To make the most of your wedding ceremony, it is important to understand the difference between the legal requirements for a wedding and the ceremonial aspects. Normally, both parts are done at the same time at a church (or other religious venue), a register office or “approved premises”.
However, you are free to separate the two parts and have the simplest possible legal registration of the marriage and then a ceremony at a place and time you choose. This approach gives you far more flexibility in the choice of words, music and venue than you would be allowed in a civil wedding.
The main choices you have are:
- A religious wedding
This will happen at a place of worship and be conducted by the minister or equivalent person. For non Church of England weddings, you will first need to give notice at your local register office. In some cases, a registrar will need to attend the wedding to register it. One possible disadvantage of this choice is that you may not be allowed to have a same-sex wedding. You may also be limited in your choice of words and the style of ceremony.
- A civil wedding
A civil wedding can take place in a register office or one of the limited number of “approved premises” — these are typically hotels or similar venues. One detail worth knowing is that the wedding must take place under a roof: in other words you can’t have it out in a field or on the beach. A civil ceremony is also very constrained in the choice of words and music. Nothing with any religious connotations can be used. So if you want to have prayers or a blessing, then this will have to be kept separate from the main ceremony.
- A ceremony with a celebrant
In this case, you have much more flexibility. You can choose a non-religious organization like the humanists but using a celebrant will allow the most scope for personalising your day. You are free to choose any venue or location, any music and words, and any style of ceremony. If you want to include prayers or a blessing, you are free to do that.
I can create a personalised and memorable ceremony around your choices. (Read more…)
But remember that by using a celebrant, your wedding is only legally recognised if you have already had a legal wedding at a register office convenient to you. I can also advise on the legal requirements and procedures.