What is a Wedding Celebrant and what do they do?

The Cambridge Dictionary celebrant definition simply describes a celebrant as – a person who leads a ceremony such as a marriage or a funeral.

Did you know there are different types of celebrants?

In the UK, there are five celebrant professions:

  • Humanists
  • Interfaith Ministers
  • Registrars
  • Clergy
  • Independent celebrants

All types perform ceremonies for couples but there are significant differences.

For example the celebrant meaning for Humanists is; someone who provides an alternative to religious ceremonies for people wishing to celebrate or commemorate key life events in a tailored non-religious service.

Whereas the celebrant definition for Clergy is more restricted as there is little flexibility in regard to the service itself and the location is limited.

Independent celebrants, though, have the freedom to perform ceremonies in any style or location and have no limitation on content or timing. They are not affiliated to any organisation or constrained by any particular requirements.

And couples are increasingly opting for non-church ceremonies:

Research by the University of Oxford found that just one in three weddings in England and Wales has a religious ceremony and the good news is this trend is driving demand for more celebrant-led weddings (and in turn non-church naming ceremonies and funerals too).

What does a celebrant do?

Jennifer, the Founder of The Academy of Modern Celebrancy explains what a celebrant does.

Celebrant vs Registrar

Registrars are employed by the council and are not independent or self-employed. They offer ceremonies within designated rooms at the council buildings and come out to venues that have wedding licenses.

Ceremonies carried out by registrars are very brief (usually under 15 minutes) and most significantly, the wording of the ceremony is non personalised. So every couple has the same standard script that has been performed again and again.

Celebrant-led ceremonies have a multitude of advantages:

  • More modern, more fun, more passion
  • Bespoke to truly reflect the happy couple
  • Opportunity to create an unforgettable one-off experience
  • Limitless choice of location
  • Couple will form a relationship with the person delivering their special event
  • Potential for significant savings on venue costs
  • Greater flexibility in timings and dates

Sometimes celebrants may attend ceremonies with registrars. The Registrar will complete the legal aspect and the celebrant officiate the ceremony itself. This way the ceremony can be personalised to the couple.

What’s the difference between a Wedding Celebrant and a Wedding Officiant

There is no difference between a wedding celebrant and a wedding officiant. Both write and perform wedding ceremonies. The only slight difference is where they are based with Officiants as the official name in the USA and celebrants more commonly used in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and UK.

Can a Celebrant legally marry you?

This depends on where you are in the world. Currently in England and Wales, celebrants are unable to bind couples in a legal marriage. If you head slightly north to Scotland; Interfaith Ministers, Humanists and members of a religious group can legally marry couples. In Northern Ireland, you are also allowed to legally marry couples if you are a Humanist.

However, The Wedding Celebrant Commission in the UK are currently lobbying to extend the rights of celebrants to legally bind couples and hopefully there will be some positive change across the British Isles soon…

Meanwhile in Australia and New Zealand, qualified independent celebrants can legally perform marriages and civil unions.

And if you are in the U.S, people can become official ‘ordained’ and can legally marry a couple.

Are Celebrant led-ceremonies religious?

Celebrant-led ceremonies provide the flexibility to be entirely free of religious references or can include religious or spiritual elements (and everything in between).

Couples can pick and choose whichever themes or ideas they want to include – so under the guidance of a passionate and creative celebrant they can design a ceremony that is as personal and unique as their relationship. They could include both Pagan traditions such as handfasting and religious songs or readings – no two ceremonies will be the same!

What is a wedding celebrant

How do I become a Celebrant?

There are many options available to become a celebrant. Trends in ceremonies are changing rapidly. To stay ahead of the game, training as a celebrant needs to fit within this fast-moving world and be set up for the modern business owner. Training through distance learning is the way forward!

At the Academy of Modern Celebrancy, we offer online training courses but with a difference. We support you with online 1-2-1 coaching and group sessions, and give you access to your own hub of video and workbook tutorials. You learn at your own pace from the comfort of your own home.

When you enrol with AMC, you become part of a team of celebrants that will help you learn how to be a celebrant and how to be successful too. We won’t just teach you how to be a celebrant, we will teach you how to run a successful business too. Your success is our success – so we are with you all the way!

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