Frequently Asked Questions
A celebrant is someone who generally officiates at weddings & funerals for people who, for various reasons, cannot or do not wish to go for a traditional ceremony performed according to religious principles. Celebrancy is a relatively new profession in France, however, it has considerably grown in popularity over the past 10 years and more and more people use the services of a celebrant for other life milestones such as renewal of vows and baby naming, which replaces the traditional christening. Unlike a master of ceremony, who is required to take care of the entertainment part or the wedding planner who organises the whole day and takes care of the decoration, the celebrant mainly focuses on the design & celebration of the ceremony.
A secular ceremony is a ceremony that is not held in the name of any religion whatsoever. This does not mean that it is only suitable for atheists. Today, more and more couples choose a secular ceremony because it allows a certain freedom as to where it can be held: a garden, the grounds of a chateau, a beach, a barn, a forest but also for its content which, especially if it is celebrated by a professional celebrant, is tailor-made according to the couple’s requirements and may also refer to 2 religions if the couple are of different culture and religion. Also known as a symbolic ceremony or American-style ceremony, it highlights the couple’s personality, history and values.
In France, a secular ceremony does not have any legal value, very much like a religious ceremony. It is purely symbolic, however, because its content is so personal, couples often consider it as their REAL wedding & an increasing number of them decide to use the services of a professional celebrant in order to give it more credibility & to ensure that their special event will be perfectly orchestrated.
In France, no law requires you to get legally married before proceeding to your symbolic ceremony, however, we believe that for a symbolic/secular ceremony to be meaningful, it must reflect a real commitment made by the couple. This is why we prefer couples to get legally married before proceeding to their secular ceremony. Did you know that in France, since the law separating of the Church and the State passed in 1904, it is forbidden to marry religiously if you do not get legally married first. Priests who do not comply with this rule would may be subject to criminal sanctions (Penal Code Article 433.21). But it is not the same in other nations where one can choose between civil marriage and religious marriage.
If you have no ties in France, the answer is no. In other words, if you are only planning to visit France for a few days, you cannot get legally married in France. If you have a long-term visa or you have proof of residence of over 6 months, you can get legally married in your local “Mairie” (town/city hall), however this procedure requires a bit of planning as several documents will need to be provided, translated into French by a translator registered with the local tribunal and the publication of your marriage (publication des bans) must be made at least 10 days before the date of your marriage so do not book your flight ticket just yet! The easiest option is to get legally married in your country of residence & plan your dream symbolic ceremony in France.
No regulations currently apply to celebrants therefore, in theory, anyone can decide to set up as a celebrant. Some organisations offer training courses and even provide diplomas & certifications, however none of these trainings and qualifications are approved by any official state authorities. As a consequence, couples find it difficult to know how to choose the right celebrant. A good celebrant should be articulate, organised, comfortable with public speaking and should also be patient, caring & proactive. Our advice: A wedding ceremony is a very personal affair so follow your instinct.
You simply need to browse through the various the various wedding suppliers directories to find that in terms of price, we find pretty much everything and anything! In the low price range, some celebrants offer their services for less than 300 €, which usually implies that you write your own script and that the celebrant only takes care of the celebration. Then, rates will vary according to the degree of personalisation offered. If a “standard” ceremony suits you, no need to spend a fortune: Choose a ceremony offered for prices ranging between 600 & 800 €. If the personalization of your ceremony is an essential element, go for a celebrant renowned for his tailor-made service. The longer the celebrant will spend preparing your ceremony, the higher the fees will be. For a tailor-made ceremony, count between 800 and 1500 €. Choose a well-established celebrant with a website filled with different photos and videos, numerous positive reviews vouching for their experience and professionalism. Finally, some celebrants charge between € 2,000 and € 3,000 for their service, which often includes the complete decoration of your ceremony or the animation of your ceremony by a group of musicians. In any case, if a proposal seems too good to be true, it is often because it is!
The beauty of the symbolic ceremony is its flexibility. So yes, you can include the elements of your choice in your symbolic ceremony. Music, dancing, readings by your loved ones, games, quizzes, rituals, cocktail, etc. The important thing is that your ceremony reflects who you are. Your symbolic ceremony is the occasion of a lifetime to express your personality, to tell your story, to show your loved ones how much you love each other, so, enjoy yourself, express yourself! If you want to go further, some celebrants offer a “Show ceremony” service during which they dress up (as a fake priest, a celebrity, etc.) and make your ceremony a humoristic performance. We consider that, on the basis that it is purely symbolic, the symbolic ceremony should not make a mockery of traditional ceremonies as this may offend some of your guests. As far as we are concerned, we prefer to celebrate our ceremonies with authenticity and professionalism, which does not prevent us from including a lot of humour, surprises and emotions.
There is no rule regarding the duration of a ceremony and its length will depend on what you want to include. If you want several relatives to take part, your ceremony will of course last longer than if the celebrant is the only one to speak. Similarly, if you wish to include one or more rituals or if you wish to multiply the moment of solemnity (Declaration of intent, exchange of vows, exchange of rings, etc.). On average, a symbolic ceremony lasts between 35 and 45 minutes. We hold many ceremonies in two languages, mainly in French & English, in which case a bilingual ceremony lasts approximately one hour. A ceremony which lasts over an hour tends to bore the audience. A ceremony that is too short risks losing its credibility, especially among guests who have never attended such a ceremony before and therefore do not know what to expect.
More than half of our clientele lives abroad and the majority of our “lovely couples” have busy personal and professional lives. Therefore, it is not necessary to meet your celebrant in person. We have put in place an efficient working methodology, clear documents and we are available by phone, email, Skype, etc. so do not worry, a good celebrant does not need to see you “in the flesh” to prepare a truly bespoke ceremony for you but if you want to meet us, it will be with great pleasure!
The services included vary from one officiant to another, so ask for a detailed quote to avoid surprises! In our case, our offer includes an appointment in person within a 60km geographical limit, the preparation of your ceremony, correspondence with some of your relatives and other providers involved in the running of your ceremony (DJ, musicians, wedding planner, etc.), unlimited conversations by phone, email or Skype, the provision of a speaker and a wireless microphone and of course, the celebration on the Big Day. Our offer does not include travel expenses on your wedding day and any additional travel requested (rehearsal, 2nd visit) will be charged.
Some celebrants consider that writing the script is a team effort between the professional and the couple. We fully agree with this principle however we have built our reputation not only on the personalisation of our scripts but also on the creation of secret texts. If you allow us, we will give you access to only a part of the script because in our opinion, knowing in advance the entire text can have an impact on the sincerity of your emotions on your wedding day. 99% of the couples trusted us and none regretted it but if you feel strongly about it, we will let you read the full script.
Yes, you probably can because, as symbolic ceremonies gained in popularity, an increasing number of wedding planners decided to offer a “Wedding Planning + Ceremony” package. We consider that these two professions are radically different and require different skills. The responsibility of a Wedding Planner is to coordinate the service provided by each selected wedding vendor, to decorate the wedding venue and to ensure the smooth running of your wedding day. The celebrant role is to get to know you, to carefully prepare your ceremony and to celebrate your ceremony in a professional manner. Would it cross your mind to ask your caterer to do your hair? Ask your florist to prepare your wedding cake? Ask your DJ to serve the cocktail?