Are you getting ready to tie the knot, where a religious ceremony isn't what you want but you're still weighing up if a Wedding Celebrant or a Registrar is the right choice for you? 
Look no further – here are three foolproof ways to make sure you end up saying “I do” with the right person leading your wedding ceremony! 
To begin with, I have to confess that I really dislike the word 'Officiant'!  
It hints at being very formal, and officious , which is the last thing anyone really wants on their wedding day. I'm also pleased to say that's the opposite of me, too! 
Technically of course it's the right term when referring to those people that lead ceremonies (including myself).  
For the purpose of this article, I'll focus mainly on the things to think about when considering hiring a Celebrant (both Humanist and Independent) or a Registrar.  
1. Celebrant v Registrar 
First of all - the pro’s and con’s. 
If you want to hold your wedding at a Registry Office then that’s a straightforward situation. A Registrar will also conduct the ceremony for you. For many, this is seen as a simple, hassle free way of getting hitched and if that’s the main thing for you, this could be a perfectly good option. 
If, however, you’re looking to hold your wedding somewhere more personal or meaningful to you or in a setting that you feel is more special, then as things stand currently, most wedding venues are licensed to host legally recognised weddings and a Registrar would be permitted to do this for you there. 
Wedding venue event managers might even suggest to you that you book a Registrar for the date that you’re looking to book with them.  
Some may raise the option of using a Celebrant instead, but it’s somewhat understandable that many don’t - and, let’s be honest, using a Registrar is the most widely understood solution to the question of - “who will marry us on our big day”? 
The Celebrant option may not therefore be put to you, or if it is, it may seem a little unclear how that all works. 
But let’s assume you have an awareness of Wedding Celebrants. You’re probably reading this because you have.  
Or perhaps you’ve been to a wedding where you’ve been able to see and hear how it all feels very different compared to a Registrar or faith based Clergy led wedding ceremony.  
Maybe someone has recommend a Celebrant to you (and more and more people are doing so the more Celebrant led weddings there are). 
In short, a Celebrant will get to know you both over a period of time to create and conduct a personalised wedding ceremony that reflects all that’s important to you.  
This should include a bespoke wedding script capturing your story, and a ceremony that is designed to include anything that you feel meaningful (such as readings, or a wide range of symbolic acts for example). 
With a Celebrant, you have the freedom to create a custom ceremony that uniquely reflects your personalities and values.  
What could be more magical than your very own tailored wedding ceremony?  
One that perfectly captures your love story and your vision for your special day. It's your chance to create a dream-like experience for your guests, taking them on a journey through your relationship, your shared beliefs, and your commitment to one another.  
Whether your ceremony is traditional, non-traditional, quirky or spiritual, your Celebrant will make sure it is a unique and wonderful experience. 
A Celebrant will work with you to create an unforgettable and meaningful experience for you, your family and friends. After all, a unique ceremony should be unique to the couple and their style.  
A Wedding Celebrant will offer insight and expertise in creating a unique ceremony while still following tradition.  
Not only will they craft a unique ceremony that you'll remember forever, but they'll create a meaningful experience for your family and friends that will make your special day even more magical.  
With their help, you can create a wonderful, once-in-a-lifetime experience that you'll cherish for years to come. 
Celebrants are also able to offer advice and guidance on the best way to plan your perfect ceremony. 
Next, with a Wedding Celebrant, you take the fear and stress of planning a unique and special ceremony out of the equation.  
Celebrants are experts at creating magical memories that will last a lifetime.  
They offer advice and guidance on the best ways to plan your unique ceremony perfectly, taking all of your ideas and ideas from the guests into account.  
So if you want an unforgettable experience that celebrates your love, having a Wedding Celebrant is the way to go! 
A registrar will use a standard ‘insert name’ style script that’s used for all registrar led wedding ceremonies.  
They may permit you to choose from a selection of standard pre-written vows and readings. 
And it’s likely that you won’t know who your registrar will be until shortly before the ceremony as they are assigned to couples based on availability. 
The main attraction for some is that as things currently stand, only Registrars are permitted to conduct legally binding ceremonies.  
Couples using a Celebrant usually have to book a simple ‘2+2’ style legal service at a Registry Office prior to their ‘real’ wedding day, if they wish for it to be legally recognised. 
It’s anticipated that the law will change around this sometime in the hopefully not too distant future but until it does, this is what most couples who use a Wedding Celebrant do as a ‘workaround’. 
I appreciate that I’ve simplified the main aspects of Registrars and Celebrants for the purpose of easy comparison, but this more or less sums up the key aspects for couples. 
2. Humanist Celebrant v Independent Celebrant 
Ok, so now that you’ve weighed your options up, let’s assume that it’s time to find the perfect Wedding Celebrant who can make your nuptials special 
I’ll declare an obvious interest here - I’m of course a Humanist Celebrant! 
There are some key differences, and I’ll be as objective as possible in outlining them. I'd also like to add that I know many Independent Celebrants they're wonderful! 
So here goes... 
A Humanist Celebrant is usually (but not always) trained and accredited by Humanists UK.  
They are selected, rigorously trained and and supported with ongoing development and they conduct non religious ceremonies for couples.  
Humanists take an inclusive approach to working with couples irrespective of race, gender, orientation etc and reflect these values in their work. 
Independent Celebrants may share some or all of these same values, and may even offer non-religious Humanist ceremonies.  
An Independent Celebrant will conduct ceremonies for couples that may or may not feature religious content and are usually trained and are members of various Independent Celebrant bodies, both here in the U.K. and internationally. 
Of course, as I’m not an Independent Celebrant myself, I can’t really elaborate much further so would recommend that if they are of interest that you explore their services, training, accreditation and experience with those that you identify as a good potential match. 
Humanist Celebrants in England and Wales are in the hopefully not too distant future, likely to be granted the power to conduct legally recognised wedding ceremonies in line with Scotland and Northern Ireland.  
This misalignment and discrimination between Humanist couples who are able to have a non-religious legally recognised wedding in these countries in the United Kingdom was successfully challenged in the High Court in 2018.  
It is widely expected that marriage law with be amended to end this discriminatory practice, although the timeline for this is not known when this will be enacted. 
Many Independent Celebrants and their affiliated bodies are also seeking legal recognition on the basis of also providing couples with greater choice.  
It is however, unclear at the time of writing if they will be included in any such amendment to the law. 
3.Find the right Celebrant for you! 
Finally, the real fun begins! 
There are a few ways to find and create a shortlist of Celebrants that might be the right fit for you. 
Listing sites, such as Humanists UK Find a Celebrant, Hitched, Bridebook, BrideUK, Rock My Wedding etc can be a useful starting point. 
Google search can also point to a number of options in your area (although as ever with Google, the top listings can sometimes obscure hidden gems so do scroll past the first page). 
Now that you’ve got a few names to choose from, do a bit of online-stalking (in the best kind of way!) to check out whether or not their personality and style are in line with what you’re looking for. Be sure to check out their websites, Facebook pages, and more to get an accurate sense of who they are and what they’re all about. 
Once you’ve narrowed down your list, it’s time for you and your fiancé to sit down with a few candidates for a few chemistry calls. Contacting the Celebrants is usually made very easy, via a contact button, webpage etc. 
Most good Celebrants will quickly come back to you and offer you the opportunity to meet them either in person or online so that you can talk to them about what you have in mind, and answer any questions you may have etc. 
Following those, you should hopefully be able to take an informed decision on the best route for you! 
In the end, what’s most important is that the option you go for feels like a natural good fit for you both…after all, your ceremony is one of life’s most amazing moments! 
So that's it! I really hope this article helps with bringing some clarity when it comes to choosing who to lead your wedding ceremony, and if you'd like to talk any of it through with me, then just get in touch by instant chat, contact form, text, call ever, I'd love to hear from you! 
Paul 💖 
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