As a marriage celebrant, Matt Finch plays a key role in the most important day in his clients' lives. Having witnessed countless weddings and civil ceremonies, he sits down with us to give his perspective on what makes the perfect wedding, the things he thinks are important to remember on the big day, and his thoughts on marriage equality.
OH: You’ve established yourself as a loved and respected modern-day marriage celebrant. Tell us about how you came to be doing this.
MF: I initially thought being a celebrant would be a sideline gig 8 years ago, but I soon realised how much I loved it and since there was a bit of a gap in the market for my style of celebrant, it took off, and I embraced it.
My friends had been having boring, impersonal ceremonies and I didn’t get why. They were fun, interesting, sometimes crazy people. Why was that being hidden in their lame ceremonies?
I came into weddings wanting to make ceremonies a highlight of the day, not a mundane necessity. To make them a more personal experience that would shine through in happy, relevant ceremonies, which actually suited the people in them.
Matt wears Oscar Hunt custom sports jacket with navy window pane check, fabric by Porter & Harding. Photography by Arianna Leggiero
OH: Tell us about your first job?
MF: You mean throwing fleeces and sweeping the family woolshed?
After that and all through university I worked in music stores. We blasted all kinds of tunes so loud that the customers had to scream at us to be heard. It was a hoot. I learned so much about music, which has now given me a real appreciation of how people use music in their ceremonies. Thankfully people are getting much more creative these days, steering away from the staple Shania Twain ballads and trying creative options like the XX, Avicii, Marc Anthony or the Flaming Lips.
OH: What’s the biggest mistake you see couples make when it comes to their wedding day?
MF: I think a lot of people forget to just stop and ask themselves what their 2018 idea of marriage is. What do they actually want to promise to their partner in front of all their favourite people? All this massive fuss is going on, but why? What’s it all about? Some get lost in the outfits and the party and forget the actual point.
From a physical angle, people forget to just slow down and take it all in. People literally forget to breathe. When we’re nervous we naturally take shallow breaths. Take your time and some deep breaths can bring you back down to Earth and help you absorb everything going on around you.
Some brides and couples speed down the aisle instead of realising that it’s a really beautiful experience. One that they’ll probably never get again. Slow down, look around, laugh, hug your Dad, pause and let the photographer get a few nice snaps. And remember if you’re partner is waiting at the end of that aisle, it’s an amazing moment for them too. Soak it in!
OH: Three lessons you’ve learned about love or relationships that you wish you could tell people who want to get married.
MF: After the wedding, too many people forget how amazing they felt, how in love they were. They get spoiled by having their partner around all the time and begin to take them for granted. I encourage people to re-read their vows to each other every anniversary. Remember all the reasons why you fell in love in the first place. Sometimes a little reminder can do wonders.
People don’t usually change their habits too much. If it bothers you that she drops her wet towel on the floor when she’s age 27, there’s every chance she’ll still be doing it at 72. Let it go. Accept it. In the scheme of things, it just doesn’t matter.
For most people it’s not about money. Generally doing something thoughtful and kind will make someone much happier than buying them a generic object or paying for a fancy meal. To know that your partner has taken notice and thought deeply about you is a great feeling.
Sometimes your differences are your strengths. It’s not a negative. Utilise it. When you combine your powers, together you can be a force to be reckoned with.
OH: What advice would you give a groom and groomsmen when they’re considering what to wear for the big day?
MF: Treat yourself. Get a tailored suit. When a suit fits right, you can really look and feel a million bucks. Even if you never wear it again, that’s ok.
Don’t be afraid to add some extras, maybe a pocket square or a tie pin. You’re allowed to step it up on your wedding day. (And you want to look better than your groomsmen. Haha.)
OH: Are there certain things you have to consider when choosing what you wear for a wedding? What if the groom is wearing the same colour jacket as you?
MF: I always ask the couple what everyone is wearing and if they have any requests for what I wear. I’ve built up lots of options now so I can usually match the vibe. That gives me an idea whether I can bring in some of my own style with an interesting tie or modern lapel pin or whether I should keep it classic.
OH: Have you seen the marriage equality debate affect same-sex couples who want to get married?
MF: Hugely! I’ve had dozens of same-sex couples who have asked me to be their celebrant and waited so long for it to be legal here that they gave up and went overseas to the US, Portugal, NZ, England, etc. Whilst there’s definitely some adventure in doing this, there’s also a lot of angst and sadness. The fact that the guest list is immediately slashed means that they cannot share this special milestone with all the friends and family that matter to them. This hurts. This is especially true for grandparents who can no longer travel distances and are forced to miss out.
It’s a real slap in the face that our government considers the love of a same-sex couple not equal to that of a straight couple.
We call ourselves a progressive country and yet we are way behind on this topic - the only English speaking nation in the world without marriage equality. The damage this does to the LGBTIQ community is hard to measure, but extreme. I grew up in the country where the stats on teen gay suicide are horrifically high. Our government could begin to cure this by telling them, and society, that in the eyes of the law, they are equal, they do matter.
It may seem extreme to some, but I believe introducing marriage equality in Australia will literally save lives.
OH: Tell us what accomplishments you are most proud of.
MF: 55 countries and counting; I’m a travel addict. Nothing makes me happier than to jump on a plane and zoom off to explore somewhere new. Meet new people, eat new food, see sights that blow my mind. To learn about the way the rest of the world thinks and behaves has really given me a true appreciation of how incredible Australia is. (And hopefully we’ll announce a win for marriage equality on November 15 and make it even better!)
Visit Matt's website: MattFinchCelebrant.com.au