What’s the difference between a celebrant and a registrar? Celebrate with verity

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Emma & Chris The Barn at Botley Hill 22nd July 2023 (c) Michael Newington Gray

What’s the difference between choosing a celebrant or a registrar for our wedding?

Congratulations on embarking on the journey of a lifetime! As a young and vibrant wedding celebrant based in the picturesque Hampshire, I’m here to guide you through the exciting world of wedding ceremonies. Today, let’s unravel the mystery behind a common question that often swirls in the minds of couples – What is the difference between a celebrant or registrar for our wedding?

The Registrar: The Official Maestros

Think of registrars as the official conductors of the legal symphony that is your wedding. They are appointed by local authorities and are responsible for ensuring all the legal formalities are met. While their role is crucial, registrars often bring a more formal and procedural approach to your ceremony.

This means that you don’t have much room for manoeuvre when it comes to personalisation. For instance, the ceremony script will be the same for every couple, timings must be kept (so no fashionably late brides please!), and you are limited with your venue choices.

Picture this: a registrar-led ceremony in a licensed venue, a table adorned with official documents, and a concise script that focuses on legalities. It’s like a legal tango – precise, regulated, and essential.

The Celebrant: Crafting Your Love Story

Now, let’s talk about celebrants – the storytellers of your love journey. As a wedding celebrant, my role goes beyond legalities; it’s about crafting a ceremony that reflects your unique love story perfectly! Celebrants bring a personalised touch, tailoring each ceremony to match your personalities, values, and the essence of your relationship.

Although celebrants can’t currently legally marry couples in most parts of the UK, the value they bring to your day is priceless!

In short, their ceremonies are fun, full of personality, and surprises, and are just so you! There are no rules here, so you are free to make your ceremony your own.

Imagine exchanging vows in a breathtaking outdoor setting, surrounded by natural beauty, with a ceremony script that resonates with your love story. A celebrant-led ceremony is like the best kind of emotional roller coaster – joyful, heartfelt, and filled with the warmth of your connection.

Celebrate with Verity - Hampshire Celebrant - Botley Hill Barn - Surrey Wedding - Indoor Ceremony - July Wedding
Emma & Chris The Barn at Botley Hill 22nd July 2023 (c) Michael Newington Gray

Joyful Differences:

To better understand the differences, let’s break it down:

Legal Bits:

Registrar: Their ceremony is legally binding and results in a couple being legally married.

Celebrant: Can’t currently legally marry couples in most parts of the UK. This means you are required to book into a registry office before or after your big day to tie up the legal bits. You can request a basic legal service where you are not required to kiss or exchange vows or rings. This means you can save all the special bits for your celebrant ceremony.

Venue Freedom:

Registrar: Limited to licensed venues.

Celebrant: Flexibility to choose any location, indoor or outdoor, licensed or not.


Registrar: Follows a standard script with limited room for personal touches.

Celebrant: Crafts a unique, one-of-a-kind ceremony script tailored to your love story, preferences, and beliefs. No two ceremonies are the same!

Ceremony Structure:

Registrar: Emphasis on legalities, with a formal and concise structure.

Celebrant: Focus on storytelling, creating a relaxed and joyful atmosphere. You have the option to chop and change the structure to suit you!

Symbolic Rituals and Extra Flourishes:

Registrar: Limited or no inclusion of added extras.

Celebrant: Can incorporate symbolic rituals such as handfasting, as well as personalised elements and unique spins! Fancy a mid-ceremony sing-a-long to Taylor Swift? Yes, please! Or how about you finish the ceremony with a shot of tequila?


Registrar: Usually adheres to a strict schedule, with limited time for personal elements. They will often have multiple ceremonies in a day.

Celebrant: More flexibility in timing, allowing for a relaxed and meaningful experience. Most celebrants will only book one ceremony per day – hair running behind time? No worries!

Emma & Chris The Barn at Botley Hill 22nd July 2023 (c) Michael Newington Gray

Finding Your Perfect Fit:

Both registrars and celebrants play crucial roles in the wedding symphony, and the choice between them depends on your vision for the day. If you prioritise legalities and are content with a more formal setting, a registrar might be your go-to maestro. However, if you crave a ceremony that’s a celebration of your unique love story (and a whole lot of fun!), a celebrant is the storyteller who can bring your dreams to life!

As a wedding celebrant, I’ve worked with dozens of couples to create magical ceremonies that they will never forget! From traditionally beautiful, to a little bit quirky! Every ceremony has been as unique as the last and I would love to help you do the same. Just pop me a message to book a free discovery call.