Each month we delve deeper into subjects, with the help from our trusted Whitewed Professionals! This month Celebrant Ana Kelly, and wedding venue, Oxleaze Barn, share their expertise and inspiration on the flexibility and personal touch that celebrant-led ceremonials can offer couples.
Celebrant-led ceremonies are on the rise, and we’re not surprised. Whilst wedding planning becomes more creative and personalised, so too are ceremonies with the assistance of a celebrant.
Not entirely sure what a celebrant is and why you’d need one? Don’t panic, you’re not the only one. Many engaged couples are asking the same question and the answer is actually very simple.
A celebrant is a professionally trained and fully insured officiant who is involved with creating, writing and conducting bespoke ceremonies. They are key if you’d love for your ceremony to be truly tailored and unique to you.
There is still much confusion on the legalities of a celebrant. Although a celebrant cannot legally marry you, they can officiate a bespoke ceremony for you. The ceremony itself is not what makes a marriage legal, it’s the paperwork - which can be done in advance. Weddings with a celebrant will require a couple to arrange their legal paperwork separately from their actual ceremony, which celebrants are always happy to advise and guide you through.
Photo credit: Ana Kelly Celebrant, Photographer: Amber Marie Photography
The real beauty of a celebrant is the flexibility and versatility that their service can offer. You are not restricted to where or when you can get married, no restrictions in place for photographers, and no limitations to the content, format or style of the service. Couples are always delighted to find out that with a celebrant, they are free to get married within any location, any area of the grounds within a venue and any room inside too – there really is no restriction to ‘licenced only’ areas which are enforced with registrars or ministers.
Take Whitewed approved Oxleaze Barn for instance, a beautifully restored Cotswold wedding venue which is lucky to carry licences for ceremonies both inside and out. However, these licences do restrict you to single areas, whereby a celebrant-led ceremony can be held in any spot within the barn or grounds – and wow do they have some special spots! We asked the events team to tell us a little more about their venue and what they have to offer for ceremonies...
“At Oxleaze Barn, we like to give you the choice and the opportunity to make your wedding reflect your personalities, and a celebrant-led ceremony works perfect for this. We have various options for your ceremony making Oxleaze the perfect setting come rain or shine! For intimate numbers on a gorgeous summer’s day, the lean to makes for a relaxed set up and is perfect with wooden benches. With higher numbers and a more formal set up, the courtyard is a great shaded spot and allows you to have the main barn as your backdrop – it’s certainly an enviable backdrop!
Photo credit: Oxleaze Barn, Kath
On a cosy winter’s day, who doesn’t love a log fire? In the main barn, our log fire makes for a wonderful focal point to frame your ‘I do’s’. The mantle can be dressed in flowers and greenery to add a personal touch. The fireplace then makes a perfect back drop for your top table and the dressing can be continued into the table set up.
For celebrant-led ceremonies, there are no limitations to which spaces you choose to use in the barns and courtyards. One of our personal favourites, and popular with our couples too, is the milling barn. It’s a perfect and idyllic setting for holding your ceremonials.”
Photo credit: Oxleaze Barn, Photographer: Squib Photography
So, hopefully we’ve opened your eyes a little and helped you understand celebrants and the versatility they can offer your wedding ceremony, but who better to really share the nitty gritty on the role than a celebrant themselves. Here we hand over to Ana Kelly, a Whitewed Directory approved independent Celebrant creating bespoke ceremony and vow renewals that can incorporate religious, non-religious or spiritual elements. Here’s what Ana had to share...
Photo credit: Oxleaze Barn
Celebrants Do Creative Ceremonials Best!
"As I weave hessian and ribbon hand-fasting cords for this Saturday’s nuptials in Lockeridge, near Pewsey, I can’t help thinking what a fabulous job being a Celebrant truly is…
From meeting the joyful couple over a coffee in the snow, to us sat chortling over the last-minute checklist and considerations over a cuppa in their kitchen last night, we’ve enjoyed our journey so much. I’m so looking forward to conducting their wedding service.
My package price included all meetings, a rehearsal, help with readings, ongoing advice and guidance, writing and editing their bespoke service, delivering said service on the day – and organising their guests into a blossom tunnel formation after the service!
It’s been great getting to know the couple, their tastes and humour, and I’ve used this knowledge to make their wedding day personal and unique. This includes the inclusion of parents in the service, a hand-fasting, the couple’s personal ‘story’ and surprise vows to each other – and even having their adorable dog in attendance. Exciting stuff – I’ve got tissues at the ready for them, and for me! Oh, and a dog biscuit ready…
Photo credit: Ana Kelly, Celebrant
That’s what a Celebrant does – makes the actual wedding service personal, unique and totally meaningful. And every step of the way the couple had input in tweaking the service to make sure it is totally ‘them’.
Somewhere along the way, the ‘Legals’ of way too many weddings have overshadowed meaningful words and ceremony. Limitless time is spent planning smaller details such as canapes and bunting, yet central, lifelong vows and commitments are too often a hasty afterthought. What a shame.
Time-constrained Registrars can only offer A,B,C service options and do not come cheap. In a few areas, Registrars willingly work alongside Celebrants in Licensed Venues, which is great collaboration. Where this is negotiated, the Registrar usually leaves after the ‘Legals’, and before the Celebrant’s ‘Ceremonials’.
What is not hugely clear to couples is that they are entitled to a low cost legal ‘simple ceremony’, with two witnesses, in the Registrar office. This currently costs around £57. Did you know that this legal component only needs 41 words, plus names? These words are:
I do solemnly declare that I know not of any lawful impediment why I (your name) may not be joined in matrimony to (partner's name)
I call up these persons here present to witness that I (your name) do take thee (partner's name) to be my lawful wedded wife (or husband)
Taa daa, and that makes it legal! No other rings or vows needed – these can be left to a Ceremonial Service (you’ve guessed it, with a Celebrant…) before or after. More couples now do this either before or after their BIG day, just as anyone would register a birth. The Registrar isn’t there in the maternity ward, Heaven forbid! Nor do they have to be at a wedding!
Think about it – using a Celebrant for the Ceremonial and a Registrar for the Legals… This frees up so many other options for couples and venues alike.
Take this weekend’s service, for instance: the couple have hired a village hall for the entire weekend for a low cost and have erected a tepee beside it. They can choose whether to have the service inside or outside on the day, without worrying about which areas are Licensed – none of these areas need to be Licensed with a Celebrant. Their options need only be affected by the weather or their preference on the day …
With a Celebrant, guests’ bottoms will not be wriggling in their seats whilst the couple’s details are validated in a back room by a Registrar. With a Celebrant, more time is available to include any spiritual or religious element/s they’d like; total freedom. Celebrants love fancy dress too! Photographs can be taken at any point in the ceremony. The scope to include broom-jumping, sand-blending and tea ceremonies is also endless…
Photo credit: Ana Kelly, Celebrant
For venues, freeing the Legals from the Ceremonials opens up many more service and budget options to clients. This includes more efficient use of all suitable spaces and time slots. A lamplit evening service? No problem! Dawn chorus nuptials and a true ‘Wedding Breakfast’ before a day’s shared outdoor adventures using hotel facilities? Not unheard of…
Wedding laws may well change in the years ahead – if Parliament ever has any time! Of course, I hope such changes mean Celebrants will enjoy the legal rights they do in places like Australia and the USA.
Whatever such changes might be, a Celebrant is always going to be able to have the time and scope to offer massively creative ‘bang for bucks’ – and make a wedding’s words and ritual so much more meaningful, memorable and truly personal.
However, part of me thinks there actually is a creative benefit to keeping the legal and ceremonial separate as they are in other countries such as France…
Anyway, less of my thoughts: I better get this hand-fasting cord finished and photographed for Saturday’s couple! Yep, a lovely, lovely job…"
Photo credit: Oxleaze Barn, Photography: Tanli-Joy Photography
Have we opened up your mind a little to the alternative possibilities using a celebrant can bring to your wedding day? Celebrant-led weddings allow you to pick and chose whichever elements or ideas you want to include so its as personal and unique as you. Why not consider using a celebrant to turn your ceremony into a truly personalised and memorable event.
Why not check out our blog contributors over on The Whitewed Directory - you'll find Ana Kelly, celebrant and Oxleaze Barn showcasing their offerings,real wedding inspiration and any current special offers! You'll also find the pink 'Get in touch' button which you can tap if you'd love to find out more about their services and availability.