One of the earliest bookings you will make in your wedding planning is to book a celebrant to perform your ceremony. With weddings being planned at least two years in advance it is crucial you look at booking your celebrant as soon as you can. Think of securing a celebrant as one of the core elements along with setting the date and booking your venue to ensure you have a great day.

Each celebrant will bring their own personalities to your ceremony and if you can choose your own celebrant that is great. But what are you basing this selection upon? Is it a referral from a family member or friend? Or maybe you have been to a ceremony and liked how the celebrant performed it for the couple? Or maybe you read reviews and recommendations on forums made by other couples online. Or indeed there might be a mix of those approaches to help you make your decision.

There is also the matter of the kind the kind of celebrant you want. Is it someone to perform a ceremony for you that had no legal element to it or are you looking for a celebrant who can solemnise your marriage?

Can’t all celebrants perform legally binding wedding ceremonies?

The title Celebrant is the most commonly used term to describe what that person, who takes a lead role on your big day and is partly responsible for setting the tone of the day for you. A celebrant can develop a personalised ceremony; facilitate the telling of your love story, inviting your readers, singers and other people who are involved to do their part at the right time. They can create a lovely atmosphere for you to start your celebrations for the rest of the day. What they may not be able to do is perform the legal part of your wedding ceremony.

You may also be familiar with the terms Registrar and Solemniser. They too can ‘celebrate’ with you and personalise your ceremony too whereas a Registrar and Solemniser have an added ability to perform the legal element of your wedding ceremony.  Not all celebrants can do that piece.

What specifically is the difference between a Registrar, Solemniser and Celebrant? Let’s break the language down a bit.

If you look at the list of Solemnisers for Ireland you will see that there are three categories of bodies that can perform legally binding wedding ceremonies. They are Civil, Religious and Secular.

A Registrar – Civil Ceremonies.

A registrar typically comes from the Registrar’s office. They perform the legal part of the wedding ceremony with limited ability to personalise to your ceremony. You need to adhere to a specific list of requirements to have a registrar perform your legally binding wedding ceremony either in their offices or in the venue where your ceremony is taking place. So be sure to ask questions about their criteria for approved venues before you decide to go with this choice.

Some of the criteria include

  1. There can be no reference to anything deemed religious or spiritual in readings, poems or indeed music. So be sure to find out if what you want is permitted.
  2. They operate only on a Monday to Friday basis and in specific venues. Again the venue cannot have any Religious or Spiritual objects, fixtures or fittings, reducing the amount of venues that you may have your ceremony performed in.
  3. The time you wish to have your ceremony at will be at the behest of the availability of the Registrar and not necessarily at your preferred time.
  4. The venue needs to meet their criteria to be approved to perform the ceremony in it.
  5. If you marry in the Registry Office itself, there is little or no room for lateness. Your ceremony fits into the overall work the registrar does within their office hours.
  6. You will also need to check the amount of guests you can have in attendance if you have the ceremony in the Registry office.

A Solemniser – Religious/Secular

They can perform the civil/legal part of your along with some symbolic elements that meet their criteria. This can be a religious, spiritual, faith based or indeed a non-denominational symbolic activity.

A Solemniser is someone who has the authority to perform the legal part of your wedding ceremony, and sign the paperwork on the day that then generates a marriage certificate stating you are married. Some Solemnisers have a wide range of activities to choose from to personalise your wedding ceremony that truly reflects you and your relationship.

As a Solemniser with Spiritual Ceremonies we are one such group that can tailor make your ceremony with you and about you. We offer wide variety of elements to choose from and can help you include your own personal ones. We cater for couples of all religions and no religion, same sex and heterosexual couples. What is important is that you are in control of how you want your ceremony to reflect you as a couple and from which all other elements of your day flow. You will find all names of nominated solemnisers names on the list of Registered Solemnisers.

What else do you need to know about Solemnisers?

They can be titled Priests, Ministers, Reverends, Rabbis, Officiants, Imam, Pastor Mr, Mrs, Ms or indeed Celebrant. Think of them as groups who are recognised by the State and have been granted licenced to perform wedding ceremonies that aligns with the couples belief system or philosophy about life.

Questions you might ask to select a Celebrant/Solemniser for your wedding.

  1. Do you have to be a member of their belief system or philosophy in order to be married by them?
  2.  What Rites and Ceremonies must happen to meet their criteria to perform a legally binding ceremony?
  3. What Rites and Ceremonies must happen to meet their criteria to perform a legally binding ceremony?
  4. Do they perform wedding ceremonies on a day, time and venue of your choice?
  5. Are there any restrictions to them performing a ceremony in a particular venue?
  6. What happens if you are sick on the day of our wedding and cannot attend?
  7. Can you perform a legally binding wedding ceremony?

A Celebrant

So you can see that just looking for a celebrant may be too broad a term and may need a little more research if you want a celebrant who can perform the legal element for you.

Final tip

No matter what online research you do if possible have a conversation on the phone with the celebrant you are thinking about booking for your ceremony. Get a feel for what they sound like to you after all they do a lot of talking in your ceremony. Most will be happy to have a conversation with you as we understand the anxiety you may have about getting this right for your big day. It is important that you ‘click’ with your celebrant. They hold a precious part of your day.

Be clear on what you want and don’t want. If you want only one wedding ceremony then a Solemniser is the best choice.

Be sure to declare your intent to marry with the HSE within the time frame no matter what kind of legally binding ceremony you have, Church or Non Church.

Do your homework on their terms and conditions about booking them and what exactly you will get in terms of contact with the celebrant.

Above all enjoy the planning as much as you can, you are planning for one of the biggest days of your lives. Remember to breathe and smile.

Useful links

Register of Solemnisers

Spiritual Ceremonies

Declaring your intent to marry with the HSE


For more Wedding Planning Tips you can connect with Sandra on her social media platforms


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