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Wedding Ceremony Options | How to Choose

I think this is one of the many topics in the wedding industry that there isn't enough information about.

It's often the case that couples don't know what their options are when it comes to the ceremony section of their wedding. Even those that are non-religious come to me and think that a civil ceremony is their only option... no no my friends!

So let me give you the low down on the four different ceremony options and their pro's and con's!

Religious or Non Religious

The first consideration for deciding on a ceremony type is whether you are religious or not.

If you are religious the likelihood is, is that you'll be having a ceremony dedicated to that faith, whether thats Catholic, Christian, Hindu, Jewish you'll be having a traditional ceremony for that particular religion.

You might be able to tweak slightly or relax some of the religious traditions within those ceremonies but that's completely up to you and your religious beliefs.

Pro's & Con's


  • Following your faith and religion and specific traditions

  • Getting married in a beautiful building

  • Will be married by your head of faith and will meet them before to discuss the ceremony and have that personal relationship

  • Legal marriage


  • If you have different religions to your partner

  • Strict structure of the ceremony and what's included within this

  • Particular legal and religious language

Civil Ceremony

A civil ceremony is when a registrar from the council marry's you, you sadly do not get to choose your registrar it's whoever is available on that day, which I just want to flag now as a lot of people don't realise this! So if you want your ceremony to be performed in a certain way then you might want to consider a celebrant led wedding.

The ceremony must take place in a venue that has a wedding license to marry you, make sure you check this as not all venues hold a license!

If you wanted to get married abroad then you might want to have the civil ceremony before you jet off, at a registry office or licensed venue so that your wedding vows have been legally done beforehand.

Pro's & Con's


  • Do not have to get married in a religious building, can be any building with a marriage license.

  • Legal marriage


  • Only meet your registrar on the day of your wedding - you cannot choose who you have

  • Not much wiggle room to create a bespoke ceremony however you can add in readings and hymns.

  • Particular legal language used

Celebrant Led Ceremony

This option is becoming more and more popular, and I personally love it, and it's the option of having a celebrant lead your ceremony on your actual wedding day, however this is not a legal wedding in England.

You might be thinking so why are people choosing this option if it's not legal but what couples will do is have the civil ceremony a few days or the day before to do the legal paperwork at a registry office but not class this as their actual wedding.

So you choose a celebrant and they lead your wedding and they can conduct your ceremony anywhere, the venue doesn't have to have a license.

Pro's & Con's


  • You can choose your celebrant that you connect with

  • Choosing a professional speaker passionate about love stories to create a bespoke script

  • Very personal experience leading up to your ceremony and the ceremony itself

  • Include any traditions within the ceremony that you'd like


  • Isn't legally recognised in England (yet!), as in Scotland it is

A Blessing

A blessing is similar-ish to a celebrant led wedding but you are not having someone who is trained as a celebrant you might want a family member or friend to run the ceremony for you.

Pro's & Con's


  • You can choose who conducts your ceremony, mostly likely someone who already knows you and your personality so can add in personal touches

  • Bespoke script for your ceremony

  • Very personal experience leading up to your ceremony and the ceremony itself

  • Include any traditions within the ceremony that you'd like


  • Isn't legally recognised in the UK

  • Not their professional job so make sure they're confident speaking in public

  • You'll need to help them build the script as they most likely wouldn't have done this before.

Which Ceremony Is Right For Me?

So there are the four different ceremony types, I hope that's given you a bit more info about each options and the pro's and con's for each. In order to help you pick the right ceremony type ask yourselves these questions

Where do you want to get married?

If this is a church then it's a church and religious wedding, if you want a particular venue then check they have a license, do you want to get married outside again you'd need to check if the outside space at that particular venue is licensed. So location is key.

How do you want your ceremony to run?

Do you want the legal language, do you want it to be more bespoke, do you want it personal or traditional, it's important to discuss this so you know which category you fit into.

Do you want to know the person leading your ceremony?

Obviously with one of these options you are not going to know this so if it's important that you do then you'd need to choose another option.

How personalised do you want the ceremony to be?

With religious and civil ceremonies there's only little bits of personalisation that you can add as they follow a strict structure so if you want this super personal and to tell your love story then you might want to have a celebrant led ceremony or a blessing.

Length of the ceremony?

Finally ask yourselves how long do you want the ceremony to be a religious ceremony can be anywhere from 30 mins to 120 mins depending on your faith. Civil ceremonies are usually between 20-30 mins and celebrant led ceremonies or blessing are usually again 30 minutes but could be longer depending on what you want to add in to make it more personal and bespoke.

So there we have it! I hope this has helped with choosing the right ceremony for you!

And if you need help with wedding planning then don't forget we offer a full plan wedding service that starts at the beginning of your wedding planning journey, planning every last little detail and booking every supplier, all the way through until the wedding day itself so don't be afraid to get in touch if you need help or just don't have the time to plan your wedding.

Happy planning!

Lauren xx

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