"Every time someone asks me about the importance of hiring a Celebrant, I joke that if I had a penny for each query, I'd be wealthy by now! The real question, in my opinion, is 'Why wouldn't you hire a Celebrant?'." Delve into insights from Jennifer Patrice, an independent wedding celebrant, as she highlights the importance of having a celebrant at your wedding.
From the conversation with Jennifer Patrice, an independent wedding celebrant.
From our conversation with Jennifer Patrice, an independent wedding celebrant, we gained valuable insights into the role of a celebrant in modern weddings. Jennifer Patrice: 'Historically, when couples get engaged, the majority think of the two traditional routes of getting married - in a church or with a Registrar (whether at a Registry Office or licensed venue). Don’t get me wrong, both of those options are lovely – in their own right - but there is the third, and wonderful, choice of having a Celebrant led wedding. [It’s actually called a Wedding Celebration Ceremony because once the couple have given their notice of intent to marry, they need to complete the legal formalities at their local registry office.]'.
“Thank you so much for the beautiful ceremony…… everyone was saying how perfect it was! Honestly had the best day xx” Neesha and Chuks Aneke. Celebrant Jennifer Patrice, Venue Braxted Park, Photographer Matt Wing Photo
Jennifer continued: 'If you regularly attend church, then it stands to reason that you would want to get married there, but what if your partner isn’t a churchgoer? What if your partner is of a different faith from you? What if you want a totally different ceremony from what the church provides? If you decide to have a Registrar marry you, do you really want, more or less (in my head, I always say this in Brazilian Portuguese “mais ou menos”) to have the same generic script as every other couple with some, but not much, flexibility? Do you want someone you met 15-20 minutes beforehand to marry you? The real question is, what if you want a completely bespoke ceremony? If you answered “I hadn’t thought of that or no” to most or all of those questions, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.'
“We were always impressed with her outstanding professionalism, attention to detail, limitless compassion and patience” Eser and Jordi Clopes-Masjuan. Celebrant Jennifer Patrice, Venue Wadhurst Castle, Photographer Natan Sans.
Jennifer: 'A Celebrant gives you the wedding ceremony you have always dreamed of but never knew you could have. There’s a veritable wealth of Celebrants, all completely different from the other apart from the fact that we all do one thing. We all tell a story. We all tell your personal story. We take your relationship history and transform it into your ceremony. First, however, you have to find a Celebrant that’s right for you and that you click with.
At this point, some of the lyrics of *‘Getting to Know You’ sung by Dame Julie Andrews in ‘The King and I’ come to mind:
“Getting to know you
Getting to know all about you
Getting to like you
Getting to hope you like me
Getting to know you
Putting it my way
You are precisely
My cup of tea”
“It was the most amazing day and you made it unbelievably special for us – thank you so much” Tanya and Roly Solymar-Grant. Celebrant Jennifer Patrice, Venue Convocation House, Bodleian Library, Photographer MT Studio.
Jennifer: 'Once you have decided on what kind of ceremony you would like (there are two types of Celebrant – Humanist, who does not include religion in a ceremony and Independent, who does or doesn’t include religion all depending on what you would like), done your research on Celebrants and carried out some preliminary interviews you make a connection and decide who you are going to book, this can happen anything from three months to three years or more before your ceremony [although, when I was booked to appear on 'Don’t Tell the Bride', I got the phone call on the Friday afternoon – when I was on my way to a meeting at The Savoy - and the wedding was on Sunday] and we begin to build a relationship, a rapport, we become friends who hold your hand and support you over that time to – inevitably – write the perfect bespoke script which when you, and your loved ones, hear it will instantly recognise your story – the story that is unique to you.'
“We can’t thank Jennie enough for making our day so special. She will always have a place in our hearts” Cris and Andy Martell. Celebrant Jennifer Patrice, Venue The London Eye, Photographer Sue Jordan for Keeneye Photography
Jennifer continued: 'A Wedding Celebration Ceremony can have all the traditional elements such as a wedding party, either parent walking either of you up the aisle, vows, ring exchange readings/poems, and signing of a certificate. Still, most importantly, as well as your story, woven into your script are family, friends and a little bit of theatre with something like a sand pouring, a ring warming, a unity candle or even a wine blending or cocktail mixing.'
Wine Blending Ceremony. Celebrant Jennifer Patrice, Planner Oastbrook Weddings, Venue Oastbrook Vineyard, Photographer Chris Barber Photography.
Jennifer: 'The other added benefit is that a ceremony I conduct can be, but does not have to be, in a licensed room. Unlike Registrars, we, Celebrants, can conduct Wedding Celebration Ceremonies anywhere with no time restrictions [for me, at least, there is no such thing as running late as I never book more than one ceremony a day, and I always tell my couple not to rush, this is your moment, savour and enjoy it]. Whether that’s on a pristine white beach, in one of the oldest libraries in Europe, or how about in a lush green vineyard, an iconic landmark in London, or the castle which was the location for the Crown, why stop there? Why not on a cliff edge (elements permitting), or the top of a building overlooking your favourite city, or, when we can travel and survive there, Venus?'
“Thank you so much we had such an amazing time” Adjua and Dean Forrest. Celebrant Jennifer Patrice, Venue Blea Tarn, Lake District, Photographer Emily Black Photography.
Jennifer concluded: 'Let your imagination run wild. To quote Albert Einstein, “Imagination is everything, it’s the preview of life’s coming attractions”. It is, after all, your wedding day. One of life’s most important moments, so with the vision of your ceremony in your heart, the one you have always wanted but never knew you could have, why would you not hire a Celebrant?'
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
What is a Wedding Celebrant, and how do they differ from other officiants?
A Wedding Celebrant is a professional who conducts personalised wedding ceremonies. They differ from traditional officiants like clergy or registrars in that they create bespoke ceremonies that reflect the couple's story and preferences. Celebrants don't perform legally binding weddings in the UK but focus on crafting meaningful ceremonies.
Why choose a Celebrant over a religious or registrar-led ceremony?
While church weddings and registrar-led ceremonies are popular choices, a Celebrant-led wedding offers complete flexibility. You can tailor your ceremony to match your beliefs, values, and unique love story, providing a more personalised and memorable experience.
What is the role of a Wedding Celebrant in the legal aspect of marriage?
Wedding Celebrants in the UK do not perform legally binding marriages. Couples must first complete the legal formalities at their local registry office, typically involving giving notice of intent to marry. The Celebrant-led ceremony is a non-legally binding celebration of your union.
How do I choose the right Wedding Celebrant for my ceremony?
Finding the right Celebrant involves research and personal connection. Start by considering whether you prefer a Humanist or Independent Celebrant, and then research Celebrants in your area. Schedule interviews or consultations to ensure you connect with a Celebrant who understands your vision and can craft a ceremony that resonates with you.
What makes a Wedding Celebrant ceremony special and unique?
A Wedding Celebrant ceremony is tailored to you as a couple. Celebrants take your relationship history and transform it into a personalised script that tells your unique love story. These ceremonies can include traditional elements like vows, ring exchanges, and readings, as well as creative additions like sand pouring, unity candles, or wine blending, making each ceremony truly one-of-a-kind.
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