Weddings, Blessings, Elopements and Vow Renewals – What is the difference?

Hi, I’m Karina O’Donnell from Simply Ceremonies UK and I’m so glad you have decided to get married. Huge Congratulations!

As an Independent celebrant, I create bespoke Wedding ceremonies. Personalised ceremonies created and written for each individual couple and I’m so excited to have been asked to write this guest blog by the lovely team at Hayne House.

celebrant wedding ceremony
Rebecca Carpenter Photography

Just imagine, you have found your wonderful venue and are sitting down with the wedding coordinator to discuss the ideas for your day.

It’s quite simple to choose the type of wedding day you want. Informal vs Formal.  Children vs no children. Donut wall vs Chocolate fountain. It’s also quite easy to choose whether you want to hold your ceremony inside the venue or an outdoor wedding in the garden, but now you’re being asked if you want to book a Registrar or a Celebrant, are you having a Wedding or a Blessing?

How do you know? Where do you start?

And what on earth is the difference between a Wedding and a Blessing?

Well the good news is very little!

A Wedding is traditionally viewed as a ceremony where the couple make their legal and personal commitments to each other in front of witnesses. This may be in a Register office or here at Hayne House in the Orangery or the new Pavilion on the lawn, amongst the trees.

A Blessing is the word used by many, to describe a Wedding ceremony where the legal marriage registration has already been held separately.

It’s often incorrectly used to differentiate a ceremony presented by a Registrar, who is authorised to perform legal marriages under the Law of England and Wales, as opposed to a ceremony led by a Celebrant which has no legal status in England or Wales. (This is different in Scotland)

However, unless the ceremony includes a religious or spiritual blessing of the couple themselves, then it’s not really a Blessing at all. It is in fact a Wedding Ceremony, minus the legal marriage declarations and registration.

celebrant wedding ceremony
Lucy Mohr Photography

Wedding Celebrant Ceremonies in Kent

As a unique wedding venue, based in Kent, over the last 10 years, we have seen an increase in requests for celebrant-led wedding ceremonies, which encompass the beliefs and personal requirements of the couple. A ceremony that is all about them and conveys their personality in the same way as the rest of the day does with other elements: cake flavours, colour schemes,  flowers, and music choices.

Couples are choosing to split their legal marriage registration from the celebratory ceremony and use a celebrant for their wedding ceremony for many reasons.

It may be that they wish to make personal commitments to each other which are outside of the standard civil ceremony guidelines.

They may wish to include spiritual elements such as a Hand-tying or Unity candle ceremony. They may wish to include cultural traditions from their families such as a Chinese tea ceremony or they may simply want to be at home with nature, and make their commitments under a large tree within a stunning garden.

Whichever category you come under, if you are sharing your beautiful ceremony with your family and guests and are inviting them to witness and join in these celebrations, then you are having a wedding.

Why should I do it this way?

You may be separating your legal marriage registration from the celebratory ceremony but, for all intents and purposes, this fabulous event is your Wedding. I’ll repeat that…It’s Your wedding. Your ceremony. Your day. Enjoy it your way.

In the same way that you separate registering a baby’s birth from its naming ceremony or christening, you can separate your legal and non-legal requirements in a wedding.

And just out of curiosity, have you ever seen a card in your local shop that says “Congratulations on your Blessing”? No! And neither have I.  Happy Wedding Day.

celebrant wedding ceremony
Emma Migden Photography

So what is a Renewal of Vows?

Exactly what it says on the tin. This is a chance for a couple to renew their promises to each other and is a ceremony chosen by couples for many different reasons.

It may be that you are celebrating a milestone in your marriage. 10, 25, 40 or 60 years of marriage. These are definitely worthy of celebrating.

This is a chance to celebrate the commitment you have made to each other over a significant time, maybe giving you the chance to have the wedding you never had originally or for you to say the vows you really want to say, rather than those you were told you had to say. ( This was a direct quote from one of my lovely clients who was renewing her vows after 40 years of marriage).

For some, it is a chance to renew your commitment following difficult times experienced together. A time that you now wish to put behind you, moving on with new and meaningful vows, or a repeating of the original promises with a renewed strength and commitment.

For those of you who chose to marry abroad but wish to share those vows again, in front of family and friends who were unable to attend a vow renewal is your perfect opportunity.

Whatever the reason, Hayne House can provide an intimate wedding venue for a vow renewal or a larger celebration and wedding breakfast. As this isn’t a legal ceremony, it allows you to choose an Independent Celebrant to create something incredibly personal, fun and memorable.

For anyone living overseas wanting to have a quintessentially English wedding ceremony then Hayne house is the perfect choice for you too. If you want to run away for the weekend, with friends for a last-minute wedding deal, then Hayne House has on-site accommodation for you and your guests and the gardens are to die for, all year round. You simply arrange your legal marriage in your country of residence and then book your “Elopement” ceremony with the celebrant of your choice. Modern technology allows for Messenger and Skype calls. You just need to work out the time differences!

celebrant wedding ceremony
Lemonade Pictures

As an Independent celebrant, I have been privileged to work with the Hayne house team and their couples for quite a few weddings and it was a great honour to be asked to write a guest blog for you to read.

I have been in the wedding industry for over 30 years and trained as an Independent wedding celebrant 6 years ago. I have worked closely with over 150 couples in this time, creating personalised ceremonies which have been held across the UK and northern France. I love everything about weddings and really try hard to “get” my clients. If you would like to know more about celebrant-led  wedding ceremonies or want to renew your vows, please contact me on 07970 513715 to chat.


heritage and holland house
Heritage and Holland Photography

Book your viewing with Hayne House now and create your own bespoke wedding day.