If you’ve ever attended a wedding, you’ll know just how influential the celebrant is in setting the tone during the nuptials. The right (or wrong!) celebrant can really make or break your ceremony.
Here at HOORAY!, we’re always on the hunt for celebrants who bring a fresh, lively and tailored approach to the ceremonies they officiate. Those who avoid a ‘cookie cutter’ approach, instead focusing on creating fun, emotion-filled and personalised ceremonies.
So, that’s why we’re super excited to share an interview with one of our absolute fave Sydney-based marriage celebrants, Melissa Soncini.
Melissa is well known for her warm, friendly and creative spirit. This lovely lady is dedicated to providing a seamless and enjoyable wedding planning experience, which is tailored to suit each couple’s individual love story. And here’s a hot tip: if you’re planning to attend one of Melissa’s ceremonies, pack tissues – because you’ll be sure to either be crying with laughter or sobbing from a heartfelt ceremony!
We caught up with Melissa to get more of an insight of into her world as a marriage celebrant as well as a stack of juicy tips and tricks for writing your vows, wedding planning and more.
Getting hitched? Read on!
1. Hi Melissa! Tell us a little about yourself and your journey to becoming a celebrant.
Hello HOORAY! Peeps. I’m Sydney born and bred lass that loves spending every spare minute outdoors, lapping up the sunshine, drinking flat whites and hunting down Sydney’s latest and greatest eateries. My path to celebranting (yes, it’s a word, I promise) began a decade ago when I discovered my knack for public speaking and love of meeting people, culminating in a lightbulb moment that lead me to become a celebrant.
I am grateful for finding my passion in life and my job is never work. It’s still a joy to meet new couples preparing for their wedding and I still get so freakin’ excited when I see my couples get lost in their vows and share their first kiss as newlyweds! (Insert a loving sigh here)
2. What makes your wedding ceremonies stand out from others? What makes your style different?
My style is my style. I am true to myself and don’t try to emulate anyone else. I give 100% to every wedding straight from my heart and after many, many, hours of careful preparation and collaboration with my couples, I am able to deliver a ceremony that is authentic and true to the couple’s vision of their wedding ceremony.
The greatest compliment I receive is when a friend or family member approaches me after the wedding and asks ‘How do you know the couple?” followed by, “oh, I assumed you were a friend by the way you spoke about them” (Insert a big, happy, grin of accomplishment here).
3. Any suggestions on how to make a ceremony unique and personalised to the special couple?
I start with a blank piece of paper with every couple because no two love stories are the same so no two ceremonies are the same.
I love to chat and get to know my couple as individuals and as a team. I ask lots of questions and take lots of notes. It is a joint effort of editing and polishing and creating a ceremony that is a 100% perfect reflection of the couple’s personalities, style and love story.
The ceremony might also include beautiful, cultural rituals or religious symbolism which I encourage couples to include. I also urge couples to include as many people they love in the ceremony to make it very personal and make everyone a part of their celebration.
4. How important is it to have the right celebrant?
There are THOUSANDS of celebrants in Australia and every single one of them can legally marry a couple. I think that the right celebrant is one that you feel comfortable with to express your wishes and someone you look forward to seeing as you walk down the aisle. The right celebrant will have a mix of professionalism, warmth and someone who you would like to have a drink with after the ceremony!
5. How would you describe your ideal client couple?
My ideal couple are not afraid to break a few rules to make the wedding ceremony authentic to express their beliefs and be proud of a ceremony that feels right to them – not what society tells them is a correct way to marry. Feel like dancing in the middle of the ceremony – DO IT! Want to have your grandmother as a flower girl? DO IT! Want your fur-baby to present the wedding rings? DO IT! My ideal couples are loved-up, creative and truthful people. (*insert a big fat content smile here)
6. Any tips or tricks for writing the perfect vows?
I love this question. Writing your own vows can be a daunting task for some people but let me tell you, everyone will see straight through you if you copy and paste from Google. Yes, Google is a great place for inspiration, but please make the vows your own!
Speak from the heart. Be loving, be brave, be honest. The best vows I have heard start with serious promises, then may have a few lines of personal, light-hearted promises and then end on a serious note again. Your personality should shine in your vows and this will ensure that everyone at the ceremony will laugh and cry those happy tears with you.
7. What are your fave wedding ceremony locations?
I am a Sydney Celebrant so I am very biased. Sydney is so diverse and pretty! My Star sign is Libra so making choices and picking my favourite locations is difficult. I don’t mind a cute little hidden beach in the Eastern Suburbs, or a drive down south to a country farm (can you smell the raspberry pie? Mmmmmm) but I also love a bit of industrial chic and a cityscape background or an art gallery conveniently placed by the magnificent Sydney Harbour foreshore.
8. What is your typical process for planning the ceremony with couples?
First of all the obvious – we catch up for a glass of wine or a cup of tea (I love both) for a detailed chat about what the couple are wanting from their ceremony. Together we then take care of the legal paperwork and I ask the couple to do a little bit of homework to collaboratively create a bespoke ceremony, one that speaks lightness, love and truth.
We meet again for a mechanical walkthrough of the ceremony, otherwise known as a ‘rehearsal’ if the couple needs to settle any nerves. Finally, we meet, looking gorgeous, relaxed and happy on the wedding day ready to be hitched and celebrate with loved ones (yay!).
9. Could you walk us through what actually happens on the day?
While the couple are readying themselves with hair, makeup and photos, I am similarly at home also dressing to fit the theme of the wedding. I am also charging my equipment and going over all of my notes and making sure the legal documents are accurate and ready (for the fifth time). I spend a few hours rehearsing the ceremony at home so that it is a polished delivery. My kids often walk past while I practise out loud and roll their eyes when I am speaking about love – don’t you just love teenagers? I arrive at the ceremony nice and early to speak to the key people involved – the Groom, ring bearer, musicians, readers, and check the mic once more. Then – time to get married!
10. What is the best piece of wedding advice you can share with us?
Trust your suppliers!! They are experts in their field and if given a little bit of creative freedom, will go over and above your expectations. Also, don’t stress the small stuff that may not go to plan on the day and get on with the fun and focus on the important part of the day – marrying your best friend.
Want to get hitched by Melissa?
We don’t blame you! To contact Melissa Soncini, visit marriagecelebrantonline.com and make an enquiry via her booking form.