Planning your dream wedding? One of the first decisions you’ll make is who will officiate your ceremony. In the UK, you have two main options: a registrar or a celebrant. But what’s the difference between the two, and which one is right for you? Let’s dive into the top questions to consider:


Can a celebrant legally marry me? This depends on location. In England and Wales, only registrars can legally solemnize marriages. Scotland and Northern Ireland offer more flexibility, with celebrants able to conduct legal ceremonies in some circumstances.



  • How much control can I have over the ceremony content? This is where celebrants shine. They offer a blank canvas for you to craft a ceremony that reflects your unique love story. Want to write your own vows, include poems, involve your pet and children, or incorporate cultural traditions? A celebrant can make it happen. Registrars, on the other hand, follow a set script with limited room for personalization.
  • Can I include religious elements? Not with a registrar. Their ceremonies are non-religious. Celebrants, however, can accommodate religious or spiritual elements, tailoring the ceremony to your beliefs.


  • Where can the ceremony take place? Registrars are restricted to licensed venues, typically registry offices and wedding venues (which can pile on the costs of the whole event). Celebrants offer more freedom. You can get married anywhere including a beach, in a garden, or even woodland!
  • How much time do I have? Registrar ceremonies are shorter, usually around 8-10 minutes. Celebrants allow for more flexibility, letting you create a ceremony that fits your vision. If you need a wedding in a hurry registry offices have limited time slots so book well in advance.


  • How much does it cost? Registrar ceremonies generally have lower fees set by local authorities, but these increase dramatically if they are to perform a ceremony at a licensed premises. Celebrants’ fees can vary depending on experience and the complexity of your ceremony.
  • Remember that if you are to have a celebrant ceremony, you will need to factor in a quiet 2 & 2 statutory ceremony at the registry office before your big day to make it legal.  These slots are limited but if you have a good lead time that can be arranged without much stress.


  • Will I meet the officiant beforehand? With a registrar, probably not. They often conduct multiple ceremonies a day. Celebrants typically schedule consultations to get to know you as a couple and personalize your ceremony, and only carry out one ceremony on the day (a huge advantage if the unplanned throws the schedule out).

Ultimately, the choice between a registrar and a celebrant comes down to your priorities. If a legal marriage is essential and you prefer a short traditional ceremony, a registrar might be the way to go. But if you crave a unique and personalized experience, a celebrant can help you create a wedding ceremony that’s truly unforgettable.