Are Celebrants the Same as Registrars?

When planning a wedding or a marriage ceremony, many are confused regarding the difference between a celebrant and a registrar.  Are they the same? Can both legally perform a marriage ceremony in the UK?

What is a Celebrant?

In short, a celebrant is a person who (in most cases) has successfully completed a course in wedding, funeral or both celebrant training. A course providing them with informative and up to date information on how to create and narrate wedding and/or funeral ceremonies.

Celebrants are authors, storytellers, advisors; knowledgeable in the skills required to create, to gather information, to write a ceremony because of emotion, usually love or grief. Celebrants should be ceremonialists, creating custom made ceremonies for every couple, family, person, or people we write them for.

  • Celebrants in England and Wales can not legally marry you. Scotland and Ireland have different rules in relation to Humanist celebrants being able to perform legal marriage ceremonies.
  • Celebrants are chosen by their clients.
  • Celebrants are self-employed individuals who work solely and independently from any overseeing company or government requirements.
  • Celebrants may visit the homes of and will get to know their clients.
  • Celebrants work outside of standard office hours and can be contacted directly by those each ceremony is for.
  • Celebrants will include any ceremony content of your choice regardless of if it is deemed to be religious or spiritual.   
  • Celebrants will give you a choice of many unity ceremonies to be included within your ceremony.
  • Celebrants should write a unique, personalised, and different ceremony each time.
  • Celebrants will usually dress accordingly to match a ceremony theme.
  • Celebrants will offer advice and suggestions to make every ceremony special, meaningful, and unique.
  • Celebrants lead ceremonies in any client chosen venue regardless of if it is a licenced marriage venue or not. This includes a home or a garden.
  • Celebrants encourage you to write your own vows, in your words, saying what is important to you.
  • Celebrants will encourage and suggest guest and family roles giving you an inclusive ceremony.
  • Celebrants will give you a presentation copy of your wedding ceremony to keep and share with future generations.
  • Celebrants can also create other ceremonies for you including a vow renewal, a naming, an anniversary ceremony, or a funeral for a family member.

What is a Registrar?

A registrar is a council employee whose job it is to record details of birth’s and death’s and to read the scripted words governed by law in a licenced building to declare two people legally married. Registrars are responsible for checking and making sure those who wish to be legally married can do so. Paperwork proving age, current and past marital statuses, UK citizenship or granted residency

Registrars will now allow some personalisation of marriage ceremonies providing it isn’t religious content. This usually includes lyrics heard in songs or any poems read out.

Some registration offices are now offering celebrant style weddings which can include handfasting, unity ceremonies, chosen music and poems, but these will usually take place after the official marriage ceremony which must follow the legal guidelines laid out by the government for all civil marriages.

When booking a marriage, you won’t be offered a choice of registrars, nor will a registrar usually agree to dress in requested attire to match a theme.

Registration offices open at specified times and contact out of these hours by email will be responded to during working hours.

Registrars won’t visit your home (unless in special circumstances such as a terminal illness which must be arranged with each office). For a marriage to be a legal binding, it must take place in a licenced venue. You cannot be legally married in your garden. Registrars do not write nor lead funeral ceremonies.

You won’t receive a copy of your ceremony which will include the same required words of declaration as every civil marriage ceremony.

Are Celebrants the Same as Registrars?

Do Celebrants and Registrars Work Together?

In some geographical areas celebrants and registrars do work together to provide a personalised, memorable wedding with a legally binding marriage ceremony. Some celebrants will lead their wedding ceremony after the marriage part has happened and the registrars have left the building (a commonly heard option).

Celebrants are usually happy to work with registrars, but registrars must abide by the government civil marriage requirements, or it won’t be considered as a legal marriage.

Can Celebrants Say the Same Words as Registrars?

Choosing a wedding ceremony with a celebrant gives the opportunity to have the most unique, tailor made, previously unheard before words said in your ceremony. Why request the same words a registrar would say when a celebrant should be a creative ceremonialist with countless words and alternative ways to make an announcement rather than saying the legally recognised ones.

We Train Wedding Celebrants, Not Registrars

Some trainee wedding celebrants have an expectation of what they can say in their course work during their training. Our Celebrant Trainers advise and teach what can be said and what shouldn’t be said. Further information is available as part of our wedding celebrant training.

Blog by Choice Celebrant Training

Top Photo Credit: Sarah Glynn Photography featuring That Celebrant Guy