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What is a wedding celebrant? With Yorkshire celebrant and wedding coordinator Piers Lane

What is a wedding celebrant? With Yorkshire celebrant and wedding coordinator Piers Lane: Image 1 If you're getting married, the chances are you'll have heard the word 'Celebrant' and may be wondering what one is and whether you need one. We caught up with Piers Lane, a professional Yorkshire Celebrant and Wedding Day Coordinator to get the lowdown...

In years gone by there were really only two options of who would lead your wedding ceremony either the local vicar (or equivalent) or the local registrar of births, deaths and marriages. Both brought their own approach to marking the occasion, one being religious and one not, and both restrictive by the fact that they could only marry you in places that were (a) local to where you live and (b) registered for marriage (which among other things means they can't be outside). The problem with both is that they often feel inappropriate to contemporary couples, who are looking for something more relaxed and creative. Enter the Celebrant.

A Celebrant is someone who is trained to create and lead ceremonies professionally. This means they have plenty of experience and lots of ideas of how to make your day special as well as being good with an audience and at helping everyone relax and enjoy the occasion. They work independently rather than representing a church or the law, and so are free to create and lead ceremonies as couples would like them to be.

A professional Celebrant is not a Registrar (who work for the council and offers a short legal ceremony) or a church minister (who works for a particular denomination and offers a religious ceremony), but rather is an independent person who has trained to lead bespoke ceremonies for couples who want to make their vows in a setting, format and atmosphere that is uniquely them. We're a great choice for couples for whom religion has little relevance, or who wish for something different to what a Registrar can offer. Some Celebrants are humanists, but many are not. Some will not include any religious aspects in a ceremony, others will be happy to explore your own beliefs and find ways of expressing them that work for you.

As a Celebrant is not restricted to one particular form of ceremony, we are free to help a couple create a unique ceremony which celebrates their relationship in ways and words that reflect exactly who they are. It's no surprise then that couples who are looking for a ceremony full of meaning and moments that have guests who comment afterwards That was so them! often choose a Celebrant.

When I work with a couple to create a wedding, I don't ever tell them what the ceremony is going to be like; I ask them. I start with them, their story, their love, their values. We explore what they would like the whole day to feel like for them and their guests, and then I draft some ideas from which we'll design a ceremony that is perfect for the couple. The process is collaborative, creative and fun. We get to know each other over this period and on the day it feels great that the couple know and trust me, and are certain that I know them and will reflect them in the ceremony. As a Celebrant, I know how much this personal aspect matters.

The ceremony itself can include a range of elements tailored to you, making ceremonies creative, participative and fun for you and your guests. The words of the ceremony are also an area where you can make your mark. If you want to have the traditional vows then of course you can, or, like many contemporary couples you might want to create your own. Music, readings and poetry can all play their part too in making your ceremony perfectly you. A good Celebrant will be great with words and able to write a bespoke ceremony that you'll love.

A final aspect of what Celebrants offer is the freedom to hold your ceremony wherever you like. Registrary Office and Church weddings have limits to where they can be held firstly, within the district you live in and (surprisingly it's the law!) under a roof. Although some licensed venues have created spaces which feel outside, if you really want to be away from it all and get married on a beach or in the woods then you'll need a Celebrant. Even couples getting married in premises which are licensed often choose a Celebrant because they want the relaxed atmosphere, creativity and relationship that Celebrants are known for.

You may have heard that a Celebrant can't legally marry you. That's correct - we ask you to visit your local Registry Office on a separate occasion where you can complete the necessary paperwork, which costs very little. It's a bit like when a baby is born the birth is registered on a different occasion to the christening or naming ceremony.

You may be wondering, 'Will it feel 'real' if it is not the legal ceremony?' In my experience, yes, 100%, it will. The things that make a wedding feel real is not the signing of the legal paperwork but standing in front of your guests, making your vows, exchanging rings, and marking the moment in ways that are perfectly you.

In the end, booking a Celebrant is a great choice if creating a ceremony that is unique is something that really matters to you. See below for ten reasons why a Celebrant might be one of the best decisions you make about your wedding day. If you'd like to explore the option further, then get in touch.

1. Because you want a ceremony which is unique - tailored to you rather than a standard 'insert-name-here' script.

2.Because you want your wedding to be fun! Filled with laughter rather than legalities, smiles rather than seriousness, celebration rather than regulation.

3. Because you want your wedding to be somewhere that is unlicensed - in a woodland, at home in your garden, on a beach, by a lake, up a mountain, in a tipi.

4. Because you want your ceremony to be spiritual, but not religious. You want something that expresses your beliefs and values rather than a legal ceremony.

5. Because reviews matter to you and there are so many great reviews on the work of Celebrants.

6. Because you want your wedding to last more than about 10 minutes and to be the centre of the day, not just a quick legal formality.

7. Because you want your wedding to be led by someone who is experienced, confident with a crowd, who your guests warm to.

8. Because you've been to a great Celebrant-led wedding, and you want that same relaxed, informal, creative vibe for your big day too!

9. Because you like the idea of being able to meet with your Celebrant and establishing a rapport with them in an informal way.

10. Because you are a mixed faith couple and would prefer to be married in a neutral setting.

Piers Lane is a professional Celebrant and Wedding Day Coordinator who is passionate about helping couples celebrate their wedding in spectacularly romantic and beautiful locations with words and ceremonies that reflect them personally. Based in Yorkshire, but travelling widely, you can find out more about him at his website, www.pierslanecelebrant.eu. Call him on 07967 327230 for a chat.

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