What is the Difference Between a Marriage Ceremony and a Celebrant Wedding Ceremony?

Congratulations you are getting married, now the fun starts with planning everything for your big day. Your dress, suit, clothing, shoes, venue, photographer, transport, rings, food, accessories, venue décor and that all important list of bridesmaids and groomsmen. Wedding planning is exciting with so many things to think about, but have you thought about the most important part of your wedding day, the actual ceremony itself?

Marriage ceremonies

Many people are familiar with the scripted wording said by every couple during a marriage ceremony.

‘I (insert name), take you, (insert name), to be my lawfully wedded (husband/wife).  To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.’

A marriage ceremony results in a legally recognised union between two people. The ceremony has to be conducted in a venue which is licensed for marriages, and it must be conducted by a registrar or a religious leader who is able to perform legal marriages.

The two people involved do not have to be in love, (they usually are) they just have to agree to be joined together as legally recognised husband and wife, wife and wife or husband and husband.

Certain words must be said and if it is conducted by a registrar nothing religious can be included, and this includes music choices played during the ceremony.

Celebrant Wedding ceremonies

Each wedding ceremony is unique to each couple and no example of expected worded can be given as each one is created for each couple.

A wedding ceremony is a ceremony celebrating the love and the relationship of those the ceremony is for. The ceremony can be held in any venue and it does not need to be licensed. Wedding ceremonies can be led by family members or friends, but most are  created and led by a trained wedding celebrant.

Wedding ceremonies do not create any legally recognised union and most couples visit the register office on a separate date (usually before their wedding day) if they would like to be legally married.

Unlike marriage ceremonies, wedding ceremonies do not have any restrictions placed on couples with the inclusion of religious wording or music which may have a religious word included. Spiritual wording can also be included.

Without a wedding ceremony, there won’t be a wedding day.

Wedding celebrants also known as officiants, are skilled in creating personal and unique wedding ceremonies for each couple we work with. We come from all walks of life, and all have different styles; one thing we all have in common is we put your ceremony requirements first, and no two weddings we perform are ever the same.

Some celebrants specialise in working with certain couples, such as Pagan, Humanist or Druid celebrants. Civil or secular celebrants such as myself, will work with all couples regardless of what kind of ceremony they require. If you want to add a spiritual element or acknowledge one family’s religious belief, a secular celebrant will do this.

I am an alternative celebrant, and I started my business Alternative Ceremonies Uk after my own wedding, as I realised there just wasn’t anything out there for alternative couples. Sure there are plenty of people offering handfasting ceremonies, but what if they aren’t your thing and you are searching for a different kind of ceremony? Not all couples want traditional or religious wedding vows. Some couples want song lyrics which are meaningful to them, gothic poems, Norse readings or many other elements.

I understand how important it is for couples to have a perfect day, and this includes meeting all of their requirements. I ask couples if they have a theme or a dress code, and I dress accordingly to match. Wearing a business suit (not that I ever do that anyway) would look really out of place when performing a Viking inspired wedding ceremony.

A good celebrant will work with you both to make sure all aspects of your ceremony are unique to you, and this includes creating your personalised wedding ceremony. You can write your own vows, include your choices of music, poems, readings or song lyrics. We can help you involve your guests; rather than your guests just watch you recite words.

If you choose to ask a celebrant to write and perform your wedding ceremony, you can usually guarantee it will be a very visual ceremony. We can suggest all kinds of unity ceremonies as well as handfasting to make your ceremony completely individual and memorable.

So now you know you can have a ceremony all about you two, written especially for you, what would be your ideal wedding ceremony?