What’s behind the rise in Celebrant-led weddings?


    In recent years, the UK has witnessed a significant shift in wedding ceremonies with a huge rise in Celebrant-led weddings. In the past year alone, there was a 49% increase in search volume for ‘celebrant weddings’, and celebrant-led weddings were number 1 on the list of wedding trends for 2024, according to the Hitched Wedding Report.

    Gone are the days of rigid, traditional formats. Today, a wave of personalization and inclusivity is sweeping across the wedding scene, with celebrant-led weddings at the forefront of this transformation. As Celebrants, it’s important to understand what’s driving this demand.

    The Traditional Wedding Paradigm in the UK

    Historically, UK weddings were often bound by strict legal and religious protocols. Couples had limited options regarding locations, ceremonies had to adhere to certain religious or civil guidelines, and personal touches were often secondary. This traditional framework often excluded individuals, diverse cultures, beliefs and traditions, leaving many couples either excluded or simply wanting more.

    The Impact of COVID-19 on Wedding Ceremonies

    The COVID-19 pandemic catalyzed a reevaluation of wedding formats. Temporary legislation introduced flexibility in venues and formats, allowing couples to explore beyond the conventional. There was a sharp uptick in demand for outdoor ceremonies that didn’t disappear when the restrictions were lifted.

    This period underscored the need for adaptability in wedding ceremonies, setting a precedent for more personalized celebrations.

    The Shift Towards Personalization in Weddings

    Increasingly, couples are seeking weddings that reflect their unique stories and values. Celebrants have become key in crafting these personalized experiences, weaving elements that resonate deeply with the couple’s journey, beliefs, and preferences far beyond the capabilities of traditional formats.

    Take this Disney-themed wedding and the fairy-godmother Celebrant Diane Bell of Family Tree Ceremonies, who made it possible.

    It was the bride’s dream to be married by her fairy godmother, so I embarked on a search for a fabulous outfit. My search took me to Etsy and to a shop in America specialising in Fairy Godmother outfits. An outfit was ordered and I prepared by watching lots of Disney films to get into character, especially Cinderella!

    Diane Bell, Family Tree Ceremonies
    Disney themed Celebrant led wedding with Diane Bell Celebrant dressed as the Fairy Godmother
    Photography Credit: Zara Rowlands Photography

    Celebrant-Led Weddings: Embracing Diversity and Inclusion

    Celebrant-led weddings are not just about personalization; they are a celebration of diversity and inclusion. These ceremonies offer a canvas for multicultural elements, blending traditions and rituals from various cultures. Celebrants are at the heart of this movement, championing inclusive ceremonies that honour a spectrum of backgrounds and identities.

    Take Raj & Joe’s stunning celebrant-led ceremony conducted by Helen Jubb. This is a couple who had to find their own path, and balance their differing cultures and religious beliefs whilst navigating the path of love and sharing a home. 

    What's behind the rise in Celebrant-led weddings? Raj and Joe Sikh-inspired, multi cultural wedding ceremony
    Photography Credit: Better Together Photography
    Helen Jubb Celebrant conducting a hand tying ceremony
    Helen Jubb Celebrant conducting a hand-tying ceremony

    From the beginning, Raj and Joe knew they wanted there to be elements of Raj’s Sikh beliefs in there. Their ceremony included themes based on a traditional Sikh wedding ceremony, personalised to them, with their relationship story woven in along the way. They also incorporated a tree planting (which linked with the theme of starting a new life together) and hand tying (which was in the section of spiritual union).

    The Rise of Unique Celebrant Experiences

    A testament to this trend is Martin Fox-Roberts of Proud Fox Ceremonies, the UK’s first drag queen celebrant. Martin’s approach to wedding ceremonies breaks conventions, offering an exuberant, deeply personal, and inclusive experience. His work symbolizes a broader shift towards celebrants who can create not just a ceremony but an experience that resonates on a deeper, more meaningful level.

    Martin, who knows a thing or two about not following convention, suggests “throwing the rule book out of the window” and starting from scratch when it comes to the structure of the day, working with what his couples want rather than rigid traditions.

    Legal and Cultural Changes

    This shift is also reflected in proposed legal changes aimed at easing the process for all-faith and non-religious wedding ceremonies. These changes signal a cultural shift towards broader acceptance and celebration of diverse wedding formats, further empowering couples to choose ceremonies that truly represent them.

    Couples’ Evolving Perception of Wedding Ceremonies

    Today’s couples view their wedding ceremonies differently. There’s a growing demand for ceremonies that are not just an event but a reflection of their unique journey together. The celebrant-led wedding, with its emphasis on personalization, diversity, and inclusivity, meets this demand, offering a canvas for couples to express their love story in their own words, rituals, and traditions.

    The importance of providing personalised ceremonies as a Celebrant

    The rise of celebrant-led weddings marks a significant turn in the UK’s wedding landscape. It reflects a society moving towards more personalized, inclusive, and diverse expressions of love and commitment. As this trend continues to grow, it heralds a future where weddings are not just a formal event but a deeply personal celebration of the unique bond between each couple.

    If you’d like to learn how to plan, write and conduct personalised wedding ceremonies with flair, check out our Wedding Celebrant training.

    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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