A Special Message from Olivia and Sami

We had the pleasure of having the wonderful Simone as our celebrant for our baby’s naming day ceremony. Even now after three years people still talk about the ceremony and how personal and intimate it was. Many of our guests had never attended a naming day before and they thought it was so beautiful and felt Simone had made it so personal and special for us as parents but also included our guests. Simone is truly gifted at what she does and we are so happy we found her and would highly recommend to any future parents you will not be disappointed! Thanks again Simone, Olivia and Sami

Leap Year Proposal: what’s it all about?

February 29th….what’s behind the tradition of this being the day a woman proposes?

Bachelor’s Day is an Irish tradition on leap year that opens women to initiate dances and propose marriage. If the proposal was refused the man was expected to buy the woman a silk gown or, by the mid-20th century, a fur coat (no thanks!). The tradition is supposed to originate from a deal that Saint Bridget struck with Saint Patrick!  Continue reading

Wedding Day Nerves and How to Beat Them

I attended the launch of Marie Forleo’s new book ‘Everything is Figureoutable’. Marie posed the question, ‘do we misinterpret nerves and fear?’  Is the feeling of butterflies in our tummy, sweaty palms, and dry mouth symptoms of nerves? Or is it excitement?  Bruce Springsteen once said he has these very symptoms before going on stage. Bruce does not associate these feelings with fear, instead, he knows it’s his body telling him he is ready to ROCK! Continue reading

A barn, a snowstorm, and freezing temperatures: a perfect wedding in Ontario, Canada.

Waterstone Estates was the setting for Kyle and Holly’s November wedding celebrations!  It was one degree Celsius and two days after a snowstorm.  YES, it was stunningly beautiful.  YES, I had the most wonderful time, and YES it was FREEZING! It was one of the most special ceremonies I have ever delivered and the memories will stay in my heart forever.

Here is a little sneak peek of their beautiful day! Continue reading

Ceremony Photography: Should guests take photos during your ceremony?

I am really happy to talk about the subject of guests taking photos during a wedding ceremony, and if all photography rights should be exclusive to your photographer.  In the planning stages of a ceremony, I give couples the option of me asking guests not to take photos and not to post images to social media.  What do couples decide? The answer is a mixed bag, but most often its ‘leave it to the photographer’.

I recently delivered a ceremony, where the bride and her little girl, together with the bride’s dad entered the ceremony room to walk up the aisle. Naturally, the little one was a bit stunned but soon settled, and began to dance to the processional music. Yes, this was an adorable moment. BUT what hit me like a bomb was, the groom/dad could not see what was happening because the guests had taken over the aisle with their camera phones to record the moment. In truth, not one person with their phone out realised what the groom was missing.

Since that day, when couples say it’s OK for guest to take photos, I explicitly request guests not to lean into the aisle.  The photographer always thanks me. Remember, on a wedding day, the celebrant, photographer, musician, florist etc are all one big team that is hired to do their job, work together and get things right!

I was curious to know what a wedding photographer thought on the subject.  Thomas Stewart, a world-leading wedding photographer,  is well known for his very clear message (all 26,000 words) about having an unplugged wedding and of course his famous photo seen below. (With kind permission from Thomas)

Stewart Thomas Image

Another explanation on the impact of guest photography during your ceremony comes from Jenna Kutcher, an esteemed US wedding photographer (retired…a young woman who went on to do other great things).  Jenna has very kindly given permission for me to share her views with you. It’s a long read, but hang in there, its worth it <3.

Courtesy of Jenna Kutcher

Hey sweet friend,

I’ve been wanting to write to you for awhile. The thing is, our paths only seem to cross on the weekends and while Saturday strikes and I think of the words I’d love to deliver to you, I forget throughout the week and fail to reach you… until now. Here’s the thing, I have so much to say to you, but I’m never quite sure how to deliver it, because I see you and I know your intentions are pure. So first, just listen to my side, maybe you’ll rethink grabbing out your iPhone or packing your DSLR for the next time you get to witness a precious round of “I dos!” As our generation becomes the most photographed generation on the planet, we have become obsessed with documenting everything: from the minute we wake up to what we eat for dinner. Our lives are shared with the world and while it’s a joy – it’s also become a big problem.

You might not know it, but I’m always looking for you at my weddings. You blend in so well, try to appear inconspicuous, but as I start at the front looking into the crowd, I am trying to pinpoint your whereabouts and plan how I can work around you. Wait, you didn’t realize that what you do impacts me? It does. So while you’re positioning yourself in an aisle seat and clinging to that camera before the bride rounds the corner, I am coming up with action plans in my head. Here’s what you don’t realize: as the professional photographer, we are given guidelines. We can’t use flash, we need to stay put and out of the way, and we must remain discreet while delivering the BEST photos to our clients. So I am sure you can imagine the shock when you’re flashbulbs go off and suddenly our settings are wonky because we had no clue you were ready to strike.

I’ve watched mothers miss their daughters walking down the aisle, I’ve seen grandma’s hiding behind the glowing screen of an iPad, and I’ve witnessed so many moments that were missed simply because someone was scrolling through their camera roll to check out “the shot.” I don’t know everything, but here are a few things I do know: you, my friend, were invited as an honored guest. The couple didn’t invite you out of obligation or because you know how to use Instagram, they genuinely wanted your presence at their day. Whether you’re their college bestie, you used to babysit them and you have horror stories, or you’re their next door neighbor – I’d like to bet that they would far rather see your smiling face than what iPhone you have. So while you’re doing your best to document that precious aisle moment that they’ve probably been dreaming of for months (even years) their professional photos (the ones they will probably hang in their home) will not be of your sweet face but of your phone screen and determined look as you try to nail a Facebook worthy photo – which, let’s be honest, your photos probably aren’t turning out that great anyway.

When I am hired to do my job, my couples are investing in me and trusting me. Trust isn’t something I choose to take lightly so I will go to the ends of the earth to deliver them the photos they’ve been dreaming of. I can tell you a few things:  they didn’t dream of looking out into the aisle and seeing you (and ten of your posse) leaning in and holding out your phone in an attempt to be “discreet” and they definitely didn’t envision professional photos with all sorts of screens glowing in the background. When I see you, I feel a little sad, because here I am, a workhorse ready for battle and there you are throwing away an opportunity to be fully present for the very people who requested your presence.

What I don’t want you to hear is this: I am not a bitter photographer who is worried about you stealing my job, not in the least. In fact, I respect your desire to help remember the day! That being said, I think there is a time and place for your documentation (and it might not be in a dimly lit church with a captive audience!) I know my couples love seeing your images, I want you to be in them, but here’s what I would prefer to avoid: I don’t want to trip over you as you crouch in the aisle, I get distracted with you shooting over my shoulder, and I hate having to figure out how to creatively crop you out of the photos because you’re staring at your phone during precious moments. In fact, I am so set on seeing your face I make sure that my clients are given the opportunity to share their photos with their guests, so that not only can you live the day in the present, you can also relive those moments you were a part of for years to come.

So next time you’re inching towards the aisle or your point and shoot is ready to fire, I dare you to just sit back and relax. I was hired to document the day and I take that position seriously, so seriously, I might smile at you (but deep down I am willing you to simply enjoy being a guest!) My clients will thank you, I will thank you, and the photos that you get to be a part of will be a part of their legacy long after your blurry iPhones have been buried in the feeds of Facebook! Let’s not forget about what it means to be a witness to vows!

Let your presence be their present.

Love,

The Professional Photographer Hired to Do Her Job

Couples pay a lot of hard-earned money to hire the best photographers, and it’s not ok for the photographer to compete with your guests to do their job!  What would it be like if a guest came to the front of the room and read their own random text alongside mine?  Or if they popped into the kitchen and started putting a salad together…they would be booted out pronto!! So why is it acceptable for your photographer?  Not the same thing?  The conversation is happening over on Instagram, and I would love to hear your thoughts!

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Top 10 Tips For Choosing The Right Celebrant

Congratulations, you are engaged and there are exciting times ahead!

What to do first? Enjoy the celebration of engagement and the joy of knowing you are spending the rest of your life with the person you love! Give yourself time to absorb this precious moment in time.

Then, when you are ready, I suggest you think about three things: your celebrant, your venue, and your band, in that order.

Why your celebrant first? Your wedding ceremony is the most important part of your day, it is the purpose of your celebration, planning, and hard work. It’s the reason why family and friends from around the world will join to witness your ‘I Do’.  

Please give your ceremony the attention it deserves! Here are my ‘Top 10 Tips For Choosing The Right Celebrant!’

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CONNECTION  – Your ceremony is a very special and intimate time, so it’s important you trust your celebrant and feel a connection to them. You need to feel they understand the story you want to tell, and will find the best way to tell it.

YOUR CEREMONY, YOUR STORY  – Your love story is unique, as your ceremony should be. Ask your celebrant do they work from a template or are they going to tell your story, in a language you understand and in a way that has meaning to you.

INITIAL CONTACT  – Always speak with your celebrant either in person, by phone or via a Zoom chat before making your booking or any payment. You should always be given the opportunity to ask any questions and understand the process before making a decision.

BOOKINGS PER DAY – Ask your celebrant how many ceremonies they perform a day. Its best if it’s just the one. Some book in several weddings, if this is the case, ensure there is plenty of time between ceremonies to allow for any delays.

CHOICE – I encourage you to speak with a number of different celebrants, this helps to understand their background and beliefs, and to know that they are inline with yours.

CONTENT – Keep a ceremony diary. When you come across a reading or poem, a piece of music or a ceremony element, jot it down and bring it to your first celebrant meeting. This really helps your celebrant to set the tone for your day. Remember your ceremony is a creative process that you are very much a part of.

COST – Before booking, ask what the total ceremony cost will be, including any travel fees.

LOCATION –  Check whether your celebrant is happy to work in the environment you have chosen – on a hill side, island, beach, restaurant or anywhere else you fancy! If your ceremony is on location, ask your celebrant if they have microphones and battery powered speakers. Any outdoor ceremony over 10 to 15 people requires amplified sound.

LENGTH Ask how long your ceremony will be and if there are any time restrictions.

DON’T RUSH – Your ceremony sets the tone for your wedding day, so treat it with the respect it deserves!! Don’t rush your plans and be careful not to focus only on your reception. Your celebrant should work with you to ensure your celebration is one of a kind and unforgettable!

If you are planning your wedding ceremony and would like to have an informal chat, please feel free to give me a call on +353877813594 or email hello@thecivilcelebrant.ie

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