What is the difference between a celebrant and a registrar?


    One of the biggest confusions and misconceptions is the difference between celebrants and registrars. The difference between the two roles often gets misconstrued, so let’s clear everything up. 

    Firstly, let’s start off by saying that celebrants and registrars both want you to enjoy your ceremony. However, despite their shared interest, the services they offer can differ greatly. 

    Registrars Defined

    A Registrar can legally marry the party in a Civil Marriage Ceremony or Civil Partnership and they are employed by the local authority. Unlike celebrants, the way in which they can conduct the ceremony is very limited, meaning that they cannot include any religious or spiritual content in their ceremonies, and they can only marry you in an officially licensed venue. Also, they conduct many ceremonies daily, so you have to stick to a very strict schedule. Given the strict aspects of the ceremony, it’s also unlikely you’ll have time to build a bond with the registrar before the day of the event. 

    Read more: Unravelling the Role of a Wedding Registrar in the UK

    Celebrants Defined

    Although celebrants can only provide a non-legally binding ceremony, their freedoms allow them to tailor the ceremony to your needs. They will take the time to know and understand the couple weeks before the celebration, meaning the special day is entirely unique. 

    It’s often refreshing that, given the legalities are kept separate from the ceremony itself, the main event can be a focus of fun and excitement. Choosing a celebrant also provides a huge range of variety. Nowadays, there are an incredible wealth of options to choose from, meaning no two ceremonies are the same. 

    Finally, in contrast to registrars, celebrants can include both religious and spiritual elements in the ceremony. This means that, regardless of whether you’re religious or not, you have the choice to pursue any avenue you wish. 

    Celebrants can also conduct your ceremony wherever you want to get married, at a historic venue, outside, in nature, let your imagination run wild!

    Read More: What does a Celebrant do?

    Celebrants Vs Registrars

    If you’re still confused as to what the difference is between Celebrants and registrars, we’ve included a handy comparison table for you.

    Turn up on the day for an allocated timeslotEmployed by the local authority
    Create a personalised ceremony for youFollow a strict ceremony format
    Spend time getting to know the couple beforehandTurn up on the day for allocated timeslot
    Complete freedom over your ceremony locationCan only marry you in a licensed premises
    Can include spiritual & religious referencesNo spiritual or religious references allowed
    Can include spiritual & religious musicNo spiritual or religious music allowed
    Can incorporate different rituals and traditionsCan’t include other rituals or traditions
    Non-legally bindingLegally binding ceremony
    Celebrants vs Registrars

    Weddings and legalities: Registars and Celebrants

    If you would like the freedom of a celebrant-led wedding but require the legally binding power of a registrar, it is normally the case that the legal aspect is taken care of before the ceremony itself. 

    In order to avoid the legal format that registrars are bound by, celebrant-led weddings are the ultimate way to have the day of your dreams. It’s also important to consider that the celebrant will take time to know you before the event, meaning the personal connection is there to conduct the all-important celebration. 

    Do you need a Celebrant and a Registrar?

    In much the same way that most people who choose a destination wedding will conduct the legal part at a registry office or town hall, if you opt for the freedom of a Celebrant-led wedding, you’ll generally do ‘the legal bit’ at the registry office alongside 2 witnesses and then have the wedding day and your actual ceremony a week or so afterwards, meaning you can have the wedding of your choice.

    If you want to include cultural or religious elements in your wedding ceremony, or you want to get married outside, or in a venue that isn’t a registered wedding venue, you’ll need to book a Celebrant for your wedding ceremony and a registrar to look after the legalities, this can can done fairly cheaply at your local registry office.

    Should I become a Celebrant or a Registrar?

    If you love the idea of creating personalised and meaningful ceremonies for couples, want to be part of their celebration and want to create a memorable day for them, then it sounds like you’d be more suited to becoming a celebrant than a registrar.

    Also, if you want the freedom to set and choose your own hours and you like the idea of conducting weddings in a variety of settings, again, Celebrancy might be a better fit for you.

    To learn more about what it takes to become a celebrant you can check out our celebrant guide and if you’d like to find out more about our Certified Celebrant Training programmes, head over to our Celebrant Courses page.

    Jennifer Claire

    Jennifer is the Director of the leading celebrant training company, The Academy of Modern Celebrancy as well as the Founder of The Celebrant Directory, supporting over 600 celebrants globally.

    Jennifer run a 2.5k community of celebrants who she dedicates her time to helping them grow their businesses and taking celebrancy from a hobby to a lifestyle.

    Jennifer heads up the global Celebrant Industry Awards and the global celebrant summit, Celebrantopia each year!

    A celebrant herself since 2010, she knows what it takes to make it in the industry and trains the best celebrants out there across the UK, Europe and the USA.

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