When we last spoke to Rosalie a wedding celebrant who runs Rituals Today, her post was super popular and we know so many of you are eager to have a celebrant led ceremony and want to learn more about the process.
For example, what are the legalities and where do you begin planning this type of ceremony? So it’s a pleasure to invite Rosalie back to talk us through these queries and more in her own wonderfully engaging style.
It was our pleasure to feature you on the blog recently, for new readers can you remind us what you do?
Sure! I am an award-winning celebrant with a passion to create and conduct non-conventional wedding ceremonies for couples with an open mind and an adventurous heart.
I am based in London but work with couples from all over the world and travel wherever they wish to have they ceremony.
What are the legalities of a celebrant led ceremony?
There’s nothing legal about it, and that’s exactly where the fun comes in! In England, a celebrant-led wedding is not legally binding which means it’s also not restricted by any format or venue. It’s open to all beliefs and none, all sexualities and gender identities.
A celebrant-led wedding ceremony is an opportunity to make your commitments to each other in a way that completely reflect your style, your personalities and your story together.
About the formal stuff: if you’d like to get legally married in England you will need to register your intent to marry with the registry office and book your appointment to sign the legal documents. In its most simple form it’s the signing of the marriage licence and saying a few contracting words in front of two witnesses of your choice. Most couples do this before the celebrant-led ceremony but you may also do this afterwards.
With this type of ceremony, are there any limitations on location? For example, can couples hold their ceremony in their favourite spot on the countryside, their own back garden or even on the beach?
There are no limitations on location at all, other that making sure you chose a safe spot! A cliff edge may give breathtaking views but if it would put the safety of the couple and the guests at risk I will have a serious chat with them.
However having said that, go for whatever dream location you can think of: a hot air balloon, a private garden, a woodland area, a beach, a teepee, even space seems to be an option nowadays! If you do an outdoor wedding in a public space you may need a permit so make sure check that beforehand.
Many couples choose this type of ceremony in order to reflect their style and personalities, but it can be a little daunting knowing where to begin with this. What’s your advice?
This is why I always have multiple meetings with a couple so we can get to know each other. I also work with a questionnaire so they can think in their own time about their style and personalities in a structured way. I adapt my approach to what works for the couple.
Some couples are very matter of fact and straightforward, others prefer a period of brainstorming and a more organic approach. Very often, the couples are surprised by what they learn about each other in this process!
How much support and guidance are you able to give couples before their big day?
As much and as little as they need. Some couples would like to receive advice on readings, for example, or on how to write their vows. Others feel comfortable doing this themselves. My support and guidance include advice on ceremony design, symbolic rituals, readings, music and logistics in the preparation stage, and stage management and choreography suggestions on the day.
I also give tips to people who do readings on how deliver with impact, and sometimes I am a shoulder to cry on when a bride or groom in the lead-up to the day feels overwhelmed by everything that needs to be organised.
Do you have any stand out moments from ceremonies that you’ve officiated at that you can share with us?
I absolutely loved the Chinese tea ceremony we included in an art-deco themed wedding. Another special moment was a food sharing ritual for a wedding where the bride was a food nutritionist. The couple and wedding guests shared sweet (strawberries) and bitter (chocolate) food to express both aspects of married life.
I once conducted a wedding in a cinema where a Thai Beach was projected on screen as this was where the couple actually had wanted to get married! Looking forward to a wedding this summer where a couple will exchange pebbles, inspired by how penguins express their love for each other.
And finally, what’s the best way for couples to contact you and how far in advance should they be thinking about booking their ceremony?
Send me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call on 07543 063286. Feel free to contact me. Happy to answer any questions you may have, no strings attached.
When you book me for your wedding day you can be assured that I make myself available exclusively for you. For me it’s important to be fully present on the day. Also, I need time beforehand to check out logistics and make sure all suppliers involved in the ceremony know what is happening so things run smoothly. This is why I only do one wedding per day.
I would advice to start booking your celebrant as soon as you have the date and the venue confirmed. Especially the summer months can be very busy!
All images courtesy of Rituals Today