Answers to your Wedding questions
If I had a flower for every time thought of you… I could walk through my garden forever.
Can we have our wedding at my parents’ house?
Yes. You can have your wedding anywhere you fancy, indoors or out.
CAN WE get married outdoorS?
Absolutely, but just in case the British weather lives up to its reputation, we always advise there is a plan B. You may have an indoor venue close by or simply the provision of lots of umbrellas!
We want to get married abroad. Can we take a celebrant with us?
There is an added cost but Celebrants are happy to take weddings overseas and have been to some lovely places to do so!
What happens at a wedding ceremony?
Each ceremony is written specifically for the couple, but as a guide, a typical wedding might include readings or poems, maybe some music and information about the couple and why they are choosing to marry. The couple will make vows or commitments to each other and often exchange rings.
Does having a humanist wedding involve a lot of work?
It definitely takes more time and thought to arrange a humanist ceremony than a standard church or civil wedding, but you will end up with a ceremony that reflects the two of you, what you value and your hopes for the future, and an occasion that is truly unique and personal.
How much does a humanist wedding ceremony cost?
Fees vary according to requirements and can generally be anything between £140-£1000. This is obviously a wide range but reflects that weddings can vary tremendously. Be sure to mention your intended venue so I can take into account the amount of travel involved.
What does the fee include?
Celebrants work in slightly different ways but as a guide my Celebrant fee will cover:
- A planning meeting to discuss the ceremony in depth
- Drafting and editing a personal script
- Attendance at a rehearsal at your chosen venue
- Delivery of the ceremony on the day itself
- A presentation copy of the script
How long does a wedding ceremony last?
It depends on what you want to include, but as a guide around 20-45 minutes. This is one of the aspects you can discuss with me.
Do you offer same-sex weddings?
Absolutely! Celebrants have been conducting ceremonies for same sex couples for at least two decades and were instrumental in successfully campaigning for legal same-sex marriage.
We got married abroad and want another ceremony for friends and family here. Can you do this?
Yes, I would be happy to create such an occasion for you – in fact many of our wedding ceremonies take place under similar circumstances. We can make the humanist ceremony a wedding in itself or think of it as a celebration of your marriage – whatever suits you best.
My grandmother / aunt / dad etc. is religious and I don’t want them to be offended. Will a humanist wedding be okay?
I recognise that nearly every ceremony is attended by guests of different faiths and of none, and feel passionately that everyone present should feel comfortable and involved.
The focus of your humanist wedding will be on the two of you and your relationship and what you value. Underpinning it all will be the humanist view of long-term partnerships as being strongest when built upon support, equality and honesty. It’s difficult to imagine anyone would have a problem with that!
Do you have any rules about the ceremony being photographed / videoed?
I have no rules about this and are concerned only that you get the pictures you want. In fact, many photographers love humanist weddings as there is a lot of interaction for them to capture, particularly since couples often face their guests.
We love the idea of a personal wedding but we don’t know where to start.
That’s very common and not a problem at all. I will lead the process and can give you as much help and guidance as you need to work out what would suit you and your situation. I can advise on readings, music, promises and a whole series of big and small issues that help the day to go well.
We’d like to involve our guests in some way. Can we do this?
Absolutely. It’s great when guests are really involved in a marriage rather than simply witnessing it. I will be happy to suggest ideas.
Can we have music during the ceremony?
Yes. There is real poignancy in music, whether it’s a live performance, listening to something recorded, or perhaps having something for everyone to sing along to!
I’m worried I’m going to cry during the wedding.
A personal wedding is an emotional occasion and it’s not at all unusual for there to be both tears and laughter during the ceremony. This is fine – it’s a big moment and you’re allowed to show your feelings! Your celebrant will be there as a reassuring presence (and also to pass tissues if necessary).
Many couples find that the rehearsal helps them prepare for the big day emotionally as well as practically. You may be surprised by how relaxed you feel! But if you do cry, it’s absolutely fine.
We’d like to include a ritual from another culture. Is this okay?
Certainly. Humanist ceremonies are non-religious but there are many rituals from other cultures that can be incorporated, such as Chinese tea ceremonies or the Jewish ritual of glass-smashing. I will be delighted to discuss your ideas.
Can we write our own vows?
Personal vows are often one of the highlights of a humanist wedding so, yes, we absolutely encourage you to write or choose your own words, and will give whatever help and support you need to do so.
Do we have to write our own vows?
No, not if you don’t want to. I can provide a range of sample vows for you to look through and you might want to use some of these or adapt them slightly: it’s entirely up to you. But if you do decide to write your own vows, I can help you to get started with these and, if you want them to, will be happy to act as a sounding board for your ideas.
We really like traditional vows. Can we use these?
Yes. Many people feel there is a real gravitas to traditional church words, for example, and these can be adapted slightly to make them fitting for a non-religious ceremony. Parts of the register office words are popular too and, if you wish, these can be incorporated into your vows or during the ring exchange, if you are having one.
I hate public speaking and I am really worried about it. Can you help?
Actually there is no requirement for you to say anything at your wedding if you really don’t want to. That said, most people feel that the public declaration of vows or promises is one of the most important parts of the ceremony. If one or both of you are worried about speaking, the easiest way to accommodate this is for your promises to be written in the form of questions to which you each answer ‘I do’ or ‘I promise’. The promises themselves can still be personal, but spoken by the celebrant.
Is my Celebrant Wedding Ceremony legally binding?
No. You will need to register your marriage in a Register Office before or after your celebrant wedding ceremony in order to make your marriage legally binding.
View our online guide How To Legally Register Your Marriage for more information.
How do I legalise my marriage?
You will need to give notice at your local register office and arrange to have a ‘Statutory Ceremony’ to legally register your marriage . This is the ‘admin’ part of the process, and does not need to be treated as a formal ceremony.
Should I be legally married before I have my Celebrant Wedding Ceremony?
Not necessarily. Most couples do prefer to register their marriage before the Celebrant Wedding Ceremony. However, if you would prefer to register your marriage afterwards, that’s OK too.
Do I need to register my marriage on the same day/ at the same venue as my Celebrant Wedding Ceremony?
No. You can do this any day before or after your wedding day at any register office in the UK. You do not need to have a registrar attend your Celebrant Ceremony or be present at your venue. Often, it is cheaper to register your marriage at your local register office on a weekday, rather than at your venue.
Do we have to tell people that the wedding isn’t legal?
I will talk to you about how you want to manage this. It’s perfectly possible to explain the legal situation in a positive way, saying that this is the occasion you consider your real wedding. But if you don’t want to draw any attention to the legalities then that’s fine too, though obviously I won’t say anything that suggests it is legally binding.
What is a civil partnership?
A civil partnership is a type of union which gives couples the same legal rights and benefits as couples who have entered into a marriage, such as pension benefits, life insurance recognition, next of kin rights, property rights, tenancy rights, social security benefits, and so forth.
They were originally created in 2005 to give same-sex couples something approaching marriage equality, ahead of full marriage equality coming to England, Scotland, and Wales in 2013. Originally, civil partnerships were only for same-sex couples, but since 2019 in England and Wales and 2020 in Northern Ireland they have also been available to opposite-sex couples. The same change is also in the pipeline in Scotland.
Where are same-sex civil partnerships legal?
Same-sex civil partnerships are legally recognised throughout the UK and crown dependencies, but only in Scotland can you have a legally recognised civil partnership conducted by a humanist celebrant.
Working with a celebrant
How far in advance do we need to book a celebrant?
There’s no rule but many celebrants do get booked up quite a while in advance, especially on Saturdays during the summer. If your chosen celebrant is busy they will always be happy to recommend someone else.
We want to make sure we are comfortable with a celebrant before we decide to book. Can we meet in person?
It’s important you have a chance to check that we are a good match for each other. I will be happy to meet up without obligation for a chat and a cup of coffee. If you’re further afield, or government Covid-19 restrictions are in place an initial phone call or a chat on Skype / Zoom works well.
What should I ask a celebrant when we first meet?
Feel free to ask me whatever you want to know – I won’t be offended! Or you can ask me to talk about how I put a ceremony together to get a sense of how I work. Let me know your initial thoughts about what you want from the occasion and let the conversation go from there.
What do celebrants wear?
Myself and other Celebrants are smartly, professionally, and appropriately attired. If you have a particular dress code for the occasion, do let me know.
We live overseas but will be returning to the UK for our wedding. Can we work together from a distance?
Yes, that’s fine. I am used to working with couples who live abroad with communication being via Skype and email. You will probably want to meet in the flesh before the big day if possible; this often happens at the wedding rehearsal.
Still have a question?
Got a question that’s not answered here?
Send me a message I will get back to you.