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.