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How can I legally marry with a Celebrant in England?

Welcome back! I’m so happy to see you here!

Today I want to talk about how you can legally marry in England with a celebrant…I have said ‘England’ deliberately, as the rules on marrying can be different, depending upon where in the UK you live (or are getting married!)

Here, I have set out the 5 simple steps that you, as a couple, will need to complete to ‘legally marry’ here in England. It’s actually quite simple…

Step 1: Location, location, location!

This is totally the best part! Finding your perfect place, personal to you can take some time, but once you’ve found it, BOOK IT!

It is worth remembering, that by having a celebrant led ceremony, you are NOT restricted to venues that have a wedding licence…you can - within the bounds of health and safety – have your ceremony anywhere that you wish. This might be where you first met or to do with your joint hobbies. It could be a place that holds very special memories, or somewhere you’ve both longed to go, but never quite got around to! Be creative with your search too – combine the things that you love, such as fishing and camping, and erect a tipi in your favourite riverside or lake location. As long as you have permission from the venue or land owner, as I said in my last blog, ‘The World is Your Lobster!’

The World Is Your Lobster

Fun Fact: Registrars are restricted by guidelines that state that once the temperature drops below 16 degrees, they will automatically move the ceremony inside.

As your celebrant, I have NO such restrictions and NO such rules! I will conduct your outdoor ceremony in any weather (as long as that is what you want of course!)

I recently conducted a ceremony IN a river…in the rain! We just donned our wellies and put up umbrellas – I mean, once you’re wet, you can’t get any wetter, can you?

There is literally nothing stopping you from having your perfect wedding, in your perfect location – a Celebrant Led Wedding can be carried out anywhere, at any time, with no restrictions!

Wedding ceremony taking place in a river.
Just add wellies and I'm right in there with you!

Step 2: Find your Celebrant!

So, you’ve now booked your location – it’s time to find and book your Celebrant!

There are many to choose from, and we are all different – so look at a few websites, check out their social media sites, and once you’ve narrowed it down, book a Discovery Call! This is so important – you want to find a Celebrant that you ‘click’ with and who suits your style. You also need to check their availability!

Unlike with a Registrar, YOU are in control of who conducts your wedding!

Once you have found and booked your Celebrant, you start to build a relationship with them, through phone calls, emails, Zooms and in person meetings. These are all included in the price of your celebrant and again, unlike with a Registrar, your ceremony is going to be so very personal to you BECAUSE of your relationship with your Celebrant! Your ‘Love Story’ is unique…so how could an ‘off the peg’ ceremony do it justice? Why would you want to have to pick one of the three Government set (short, impersonal!) scripts, when I can write you a bespoke one that shares with your friends and family ‘The Story Of You’?

As your Celebrant, I will only EVER conduct one ceremony per day, which means that you can set the agenda for this in any way, shape or form. You want a candlelit, evening ceremony by the lake where the proposal happened? No problem – I’m all yours! An early morning ceremony in a hot air balloon, just as the sun is rising? I’m all in!

Wedding ceremony in a hot air balloon.
Anytime, any place, ANYWHERE!

Step 3: Booking ‘The Legal Bits’

Whether you are choosing to marry with a Registrar OR a Celebrant, you must pop down to your local Register Office to register your intent to marry. This is a straightforward process and will allow the Registrar to prepare your legal documentation and add these to the Register of Marriages.

In most local Register Offices, there is the option of a simple, 2 x 2 ceremony (the couple and two witnesses)

These are usually at off-peak times during the week – so think ‘Monday morning at 9.30’!

Do tell the Register Office that you have booked a Celebrant, asking specifically for this type of simple ceremony in order to sign the paperwork and make the legal declaration - as the price is reflective, it can save you £££££s when booking!

Your legal ceremony will probably take place as close to the date of your Celebrant Led ceremony as possible – most couples tend to do this in the week before. It is of course entirely up to you when this takes place, so feel free to book your legal signing whenever it suits you.

Step 4: The Legal Signing

Your legal service can be as simple as saying your Declaratory Words and Contractual Vows (not the same as your personal vows to each other) and signing the marriage certificate with your two witnesses.

You DO NOT have to share your personal marriage vows OR exchange rings on this day – you can save these for your Celebrant Led ceremony. Just let the Registrar know that this is what you wish to do beforehand.

You will be required to take two witnesses and choose one from each of the following legal statements:

Declaratory Words (3 sets to choose from – choose the one that you feel most comfortable with)

1. “I do solemnly declare that I know not of any lawful impediment why I, __________may not be joined in matrimony to ___________.”


2. “I declare that I know of no legal reason why I, __________, may not be joined in marriage to _______________.”


3. By replying “I am” to the question “Are you ________ free lawfully to marry ___________?”

Contractual Vows (3 sets to choose from – choose the one that you feel most comfortable with)

1. “I call upon these persons here present to witness that I, AB, do take thee, CD, to be my lawful wedded wife (or husband).”


2. “I __________ take you __________ to be my wedded wife (or husband)”


3. “I __________ take thee _________ to be my wedded wife (or husband)” …

The current (2022) Standard UK Fees Notice of Marriage are £35 per person which are payable to the registration service in which both parties live. You will also need to book the Statutory Ceremony which is £46 (+£11 for your marriage certificate).

Here is the link to Peterborough Register Office (you can find your own local office simply online):

Once you have done all of this, you are free to have your Celebrant Led Ceremony wherever, and whenever, you like!

Step 5: Planning Your ‘Perfectly Personal’ Ceremony!

You’ve booked the venue, chosen your Celebrant and registered your intent to marry – now the fun begins!

You plan your day – YOUR WAY!

It is worth mentioning here, that if you have decided on a destination wedding, you can make sure that it goes off without any kind of ‘legal hitch’ by separating the ceremony overseas from the legal signing – it also makes things simpler down the line too, if you ever require a replacement wedding certificate for instance! By having your legal signing here in the UK before you go (or when you get back), you can avoid the, often time-consuming, visits to various government offices in order to sign the documentation and get your checks done!

(I know this from personal experience!)

So, there you have it – 5 easy steps to your Celebrant Led wedding!

Happy Planning!!

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