Finding a great celebrantWith 10 years of photographing weddings in Melbourne and the Yarra Valley under his belt, Simon Woodcock of Wedding Snapper has attended countless civil and religious marriage ceremonies, varying in size from one guest through to 400 guests. We’ve worked together on numerous weddings now and what I love about Simon is his easy-going, relaxed personality, his attention to detail, and he’s got this brilliant knack of making everyone feel supremely comfortable.

Each wedding has been unique in their own way and here he offers a few tips and advice to help couples select a great marriage celebrant best suited to them. At every marriage ceremony there has been a civil marriage celebrant or priest officiating over the proceedings and some of these individuals have made an impact on me, the ceremony, the couple and all of their guests.

This lasting impression has mostly been positive, but there have been a few where I’ve been glad that I’ve had a camera to hide behind!

I don’t intend to rubbish any marriage celebrants or identify any particular individuals for their below-par wedding day performance, but did I tell you about the priest who singled me out mid-ceremony and made me sit down for the service?

Or the one about the sweary priest?

Or that time the notoriously late celebrant screeched up a few minutes after the ceremony was due to start? (He doesn’t get my referrals any longer!)

There was the time the celebrant ad-libbed a bit too much and then stumbled over the bride’s name;  cue sharp intake of breath from the guests. I could go on, but suffice to say there are enough horror stories out there to make couples wary about which marriage celebrant they book!

Where to find the good celebrants?

I have photographed a lot of weddings in which the celebrant has remained rigidly fixed to their mark behind or adjacent to the newlyweds, so that when they go to the kiss, I wind up with an unusable photo of 3 individuals that definitely won’t make it into the wedding album or onto the wall.

The celebrant ends up being the spare wheel and the photographer doesn’t get the photo they hoped for.  Nobody wins!

So, where are all the decent marriage celebrants to be found? Well, in my experience they all usually exhibit similar traits to one another and frequent themes begin to emerge which might give you a few clues as to where to find them.

  • They are always well presented, courteous, friendly and know how to place both guests and bunch at ease.
  • Many have a network of like-minded and similarly professional celebrants that they can refer you to should they already be booked. I think this is an important detail – they’re not only lauded by their clients, but by their peers too, which is a great endorsement of their skill.
  • It’s good to see a celebrant chatting and socialising with guests before the marriage – to me, it shows they are relaxed, in control of the ceremony and most important of all, down to earth!

In short, there are loads of gems out there – you simply have to know where to search. 

Quick tips from a wedding photographer to help you find your ideal celebrant

  • Read through all their Google reviews. Are the testimonials all 4 or 5 stars? If not, investigate further.
  • Meet with your celebrant. Are they easy to speak to? Can they listen to what YOU need from a marriage service?
  • Will your guests warm into the celebrant?
  • Will your celebrant be a reassuring presence on the day? This should be a loud YES!
  • Do not let cost be the deciding factor. Often, when you pay peanuts, you sometimes get monkeys!
  • What does your gut instinct say? At some point, we have all dismissed our gut instinct and come to regret it later. Listen to it!

Keep the above advice in mind and you’ll be on the right path to finding the marriage celebrant that suits you best.

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