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  • Writer's picturePetra Tayler

Why should I bother with a celebrant when I have to pay for a registrar anyway?

This is a question I hear a lot from couples who maybe don't fully understand what a celebrant does, or are worrying about the wedding budget spiralling out of hand. And I get it, I really do.

As soon as you've stepped foot to look around a wedding venue or got chatting to suppliers at a wedding fair, you're likely to be asked whether you've booked your ceremony. It's a well-meaning question, but despite the number of forward-thinking suppliers who ask directly about celebrants, there's still a bias towards registrars. Why? Well, for wedding venues to be licensed for legal wedding ceremonies, they have to pay an annual fee to the council, so they want to make sure that it's worth it. It's not surprising then that you can quite feasibly be well on your way in the wedding planning journey before you realise there's another option: a totally personal ceremony written and delivered with love by a celebrant (like me!)

So, let's get into it. What are the costs involved and why would you bother 'paying twice'?

Getting a registrar out to your venue is not the cheap option

Couples are often surprised by just how much it costs to be legally married at a licensed wedding venue. Couples in Cambridgeshire, for example, have to pay for two notices of their intention to marry, a fee for the ceremony and a fee for a marriage certificate. If this is on a Sunday or a Bank Holiday, all that comes to £766 in 2023 (and just under £700 for any other day of the year).

In other areas of the country, this can be more, or slightly less, but I've not heard of any council in England that charges less than £500 to come out to your venue.

If you know you want a celebrant, you don't have to 'pay twice'

There's an option that most councils don't like to shout about as they want you to pay the big bucks, but trust me when I say they will all offer it - a basic ceremony, sometimes known as a 2+2 service. This is the ceremony my husband and I had the day before our celebrant-led wedding. It's usually held in a small ceremony space at the council offices, with only enough room for the registrar, the couple and 2 witnesses. Think of this as the paperwork bit - the legal formalities before you celebrate your marriage with a celebrant and all your family and friends. This basic ceremony usually costs around £50 depending on your council.

Celebrants offer a completely different service to registrars

I have a blog post all about this here, but when you consider what a celebrant offers compared to a registrar, there really is no comparison. Celebrant's fees are generally not much more than getting a registrar to your venue, but the difference in value is enormous. With a celebrant, you're getting a completely personal ceremony, crafted over months of getting to know you and delivered with warmth and love. A celebrant facilitates exactly what you want from a ceremony rather than a stranger greeting you on your wedding day and delivering a standard script. You can have all of that gorgeousness and just pay £50 for what I think of as an admin fee for your 2+2 ceremony.

A celebrant-led ceremony can save you money

Yes, really. You can marry anywhere with a celebrant-led ceremony, not just licensed venues, so that can be a huge cost saving. Find somewhere that speaks to your soul and save yourself some cash!

What I really want you to take away from this is that having a celebrant is not an extra expense. You can be legally married for roughly £50 and then celebrate with a gorgeous, personal, celebrant-led ceremony. When you set it out like that, it's a no-brainer isn't it?

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