What is the difference between a Celebrant & a Registrar?

Independent Celebrant Kelly Hawes explains

Firstly – What is a Celebrant?

You may or may not have heard the term Celebrant.  When talking Weddings a Celebrant is someone who will write and lead your Ceremony – standing in the position that you would expect to see a Registrar, which is probably a term you are more familiar with.

Whilst either a Celebrant or Registrar will be the person standing at the top of an aisle and conduct your ceremony there are many differences.

What does a Registrar do?

A Registrar works directly for the Local Authority and is appointed to perform a legal marriage and ceremony.  The Registrar can work from their office, their own Ceremony Room at the Registry Office or in an approved local venue (which holds a wedding licence from the Local Authority).

The Registrar will perform a standard legal marriage ceremony – dependent upon your Local Authority you may have a limited choice as to wording and vows to be included but essentially the bulk of the ceremony is the same for each and every couple.

The Registrar will have to adhere to certain rules and criteria for holding a ceremony – this will relate to the location, the wording, the situations surrounding the ceremony, the music and reading choices also – some examples of these rules are; no alcohol to be on sale for 1 hour prior to the ceremony, no religious content or music to be included, no symbolism that would be associated with a religious ceremony (candles and arches for example).

When you book your Registrar it is unlikely you will know who is to perform your ceremony until about 10 minutes before the start.

What does a Celebrant do?

A Celebrant can basically rip up the rule book and create a ceremony just for you – where and when you want it and with content that is totally unique and personal to you.  HOW?  Because a Celebrant is not performing the legal marriage, the rules do not need to apply.  We are simply performing the good bits – the ceremonial bits (walk down aisle, exchange vows and rings and anything else you wish to add).

There is absolutely nothing standard about a Celebrant Ceremony.  I do not use the same script for every couple – it is written from a blank page just for you.  Your Ceremony will be full of your characters and personalities and the whole feel of the day will be decided by you – if you want full on tradition and formality or the complete opposite with a more fun and relaxed feel, this is what, together, we can create!

I can work in licenced venues as well as pretty much anywhere else you might like to hold your wedding ceremony – in the woods, on a boat, in a marquee, a community hall, museum, favourite restaurant to name a few!

I get to know you, face to face first and then over the months leading up to your wedding day we will have exchanged countless emails, texts or calls in the process of writing your ceremony script – which, by the way, you get to approve at every stage.

There are also other ways we can make your day special to you – for example if you have children they can be included within the ceremony, if you both practice different faiths I can blend elements of both into one ceremony, if you dream of your guests singing a pop song instead of a hymn, or if you have decided to add a symbolic action such as sand blending, lighting a unity candle or the like then we can totally add these too.

Seriously, if you want a WOW wedding – don’t see the ceremony as just the bit that has to be done before the party – let’s make it the party starter!  I want you and your guests to remember your ceremony for years to come and for all the right reasons.

What about the legal bit?

If you choose to have a Celebrant led Wedding you will need to register your marriage separately in a statutory marriage with the Registrar.  This is in the Registrar’s office across the desk, it is not a ceremony.  You two will need to take your two witnesses, say the legal contractual words, sign the register and receive your marriage certificate.

Often the legal marriage will take place during the week before your wedding day but there’s no right or wrong time for this to take place.  Check with your local Registry Office as sometimes the days and times of these appointments are limited  (they will not be weekends)

In conclusion

If you want a WOW wedding day from start to finish, that is unique and personal and therefore memorable; if you want to be stood at the top of an aisle with someone you have grown to know and trust and who will ensure every aspect of your ceremony is just the way you want it – Give me a call!

Kelly Hawes

Independent Celebrant

07827 927947



Images by me, Nicki Shea Photography, Ami Louisa Photography & John Woodward Photography