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Vendor Spotlight | Leisa Ottley Celebrant

Leisa Ottley is one of our favourite, most loved and experienced Celebrants. She’s been in the industry for well over a decade, first as a Wedding Planner then as a Celebrant. In January she will celebrate her 600th marriage – so she knows a thing or two about what it takes to get the best wedding ceremony vibe for her couples.

Vendor Spotlight | Leisa Ottley Celebrant

Leisa has always lived in the Northern Rivers; she grew up on her family’s farm, near Duranbah. She spent many a weekend in the Pottsville, Kingscliff and Brunswick creeks as a kid. Her Dad was musical and loved the Byron scene so they were always around the live musicians making magic all over the Northern Rivers. 

One of her fondest memories of growing up under the steady gaze of Mt Warning is horse riding all over the hills of Stokers Siding and Uki, and travelling out to Brunswick and Byron Bay to dance and sing amongst the colourful hippy flags! She now has her own horse that she often rides along Patches Beach with her horsey mates. 

Currently she lives in Ballina with her husband, two beautiful kids, horse – Bruce and dog – Jersey. They are pretty outdoorsy people; they love camping, bush walking, beach picnics and winter nights around the fire pit.

She met her love in the most romantic way… at work. They’d worked at the same place for years before their worlds collided. 

“It really did become the right place, right time kinda thing. If we’d met any earlier than we did, things may have been different as we were both in long term relationships. We both became single and around the same time started working a similar shift (7am!!!) but in different departments. We’d see each other on the way into work and then usually be having lunch around the same time, both being very chatty people, we naturally began having lunch together more often than not. Then we’d be hanging out on the weekends catching gigs. My boss would tell me he’d vomit in his mouth a bit watching us ‘flirt’ but we didn’t see anything romantic between us at the time, neither of us wanted a relationship. Eventually though, our connection was too strong to deny anymore and we started dating, engaged 10 months later. We had, and still do, an undeniable love for one another. We’ve been married now for 12 years.”

Leisa was registered as a Authorised Marriage Celebrant back in 2015, a year after her first child was born. Already in the wedding industry as a venue specific wedding coordinator, and knowing they were planning to start a family, she really wanted to work for herself. 

“I watched an incredible celebrant – Tarnya Bennett, deliver a ceremony that was upbeat, funny and so relaxed, and I couldn’t help myself but tell her she was the best celebrant I’d ever seen, and we stood around chatting for 2 whole hours after that wedding. She was the one that told me I should be a celebrant. Truly, I didn’t know if it was the right move for me – i was nervous about speaking in public, and having that LEVEL of pressure at a wedding. I know most vendors feel pressure of a wedding day, bur being the Celebrant is just something else entirely! Anyway, I stuffed my doubts way down deep and jumped in head first. I told my hubby I would be happy to do 10 – 15 weddings a year as a side gig while the kids were little, and Tarnya became my mentor. Little did I know, that I would do 25 weddings in my first year, and a second baby later, after 4 years and some maternity leave, by 2019 I was a full time celebrant averaging 100 – 120 ceremonies every year. Both me and my husband cannot even fathom a career other than what I am doing. It is my passion, my art and my job. I worked very hard to be here and I am so thankful that I did.”

Even though it was 12 years ago, she remembers her own wedding well

“The wedding industry looked very different (12 years ago). For one thing, we still had those daggy old white garden chairs – you know the ones I’m talking about, haha. The things that stood out for me though, being in the industry, we would pick and choose the things that meant something to us, and let go of the rest. The ceremony was important, so a lot of energy went into that. We were married by a friend, who is a Chaplain, and I think the warmness, laughter and ease of my own wedding ceremony really shaped how I operate as a celebrant.”

Every single couple Leisa has made married are locked away firmly in her heart for many different reasons. It could be something as simple as the way the couple look at each other for the first time, the HUGE vibe from guests, the tears and laughter or amazing venues. 

“Almost 600 weddings in, I have seen a lot of amazing things, and my fair share of not so amazing things, but that’s a conversation for another time.”

If she wasn’t a Marriage Celebrant, Leisa would be a…?

“Videographer for sure. No doubt about it. I often joke to my videographer friends that I want to intern for them. I totally thought I would want to be a wedding planner or coordinator, thanks to my background in event management, however, I am a terrible stylist. There is something so powerful about memories on video. I never get sick of seeing wedding videos, ever. It is also my biggest regret not having video at my own wedding”.

If you’d like Leisa to be your celebrant please contact her via our directory page here.

Photo Credits:

Luxe Elopements – Lady Bella Studio
Wilde Visual
Elin Bandmann Photography
Nicola Lemmon Photo
Wanderer & Wild
Every Moment Collective

Love stories


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