Have your wedding plans changed?

A celebrant wedding is a personalised alternative to your civil ceremony.

Maybe your wedding plans have changed due to the current COVID-19 situation and you are looking for an alternative ceremony? If you still want to get married as soon as possible then an option would be to book an official ceremony with minimal guests. This way you could adhere to social distancing regulations and be married. Then book a celebrant to conduct a special ceremony on your postponed Wedding date to mark the occasion in a very individual way, with all your friends and family looking on.

We think this is a great excuse to wear your Wedding outfit twice perhaps. Who wouldn’t want that?!

We have worked with Celebrant Justine Wykerd to answer all of your questions and explain the options to you.

hand tie wedding
wedding ring box

The up rise of Celebrants Weddings

In recent years, you might have heard more and more about ‘celebrant weddings’. ’But what are they? Are they legal?
The Open University calls for a change to regulations around civil wedding ceremonies so that more people can get married simply and inexpensively, and to avoid COVID-19 backlogs.

Read the full article here

We start off by exploring the definition of a humanist, they are a person who chooses to live a good life without religious or superstitious beliefs. Humanists believe that moral values follow on from human nature and experience, rather than by abiding by set rules dictated by a religion

Are celebrant wedding ceremonies legal?

This depends on which part of the UK you live in. Humanist or celebrant-led weddings have had legal recognition in Scotland since 2005. However, they are not currently legally recognised in England and Wales. Humanists UK and celebrant representative bodies are lobbying the UK government to change legislation in England and Wales and are hopeful that this will be addressed soon.

Don’t let this put you off though! It simply means you have to register the marriage or civil partnership at a registry office. A basic marriage ceremony or a civil partnership registration can be carried out at a registry office at any time before or after the wedding day and can take as little and six and a half minutes

hand tie wedding
bride and groom with the celebrant

The difference between a Registrar and a Celebrant

A civil ceremony is performed by a registrar, either in a registry office or licensed venue, such as Manor Hill House. Civil ceremonies are legally recognised, but are bound by restrictions regarding the content, duration and originality of the script. There can be no religious aspect at all in words or music, and ceremony scripts are usually completely standardised or with little variation, with the blanks filled in for each couple.

Conversely a celebrant led ceremony is different in that it is entirely personalised to the couple and it can take place anywhere that a couple feels is significant to them. A celebrant wedding is entirely focused on you, your love, and your story. Guided by a celebrant who delivers a bespoke ceremony reflecting on the couple’s personality. There are no limits to gender, race, sexual orientation, size, ability or circumstance for the couple.

The difference between a Humanist Celebrant and an Independent Celebrant?

Humanist Celebrants and other Celebrants (such as Independent or Civil Celebrants) are very similar in the way in which they approach writing and officiating wedding ceremonies, in that they all offer a very personalised ceremony at any location.

A celebrant wedding is celebration that is welcoming, inclusive and personally tailored to you, it focusses on your love story and things that are important to you as a couple. It can include unique vows, readings, poems, music, and any rituals you choose, such as handfasting, symbolic knot-tying, lighting a unity candle, or sand-blending plus more…

Looking for ideas for non religious ceremony readings? The wedding secret magazine have this useful guide outlining the top 8 wedding readings, if you are looking for some inspiration:


As the title describes them, Independent Celebrants work independently, giving them the freedom to include whatever the couple would like in their ceremony. For example; If a couple would like to include an act of worship e.g. a prayer then most Independent Celebrants would be comfortable incorporating this into your ceremony.

Humanist Celebrants offer secular/non-religious ceremonies only, believing that life is based on humanity and reason, and that moral values are founded on human nature and experience. As they have no-religious beliefs, they therefore do not include any religious acts of worship in their ceremonies.

bride and groom with the celebrant
bride and groom wedding ceremony

Wendy Weavin who is a humanist celebrant says:

‘Going against tradition and having a wedding on a week day may be an option. And if registrars are not be available to perform a wedding service on the day the couple’s dream venue is available, there is an option of going to a register office just to sign the paper work (a statutory wedding is a quick, cheap and easy option) and then have a more meaningful and unique Humanist wedding ceremony on the date and at the venue that suits them.

Humanist weddings are perfect for couples who would like:

A meaningful ceremony that isn’t religious
To marry outdoors
The flexibility to create a personal ceremony that is unique to them
To get to know the person who will be conducting their wedding
To celebrate their marriage with family and friends but without legally registering – for example, when the formalities have already been conducted abroad.’
More information on services Wendy can offer can be found at this link:

If you wish to know more about what a humanist is or does, Wendy has a fantastic video to explain this:

Photographer credits: Paul Willetts