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We want a Celebrant Wedding, do we need a Registrar?

Maybe, and there is more about the paperwork below. But first, let’s talk about your wedding...

Your wedding day is the ‘BIG DAY’ with family and friends; the day that you dream of, and plan for; the day you make personal vows and the day that you will exchange your wedding rings (that is, if you're going to exchange wedding rings). It's the date that you will, probably, choose to celebrate as your wedding anniversary.

There are quite a few reasons for choosing a Celebrant wedding:

  • You may have been married abroad but want to celebrate with family and friends

  • You may want your wedding at home, or in a location that is not approved, and licensed, by the local authority

  • The registrars may not be able to attend your venue on the day, or at the time, that you want

Or, as with most of my couples:

  • You have chosen a Celebrant wedding because you want your day to be unique and all about you and what you want – not what you are told that you can't have or have to have!

Weddings are emotional occasions, sometimes there are happy tears, sometimes fun & laughter
Celebrant: Lorraine Hull | Photo by: guest | Venue: The West Tower

Whatever the reason, if you choose to have me as your Celebrant, no one else will ever have a wedding the same as yours because every single ceremony is written with, and for, you – and only you.

Everyone who is there will remember your wedding day. Your ceremony will stand out, in your, and your guests, hearts and minds, as a wonderful and special part of a great day; a day that was all about celebrating you and your love, and reflecting your personalities and your relationship.

The ceremony doesn’t have to be elaborate, it can be relatively simple, if that is what you prefer; but it will be very special, it will still be personal, unique and memorable.

Celebrant: Lorraine Hull | Photo by: guest | Venue: Bombed Out Church, Liverpool

If I am your Celebrant, your wishes are at the centre of EVERYTHING: it is your day, you will 100% have it YOUR WAY...

Your wedding can be wherever and whenever you want it - unlike the registrars, there are no 'approved venues', no 'slots', and DEFINITELY no basic ceremonies or generic scripts with your name on a Post-it note!

If you would like to sign a commemorative certificate during your ceremony, that’s fine - we can do that.

And if you want to say personal vows to each other, like Le and Damian but don't know where to start - I'm here to help. Whatever help or reassurance that you need, I'm here for you. Take a look at my guide to stress-free wedding vows...

Now, to return to the question...

When you will NOT need a registrar before (or after) your Celebrant Wedding:

1. If you have already been legally married or entered a civil partnership (anywhere in the world - including England or Wales), or intend to get legally married or form a civil partnership, anywhere other than England or Wales.

2. If you have been, or intend to get, married by a priest in the Church of England or Church of Wales.

3. If, for any reason, you do not need (or want) your relationship to be formally recognised in law.

When you will need a registrar before (or after) your Celebrant Wedding:

If none of the above are true and you want your marriage or civil partnership to be registered in England or Wales.

All Marriages, in England and Wales, that do not take place in church (that has a nominated AP/'Authorised Person'), and all civil partnerships must be registered by a council employed registrar, so that the government can have a record of the marriage or partnership.

Following the registration, on payment of a fee, the register office will provide a certified copy of the record and it is this piece of paper that is needed to prove that you are married or civil partners.

The much longer answer:

A marriage or civil partnership is a legally binding contract, entered into for life, between two people who are free to do so. If you want to get married or form a civil partnership, in England or Wales, you need to give notice at you local register office (between 12 months and 28 days before the registration) and register your marriage or partnership (in the place stated in your notice), in the presence of two witnesses.

You need to make an appointment to give notice. Ensure that you do not leave this too late as register offices are very busy and there may be a long wait between booking and attending the appointment. If you are not a U.K. citizen other rules and timeframes may apply, always seek advice from the office of the Registrar General

Registrars record all births, marriages, civil partnerships, and deaths that take place in their local authority district. That's their core role and has been since 1837 (2005, in the case of civil partnerships), and they do it well; they are administrators.

Registrars can also conduct basic weddings and civil partnerships in the register office and in council approved venues (in the case of civil partnerships, this can be formed by simply signing the schedule - no declaration or vows are required).

For these civil marriage ceremonies (and civil partnership ceremonies, if you choose to have a council one), the registrars have to use prescribed wording. There is little (or, sometimes, no) opportunity to personalise and there are lots of restrictions and rules: lots of 'can't do's' and 'must do's'. They're OK, but not particularly special - if you've been to one, you've been to them all!

Marriage and civil partnership registrations are simple processes and all local authorities, in England and Wales, have to make some provision for a basic statutory ceremony (for marriages) and/or signing (in the case of civil partnerships). Many people, choosing to have a Celebrant led wedding ceremony, decide not to get dressed up or exchange wedding rings at the registration - they save that for the main event! Others, make the registration an event, in itself, and enjoy marking the occasion by celebrating afterwards with their two (or sometimes more) witnesses.

These ceremonies are generally much cheaper than a traditional register office ceremony (they are currently £68.50 - £56 registration fee plus £12.50 for a certificate - this tends to increase on 6th April most years). Please note there is also the £84 notice fee (£42 each) - which you have to pay whether the registrars are coming to your venue - or you are going to them, at the register office.

Although every council in England and Wales has to provide these ceremonies you will probably find that the days, times and number of witnesses is extremely limited and they may not advertise that they provide them – so ask! If they say that they don't know what you're talking about tell me and I will help.

If you want the paperwork done on the same day and your Celebrant wedding ceremony is taking place in a council approved venue you could book the registrars to conduct another ceremony and complete the registration (because they would insist on it being separate to your Celebrant ceremony). This would be a more expensive option and, apart from cost, there are other factors to consider (including: do you want all of your guests to sit through two ceremonies?)

Some couples book to go to the register office on the morning of their Celebrant wedding, with two witnesses (or more, if that is what they want - and the registrars agree). It can mean a little bit more rushing about, but if doing the paperwork and celebrating your marriage on the same day is important, this is an option that you may want to consider.

Why can’t you do the paperwork?

Unfortunately, currently, Celebrants are not able to register a marriage, in England and Wales. Marriage Law is being reviewed by the Law Commission. I was involved in the scoping phase, of the review, but it will be some time before we will know if there will be a favourable change in legislation. Fingers crossed!

Lorraine Hull, Liverpool Celebrant, at home or abroad

Hi, I am Lorraine Hull, an award-winning Celebrant, based in Liverpool.

I am most usually asked to conduct ceremonies in North-West England and North Wales but I am happy to travel anywhere within the U.K. or abroad.

At the risk of shouting (and sounding extremely cheesy) "I LOVE MY JOB!".

I really love getting to know the couples and families that ask me to be part of their special celebration, whether that is for a Wedding/Civil Partnership, Renewal/Reaffirmation of VowsNaming/Welcoming, or Celebration of Life/Funeral

I love hearing, writing and telling love and life stories (and also finding out about hopes and dreams - which are the stories of the future!)

I love to create and conduct unique, meaningful ceremonies that are perfect for each couple, individual, and/or family.

I love helping to create and celebrate happy and poignant moments, which form memories that will last a lifetime (that also includes the memories that I get to keep too - what's not to love?)

I believe that ALL people (and animals) should all be treated kindly, fairly and with respect.

I think for myself and act for others. I advocate anti-racism, the appreciation and celebration of diversity, dignity, justice, equity and equality for ALL through everything that I say and do: Love is Love, Family is Family, Life is Life.

You may like to know that I was trained to the highest level as a Celebrant and have continued my professional development. I hold Public Liability and Professional Indemnity insurance. I adhere to a strict code of conduct and I am committed to identifying, developing and sharing best practice with my Celebrant colleagues, so that we can all be the best Celebrants that we can possibly be.

To contact me please email: or call: 0744 932 3988

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