Katie’s unforgettable processional at Appleby Castle

You’ve booked your wedding venue, and now you want to make your day extra special by choosing a wedding celebrant? Great! You can do the ‘legal bit’ at the registrar’s office on the day of your choosing. The vast majority of my couples don’t do the legal requirements on the same day as their celebrant-led ceremony.


Ben and Lisa had the loveliest ceremony at Eden Barn, Cumbria

What you may not know is that there are only 41 words, plus your names, that form the legal minimum for getting married. You don’t have to do a service or ceremony with the registrar. A lot of registrars will try and tell you otherwise, but it’s simply not true. You can have what is known as a ‘notification only’ with two witnesses present. This means you can save your music, rings, readings and vows for the ceremony that you’ll share with your friends and family.

Mr and Mrs Brown’s anointing ritual before their handtying.

Here’s what you need to know about choosing a wedding celebrant. Firstly, it’s important that you choose someone you resonate with because you will, hopefully, be developing a relationship. This is one of the primary differences between a registrar and a celebrant.

Beth creasing over due to my clever use of humour in their wedding ceremony.

Not all celebrants are the same. You might make a choice based on price or the celebrant’s location to your venue or their background or if you have shared interests. You might choose them on their looks or voice or something else. Perhaps your choice is based on the celebrant’s familiarity with your venue. Maybe you’d like to book them because you’ve seen them at work or had a glowing recommendation from a wedding planner or friend.


Pam and Doug’s beautiful Handfasting Ceremony on the Summer Solstice: Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides

Be wary of choosing someone based on their price. I can’t stress this enough. A lower-priced celebrant who is undercutting other celebrants may appear popular because they’re getting more work, but of this you should be sure: they will also be undercutting in other ways. That is, they simply won’t have the time to write you a bespoke ceremony. They’ll be ‘cutting and pasting’. Nor will they have the time to get to know you as well as they should. How can they if they’re churning out several weddings a week/more than one a day?


Sandra and Graham’s gorgeous outdoor ceremony by the River Nith.

Of course, there are also brand-new celebrants who charge the same fee as someone like myself (who has 28 plus years of real-life wedding experience). How do you tell the difference? Therein lies the problem. Now, while some newly certified celebrants might prove to be excellent, it’s important to remember that this is an unregulated industry. What this means is that every week, hundreds of new celebrants are being churned out of celebrant-training schools with certificates simply for ‘turning up’. This is no indicator of whether someone has the skills and qualities to do the job adequately never mind with excellence. (As a celebrant trainer, all my students are certified based on aptitude.)


Emma and Dom’s beautiful ceremony at Askham Hall, near Penrith.

I’m now in my 28th year of being a wedding celebrant. I’ve experienced every scenario you can imagine. One of my celebrant superpowers is being calm. This calmness shows in your wedding ceremony and extends to you as a couple. Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s devoid of humour or fun or whatever atmosphere you want created.

Laura’s processional for her celebrant-led ceremony with me at Hidden River, Cumbria

My job is to provide solidity, an anchor if you like, so that your ceremony is grounded. This is, after all, the template for your married life. It’s best not to confuse the words ‘safe hands’ with boring. My ceremonies are anything but! Each one reflects my couple so it might be traditional, alternative, unusual, humorous, edgy, romantic, philosophical, and so on. What they all have in common is that they are 100% bespoke (original) to the couple in question. There is no ceremony in the world that will come close regardless of what traditional elements it might include.

Fraser and Emily’s stunning wedding ceremony (on a stormy day) was held at Eden Barn, Cumbria.

In 2020, I graduated from University of Cumbria with a Master’s Degree in Creative Writing. You can bet I’m going to LOVE writing your love story.

A beautiful elopement here in Cumbria for Nicky and Karen.

You can find me officiating from Callanish on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides down to Cornwall, and internationally, but mostly you’ll find me officiating weddings here in beautiful Cumbria. I’ve officiated in castles, flower meadows, on beaches, in woodlands, barns, homes, gardens, hotels, stone circles, stables, canal boats and more.

When Katrina and Josh said they were having a Lords of the Rings-inspired wedding, I said “I’ll bring Gandalf!”


Hannah and Jaret travelled from Canada for their woodland wedding at Low Hall The Lakes.

If you’re getting married in Cumbria, and want a beautiful wedding ceremony you’ll always remember, do get in touch.

Paul and Katie’s ceremony was held in the bailey at Appleby Castle.

Ashleigh and Tom’s gorgeous ceremony at Cote How, in the Lake District, Cumbria

Of course I can include your dogs in your ceremony!

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