The story of Sam and Snez...

This is a story of a romance that overcame the odds - odds of exactly 21 to 1 as it turned out.

Sam was living in a high-pressure environment. While it's often the case that a boy's mother or granny will ask ''when are you going to get yourself a nice young lady?'', Sam had a whole television network and a large proportion of the Australian population asking him the same question. If he ever had any doubts about his sexual orientation, the closet door was just about to slam closed with Sam inside it, as he was buffed and polished to perfection in preparation for Marathon Dating. The teeth were whitened to a point where they dazzled satellites passing overhead; his hair, skin and beard lavished with hipster love, potions and unguents, and his body honed until he had abs that could move The Commando to tears.

Snezana was a woman of beauty and poise, but a little unsure of herself through a lifetime of having a name that no-one could pronounce without showering her in spittle. She also had the responsibility of being a single Mum, and was having to leave her daughter in Perth while she went to Melbourne for a date of epic proportions. One that would last for months, but where at least she wasn't in danger of being taken to a skimpies bar or dining on a rat kebab.

It's easy to see that sharing a house with 20 other women can have its downsides, particularly if someone eats the last chocolate biscuit or hides the hairdryer. But when everyone is also planning on dating the same guy there can be a tension in the air that makes a pack of hyenas around a dead donkey look like a tea party. Luckily the girls all became immediate best friends and the TV network regularly swept their rooms for concealed weapons.

Snezana and Sam enjoyed doing all the things normal couples do when their dating budget is funded by a mega-corporation; hot air ballooning, boating, going to the ballet, all the while getting cosy in the knowledge that there weren't more than a few million people watching their every move. There were kisses stolen on occasions when they shouldn't have been, but by the time everyone made sure the camera angles were right, the outbreaks of passion had the spontaneity of a synchronised swimming routine. Roses were distributed as passes to the next round and gradually, Snezana amassed enough to stock a florists.

At last we saw that true love had emerged, surviving the media frenzy of the show and the subsequent need to keep everything under wraps until the final went to air. This was possibly easier than surviving the claws of some of her competitors, who achieved their 15 minutes of fame but whose perfect noses were in some cases seriously out of joint at missing out on the glittering prize of Sam himself.

The tricky bit is still to come with negotiating a long-distance romance to accommodate Snezana's daughter and possibly the return to a humdrum life beyond the spotlight. But if they've got what it takes; the will, the communication skills; the connection, then we hope that Sam and Snezana will be permanently un-bachelorised.

Trial By Ceremony

As a celebrant, one of the questions that people are quick to ask, usually with a concerned expression playing about their features is 'How long will the ceremony last?'' Often in much the same tone they'd ask ''But is it terminal, doctor?'' As marriage ceremonies are what I lovingly create for a living, no-one wants to give offence by implying they would rather chew their own leg off than endure listening to endless syrupy ranting or obscure poetry. It's OK - I understand. More than that, I agree.

If anyone reading this is an ageing geek, they may remember an early encounter that Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect had in Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy with a race called the Vogons. It had been deemed necessary to destroy the Earth to make way for an inter-galactic by-pass and the Vogons were despatched to do the job. They were particularly feared across the galaxy because on capturing prisoners they would torture them with recitations of bad poetry. I have yet to perform a Vogon wedding, but would be prepared to give it a go for research purposes. (I also have to resist the urge on occasion not to channel Peter Cook's minister in The Princess Bride, by starting a sermon on ''Mawwage...'' Anyone for a Princess Bride wedding? I'm learning to love my inner geek.)

Wedding ceremonies have had a bad rap for exceeding the limits of human endurance, but that's more historical, in the same way that it used to be frowned upon to invite your kids to your wedding. Assuming, that is you're having a civil ceremony and have some say in the matter. Religious weddings, as I understand it, are still likely to feature some additional content.

As a society, we have a pretty short attention span. If a webpage doesn't load in the blink of an eye, we're upgrading our computer; if the consumption of a cup of coffee isn't immortalised on Facebook by the time the cup is returned to the saucer, it's old news. Modern marriage ceremonies can adapt to this and should take both the audience and environmental factors into account as well. For instance, a beach wedding on a 38 degree day should be over before more than a third of the guests faint or throw themselves fully clothed into the ocean.

Generally speaking, men have a lower tolerance for ceremonies than women, so I tend to use the groomsmen as a barometer. Warning signs are eyes that are more glazed than the icing on the wedding cake or Homer Simpson-esque salivation while glancing at the bar. As a general rule of thumb, I would say that a glass of champagne poured at the start of the ceremony should not have the opportunity to warm by more than two degrees. That's an Australian rule - in England the beer shouldn't cool by more than two degrees.

Some people adopt an 'it's not the length that matters, it's what you do with it' approach; a belief that as long as everyone's having a good time, what does it matter? The problem is, who is the arbiter? I'm pretty sure that the bride's mum who is creating a personal tissue mountain is actually having a way better time than the boyfriend of the groom's sister's flat mate, who is much more concerned about the footy scores than about what Paul may or may not have said to the Corinthians.

To get down to brass tacks, I would say that due respect can be paid to the institution of marriage in a ceremony that is entertaining, moving and enjoyable in all the right places in around 15-20 minutes. Anything less could imply unseemly haste and make guests wonder if their investment in getting their suit dry cleaned was worthwhile; anything much longer will cause more foot-shuffling than a pre-school performance of Riverdance.

Avoiding The Frocky Horror Show

For some brides-to- be, the question of what to wear on the wedding day has been addressed far in advance. Occassionally, even before the groom knows that a wedding is happening and that he's in it.

A wedding dress can be the fulfilment of girlish fantasies or an edgy expression of the personality. We’re no longer constrained by convention to wear something that demurely whispers ''purity'' and looks like a mummy that got lost in a lace factory. Occassionally though, the pendulum swings too far the other way and the bride looks as though she'll get some more mileage out of the dress on the stage of the Moulin Rouge. Elegance is a good aspiration for wedding day sartorial ambitions and it doesn't necessarily have to come in either white or a Vera Wang box with a fully accessorised overdraft.

If you're geting married in a church, there are certain expectations, but even vicars can move with the times. Some may feel that God would smile upon punk brides who will never be short of an emergency safety pin, while others will lock themselves in the vestry at the sight of the Bonnie and Clyde look-a-likes storming up the aisle.

Marriage ceremonies outside of hallowed walls allow the dress-up box to be explored to its fullest extent. Or even the dressing-down box. Obviously beach weddings and dry-clean only labels aren't ideal bedfellows, so you need something that won't disintegrate in the first zephyr of salt air or migrate to Kalgoorlie when the Fremantle doctor joins your wedding party. Bathers and a sarong are fine, as long as the groom still has somewhere 'appropriate' to keep the rings. You know what I mean.

Dress to express your sense of style. I know I just don't feel comfortable leaving the house without a few kilos of Swarovski crystals, which causes a few sideways glances in the auto accessories aisle at KMart, I can tell you. Others go for a minimalist look that says ''Victoria's all out of secrets.''

You may want to consider the degree of movement you'll need on the day. Some of the more intricate bridal gowns may need to be teamed with a set of castors rather than killer heels as anything more than a minor muscle spasm could result in Catastrophic Stitching Failure. Others require the wearer to have driving lessons before trying to steer them in public. There are reports that dry cleaners have found dazed and distressed wedding guests embedded deep in layers of tulle.

It's your day in the spotlight, so wear what you want. The rule is, there are no rules. Oh - except for one. Crocs. I beg you, say no.