HELP! We can't get a registrar at the date and time we want to have our ceremony..
Sometimes you simply can’t get a Registrar on the date and time that you have your hearts set on, which can cause all your plans to be up in the air. You may not know that there is another option to having a Registrar attend on the day of your wedding, and that you can instead work with a Celebrant.
What is the difference between a Celebrant and a registrar?
Both a celebrant and a registrar perform ceremonies, but the service they offer varies.
A registrar can legally marry you and is employed by a local authority. The format and content of the ceremony is restricted by legislation. Registrars will often carry out a number of ceremonies each day so they will insist on keeping to the designated time (and sometimes may struggle to accommodate your chosen time and date). On the day, a few minutes before the ceremony, the registrar will arrange to meet you both separately for a pre-ceremony interview, this will be the first time you have ever met them. You won’t know which registrar you are getting until the day itself and you won’t meet the registrar prior to the day of your ceremony. They work to a set script so it is the same basic ceremony every time.
A celebrant is self-employed and will take time to get to know you both and work with you to craft a beautiful, bespoke, ceremony that reflects your ideas, values and personalities, and you have total flexibility over content and format. Your celebrant will help create a ceremony that is personal to you and that can contain a whole host of things which you can’t do with registrars to personalise it. A celebrant will tell your story and really bring the ceremony to life. I have loads of resources for my couples too from reading suggestions to symbolic additions to help with writing vows. I’ll even read the readings for you if you don’t have someone you want to nominate to do it. You’ll be in regular contact with your celebrant in the build up to the big day, so not only will you know them, they’ll know exactly what you want which will help with any nerves on the big day. Some couples want something modern, some want traditional, it’s entirely up to you and we work together to create the ceremony that is right for you.
How do we complete the legal part of getting married?
You complete the legal aspect at the Register Office at some point in the run up to your celebrant ceremony, but it’s not as onerous or romantic as you think. Many couples book this at their local Register Office in the week before or after their wedding ceremony, they take two witnesses with them and complete the minimum legal requirements of their marriage. It’s a bit like going to register a birth or death, very quick and formal and stripped back to the essential legal parts. You wouldn’t exchange rings or vows or have the music and the readings and the family and friends with the registrar, you would do this with me on your wedding day. This simple service with the registrars costs approximately £60 and is usually available on a specific morning each week so it is advisable to book well in advance to secure your slot.
Will our guests know our ceremony is not legally binding?
In the simplest terms think about your birthday - that's the day that everyone gets together and has a party every year - no-one celebrates the day your parents went and registered the birth (I would be surprised if you actually knew when that day was), and they certainly don't drag everyone with them to sing Happy Birthday at the Registry Office!
It is up to you what you tell your guests. A celebrant ceremony is a real and very beautiful wedding ceremony, where couples declare their love and commitment to each other in front of their family and friends. Many couples choose to not tell their guests that it is not a legal ceremony and their guests are none the wiser, in fact regularly guests say after the ceremony that it was much more personalised and beautiful than other weddings they’ve been to!
Don’t just take my word for it though, here’s what one of my couples said that were in exactly the same situation as you :
‘It has been the most fabulous experience working with Vikki. Due to availability we couldn’t have a registrar on the day of our wedding and I’m actually so glad that wasn’t our fate for the day. Vikki made sure every aspect of our ceremony was unique to the both of us. You are truly amazing and so many people from the day complimented how beautiful the ceremony was and made our guests laugh and cry.’
You can check out what some of my fabulous couples have said about me on this link: www.vikkiharris.com/reviews
Hopefully this is all about to change. A law reform report was published recently with suggestions to government that will hopefully mean that independent celebrants like me will be able to perform legally binding ceremonies wherever and whenever you like. This isn’t confirmed yet, but is likely to be in place from 2025.
I'd love to have a no-obligation chat to answer any questions you have have about how it all works, reach me on 07867 662 351 or firstname.lastname@example.org