Why use a wedding celebrant?

Why use a wedding celebrant for your big day?

As I’m a wedding photographer and my wife Michelle is a wedding celebrant, I think it’s best if I leave her to explain.

She recently conducted a wedding at Jimmy’s Farm on a day when I was free, so rather than cover the day telling the story of the Bride and Groom, I thought I would tell the story of the celebrant’s day.

The photo’s and their subtitles are mine, but the words are all Michelle’s.

I present to you, a day in the life of the #funkycelebrant.


Why use a celebrant? What exactly are we getting for our money?

Yay! You’ve booked me to conduct a ceremony for you; I am SO excited to be working with you as we create your perfect ceremony…

So what can you expect when you work with me?

As many meetings as you want prior to your big day.

We can meet at a mutually convenient time or location. I am really flexible and am happy, where time allows to meet day or evening and at the weekends. I will work around your time and family constraints.

Wedding photography for Jimmy's Farm.
Michelle holds a planning meeting with the couple and the wedding planner at Jimmy’s Farm.

Once your ceremony is written and edited to your satisfaction we will arrange for a practice at your venue. On very rare occasions we wont be able to get access to the venue, but don’t panic we can still walk through the big entrance and choreography of the ceremony. Chat through who is doing what and where and practice the all important symbolic elements

Wedding photography for Jimmy's Farm
Michelle gets everyone together to start the rehearsal.
Wedding photography at Jimmy's Farm
With so many choices available for a celebrant led wedding, it’s important everyone gets to rehearse “their bit”.
Wedding photography at Jimmy's Farm
Michelle always tries to get “all the key players” to the rehearsal.

After the practice I WILL always take my couple to one side for a pep talk. Relax, breathe, the planning is complete. Rest, eat and take a moment to look around at every point of day to lock in the memories…

It REALLY does work! I can still remember all the elements from my wedding day 11 years ago.

And then the day has dawned…Dress ironed, petticoat and DM’s chosen (you so know I will be wearing DM’s don’t you??) and then I will be ensuring the car is packed with my ceremony day kit (basically everything and the kitchen sink) and I’m off. I’ll always aim to be at your venue at least and hour before ceremony is due to start.

Wedding photography for Jimmy's Farm
Michelle prepares the table where the “signing” will take place.

Set up my bits; place the certificate in the folder, with pen ready for the signing and then its time to speak to the other suppliers

The string quartet – making sure they have a copy of the script to follow too!

Wedding photography for Jimmy's Farm
Michelle makes sure that all the other “suppliers” are fully briefed as well, to make sure everything goes to plan.
Wedding photography for Jimmy's Farm
Michelle often finds it’s the first time some suppliers have been to a “Celebrant led wedding”, so they need briefing too.
Wedding photography for Jimmy's Farm
Michelle exerts a calming influence on a very nervous Groom.

Brief the groom and other members of his party…

Wedding photography for Jimmy's Farm
Michelle makes sure some water is available for the happy couple.
Wedding photography for Jimmy's Farm
Michelle makes sure the guests’ needs are taken care of as well.

And hand out the tissues…

Wedding photography for Jimmy's Farm
Michelle goes to meet the Bridal Party when they arrive.

The bride and her party have arrived…and so has a chance for my first look at her outfit …wow she looks radiant and everyone is sooooo excited…including me!

Mums escorted to their seats, I make my entrance and wax lyrical about the fact I have just seen the bride and the groom is in for a treat …he then tells me he’s close to tears already …Has he got a tissue himself? Nope…quick, dive into the box and shove some in his hand…music accompanies the bride on her final walk as a single woman, She’s chatting with her dad, but as soon as she sees her groom their eyes are locked together.

And then. …she’s here!

Wedding photography for Jimmy's Farm
Michelle announces the arrival of the Bridal Party.

THAT LOOK!

Wedding photography for Jimmy's Farm
The Bride arrives
Wedding photography for Jimmy's Farm
The Groom is a little overwhelmed, so Michelle helps out with a tissue.

It says it all….

A whispered ‘You look amazing’… a squeeze of the hand, a shy smile at the guests and the biggest grin to her spouse…

And we’re off…I’ve a ceremony to deliver…

Wedding photography for Jimmy's Farm
The ceremony gets underway.

Laughter, tears, moments to savour.

Wedding Photography for Jimmy's Farm

Pauses, looks and touches.

Wedding photography for Jimmy's Farm

Camera clicks and videographers running around trying to capture every angle.

Wedding photography for Jimmy's Farm

Handfasting with mums as vows are exchanged and then rings replacing the cords…

Wedding photography for Jimmy's Farm
A “hand fasting” with Mums placing the cord over the couple’s hands. The source of the phrase “tying the knot”.

A pause for a photo op as the certificate is signed and then we’re back to the front for that all important first kiss and pronouncement…and then a twist…

Wedding photography for Jimmy's Farm

Wedding photography for Jimmy's Farm
The “First Kiss”.

A gender reveal…I’ve no idea! They’ve kept me in the dark too!

Lining up parents, Maid of Honour and Best Man up…I get the honour of having a confetti cannon shoved into my hands too…We’re about to find out!

AND

IT’S

A….

BOY!!!!!

Wedding photography for Jimmy's Farm
Blue confetti, for a boy of course!

YES …I guessed it right!

More tears and we cheered and clapped the happy couple away and retreated to the marquee for a celebratory drink or two…

Wedding photography for Jimmy's Farm
Time for little “circulating” after the ceremony.

Happy people, chatting and extolling the virtues of a celebrant led wedding. ‘Never seen a ceremony like it’…’that was so much fun’, ‘so personal’, ‘how long have you known them?’ ‘You captured them perfectly’….’We love your outfit’…’can we get a photo’…

Wedding photography for Jimmy's Farm

Wow what a day…

Sad to pack my things away, but pack away I must, before a last minute photo op with the happy couple and the obligatory selfie …then its time to wend my way home…

Wedding photography for Jimmy's Farm
A photo with some more satisfied customers.

Wedding photography for Jimmy's Farm

Wedding photography for Jimmy's Farm

A grin on my face, another memory locked into my memory bank…

Wedding photography for Jimmy's Farm

Knowing I’ve played a small part in someone’s big day is humbling and gratifying, knowing a little bit of me will live on in the script I have created inspires me to create something special every time I sit down at my laptop…Could the next ceremony be for you?

Drop me a line, lets have a chat…

Thank you to Scott & Chelsey Killen for allowing my hubby to gatecrash your practice your big day…

Thanks too to Kev …my talented hubster at www.headoverheelsphotography.co.uk

And thanks to all of the other awesome suppliers who gave me permission to take photos and use them in this blog!

Top 5 tips for a hot wedding day.

Top 5 tips for a hot wedding day.

EL SCORCHIO !!

 

A hot day on The Great Ocean Road in Australia.
I know it’s not a wedding photo, but I had to get a few of my holiday snaps in somewhere!!

It sure is getting hot out here, with the temperature set to rise even higher over this weekend.

So what are you doing to stay chilled on your big day?

Michelle (#FunkyCelebrant) and I have put our heads together and come up with our top 5 tips to surviving a hot wedding day.

Now we realise that most of this advice will seem fairly obvious, but you would be amazed at how often we have seen the “obvious’ get overlooked during all the excitement of a wedding day.


1. DRESS APPROPRIATELY

Wedding photography for Essex
Dress appropriately for the weather if you want to stay “chilled” on your wedding day!!

So ladies. Months and, in some cases, years of dreaming and preparation will have gone into the choosing of your wedding outfit…

Think about your style, the weight and type of material and the time of day you are planning to get married. If, for instance, you are planning a midday ceremony in the middle of June or July, you may want to rethink the sleeves and the heavily boned corset or heavily beaded dress. Ladies who are not wearing dresses, think about what you can get away with …minimise…a lightweight suit perhaps or even shirt sleeves and dare I say it …shorts! There are so many fun and funky styles out there, dress for your size, shape, style…IT IS YOUR WEDDING DAY …You are not beholden to anyone else’s ideas of what is appropriate.

Gents, that nice thick and expensive pure new wool waistcoat and jacket might look lush in the shop when you try it on in the middle of January, but how much wear will you get out of it on a very hot wedding day…If you can get away with it, put a kilt on and waft …If you can’t, go for a light weight material, be it a suit or just shirt and trousers if its a more casual wedding.

Don’t be afraid to disrobe if it is unbearably hot in the sun…I don’t want anyone fainting on me…You can always chuck your jacket back on for the photos if needed.


2.HYDRATE!

Random waterfall near Cairns in Australia.
You don’t need to stand under a waterfall but it’s another excuse for a holiday snap!!

Michelle and I can’t stress enough how important this is! No you don’t have to bathe in a waterfall…this pic is for dramatic effect only…have to get our holiday snaps in somewhere…

A good officiant will always ensure there is water on the table or nearby for those dry moments.

During the course of your wedding prep drink…… not toooooo much alcohol, but tea, water, anything that is refreshing. It will help prevent the headaches (we’ll come onto alcohol in a mo).

You have attendants for a reason, they are there to look after you, so make sure you eat and drink before your ceremony and task one of them with keeping you topped up.

Ladies in frocks don’t worry about the loo. Chances are you will find, even with drinking more, you won’t be going to the loo any more frequently than normal.


3.KEEP COOL.

Wedding photography in Essex
You might need an obliging celebrant to do some “wafting” for you.

Grab a fan. You can get little portable battery operated fans or have a nice Spanish style one to waft the air around you. Lads, don’t be afraid to use a hanky or a towel if you’re prone to sweating to mop your brow…(is it the heat or the nerves??)

Seek out the shade as much as possible during the day. When planning an outdoor ceremony, if you have access to the venue in the days preceding, see where the sun is going to be at the time of your ceremony and set up accordingly.

No-one wants to be squinting into the sun whilst trying to enjoy listening to your story and ahhhhing along with you as you exchange your vows. But most people don’t mind sitting in the sun for half and hour or so topping up the tan. Make sure the kids and granny have some access to shade and water though…sunstroke can cause some serious problems.


4.PROTECT YOURSELF (WE ALL LOVE THE SUN, BUT DON’T OVERDO IT).

Wedding photography in Essex
I know it’s a “night time” photo, but parasols have more than one use!

Ladies, have you considered a parasol as part of your wedding outfit? It offers the perfect amount of shade and you can be all ‘Vivian Leigh esque’ (Gone With The Wind… just in case you have no idea who I mean) as you perambulate the aisle towards your future spouse.

If you don’t want to buy one especially, I always bring a red and a white one with me which you can borrow for the day. If you let me know beforehand, I would be happy to buy another colour and add it to my “collection”.

Warn your guests that the wedding is outdoors and remind them to bring sunscreen, hats, brollies, insect repellent, aftersun, cooling wipes, appropriate footwear, heel protectors….or maybe you can make up a little basket and throw some of the items in there for your and their comfort…Don’t forget as you are getting dressed to slap on some sunscreen to those exposed parts too!

Ooooh ladies….If you are wearing a strapless dress, make sure if you are enjoying the sun in the lead up to your big day that you don’t get tan lines in places you don’t want them!


5.ALCOHOL.

Wedding photography at Helmingham Hall in suffolk.
This image has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with alcohol. I’m using it because it is one of my “all time” favourite wedding photos.

Yay the sun is out…that means it’s Pimms o’clock surely!

Enjoy the drink, it is your wedding day after all !!  If you can’t enjoy a few cheeky cold ones on this epic day, when can you??

Be careful though, too much alcohol and too much sun is a BAAAAAAD combo. Pace yourself…you have hours of fun ahead of you, make sure you mix the alcoholic consumption with hydrating water consumption. ALCOHOL CAN HELP MAKE YOU DEHYDRATED. You want to remember your wedding day for all the right reasons…Come to that you want to remember your wedding day full stop!


Wedding photography in Essex
Nothing beats dipping your toes in the swimming pool, like the one here at Maison Talbooth in Essex, on a hot day.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter where you have your ceremony…have fun, make the most of this fabulous weather and have the most amazing day…EVER!

With love from the #FunkyCelebrant & me.

What’s it like working with a wedding celebrant?

A garden wedding in Essex.
The Groom watches as his Bride walks down the aisle, my wife beside him grinning as usual.

So what’s it like working with a wedding celebrant?

More to the point, what’s it like working with your wife when she happens to be the wedding celebrant. This is a question we both get asked on a regular basis, especially when couples are looking at booking us both, so I will attempt to answer that question by way of a real life example.


The Meeting: The Bride and Groom had noticed my details on Michelle’s website and, though they had arranged to meet with another photographer, asked if I could come along as well. They had a good look through lots of slideshows on my iPad and looked at several sample wedding albums I had brought with me.

They said they loved my work but, as they had already arranged to meet another photographer and thought it would be rude to cancel that appointment, said they would let me know in due course. About a week later and after they had met with the other photographer, they emailed me to let me know they thought I would be perfect for their day.


The Planning: As is always the case I took a great deal of interest in the planning of the whole day and gave helpful advice when necessary. When I work with Michelle, I am able to get a really detailed knowledge of what is going to happen during the ceremony.

With each ceremony being unique and designed with the couple so as to reflect their own personalities, this detailed knowledge is very valuable as it allows me to plan exactly where to be at the right time to get wonderful photos.

When working with a wedding celebrant I am able to attend the practice and really see first hand how things are going to flow on the day. I can work out where to stand to get great photos without getting too close or in the way and spoiling everyone’s enjoyment of the ceremony. When working with Michelle, I also have some input on where she should stand to get the best photos of the happy couple!

Most couples have an idea of the type of photography they would like for their day. This will often include some “formal” photos of themselves and their guests together with a lot of informal or “reportage” style photos. We will work out a plan A (for good weather) and a plan B (for wet weather) and identify locations in advance for the group and couple photos so that no time is wasted on the wedding day.

But I also want my couples to have something more than the photos “everyone has”, something different from the “norm”. To that end, I always encourage couples to also think a bit “outside the box” and perhaps have some photos that are taken “just for fun”. In fact, I have a dedicated gallery on my website called “just for fun”. These are the photos that usually raise the biggest smiles both during and after the big day.

A garden wedding in Essex.
A “Just for Fun” photo of the Bride and Groom with their friends.

The wedding day was upon us and I arrived early as usual. This meant I had time for a bacon butty and cup of tea whilst chatting with the bridal party and the Bride’s parents. I often find a good chat over a cup of tea helps put everyone at ease before I start clicking the shutter button.

Then I set about my work. The Bride & Groom will have spent a lot of time and effort, not to mention money, arranging not just the big things, but also the little details that go to make their special day exactly how they want it to be. The pictures I take now will help them remember all those little details for years to come. Everything from the seating plan to the strategically placed signs, from the Wedding Cake to the wine for the wedding breakfast, from the Bridesmaid’s dresses to the Groom’s “button hole”. All will have been carefully selected to form a small but important part of this most special of days.

Then there’s The Dress, The Shoes, The Perfume, The Jewellery, The Old, New, Borrowed and Blue. All to be recorded for posterity. The atmosphere as the Bridal party share a bedroom as hair and make-up are perfected. Then, when everything is just right, a few portrait photos of the Bride looking amazing!

The Groom and his party are not to be forgotten. It’s his day too, so some photos of him, his Best Man and friends when they are all done up to the 9s and looking their best.

The guests start to arrive. Some casual photos of them chatting, maybe catching up with old friends they haven’t seen in an age, and then making their way to their seats. Not forgetting some photos of the Groom with his Best Man as they wait patiently, and perhaps nervously, for the bride to arrive.

Then the wedding celebrant, my wife Michelle, calls all to order. She gives her introduction before leading on to the moment they have all been waiting for. All stand for the entrance of The Bride!

Photos are taken as the pretty flower girl leads the way scattering petals down the aisle. She is followed by the Bridesmaids all looking beautiful then, finally, The Bride looking amazing. I then turn to get a photo of the Groom as he sees her for the first time in her wedding dress. The look on his face says it all!

The ceremony goes brilliantly. Just the right blend of “the serious” with “the fun”. Big smiles and lots of laughter from everyone, including the celebrant. Exactly what a celebration of love should be.

As for me, I’m keeping out of the way so that I don’t distract anyone, but I’m getting lots of photos of smiling faces! Capturing those important little moments like the rings being placed on the fingers, the vows being exchanged, the first kiss and those knowing little glances the couple give each other. I can’t help but smile all the way through it all.

Wedding photography in Essex
One of those “knowing little glances” from the Bride and Groom as Michelle tells their story.

When the ceremony ends, it’s time for the confetti. I get the guests organised and tell them how confetti should be thrown. Then it’s time to get them organised for the group photos. It really comes in handy being married to the celebrant as she now sets about helping me get everyone organised.

Wedding photography for Essex
The Confetti flies!!

The big group photo with everyone in it is usually the first. The part of the wedding that the guests dread the most. We need natural smiles, not cheesy forced ones, so it’s “Three cheers for the Bride and Groom”. That usually works. Everyone comes alive, lots of cheering and lots of natural smiles. After the photo is taken, those guests that do not “appear” in any more photos can be released to make their way to the drinks and canapés.

During the planning stage the Bride and Groom had, at my request, provided a list of the group photos they wanted. At the rehearsal we had worked out the best order in which to take the photos so that guests are not standing around for ages waiting to have their photo taken. After all, who wants to stand around waiting for photos when there’s food and drink calling out to them! About 15 minutes later, we’re done.

Now it’s on to the “fun” photos with the bride, Groom and their parties. And they really had come up with some fun ideas for these photos! Michelle joins in as my “voice activated light stand”, another advantage of being married to the celebrant (though I suspect she doesn’t quite see it that way).

Wedding photography in Essex
Boys will be boys. Another “just for the fun of it” photo.

Then I took the Bride and Groom off for a little walk to take some “romantic” and some casual photos of just the two of them enjoying each other’s company, and a few “formal” ones which they had wanted for “display on the mantle piece”. The Best Man and Chief Bridesmaid comes in handy here. There’s drinks and canapés to be carried, not to mention a long dress to be looked after.

Wedding photography in Essex
The Bride and Groom on their own.

Then it’s back to the guests to “mingle” and enjoy themselves. An opportunity for me to get some casual photos of them all generally just having a good time before all the guests are called to their seats ready for the Wedding Breakfast.

Some photos as the Bride and Groom are announced (usually by my wife Michelle) and make their entrance, then, when they are seated, I disappear to let everyone enjoy their meal without fear of having a camera pointed in their direction.

Then it’s time for the speeches! I take a few photos of each of the speech makers in turn but mostly photograph the reactions of the guests and top table as they are often laughing hysterically at what is said.

Wedding photography in Essex
The Best Man making his speech.

When the speeches draw to a close it’s usually time for me to prepare for the “First Dance”. I set up any additional lighting that I think is necessary so that I am ready when they are.

The arrival of the evening guests presents me with another opportunity for some casual photos of the Bride and Groom with their guests. Then, at some point, it’s time to photograph the cutting of the Wedding Cake before moving on to that special First Dance, both of which are often announced by Michelle.

Wedding photography in Essex
The First Dance.

As soon as the First Dance is finished the guests invade the dance floor and the evening party gets underway. A few photos of them enjoying themselves on the dance floor. Maybe they have asked for a particular photo that they really want me to get.

Wedding photography in Essex
The fireworks say it all. A photo they had asked for and which was important to them.

I check with the Bride and Groom that they have finished with Michelle and I before packing my equipment away at the end of what has been a truly fantastic day.

So what’s it like working with your wife, the wedding celebrant? Absolutely brilliant. I love the ceremonies my wife conducts. Every one is different and they are always full of fun and laughter. And let’s not forget, I get a free “voice activated light stand” thrown into the bargain!!

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.