A Celebrant Led Wedding – or a day in the life of a wedding celebrant.


I give full credit for this Blog to my wife. I want to share it because I think it shows just how much we both care about what we do for our couples, and how much fun we have along the way. It was a fabulous garden wedding for two truly lovely people and being able to spend time with couples like these guys is the reason why we love what we do.

Wedding Photographer for Colchester Essex.
Anna & Kenny are showered with confetti as they walk back down the aisle.

A day in the life of a Wedding Celebrant by Michelle Taylor

It’s not all about just turning up on a wedding day, standing at the front and speaking, there is so much more to it and this is what this short blog is all about.

I met with Anna and Kenny on a not so warm day at her mum’s house just outside of Colchester in May 2016. They were living in London but had a vision, to celebrate their love in front of family and friends at a fantastic laid back ceremony in the grounds of the bride’s family home. Neither were religious so a church ceremony was not on the agenda, but they also knew they wanted something much more personal than a routine registry office ceremony.

We discussed all sorts over tea and biscuits at the kitchen table, and what became instantly clear was this was to be a ceremony and a wedding day full of love and laughter and a whole lot of FUN!

A silent disco was booked to follow a Scottish Ceilidh (pronounced Kay-Lee) for the after dinner celebrations and they had already started to stockpile the wine and beers for the party.

Wedding Photographer for Colchester Essex
Michelle and Kenny enjoy a spot of Ceilidh dancing.

By the end of that first meeting, I KNEW we were meant to work together, and I was delighted that they felt the same too. We parted ways that day agreeing that their ceremony would include a Handfasting and Quaich (Scottish Loving Cup) ceremony to celebrate their shared Celtic ancestry. They had fun selecting just the right drop of Scotch with which to fill the Quaich over the intervening months.

Wedding Photographer for Colchester Essex
The Bride and Groom enjoy a wee dram from the Quaich, which had been filled by Kenny’s Dad.

A fabulous Scottish Handfasting poem was chosen to be read by the Groom’s dad in his wonderful lilting accent as they tied the knot and their personal vows to each other were to be crafted before the big day.

I was given permission to gently take the proverbial out of the fact that all 3 of us were huge rugby fans, and between us represented 3 of the 4 home nations…As an ardent England fan (the dominant side in recent years) they just knew I was going to mention this fact, once or twice and were totally at ease with my sense of humour and knew I would be bringing the added fun to their celebration.

Booking fee paid and questionnaire provided, we agreed to meet regularly, whenever they returned to Essex, so we could discuss the evolving ceremony and keep tabs on the changing seasons in the garden.

The icing on the cake was being able to recommend my husband as their Wedding photographer, and being able to work with him, and share an amazing day.

Anna and Kenny were just so easy to work with; they readily shared their love story with me and allowed me to put my twist on the telling of it. Together we created something that we knew would bring giggles and tears in equal measure as their family and friends went on the journey with us.

They had met at a party friends had held to welcome Kenny back from a tour of Afghanistan and bonded over Apple Crumble vodka shots. They fell in love quite quickly and knew they had each found their own soul mate, someone they could dance around the kitchen with, argue with, laugh with and love with. It all came so easily to them both. Kenny had even thoughtfully made Anna an engagement ring in his man cave over the course of a few nights before presenting it to her on St David’s day in a kitchen festooned with inflatable leeks, daffodils and a red toy dragon!

Ceremony written, we worked out on interim visits and at the practice the day before, just how long the ceremony would take, how long the processional music needed to be, where we would stand and where their guests would be seated. I was able to reassure a stressed out bride that all would be well, and gave them both my usual pre ceremony pep talk, including the need for a decent nights sleep and plenty of hydration on the big day.
It dawned, bright and beautiful, the hottest day of the summer (we thought at the time…so far…it was after all only June …But it in fact turned out to be the hottest day of the summer full stop!)

Wedding Photographer for Colchester Essex
The hottest day of the year!

We had a hoot! Yes it was a very warm day, and at one point the groom was making full use of my fan to cool himself down,

Wedding Photographer for Colchester Essex
Michelle does her best to cool things down a bit.

but the guests were treated to more giggles than you could shake a stick at and my husband and I were able to enjoy one of the best weddings of the year, working in partnership and helping a fabulous couple celebrate their big day. We even got roped into the dancing and didn’t actually manage to get away until nearly 11 o’clock that night ourselves…long after even his clocking off time! It was a quintessentially English balmy summers night as we packed up to leave, with the biggest grins on our faces.

The feedback has been amazing from Anna and Kenny and their guests, I even booked another couple for their wedding celebration who came running up to me straight after the ceremony and told me to drop everything I WAS required to attend their big day, they had never laughed so much at a wedding ceremony and didn’t know they could have something so personal written just for them.

Wedding Photographer for Colchester Essex

So as you can see, it’s about putting your heart and soul into each client, it is about discussing individual requirements, being open and accommodating. It’s about meetings, for me, as many as each client requires. I don’t set limits, never have, never will. You’ll always get me at the end of a phone or by texts/ email.
It’s about the writing, the practicing and ultimately the final delivery of your carefully crafted script. AND it’s about the love, the love that brought them to this point and that love which will sustain them from that day forward.
This is why you chose a celebrant, and why it’s important to choose the right one for you.

Must Have Wedding Photos – Part Three


Must have wedding photos part three, the wedding breakfast and evening.

Usually the first photos to get arranged after your wedding ceremony are the dreaded group photos. Lets face it, all your guests want to do is get a drink, have something to eat and chat with the other guests. No one enjoys standing around waiting to have their photo taken. But chances are that having all your family and friends together in the same place at the same time is a very rare event, so you want to make the most of it.

I always advise making a list in consultation with your photographer and visiting the venue to identify locations for your photos before the big day comes along. This saves such a lot of time and saves your guests having to stand around waiting too long. You need a plan A for good weather and a plan B for bad weather. If you prepare properly and if your photographer is able to be assertive in a polite and friendly way, you will get the group photos you want done much more quickly than leaving it all to chance on the day.

If you don’t want your group photos to be all “stiff and starchy” a full of “forced” smiles, use a photographer who is good with people and not afraid to talk to them. I usually find a good old “three cherries for the happy couple. Hip Hip…” works wonders for loosening people up in front of the camera.

Wedding Photography for Gosfield Hall in Essex
Three cheers for the happy couple. Hip hip….

And when it comes to the smaller groups, you can have as much fun as you like. Let your imagination run riot and have some fun!!

Wedding Photography for Essex.
Have some fun with your group photos

After your group photos, think about the type of photos you would like of just the two of you together. Perhaps the two of you going for a stroll around the grounds.

Wedding photography at Dedham Vale Vineyard Essex
The newlyweds go for a stroll in the grounds.

Or something that makes the most of the location.

Wedding Photography at All Manor of Events in Suffolk.
Making the most of the location at All Manor of Events in Suffolk.

Maybe a more formal one, what I call a photo for Mum and Dad to put above their fire place.

Wedding Photography at Woodall Manor in Suffolk
Something a little more formal.

Maybe something a bit more romantic.

Wedding Photography at Woodall Manor in Suffolk.
Something more romantic.

Something to show off your wedding dress.

Wedding Photography at Braxted Park in Essex
Showing off the wedding dress

Or maybe you want to be more creative and come up with something a bit more original.

Wedding Photography at Gosfield Hall in Essex
Something a little more creative.

Or something that really takes advantage of the architecture or quirkiness of your venue.

Wedding Photography at Gosfield Hall in Essex
Servant’s bells hanging in the corridor serve as a reminder of days gone by.

Talk things through with your photographer. If they are good at their job, they will be able to take the style of photos that you want so you can remember your day, your way.

Usually, when you have finished you photos, it’s time to catch up with your guests before moving on to your Wedding breakfast. Talk through what you would like with your photographer. You don’t have to settle for all “boring” straight on photos.

Wedding Photography ay Gosfield Hall in Essex
Not all photos have to be “straight on”.

Putting a bit of an angle on the photo can make it look much more dynamic and interesting.

Wedding Photography at All Manor of Events in Suffolk.
Angles can make photos look much more interesting and dynamic.

And when people are making their speeches, that’s the perfect time for your photographer to take photos of your guest’s reactions. Terrific natural smiles and laughter ( providing your speeches are funny, of course ).

Wedding Photography at Braxted Park in Essex
The speeches are a great time to get natural photos of the guests smiling.

When the wedding breakfast draws to a close, that’s when your photographer will start preparing for your “First Dance”. A special part of the day not to be missed.

Wedding Photography for Colchester Essex.
The Bride and Groom enjoy their First Dance.


When it comes to your First Dance, you will find that the lighting is different for every venue. Some venues have their own quite unique way of doing things.

Wedding Photography at Milsoms Kesgrave.
Some venues have their own special lighting effects.

Some venues just leave the DJ to sort out their own lighting.

Wedding Photography at Hintlesham Hall in Suffolk.
Coloured disco lighting.

It might just be worth asking your photographer how he does things. If you want to maintain the “ambience” or feel of your venue, you don’t really want a photographer who simply lights up everything with lots of flash.

Wedding Photography at All Manor of Events in Suffolk.
Maintaining the ambient light during a First Dance.

Perhaps something a bit more romantic on the dance floor.

Wedding Photography for Colchester Essex
First Dance with a romantic feel – focus on the hands.

You might like to have some photos taken after your guests have joined you on the dance floor .

Wedding Photography at Gosfield Hall in Essex.
The Bride and Groom are joined on the dance floor by their guests.

Or perhaps you are going to have a “Father Daughter” dance as well.

Wedding photography at Gosfield Hall in Essex.
Father Daughter dance at the end of the day.

At the end of the day, why not finish off with a special photo. You could have a night time shot taken outside your venue.

Wedding Photography at Braxted Park in Essex.
A rather special night time photo.

Or, if you are having a fireworks display, make the most of it with a photographer who knows how to photograph fireworks to your liking.

Wedding Photography at Hintlesham Golf Club in Suffolk.
The Bride and Groom watch the fireworks display at the end of the wedding day.

Perhaps say it with sparklers!!

Wedding Photography for Colchester Essex.
Saying it with sparklers!

Maybe a photo of you walking off into the distance knowing that an exciting journey called “life” lies ahead of you both.

Wedding Photography at All Manor of Events in Suffolk.
The Bride and Groom walk off to face the future together as newlyweds.

Or simply have a photo of the two of you retiring at the end of the day.

Wedding Photography at Gosfield Hall in Essex.
The Bride and groom retire at the end of an exhausting but terrific day.

Whatever you choose to do for your special day, I advise you choose a photographer who is a good “fit” for you both. Who understands what you are looking for. Who is prepared to take some time to get to know you. Be prepared to work with that photographer. Be creative. You don’t have to have the same old photos that everyone else has. You are only going to live this day once, so make the most of it and have some fun with your photography.

This is part three. Don’t forget to check out parts one and two for more ideas.

Must Have Wedding Photos – Part Two


Must have wedding photos part Two, the ceremony.

For the second part of this 3 part blog on ideas for Must Have Wedding Photos I am going to concentrate on The Wedding Ceremony and immediately afterwards. Not all the ideas may seem appropriate to your day as all weddings are unique, but I think it’s always better to have too many ideas than too few. It might be best to agree with your photographer which ones suite your day beforehand, otherwise your wedding day could turn into a “photo shoot”.

So, you arrive at your ceremony venue

Wedding Photography at Seckford Hall in Suffolk.
The Bride arrives in her chosen wedding transport.

in your chosen wedding transport

Wedding Photography at Seckford Hall in Suffolk.
The Bride alights from her wedding transport.

get out and thank your driver

Wedding Photography at Seckford Hall in Suffolk.
The Bride thanks her chauffeur.

then make your way with your wedding party

Wedding Photography at Gosfield Hall in Essex.
The Bride with her wedding party approach the church.

to the entrance where friends and family are eagerly awaiting your arrival.

Wedding Photography at Seckford Hall in Suffolk.
Friends and family greet the Bride on her arrival.

You enter your wedding venue

Wedding Photography at Houchins Farm in Essex.
The Bride and her Father enter the Church.

As you walk down the aisle, your Groom can’t resist the temptation to turn and look. He sees you for the first time that day and the look on his face say it all.

Wedding Photography at Gosfield Hall in Essex,
The Groom watches his beautiful Bride walk up the aisle.

From this point on, the photographs your photographer is able to capture will depend to a large degree not just on their ability and equipment, but also on the Priest / Vicar / Registrar and how much “freedom” they allow your photographer during the ceremony. I will always do my very best to attend any rehearsal you may have so that I can build up a bit of a rapport with the officiant ( I have found this does help as they can see for themselves that I will treat the ceremony with respect and I am no longer a complete stranger to them on the wedding day ).

But even if the officiant is strict, there are certain Must Have photos your photographer should be able to capture. The placing of the wedding rings on the finger, both for the Bride’s

Wedding Photography at Woodall Manor.
The Groom places the wedding ring on his Bride’s finger.

and for the Groom’s.

Wedding Photography at Woodall Manor in Suffolk.
The Bride places her Groom’s wedding ring on his finger.

The exchanging of vows

Wedding Photography at Seckford Hall in Suffolk.
The Bride and Groom exchange their vows.

the First Kiss

Wedding Photography for Woodall Manor in Suffolk.
The Bride and Groom’s first kiss.

the blessing of your union

Wedding Photography for orwell View Barns in Suffolk.
The Blessing of the newly weds.


the odd amazing but unexpected moment,

Wedding Photography at Woodall Manor in Suffolk.
The Bride and Groom “High Five”.

the signing of the register with your bridal bouquet on display

Wedding Photography at All Manor Of Events in Suffolk.
Signing the register doesn’t have to be too serious. We all know it’s not a real one!

and with your witnesses

Wedding Photography for Maison Talbooth in Essex.
The Bride and Groom with their witnesses.

before you leave the ceremony as partners for life.

Wedding Photography at Houchins Farm in Essex.
The newly weds leave at the end of their wedding ceremony.

Then it’s time for the confetti to fly

Wedding Photography at All Manor of Events in Suffolk.
The confetti flies for the newlyweds.

before departing and making your way to your wedding reception venue for your wedding breakfast.

Wedding Photography at Orwell View Barns in Suffolk.
The Bride and Groom get on board their transport to make their way to their wedding breakfast.

Don’t forget this is part two. Take a look at parts one and three for more ideas.

Must Have Wedding Photos – Part One


Must have wedding photos part one, the preparations.

This Blog, the first of 3 on the subject, is intended for couples who want ideas on what images to ask their wedding photographer for so they are able to tell the whole story of their day. Budding wedding photographers who want ideas for what they should be photographing will also find it useful.

No two weddings are ever the same and not all the photos mentioned will be taken at every wedding, but it helps to have some ideas of what to photograph.

Why 3 Blogs? Because I divide a wedding day into 3 parts. Getting ready, the ceremony and the wedding breakfast / evening celebrations.

Wedding Photography at Gosfield Hall in Essex
The wedding dress hanging in the bridal suite at Gosfield Hall in Essex.

The wedding might not be until the afternoon but there is lots to do, and to photograph, in the morning. Perhaps some photos showing all the excitement of you and your bridesmaids as you have your hair and make up done while sipping champagne.

Wedding Photography at Gosfield Hall in Essex.
The Bride has her make up done in the bridal suite at Gosfield Hall in Essex.

Maybe your wedding dress on it’s hanger or, even better still, the moment you put it on.

Wedding Photography at Houchins Farm in Essex.
The Mother of the Bride helps her daughter into her dress at Houchins Farm in Essex.

All the little details like your jewellery and perfume.

Wedding Photography at Houchins Farm in Essex.
The perfume and jewellery on a wedding day.

The shoes bought especially for the day.

Wedding Photography at Hintlesham Hall in Suffolk.
The shoes bought especially for the day.

What about the confetti sitting there in a basket ready to be taken to the ceremony? The bridesmaids dresses all on hangers specially made for the occasion. Maybe there’s an exchange of gifts with happy surprised faces all around. All photos that, when put together, tell the whole story of your day.

The pretty flower girl, eyes wide open staring at your wedding dress whilst imagining herself a princess for the day. And the page boy has never looked smarter in his new suit.

Wedding Photography at Woodall Manor in Suffolk.
The pretty flower girl admires the beautiful bride at Woodall Manor in Suffolk.

Perhaps if your Mum or Dad is giving you away, a photo of the look on their faces when they see you in your dress for the first time. A special moment and a look that is never to be repeated.

Wedding Photography at Gosfield Hall in Essex
A tearful Dad sees his daughter in her wedding dress for the first time at Gosfield Hall in Essex.

Then, with your hair and make up done to perfection and your wedding dress looking just right, a few portrait photos before setting off.

Wedding photography at Gosfield Hall in Essex.
The beautiful Bride peeks from behind her wedding bouquet.

Travelling between venues? You make your way down the stairs to where your wedding transport awaits with your bridesmaids in tow.

Wedding photography at Gosfield Hall in Essex.
The bridal party make their way down the stairs.

If you’ve booked some special wedding transport to take you to the ceremony, don’t forget to get if photographed.

Wedding photography at Woodall Manor in Suffolk.
A photo of you with your transport is a must.

Don’t forget the Groom. It’s his day too! Chances are he will have been given his “To Do” list and heaven help him if he forgets anything. And he might be wearing a special gift bough for the day!

Wedding Photography at All Manor of Events in Suffolk.
The Groom wears a very special gift.

And he might like a photo or two with his party.

Wedding Photography at Braxted Park in Essex.
The Groom with his Best Man and Ushers decide on a Reservoir Dogs style photo.

Parents’ siblings or other family members nearby? Then perhaps a few family photos before you leave to walk down the aisle.

The list of possibilities is almost endless. Let your imagination run riot and be creative!!

Don’t forget this is only part one. Take a look at parts two and three for more suggestions.


Wedding Celebrants – What are they then?


Wedding Celebrants, or to give them their full name, Independent Wedding and Family Celebrants. What do they do and what are they like for photographers to work with?

A Celebrant is an independently trained person, not affiliated to any church or faith and not necessarily humanists (the two are often confused). They just believe people should have the right to celebrate their special day in a unique way. They offer an alternative to the ceremonies performed by Registrars and in Churches and I have seen them describe what they offer as a real alternative to the run of the mill and the mundane.

Every ceremony is bespoke, unique and designed around the couple involved incorporating their beliefs and their personalities. They can be held almost anywhere and I have photographed Celebrant led Weddings in bluebell woods, on farms, in back gardens, beside a lake at sunset, in a zoo, on a boat and other various venues.

Personally I love photographing Celebrant led Weddings because they are all different and the couples involved, because they want something different from the norm and something that reflects their personalities, always seem to be up for a lot of fun with a capital F when it comes to their photography.

Most celebrants will hold a rehearsal before the wedding day. To all photographers reading this, I strongly recommend you attend the rehearsal. It will give you a chance to “break the ice” with the celebrant and you will be able to see what type of ceremony the couple are having. Like I said earlier, they are all different incorporating many different rituals, and you will want to know where to be and when to be there for the best shots.

Celebrants tend to stand to one side when they are conducting a ceremony and they often have the couple facing their guests. Some will have important parts to play during the ceremony and sometimes there is a “ring warming” where the wedding rings are passed around the guests. Little things that make the guests feel part of the ceremony rather than just mere observers.

Wedding celebrants tend to be great to work with. They are normally less formal than other officiants and quite relaxed about how the photographer works and the level of “freedom” they will grant you. I have yet to receive the “stand there and do not move” instruction that many of us wedding photographers will be familiar with. In my experience they will work with you to give you the best possible chance to get some really good images for your clients but be sensible and don’t try to “take advantage” of their easy going nature or you could find yourself feeling rather embarrassed.

Celebrant led wedding.
The look on the Celebrant’s face says it all.

I recently attended a Celebrant led Wedding as a guest. I took my camera along as old habits die hard! I could not believe the antics of the wedding photographer. Leaping around like a woman possessed, the ceremony had to be stopped three times because the photographer was physically standing in the way!! A word of warning, she hadn’t attended the rehearsal the day before and didn’t have a clue as to what was going on. Needless to say, she ended up feeling very embarrassed embedded in the balloons. Please, don’t be one of those “professional” photographers. You give us all a bad name.

Celebrant led wedding.
Guests come forward to untangle the embarrassed photographer.

So, I’m starting a Blog !!

Wedding Photography
A night time photo of the Bride and Groom at the beautiful Gosfield Hall in Essex.

So after all these years working as a wedding photographer, I’m finally starting a blog!!

Why didn’t I do it before? Well, I’m hopeless at website stuff (except photography!), not a lover of “social media” and I guess a little fear of the “unknown”. At this point in time I have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to writing a Blog.

So why the change of heart after all this time? Well, I don’t know if anyone will want to read what I have to say but I do feel that my accumulated knowledge and experience is worth sharing, if only to help some people avoid making some of the mistakes I’ve made over the years. I also would like others to share in some of the fun I’ve had photographing weddings, and maybe laugh at some of the things that haven’t gone exactly to plan.

I’ve been taking photographs for over 30 years and, as we approach the end of 2017, have spent the last 8 earning my living full time as a wedding photographer.

In the coming months as winter draws in I intend to share my experiences of both the good parts and the not quite so good parts of being a wedding photographer. There will be some articles offering couples friendly advice about things to consider when choosing a wedding photographer, some articles aimed towards those considering starting a career in wedding photography and some stories about real wedding days showing why I love what I do.

As I said earlier, I have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to writing a Blog so a disclaimer might be in order! I have no intention of offending anyone and accept that not everyone will agree with everything I say. What I write will be totally truthful and based on my own personal “real life” experiences. Others will have different life experiences and may disagree with me and I will respect their opinions as I hope they respect mine.