+ the differences between England & Scotland –  What is a wedding celebrant?

16 August 2018

In the process of your wedding planning, you’ve probably spent a much longer time pinning potential styling solutions and curating saved Insta collections than you have mulling over the ceremony deets. But that bit is super important – the marriage is, after all, what this whole (incredible) party is for. If it just seems like a boring, necessary party prelude you have to agonisingly sit/stand through rather than the beating heart and soul of your big day, as it should be, you need a wedding celebrant.

But what is a wedding celebrant, and most importantly, what does a wedding celebrant do? We asked the babe celebrants we have at The Wedding Collective to explain it from the inside (the virtual ‘inside’ of knowledge, they’re not in jail):

Essentially, celebrants conduct non-religious wedding ceremonies, meaning you have total freedom with how the ceremony goes. “I work with couples to create one-of-kind wedding ceremonies that reflect their unique love story and celebrate their marriage in a way that feels personal and meaningful to them.” Katie Matthews explains (you may know her for her excellent power suits, or her reenactment of the Royal Wedding with wooden spoons.) “There’s no slotting your names into a pre-existing template or rehashing empty words I’ve said a million times before – I really take the time to get to know my couples. Every wedding ceremony I deliver is written for that couple, and that couple only.”



Using wedding celebrants is becoming increasingly common across the country, thanks to the above. Our very own Sheila Lawtie is a humanist celebrant based in Scotland and says: “”Nowadays, weddings are much more about a couple’s personal preferences. Opting for a non-religious ceremony opens up a wider choice of venue options and the possibility of a range of symbolic gestures that the couple feel is right for them. They generally make for ceremonies that are much more relaxed, really emotional – but funny too!”

So if you’re looking for an alternative to a church or religious ceremony, or just want a wedding ceremony that’s not a cookie cutter of every other one you’ve been to and nearly fallen asleep at, they tick all the boxes. (Often, they also end up being a couple’s favourite part of the day when looking back, which can come as a surprise, considering the reception you may have planned!) How do they actually work, then? How do they slot into your wedding plans?

The first step is to have a meeting with your celebrant to get to know one another and start to craft your killer ceremony. For Katie, the process usually starts anywhere between 6 to 12 months before their big day. “I get to know all about them; what makes them tick as individuals, what they value in life, how their relationship works, why marriage is important to them. All the big, important life stuff basically. We go DEEP! Based on our extensive conversations, as well as input from my couple and their family and friends, I then create a fabulous wedding ceremony that does their relationship justice and kicks off their big day in style!”

Just be careful, though, when booking a celebrant; at present the rules differ in Scotland from the rest of the UK. “In Scotland, ceremonies conducted by registered humanist celebrants are legally recognised marriages, and we can guide you through all of the paperwork.” Sheila says. “In the rest of the UK, they don’t count as legal marriages and serve more as symbolic ceremonies – some couples choose to get married in a local registry office and follow up with a humanist ceremony, a meal and then the big party where they can celebrate in style”.

And for all you legal fact fans, another difference between the UK and the rest of Scotland is your choice of venues. In Scotland, you can get married anywhere, but in the rest of the UK you can’t get legally married in the open air or outdoors whether it’s legal or not: you need to be married under a roof of a permanent structure. Boo!

So if you were looking for that extra oomph your day was missing and you want a ceremony that truly reflects you, wedding celebrants can be a great answer. And WOULDJA BELIEVE IT, we’ve got four hella good celebrants on our directory who you should definitely check out – between them they cover the whole country. Signed, sealed, delivered – it’s yours…