DANA + MICHAEL - Colour Them Happy

By Sally Hughes, Melbourne Marriage Celebrant

Meet Dana.  She's one of the most gracious, humble and happy people I've had the pleasure of meeting.  If that's not impressive enough, she's also a soloist with the Australian Ballet. Her most recent performance in their production of Chroma was outstanding.

Speaking of impressive people, here's Michael.  Happy, super friendly and, like his bride, also very talented.  This German-born groom spent two years as a documentary photographer in post-war Kosovo.  Now you'll most often find him shooting weddings for Blue Robin Wedding Photography

Dana and Michael's brief was clear. They wanted a ceremony that was casual and fun-filled, one that would reflect their loving and excitable personalities. They wanted to include a large number of loved ones and were adamant that the sense of celebration should be established from the outset, and not withheld until their reception.  Oh, and in honour of Michael's heritage, they also they wanted me to present, in part, in German.  I loved their brief and fortunately my training in German opera many moons ago meant that I knew a little German too.  I couldn't wait to get started!

Dana and Michael were married in The Fitzroy Gardens on the last weekend of daylight savings.

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As expected, Dana was the embodiment of grace and beauty.  She wore a knee-length dress with delicate lace overlay and the most amazing cut out back, bright blue heels and a small posy of blue hand woven pom poms.  Her striking Matron of Honour and “Leading Ladies” were each dressed in magnificently bright block coloured cocktail dresses of yellow, fuchsia, jade and red.  They looked magnificent against the green lawn and garden beds of pinks, oranges and reds.

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As Dana made her way around the winding path and toward her husband-to-be, Michael couldn't resist reaching for his camera and taking a quick snap of his beaming bride.

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I loved the way Dana and Michael laughed and cuddled one another throughout their ceremony and the way their guests reacted openly and energetically to their relationship story and to the many and varied guest presentations.  


Though Dana and Michael exchanged rings and romantic vows with utmost sincerity, such was the sense of joy that they shared, they simply couldn't suppress their delight.  Their laughter was utterly contagious!

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To Gotye's In Your Light the interactive ceremony drew to a cheerful close.  Dana and Michael remained in the gardens afterward, chatting to their guests over pretzels and refreshments in the early evening sunshine...

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... before stealing a little post-ceremony time for themselves.

The newlyweds continued their lively and colourful celebration a short distance away at Fortyfivedownstairs.

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Dana and Michael, I will never forget your ceremony, nor will I forget the fun we had planning it.  I couldn't help but smile in your presence as your kind and generous spirits and your joie de vivre made every interaction a thoroughly happy one. Herzlichen Glückwunsch zu Ihrer Ehe.  Herzlichen Dank!  xx


Celebrant: Sally Hughes

Ceremony Venue: Fitzroy Gardens, Lawn 20

Ceremony Venue Decor: The Wedding Zone

Photography: Tom Franks Photography

Ceremony Bouquets: Dana's own creations

Reception Flowers - Cecilia Fox

Reception Venue: Fortyfivedownstairs

Dana's Dress: Andrea Gorrie


CESZ + JING - Married in the Morning

By Sally Hughes, Melbourne Marriage Celebrant

There’s something really lovely about a morning wedding.  While most people are slowly rising to brew their coffee or read their Sunday paper, a group of family and friends assemble in the quiet stillness of morning to celebrate a couple’s happy relationship.

I arrived at Footscray Park for Cesz and Jing’s nuptials to discover a handful of locals walking their dogs and only two cars in the car park.  Doubting for a split second that I’d arrived in the wrong area, I then saw a long trestle table and surrounding it, a team of friends busily working to transform the pathway into a morning tea reception space.  Drawing from the palette of Autumnal colours around them, they decorated the white table cloth with a soft beige burlap runner and blooms in shades of bright yellow, orange and red.   Bunting was strewn from either side of the pathway, its welcome message greeting guests as they arrived to celebrate Cesz and Jing's happy relationship.

Cesz walked the long and winding paths of the Footscray Gardens alone.  Her unhurried entrance from atop the steps was magical.  Having a long and uninterrupted view of this beautiful woman walking toward her future husband was a joy to behold. 

With guests casually gathered before them and with their gorgeous Page Boy and Flower Girl by their sides, Cesz and Jing were a picture of happiness.

I loved the simplicity of Cesz and Jing's ceremony; the quiet, sun-drenched setting, the cheerful gathering of loved ones, beautifully hand crafted decorations and most notably, the sincerity with which Cesz and Jing declared their lifelong commitment to one another.

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Congratulations Cesz and Jing, one of the kindest and most joyous couples I've had the pleasure of knowing.  May your marriage be filled with many more beautiful moments.  xx

Celebrant: Sally Hughes
Venue: Footscray Park
Photography: Maria Christine

BEC + TOM - More Than Words

By Sally Hughes, Melbourne Marriage Celebrant

I can still recall my first conversation with Tom.  Within moments of answering the phone I considered the groom-to-be to be charismatic and good humoured and I quite enjoyed our conversation about his fiance Bec and their wedding plans.  Unfortunately, their wedding date coincided with day one of my Thailand holiday, so I couldn't possibly help them.  I remember hanging up the phone and thinking it a great shame that I was unavailable for their ceremony.

Months later, Tom called again.  He and Bec had changed their wedding date and were hoping I would be available.  Having well and truly met my quota of weddings for the year I regretfully declined their invitation.  However, by the end of our phone call, Tom's warmth and "respectful urging" changed my mind. And I am very glad it did.

Shortly after, I met with a genuinely lovely couple. A mere minute into our meeting I could tell that Bec and Tom were warm, fun and good humoured.  We laughed continuously throughout our meeting and happily discovered that we shared similar interests and, importantly, similar views on ceremonies.  Bec and Tom were open to suggestion and were so very  excited about their impending Yarra Valley celebration.  I really liked them.

Bec and Tom were married in the chapel at the magnificent Stones of the Yarra Valley.  It's such a beautiful venue.  Every time I enter the light-filled space, with its soaring ceilings, stained glass windows, shiny grand piano and sweeping views across acres of vines, I always catch myself smiling. 

Aesthetics aside, it was the sense of celebration within the chapel walls that day that I will remember most vividly, for Bec and Tom's ceremony was one of the most interactive and enjoyable ceremonies I've had the pleasure of conducting.  The many and varied contributions by guests - one in particular was downright hilarious, the tribute we paid to their parents and to those who had been married for a significant period of time (two sets of grandparents had recently celebrated 60 years of marriage), the ring warming ceremony, whereby their rings, sewn to a pillow made from Bec's grandmother's wedding dress, were passed amongst family members, and the sudden change in mood when Bec and Tom declared with utmost sincerity their lifelong commitment to one another in marriage, made for a most memorable ceremony.

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However I think my favourite element of the ceremony was when Tom's friend Mark stood before us all to sing. Just as he opened his mouth, Tom took over. Guests, who were just as surprised as the bride, cheered.  The look on Bec's face was priceless!  Bec had waited over seven years to hear Tom sing. Together with his brother James on guitar, (known to pre-school age children and their parents as 'Jimmy Giggle'), they performed a rendition of More Than Words that brought the house down. Tom has a beautiful voice and his gift to Bec that day was priceless. 

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Congratulations Mr and Mrs R.  What a wonderfully interactive afternoon.  Given the smiles, cheers and applause that filled the chapel, it was clear to me that you were surrounded by a fabulous group of people. People who recognise just how lovely, likeable and talented you are. Have a wonderful life. xx


Celebrant: Sally Hughes

Venue: Stones of the Yarra Valley

Photography: Natalie Davies Photography

Flowers: Blooming Brides

Musicians: Groom Tom & Best Man James / Baker Boys Band

Bec's gown: Anaessia

Tom's suit: Arthur Galan


By Sally Hughes, Melbourne Marriage Celebrant

Meet Elenor. She's a most beautiful dancer, singer and actor.  She's known as "Miss Elly" to my daughters and a ridiculously brilliant tap dancer to my tap class buddies and I.

Meet Alister.  He's talented too.  He's also a triple threat (an accomplished singer/dancer/actor to those of you unfamiliar with the term), however he spends most of his time directing theatre shows and running one of Melbourne's most respected independent theatre companies.   

Elenor and Alister met at drama school fourteen years ago. Elenor was very distracted by Alister's good taste in shoes and his dazzling smile, while Alister remembers a shy Elenor who caught his attention with her beautiful big eyes. Their secret courtship commenced whilst rehearsing the roles of Gerta and Gilda, Aryan Nazi girls, in their first year cabaret project. It continued during Monday evening tap rehearsals and late night pizza.  Over many months they discussed their love of dance, especially classic song and dance numbers by Gene Kelly and Ann Miller.

They graduated, moved in together, made a musical theatre pilgrimage to New York, performed in national tours together and, of course, became engaged to be married. 

Alister proposed to Elenor at her favourite place in Melbourne, their local park,  so there was no doubting where they would hold their ceremony.   Together they strolled from their Prahran home to the beautiful Victoria Gardens. They were met by their parents at the entrance and to Gin Wigmore's rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow they together made their way along the winding path toward one of the most vocal and excited group of guests I've ever observed.  I'll never forget the cheers they received when they came into view.


Music played a large role in Elenor and Alister's ceremony.  I wouldn't have expected less, given their passion for musical theatre and cabaret, and seeing as though a significant portion of their guests were professional performers.  Locals out for an afternoon stroll could have been forgiven for thinking they'd stumbled upon the latest "Melodies in the Park" concert. 

The talented Andrew Kroenert sang the first of three "promise songs"; songs carefully selected by Elenor and Alister for their special meaning.  His performance of Bob Dylan's Make You Feel My Love gave me chills.

Actor Tim Paige delivered the most engaging interpretation of Edward Lear's The Owl and the Pussy Cat, I've ever witnessed.

Sheridan Harbridge sang Arlen and Mercer's Come Rain or Come Shine with such joy.

Under the large canopy of old oak trees Elenor and Alister continuously cuddled and laughed.  Theirs was undoubtedly a ceremony of unabashed joy and celebration.

The mood changed slightly when the happiest of couples exchanged sincere and heartfelt vows.  Elenor was however very quick to wipe the tears that fell from Alister's eyes.  Her energy and excitement during the pronouncement of marriage was so endearing.

During the signing of the certificates we were treated to two fabulous a capella performances.  Emma Clair Ford sang Hill's The Glory of Love, while Jennifer Robinson performed Hawker and Raymonde's I Only Want To Be With You.


And to the music of the Puppini Sisters, we celebrated with cupcakes, champagne and much, much laughter.

Congratulations Elenor and Alister.  Your garden ceremony was unforgettable, as are you both.   May you continue to pop across to the Riv for a Monday matinee, watch old black and white MGM movies musicals on your couch and captivate and inspire people with your kind and joyous hearts.  

Celebrant: Sally Hughes
Venue:  Victoria Gardens, Prahran
Photography: Sarah Walker Photography