Civil ceremony, church or celebrant?

So you’re getting married! Hurrah! I find a lot of couples have a lot of questions about the actual “marriage” part of getting married because there’s a few different options to choose from. Here at Lodge Farm there’s three main ways to celebrate your wedding – civil ceremony, celebrant or church so I wanted to run through them so you understand how they work and which might be the right one for you.


I’m Jen, and I run the wedding barns at our family farm in North Yorkshire. It’s me who will show you around on your tour of the barns, and I’ll be on hand to help with every question you have along your wedding planning journey, from how long the tables are to picking the cars up the morning after your wedding.

First up – civil ceremonies.

At a civil ceremony a registrar from our local council (North Yorkshire) will legally marry you. We’re a licenced venue so they can legally perform the marriage service here in the barns. You’ll need to “give notice” between 30 days and a year before the wedding, which involves going to the council offices and signing a piece of paper saying you intend to marry. The service must be non religious and you’ll need to choose two witnesses to sign the register.
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The main benefit to a civil ceremony is you are legally getting married and saying your vows in front of all your friends and family. For many couples it’s really important to them that people witness this commitment and they want their loved ones there with them as they do this. There are options to personalise your ceremony by choosing non-religious readings or music to make it more bespoke to you.⁠

One drawback to a civil ceremony is you may not meet the registrar marrying you until the day of your wedding and they will not be there to have a rehearsal with you the day before. The ceremony tends to follow a similar format each time, and though you can choose readings and music it is not as bespoke as some other options.⁠

A top tip for a civil ceremony is to check the registrars can do the day and time of your wedding before you book a venue – there’s a limited number of registrars and everyone wants a 2pm wedding so if you’re going for a peak summer date then it’s a good idea to make sure they can marry you around that time!⁠ You can find out more about civil ceremonies on the council website here.

Civil Ceremony at Lodge Farm Weddings

Another popular option is to have a celebrant led wedding.

A celebrant is a person who performs ceremonies at some of life’s biggest milestones, such as births, deaths and weddings. A celebrant led wedding is very flexible in terms of what it involves (we’ve seen tree planting and ceremonial G&Ts!) but doesn’t constitute the legal side of marriage, which you’d need to do separately at the registry office.

A big benefit of a celebrant is they create bespoke and very personal services, involving things meaningful to you as a couple. A celebrant will get to know you and your story and be able to communicate and celebrate this with your guests – there’s usually a lot of laughter as well as some tears in a celebrants service! A celebrant will also usually hold a rehearsal the day before, meaning you’re more relaxed on the day of the wedding.

The drawback to this is a celebrant can’t legally marry you so many couples choose to go to the registry office to complete the legal side the day before.

If choosing a celebrant then take your time researching different celebrants – they all have different styles and personalities and you’ll want to choose one who fits you well as a couple.

Celebrant Wedding

Finally, a church wedding.

A wedding in a church is a religious service in which a vicar which will legally marry you. It will involve hymns and reading, both from the bible or perhaps poetry.

A church wedding is right for you if have religious beliefs and is also a very traditional option which many people feel is important to them and their family on their wedding day. You will meet with the vicar several times and build a relationship with them and the church which some couples find can make your wedding more meaningful. As a bonus it makes for beautiful pictures! We’re very fortunate to have our village church next door to the farm – it’s a 200m walk away through our woodland path.

One drawback is to get married in a church you have to “qualify”. This could be by being born or christened in the parish, but, given the size of our village this doesn’t apply to many couples wanting to get married…by far the most usual route to qualifying is to become a regular church go-er – around once a month for six months. If you need to qualify because you don’t live in our parish then a top tip is don’t leave it to the last minute to go to church! There’s more information on getting married in a church here.

Church Wedding at Lodge Farm, Cundall

If you’d like to chat through any of these options for your wedding here at Lodge Farm then do book a tour using our online diary here – we’re looking forwards to meeting you!