This week, fellow celebrant (and lovely human) Jenny Knight of Knight Ceremonies, has been running an Instagram campaign called ‘don’t forget celebrants’ (#dontforgetcelebrants).
The aim of this campaign is a clear one and it’s so incredibly simple – to ask wedding venues to mention celebrants as well as registrars when couples are being shown around.
Normally, when a couple is booking their venue, the manager or coordinator will advise them to book a registrar before finalising the date. There is an urgency about it – that the couple must do it straight away in order to secure their big day – and so they rush to get it done.
But in the rush, many couples don’t have the chance to learn about or consider other options. They might not have heard of a celebrant, let alone thought about whether one would be a better fit for the ceremony they would like to have. And choosing a celebrant ceremony potentially gives much more flexibility on the date too.
So our plea to venues is to say something like ‘are you having a registrar or a celebrant for your ceremony?’ and then go from there, rather than assuming that couples will automatically have a registrar.
Why would a wedding venue do this though? Is it just that celebrants want venues to promote them?
Not at all!
Eight reasons why celebrant weddings are great news for venues
1. They can offer their couple more choice and really tailor their day
Most venues go out of their way to help their couples have the day of their dreams. And couples are most likely to do that when all the people involved in their big day are active choices, rather than just the default. Suggesting a celebrant ceremony could be a game-changer for some couples. Celebrant weddings are super personalised and very creative – they reflect the couple’s personalities, beliefs and love story, they involve their guests and they’re often really good fun. They start the celebrations off in style and they’re created around the couple, rather than the couple being shoehorned into the same script that everyone else gets.
2. They can access last-minute availability
The problem with just keeping it to the registrar question is that, if there are no registrars available on that date, the couple might walk away. Registrar slots are finite, and especially around summer Saturdays or for last-minute bookings. Although celebrants do get booked up too, of course, there are more available and there’s a wide range of choice so you’re much more likely to find someone for that date.
3. They can work with trusted suppliers
Venues, like couples, are pretty much at the mercy of which registrar is on the rota on the day of the wedding. Whilst most registrars do a fantastic job, from personal experience I know that a few individuals prompt an inner groan from venue owners when they turn up! However, if venues curate a selection of local celebrants they know and trust, they can feel secure that their couple will be in safe (and personable) hands.
4. Weddings can match the surroundings as well as the couple
Celebrants will always tailor their ceremonies to the needs and personalities of the couple they’re working with. If the wedding venue has a certain theme or feel to it (for example, a woodland clearing or a Regency ballroom), this can also be woven into great effect with a celebrant. So rather than having a ceremony in ‘legalese’ clashing with your bohemian ceremony room, wouldn’t it be better to have a celebration that embraced the surroundings, with wording, readings, songs or rituals that are made to measure?
5. They can use any part of the venue or grounds
A registrar can only legally marry a couple in a licensed room in a venue. There are a number of requirements for where you can conduct a legal ceremony, and a venue will have to apply and pay to have a room (or rooms) where they can happen. But a celebrant can conduct a wedding ceremony anywhere the couple want (and the venue is happy for them to use of course!)
One time, I happened to be at a nearby venue when they were showing a couple around. The couple were so set on this place but had more guests than could fit into their licensed ceremony space. The venue manager was about to lose the booking and then asked me if I could conduct a ceremony in the main reception room. Well yes, I could! Everyone was happy and the wedding was awesome.
(By the way, every photo on this post was taken at a wedding in a licensed venue that had chosen to let their couples know about celebrants!)
So if there’s another room that’s better suited or a pretty bit of the garden or grounds, let’s go! More choice = happy couple!
6. …Indeed, the venue doesn’t have to be licensed at all
Which means that amazing places that haven’t done weddings before can diversify and add to what they offer as a venue. A win/win situation for everyone involved!
7. There’s more flexibility with timing
Evening ceremony? Sunday ceremony? Bride is late? Uncle Bob is stuck on the M25? Whilst there’s potentially a whole lot of other logistical issues here (catering and so on), one of the things you won’t need to worry about is your registrar either not being able to do the time, or having to leave if there’s a delay. Most celebrants only book one ceremony per day, so there’s no dashing to or from another wedding.
8. Wedding ceremonies with flair and personality – more likely to be talked about and have awesome photos!
Here’s the thing – most of the ceremony pictures that venues use to advertise themselves are of celebrant weddings. Why? Because they involve great reactions, laughter, interesting elements like handfasting or cocktail ceremonies. Oh, and the couple are generally facing their friends and family and interacting with them, rather than having their back to them all. Photographers love celebrant weddings because they’re so visually interesting and that makes for great photos.
Also, wedding celebrations that start with an awesome ceremony are most likely to be talked about for ages to come. And that is always going to reflect well on the venue where it happened!
So if you work at a venue, please don’t forget celebrants! We can add so much to everyone’s experience of the day.
If you’re a couple, do look into the options available to you (you can start by getting in touch with me 😉 ) and don’t just book a registrar because the venue has made you feel rushed.
And if you’re a fellow celebrant, do please take this message on and let’s spread the word!