There are many good reasons for choosing a civil celebrant to lead your wedding ceremony (see Why Choose A Community Celebrant). With our wedding laws as they currently stand in England and Wales however (Scotland is much more progressive!), couples who wish to have their ceremony legally recognised have to have a ceremony led by a member of the clergy or a registrar. Most of the couples I lead ceremonies for opt for a simple ceremony at a local registration office to cover the legal aspects, leaving them free to have their main ceremony witnessed by family and friends when, where and how they want it.
One of the concerns sometimes expressed by couples who are considering a civil celebrant is the potential to have to ‘pay twice’ – once for the legal ceremony and then on top of that for the celebrant. However large the budget, most couples have a limit then need to work within. Even if they really want a more personal and meaningful ceremony, they may feel they have no alternative but to compromise.
The reality, however is that having both a short ceremony to cover the legal aspects as well as one led by a civil celebrant need not cost much more, and in some cases may even be less expensive. For example, ceremonies at the registry office are cheaper Monday – Thursday than they are Friday and weekends. If the two ceremonies are separate, there is no reason why the legally recognised one could not be on one of the cheaper days, even if it is a different day to the main wedding. Hotels and other venues that are registered premises for weddings usually charge more simply for offering this facility, whereas couples can have their main event at any venue if the legal aspects have been covered elsewhere, bringing costs down. Finally, although I can’t speak for other civil celebrants, I do not charge any extra for ceremonies at weekends, bank holidays or ‘out of hours’, unlike registry offices or registered premises.
For example, the cost of a registrar-led ceremony at one of the registry offices in Gloucestershire* on a Friday or Saturday is between £260 and £280. These ceremonies are not even available on a Sunday or Bank Holiday. For a ceremony at an approved premises led by a registrar, the cost is £390 Monday to Thursday and £460 for Fridays and Saturdays. For Sunday’s and Bank Holidays, this rises to £550. By contrast a combination of the simplest legal ceremony at £80 combined with a ceremony based upon my prices (at £425) would cost £505. So for a small additional cost, and on Sunday’s and Bank Holidays at a reduced cost, couples can have a personalised, tailored, flexible ceremony that exactly meets their needs, without the restrictions of time or venue.
So if you or someone you know is planning a wedding, it is definitely worth considering the additional value having a ceremony led by a civil celebrant is worth any small additional cost.
For more information about wedding ceremonies see Weddings and Handfastings
- Information from GCC website