FAQs and expert advice about celebrant

Here is a selection of Q&As from Your Devon and Cornwall Wedding magazine whether it be about flowers, hair and makeup, fashion, wedding themes, health & beauty, cakes, stationery, legal advice. If you would like your question answered by our experts, please email it to editor@yourdevoncornwall.wedding


Love birds

Love birds

Q. What are the benefits of booking a celebrant?

A. Fiona Solomon says: It's amazing how many times I am asked the question 'what does a celebrant do' and it makes me realise that we need to help couples to understand the options for their wedding day. I believe that life is all about choice but many people are not aware that they can choose to have a celebrant-led wedding, completing the legal paperwork at another time. Below is a definition of the options open to couples:

- A minister of religion in a church - this may be the right choice for you and includes the legal registration of your marriage.
- A registrar wedding in council offices - this is often referred to as a 2+2 because you repeat short legal wording with two witnesses and sign the marriage register. You are then officially married and this is usually only available Monday to Thursday with the fee ranging from £60 to £95 depending on the location.
- A registrar-conducted ceremony at your chosen venue (if it has a wedding licence). With this option, usually you won't have met the registrar who attends and they may be conducting several ceremonies that day at set times. As above, you'll repeat the legal declaratory wording and sign the marriage register. You are now officially married and it will cost from £455 - £708 (in Cornwall).
- A wedding ceremony led by an independent celebrant – that's me! Everything I do is about getting to know you as a couple and helping you to pick what you would like to include in your ceremony. There'll be plenty of love and laughter and you can also choose to have your ceremony on any day at any time, for example, a Sunday afternoon, and to hold it anywhere you like (within reason). What about your favourite beach or your gran's garden? The venue does not have to be licensed. You might like to also consider:
- Warming your rings with love before the ceremony
- Including family or friends in the ceremony
- Having personal readings or poetry
- Lighting a memory candle for somebody who can't be with you
- Having a hand-tying ceremony with bespoke ribbons - possibly with family or friends joining in
- A family sand ceremony if you now have a blended family to celebrate
- Writing secret vows to share (I can help!)
- Planting a tree together to take home with you for your patio or garden

This is only a snapshot of the types of symbolic gestures that you can choose within a celebrant-led ceremony. Together, we can explore what is right for you and, as we get to know each other, you know that you can trust me on the day to look after you both – and any nerves you might encounter.

I have the best job in the world and I love driving away after a ceremony knowing it was perfect for the couple.

* At this time, a celebrant cannot legally marry you. However, the Government is reviewing the marriage law and we hope that things will change in the future. If you would like to know a little bit more about this, you can check out this website: https://gccmovement.org

Fiona Solomon, Fiona Soloman Celebrant


Your ceremony, your way

Your ceremony, your way

Q. Please can you give us some ideas for a bespoke, celebrant-led ceremony?

A. Sabine Smith says: Congratulations on your engagement! You've agreed on the date, booked the venue and you're now wondering about what you want your ceremony to be like. The promises you are going to make to each other on the day are important and you want to get it just right.

Some couples are happy with traditional vows and promises used during church weddings and register office ceremonies because something is comforting and familiar about the words, however, others are looking for something more personal to reflect them as a modern couple. An independent celebrant like myself will write and create your bespoke ceremony that tells your own love story.

Celebrants cannot legally marry you but I, as your celebrant, will make sure that your wedding, civil partnership or vow renewal service is bespoke and memorable for you, your family and friends. You can write personal vows and select readings and poems. It's worth considering a celebrant-led ceremony because it's less restrictive and often less expensive because you can be flexible about the venue or setting for your ceremony. Why not consider getting married outdoors in your garden, a field or the woodlands or even on a boat. A wedding celebrant can deliver a ceremony anywhere that has a special meaning to you both.

Once you've completed the legal bit, which can be inexpensive at the register office if you chose a midweek appointment, you can then go ahead with your ceremony. Instead of traditional rituals such as the exchanging of rings, why not consider more symbolic rituals like a sand ceremony, ring blessing, jumping the broom, lighting unity candles or involving your guests by asking them to contribute to the ceremony with a poem or a special reading. You can also include children and pets - dogs make very cute ring bearers and music-lovers can book a live music performance.

As your celebrant, I will write your entire ceremony and create an order of service. I can compile your vows or promises to each other with you although some might prefer to write their own but will request that the celebrant read them out loud. It's entirely up to you, there is no right or wrong!

Sabine Smith, Perfect Day Ceremonies


Celebrant or registrar

Celebrant or registrar

Q. What are the benefits of a celebrant-led ceremony?

A. Frances Cave says: Unlike a civil ceremony which can only take place in a civic registered venue, a wedding ceremony with an independent celebrant can take place anywhere. This could be in your garden, on a beach, on a farm or in a woodland area which is a popular choice. There are no limitations, meaning that you can both choose somewhere that is personal and special to you as a couple.

Your ceremony will be entirely bespoke and all about you, written specifically for you, celebrating your love story and your relationship with each other but also with your friends and families and there are no templates or restrictive words. The choice about the content of your ceremony is entirely yours. It doesn't have to be devoid of tradition or familiarity, it can be structured to your exact wishes. This also applies to music, readings, writing your vows and including symbolic rituals. Some couples want certain traditions to be incorporated and some want religious and spiritual elements to be reflected in it while others don't want any. The script will be crafted to reflect you, your values and beliefs and can be light-hearted, solemn, formal or informal.

Unlike with a civil ceremony when you're allocated a registrar for the day, you get to choose who to work with on your ceremony and who will lead it. An independent wedding celebrant is like any other wedding supplier and is likely to be the one that you'll get to know the most. To create that bespoke script, they need to get to know you both well which will involve meetings before the wedding so choose a celebrant with who you feel comfortable and happy to share your story and whose style and character aligns with your own.

Most wedding celebrants only commit to one ceremony a day and are not governed by time. This flexibility means that you can have your ceremony at a time and date that suits you and your venue.

It's worth bearing in mind that an independent wedding celebrant cannot legally contract the marriage, this is easily done by booking the statutory ceremony at a registry office with a couple of witnesses to become legally married at a time or date that suits you. This doesn't have to be a ceremony, it's a registration and is short, budget-friendly and efficient.

Frances Cave, Fanfare Ceremonies


Your day, your way

Your day, your way

Q. We want to write our wedding vows. Can you offer us any tips?

A. Sabine Smith says: For some couples, it seems quite daunting writing their vows and reading them in front of their guests, however for some, it's a chance to declare their love and devotion in front of their loved ones. Getting married in a register office or church doesn't give you the freedom to choose your vows. With a celebrant-led ceremony, you can leave out the traditional ones if you wish and create your own, which adds an intimate dynamic to your day. Here are my top tips on how to create vows that are personal to you both and that allow you to express your feelings for one another.

Reflect on your relationship
The vows you write should reflect your relationship. Some couples create humorous ones by saying things like 'I'll still love you even if you take longer in the bathroom than I do' but you might want to underline the seriousness of the commitment you're making by using a passage from a meaningful song, book or poem. Make sure that you choose the tone that feels right for your relationship and is authentic.

Nail the intro
Sometimes this is easier said than done but the opening line should be a short introduction as to why you've chosen to write your promises. Traditional vows have their place but your wedding might not be built on these.

Own it
You know what the other person means to you and why you're marrying them so you can share an anecdote but keep it short. What did you feel when you first met them and how do they make you feel now? What do you love most about them? How do you see your future and what do you promise to do, or be, in the life that you create together?

Breathe and relax
Creating and delivering your vows can be a daunting task but your celebrant will help you relax and they might even suggest reading them for you. I remember making a mistake while saying my vows during my wedding and it always makes me laugh now when I think of it! If this happens, everyone will be forgiving and will only remember the declaration of the promises you have made to one another.

Be true to yourself
Your vows are the wishes, hopes and promises for your future together. Being yourself and being authentic when writing them will ensure that you create meaningful ones. When the ceremony is over, and you have time to reflect, you can keep them printed as a keepsake and maybe even frame them.

Sabine Smith, Perfect Day Ceremonies