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FAQs and expert advice about celebrant

Here is a selection of Q&As from Your Bristol and Somerset Wedding magazine whether it be about flowers, hair and makeup, fashion, wedding themes, health & beauty, cakes, stationery, legal advice. If you would like your question answered by our experts, please email it to editor@yourbristolsomerset.wedding

A Winter's Tale

A Winter's Tale

Q What is your advice on creating a winter wonderland wedding?
A Jen Whitworth says: Hot chocolate, snuggles under a blanket and open fires – what's not to love about winter? And with a celebrant-led wedding you can create romantic wintry magical vibes for you ceremony too. Let your guests warm your wedding bands with good wishes, love and support for your new journey as a married couple. Plus, it's never too early to hear a cheesy Christmas song, so why not walk in to your favourite one? You could even get your guests to sing along. Instead of everyone throwing confetti, how about they throw fake snow as you walk down the aisle, creating your very own snow scene?

Candles always add romance, so including a Unity Candle ceremony is a perfect way to keep the warm wintry feel. What's more, creating your own blend of mulled wine as part of a wine ceremony is very special. You could add your and your partner's favourite wines and spices together. Loved ones will really enjoy toasting you both after the ceremony.

Instead of a sand ceremony why not have a snow globe ceremony? Each taking it in turns to add the elements. Or, bind your love together with a hand-fasting ceremony using your scarves as your hand-fasting cords and celebrate your first kiss under the mistletoe.

Jen Whitworth, Jen The Celebrant

Open-Air 'I Dos'

Open-Air 'I Dos'

Q What is your advice on planning an outdoor wedding?
A Jackie Aldrich and Deb Stogell says: One of the best things about a celebrant-led wedding is that you can hold your ceremony anywhere outside. You'll have no legal restrictions on the content, or the time and length of your nuptials. Your guests can sit or indeed walk around the area as you spread the ceremony over several different spots. You can even have a toast to start your ceremony or to end it. And if you have four-legged friends, they can be included very easily in the great outdoors.

Most choose a place that feels special, but outside you're offered a different set of walls, bringing you together with the world around you. This gives you the chance to declare your love to that special someone close to nature with the sounds of other life such as birds or water enveloping you as you enjoy the view. Weddings that take place al fresco don't just offer the fresh air but, when led by a celebrant, can encompass the whole wedding party in celebration. The "I dos" aren't just a set of words, they're a story waiting to be told and an open-air setting can only enhance that story on your wonderful wedding day.

Jackie Aldrich and Deb Stogell, Just Ceremonies

You're the one that I want

You're the one that I want

Q We don't want just anyone to conduct our personal wedding ceremony. So, how do we find the perfect celebrant for us?
A Jen Whitworth says: Choosing the right wedding celebrant to make sure you get your gorgeous day your way, is an important and personal decision. You should feel comfortable and have a connection with your celebrant. After all, you're putting a lot of trust in them. This is the person who'll be asking you both lots of personal questions about your love story, the person who'll be with you during the most intimate, nerve-wracking and exciting moments of your day. It's a very good idea to do some research to find the right one for you. Follow them on social media and you'll soon discover their personalities and see what past weddings they've conducted and, importantly, what others have to say about what they've done to help make their day so special.

There are a number of online wedding directories that have lists of celebrants, so you can contact them directly and ask questions. If you like what they have to say, then why not arrange to meet for a cuppa or arrange a Zoom call?

Wedding fairs are fantastic places to look for celebrants too, as you can study from afar and then meet with them directly. You'll be able to decide straight away if there's a spark between you all.

Another option is to ask your wedding suppliers for recommendations, such as your venue or photographer. They work alongside many different wedding celebrants every week and will gladly make suggestions.

Finally, when you're chatting to potentials, try to have a list of questions you want to ask them to see if they have the same vision as you. Will they make sure that you have your wedding your way? If it's a "yes" then book them!

Jen Whitworth, Jen The Celebrant

Life of the party

Life of the party

Q We don't want our ceremony to be the boring part of our wedding that everyone must sit through in order to get to the party! How can we make it as exciting and fun-filled as the rest of the day to reflect our personalities?
A Jen Whitworth says: The simple answer is to opt for a celebrant-led ceremony! They'll work with you to make every aspect of your ceremony reflective of you and your partner's personalities, so it'll be bespoke and all about your love story. Every time a celebrant officiates it will be unique, different from the last one they did. Unlike a registrar, who must repeat the same script. With a celebrant-led wedding, the party starts with the ceremony, and so it should! There are no limits to what you can do, say or even where you have to hold it. You can bin the rules, or better still, rewrite them. If you want to go down the aisle on a motorbike, do it. You can include quotes from your favourite films, incorporate your family and heritage traditions, involve your pooch, have a karaoke sing-song, the sky's the limit. Why not stop halfway through and have a toast to your wonderful guests? Just think of the love invested in writing your own wedding vows that are personal and special to you as a couple. Traditional, modern, funny, quirky – the power is all yours. You'll have the most amazing memories and so will everyone else.

Jen Whitworth, Jen The Celebrant

Your wedding, your way

Your wedding, your way

Q I'm a Christian, but my husband-to-be isn't and we're struggling to decide what sort of ceremony to have to make sure we're both happy and feel married. Can you help?
A Jen Whitworth says: The law lists everything you can't have at your civil wedding. You're not allowed hymns or religious rituals for example, and readings from religious texts are forbidden. In fact, you're not allowed to have any form of religious worship of any kind. With a celebrant-led wedding however, there are no restrictions. Your celebrant will work with you to make sure your beliefs and heritage can be included in your ceremony, whether you want a prayer or Genesis chapter 1 verses 26-28. Your wedding promises can also take into consideration your different beliefs. If you're a Christian, you can “solemnly swear before God,” and your husband-to-be can make his promises according to his “heart and conscience.” A celebrant-led ceremony is so exciting and just as unique as you. Your celebrant will work with you to make sure it's everything you want and includes any rituals, hymns or religious readings you wish. Make sure you have your wedding your way.

Jen Whitworth, Jen The Celebrant

Q We're interested in using a celebrant to conduct our ceremony and would like to know the process. Can you tell us more?
A Isla Macleod says: In choosing a celebrant-led wedding you have the opportunity to create a bespoke ceremony that's uniquely yours, and memorable for all the right reasons! Once you've found the right celebrant for you the next step is to explore your hopes and dreams for your wedding. After sending out a questionnaire with some playful ideas for sharing as a couple, we arrange a visioning session that includes suggestions for rituals and structure, so you can start to visualise the form of your ceremony. Your celebrant can provide ideas for making it inclusive with elements of participation and collaboration. From here, your celebrant visits the venue and begins working on your wedding script, articulating your personal love story and suggesting readings, while designing a ceremony based on your preferences. You'll have full editorial control over this and can tweak it to perfection. Meanwhile, you're beginning to write your vows and your celebrant can support you with this, offering inspiration and guidance so you can speak your own words straight from the heart. I also like to offer some practices for you to explore as a couple before your wedding to help focus your attention and enrich your depth of connection and commitment. On your wedding day, your celebrant arrives early at the venue to set up the area and hold the emotional space for those present. This could include anxiety calming techniques, a neck massage or running over speeches. They welcome guests and conduct the ceremony in a caring and grounded way, to ensure the essence of love infuses the whole day and you feel truly supported and celebrated.

Isla Macleod, Isla Macleod Ceremonies

Learning the ropes

Learning the ropes

Q We've heard about all of the different rituals we can have during a celebrant-led ceremony from hand-fasting to candle-lighting, but what's the difference and how do we know which is right for us?
A Jen Whitworth says: During a Celebrant led ceremony, anything is possible – there are no limits to what rituals (or elements as they are sometimes referred to) you can include, as long as they're within the current law of the land. It's a perfect opportunity to really make your ceremony reflect your personality.

Hand-fasting and unity candles are both gorgeous, traditional elements and can involve family and friends, plus you can still use them in a modern way. For example, you don't have to use ribbons for hand-fasting, perhaps you're both keen rock climbers and would prefer to incorporate a fancy-coloured climbing rope and some shiny carabineers with personal charms that mean something to you both.

As more and more families are coming together and blending as one, sand ceremonies are becoming very popular. A beautiful glass vessel is filled with different layers of coloured sand, each representing a person and the creation of one family unified.

Your personalities should shine through during your ceremony. If you're karaoke fans, why not have a sing song with your guests to your favourite songs? For Harry Potter fans out there, you could even include a sorting hat or make a blended cocktail potion as part of a wine ceremony. If you're eco-conscious, plant a tree or scatter a wild seed mix. If you're both creative, paint something together or as a collective on a blank canvas, which represents the day of your wedding and a new beginning – you'll always have a piece of unique art too. The only limitation is your imagination. Remember: this is your wedding, so do it your way!

Jen Whitworth, Jen The Celebrant

Which is which?

Which is which?

Q Help! We're getting confused about the difference between a registrar and a celebrant. Can you shed some light on this?
A Julie Bisacre says: Until recent times, couples could either book a religious ceremony in a church, or a secular one at a register office. The only other option was a licensed venue, which a registrar would attend. That's not the case any more.

Firstly, let's examine what a registrar is and what they do. A registrar is an official who oversees and keeps records of births, deaths and marriages. They often work in a register office and officiate the paperwork/licence pertaining to your legal marriage. These are set words and procedures and are often rather impersonal. What many don't realise is that you can go into a register office, sign the legal paperwork and then use a celebrant to write and deliver a ceremony to suit your personalities.

So, what exactly is a celebrant? A professionally-trained celebrant will meet with you and discover exactly what your dream wedding would look like. They'll include as much or as little as you wish of any element whether it be religious, spiritual or secular. If you've always dreamed of a woodland wedding, then that's what they'll design for you. If you fancy a themed wedding, maybe Star Wars or Disney, then the celebrant will enter into the spirit of your ceremony and make it a reality.

Currently, a celebrant can't do the legal paperwork, so organise a quick visit to the register office to complete this. Once it's all signed, you can have your ring exchange, vows, readings, meaningful songs and everything your hearts desire – a wedding that you and your guests will remember for the rest of your lives.

Julie Bisacre, Celebrant Julie Bisacre

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