalgic touch but also serves as a reminder of the journey you have been on together. Don’t forget to ask your celebrant about having a wedding vow renewal certificate made especially for the day

Conclusion: Celebrating love and commitment through a renewal of vows ceremony

Renewing your vows is a beautiful way to celebrate the love and commitment that has endured over the years. It allows you to reflect on your journey together, express your gratitude for one another, and look forward to the future with renewed hope and joy.

By carefully planning your vow renewal ceremony, choosing a meaningful location, writing heartfelt vows, and incorporating special touches, you can create an unforgettable celebration that reflects your unique love story.

Whether you're celebrating a milestone anniversary or simply want to reaffirm your love for each other, a vow renewal ceremony is a powerful and meaningful way to commemorate your journey together. So, bring your family and friends together to share in wedding vow renewal special moment. 

For more information on my celebrant wedding and renewal of vow services please see here Country Weddings & Vow Renewals | Rites of Way

Don't hesitate to contact me on 07305002858 and to discuss your ideas and how I can help you make your dreams come true.

Please leave a comment below and subscribe to future blogs. Thank you!

Updated: Jan 2

Carolyn the Celebrant at Saffron Walden Gardens
A celebrant wedding can be almost anywhere!

Did you know that according to Hitched and the Metro, a celebrant-led wedding is one of the biggest trends for 2024?

Celebrants have been around for 50 years in Australia, then in the 1980s, the UK followed suit. Now, awareness is rising, thanks to programmes such as Married at First Sight. Indeed, the Economist estimated that 10,000 celebrant-led weddings took place in England in 2019.

Sometimes, it may feel counterintuitive to consider a celebrant-led wedding ceremony in addition to a registrar. Do you want your wedding ceremony to be unique and personalised to reflect your style, vision, personality, and preferences?

Of course, it’s entirely up to you, and you must make an informed decision about this critical aspect as for any other part of your wedding celebration. So read on…

Hold your ceremony in the place of your choosing

  • Once you are legally married by a registrar at a simple ceremony for £50+, with a minimum of 2 witnesses, you are then free to choose any venue/ place that suits you for a longer personalised celebrant-led ceremony that has been designed, purely about and for you both.

  • You are not constrained by whether a venue has a licence for a registrar, where specifically you can be married in that venue and pay the additional venue and registrar costs.

  • Celebrants come in all shapes and sizes, and so do their prices, so there will be something for everyone.

You want a day that is all about you

  • Yes, by choosing a celebrant, someone trained to create and deliver wedding ceremonies (and is insured to do so), you have taken the first step in identifying someone who will focus purely on you both.

  • They will want to find out your love story and create a ceremony around you to fit into your event's chosen style and vibe.

  • Celebrants are inclusive and will work with people from all backgrounds to create a ceremony that is right, for them.

  • They will include religious, secular, or other elements, help with your vows, commitments, and choosing music and readings.

‘There’s been a 49% increase in Google searches for ‘celebrant weddings’ in the past year, and traffic to our article about celebrant-led weddings has increased by an incredible 157%, showing a clear trend for unique celebrant-led wedding ceremonies.’

– Zoe Burke, Editor of Hitched

Choose who you want to tell your story and how you want it told

  • The choice and availability of wedding celebrants are increasing, with more people from all walks of life wanting to have the privilege of having this exciting role;

  • This is to the advantage of couples who can choose who to work with and be part of their special day.

  • I came into celebrancy because I wanted to hear people's stories and make them memorable.

  • Search online for a celebrant near you and on the many wedding and celebrant directories.

  • Why not go to a local wedding fair, speak to a wedding celebrant directly, and find out what they do?

Speak with your celebrant when it is convenient for you

  • Couples lead busy lives and have many things to organise for a wedding.

  • Celebrants are flexible and know you are busy.

  • They will fit around you to spend quality time face-to-face and online beforehand

  • They will keep in touch by phone and email leading up to your big day.

Venues and photographers often prefer celebrant-led weddings

  • In my research into venues, as a celebrant, I have been told that venues and photographers prefer a celebrant-led wedding.

  • Celebrants are good public speakers and will put you and your guests at ease.

  • They will take time to make you feel special and help you have the perfect ceremony.

  • Celebrants have a more relaxed vibe, know the couple well, and often the venue.

  • Your celebrant will work alongside your other suppliers on the day and know when to step aside for those all-important wedding photographs you will cherish forever.

Your wedding, your way

In summary, a celebrant wedding ceremony will give you that extra special touch to your day and all the other preparations you have thought so hard about.

Your guests will comment on what a unique, memorable, and magical day they have witnessed, and then you’ll realise that finding your perfect wedding celebrant was your best decision!

For more information on my celebrant wedding services please click here Country Weddings & Vow Renewals | Rites of Way

Don't hesitate to contact me to discuss your dreams for your big day and how I can help you make them come true.

Please leave a comment below and subscribe to future blogs. Thank you!

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