CHANNARI + SHAUN - A Perfect Processional

By Sally Hughes, Melbourne Marriage Celebrant

The most stirring processional I have ever witnessed occurred on a Saturday afternoon in October at The Dome at 333 Collins Street. For those of you unfamiliar with the venue, it's one of Melbourne's most breathtaking landmarks.  Built in the late nineteenth Century, the building boasts Baroque-inspired pillars and grand arches, a beautiful mosaic tiled floor, a very long aisle (brides-to-be, I've measured 97 steps) and at its centre, a most grandiose domed ceiling.

My heart well and truly began to race as I watched Shaun and his father stand at the top of the long aisle together, their backs to the guests, awaiting Channari’s arrival. I couldn't help but draw parallels between the pair and the way Princes Harry and William stood awaiting the-then Kate Middleton's arrival at the altar.  

Several metres away seven groomsmen, dressed in suitably British morning suits, took their positions under the clock by the entrance to the chamber.  And then the most arresting music filled the space.

One Republic’s ‘Secrets' as realised by The Piano Guys was a perfect choice for the elegant venue - and I insist that you click the link and play this music at full volume before you read any further!  I had chills running the length of my spine as, one by one, the groomsmen swiftly escorted the bridesmaids along the cream carpet aisle. The sense of drama rose to a perfect climax as the final attendants took their places with Shaun. And then, as silence descended upon the grandiose space, all eyes were fixed on Channari at the end of the long annex. 

At that point Shaun's Dad shook his son's hand, told him that his bride had arrived and encouraged him to turn around.

Slowly and gracefully Channari entered to Daniel Jang’s interpretation of John Legend’s 'All Of Me’.  As I looked at Shaun, who fought back tears, I wondered if I would shed one too. The perfect combination of the elegant venue, the arresting music and this beautiful couple, made for a very emotional processional.    And that was just the beginning!

After I had introduced the “cast of thousands” standing alongside Channari and Shaun, we were treated to the most animated rendition of Edward Monkton’s 'A Lovely Story’ (complete with character voices and gravelly dinosaur growls!) and a sensitive interpretation of Robert Fulgham’s ‘Union’. I continued with a mix of humorous and romantic relationship stories and shared some of the loveliest relationship reflections I have ever received from a couple.

With tears in their eyes, Channari and Shaun exchanged intimate vows, offered each other the gift of a ring and then received the loudest of cheers as they were declared husband and wife.  Arm in arm, the newlyweds danced down the aisle to Pharrell Williams' 'Happy', prompting all guests, their celebrant included, to join in.  The sense of celebration was undeniable that day.

Congratulations to the very kind and very accomplished Channari and Shaun.  Thanks for the Skype chats from London, your hospitality in Melbourne and for such an emotion-filled afternoon.  I consider myself privileged indeed.

Celebrant:               Sally Hughes
Photography:         Jonathan Ong     (Excluding Image 5, taken by Sally Hughes)
Ceremony Venue: The Dome
Channari's Gown:  Annasul Y
Suits:                      Favourbrook London

SHAN + PAUL - Love, Laughter and Pineapples

By Sally Hughes, Melbourne Marriage Celebrant

When my dear friends Shan and Paul asked me to conduct their wedding ceremony I was truly humbled.  Not merely because Shan's a very popular and well respected Celebrant at Cloud9 Celebrations, not merely because I knew that the who's who of the wedding industry would be there, but because of the beautiful people they are. 

Shan and Paul are compassionate, generous and thoughtful souls - the type of people who delight in  surprising loved ones with unexpected and quirky gifts and helping those less fortunate than themselves.   They're also fun and active - the outdoorsy type who can dive and surf like pros.  In short, they're impressive people.

Shan and Paul envisaged a structured, yet fun and casual ceremony, one that would celebrate their deep love and respect for each other, their close relationships with family and friends, reflect their love of the beach and their personal passions.   

It came as no surprise that they chose the rooftop of the beachside Encore St Kilda for their ceremony.  With palms and pineapples, green turf and blue skies and a bridal party in royal blue and eye-popping orange, the rooftop was completely transformed into a colourful oasis.

As I recall Shan and Paul’s ceremony, I can’t help but smile.  It was simply wonderful watching my dear friend and fellow celebrant assume the role of bride.  Shan happily trusted in her suppliers and simply enjoyed the day as it unfolded around her - something I know we both urge our couples do.  

She looked absolutely radiant in her exquisitely beaded One Day Bridal gown and when she entered the rooftop to No One Knows’ rendition of 'Somewhere Over The Rainbow', the crowd collectively gasped. Paul, who cut a very handsome figure in his royal blue Briggins suit grinned as his bride walked the white carpet on the arm of her proud father.  The two most important men in Shan's life shared a private moment, before Paul offered Shan his arm and led her into position by the stunning tropical arbour created by Botanics of Melbourne.

Flanked by a bridal party of ten, Shan and Paul stood hand in hand as I shared the story of their new year’s eve meeting at Train Trak Winery, their first impressions of each other, their long distance courtship and Paul’s perfect proposal at their favourite stretch of beach. I shared the qualities they’ve come to admire in each other, their shared passions and their hopes for their future - zinc smothered nippers and grommets included.

As very proud Wish Granters for the Starlight Children’s Foundation, Shan and Paul invited their special friend Josh and his sister Mia to share their thoughts on love and marriage.  With observations such as "Love is sharing… like when there is only one ice cream left and you let the other person have it....even though you really, really wanted it.  Love is patient….like Paul plaiting Shan's hair everyday in Bali so it didn’t get knotty in the surf”, the adorable duo brought smiles to every face and reduced quite a few people to tears.

After a romantic exchange of vows and rings Shan surprised Paul with a beautifully written speech. Following the line “ can’t stop the waves, but you can learn how to surf them”, she presented Paul with a custom made Al Merrick surfboard - a board that would, moments later, double as their signing table.

To the loudest of cheers, Shan and Paul embraced in the warm afternoon sunshine and together walked down the white carpet to greet their large gathering of guests. 

Celebrations continued on the beach side terrace below as the newlyweds were whisked away in a Kombi to spend some time together on the sand. 


Congratulations to the #latestpairofjeans!  Shan and Paul, thank you for the honour of composing and conducting your ceremony and for the honour of your friendship.  May you continue to surround yourselves with love, laughter and pineapples... today, tomorrow and forever. xx

Watch the highlight reel by C2 Video - Today, Tomorrow & Forever

Celebrant: Sally Hughes
Photography: Red Butterfly Photography
Videography: C2 Video
Ceremony Venue: Encore St Kilda
Floral Styling (Ceremony and Reception): Botanics of Melbourne
Shan's Dress: One Day Bridal
Suits: Briggins
Bridesmaid Dresses: Seduce
Ceremony Musicians: No One Knows
Reception Musicians: Soltribe
Cake: Cherrytree Bakehouse
Car: Kombi Celebrations
Other Ceremony Suppliers: The Wedding Zone

BELINDA + DAMIEN - A Love That Is More Than Love

By Sally Hughes, Melbourne Marriage Celebrant

I met Belinda, of Belinda Fitzpatrick Events, at a wedding industry event. While I found myself captivated by her styling that evening, it was her address to a room brimming with brides and grooms-to-be that impressed me most. Like the other suppliers, Belinda introduced herself and spoke about her business, however, unlike the others, she then shared a little of her personal life.  She spoke of her recent engagement, her close relationship with her family and shared images of her family’s recent trip to Italy to celebrate her parents’ anniversary.  Afterward, as she returned to her chair at the back of the room, I observed her greet her fiance Damien with a huge smile and a tight hug. She's stylish, talented and so darn likeable!, I thought to myself.

When Belinda and Damien asked me to be their celebrant, I was thrilled. I loved the way how, at our first meeting, tears welled in Belinda’s eyes as she spoke of her relationship with Damien and how important their ceremony was to them. No doubt, their venue would be beautifully styled with impeccable attention to detail, however it was clear to me that the commitment that Belinda and Damien would make to each other and the sense of celebration among their much loved family and friends would be most important to them. The pair offered me the warmest of hugs and I left that meeting knowing that their ceremony would be a joyful, romantic and deeply meaningful one.

Belinda and Damien were married under blue skies and sunshine on the perfectly manicured grounds of Campbell Point House in Leopold.   Belinda looked stunningly beautiful in her delicate Silvana Tedesco Couture gown and was a picture of happiness as she and her proud father followed her attendants from the pool house by the lake, along the wonderfully long aisle to meet Damien.  To Blue Pocket's version of Beyonce's 'XO', Belinda and Damien together climbed the steps and turned to face their many guests and the beautiful Lake Connewarre below.

Flash to Flash processional.jpg

As they stood with their impeccably dressed bridal party in hues of gold, cream and blue, I told the humorous story of Belinda and Damien's meeting in the back seat of a taxi, the text message that Damien sent Belinda the following day that read “I think I love you”, and the friendship that blossomed into romance. 

I spoke of the many memorable times the pair have shared, most often with their families, of Damien’s romantic proposal, the qualities Belinda and Damien most admire in each other and their thoughts about their relationship.  Their reflections were some of the most romantic I have ever shared. Their conviction that "if something was to happen to either of them, the other would be left with absolutely no doubt about how much they were loved and admired”, caused me to pause.

I love you with a love that is more than love.  

Inspired by the words of poet Edgar Allan Poe, Belinda and Damien exchanged romantic vows, before their adorable Ring Bearer ascended the steps, calmly searched his pocket for some time and eventually produced their wedding rings.

Guests presented readings and blessings, some with tears in their eyes, some with huge smiles upon their faces, before Belinda and Damien were declared to be husband and wife.  The roar from the crowd as the newlyweds sealed their commitment with a kiss was nothing short of wonderful.

Congratulations Mr and Mrs Fitz. Thank you for your warmth and kindness and for the honour of standing with you on a day that held so much meaning for you. I consider myself very fortunate indeed. 

Celebrant: Sally Hughes

Ceremony Venue: Campbell Point House

Photography: Flash2Flash Photography  (Excluding photo 2, taken by Sally Hughes Celebrant)

Styling: Belinda Fitzpatrick Events in collaboration with Ambrosia Floral Designs & Lauren Skorsis Design Studio

Musicians: Blue Pocket (Dan & Rex)

Belinda's Dress: Silvana Tedesco Couture 

Belinda's Jewellery: Samantha Willis Bridal

Damien's and Groomsmen suits: Country Road

Bridesmaid Dresses: Sass & Bide, Camilla and Marc, Swish Clothing, Trenery & Seduce Clothing

Hair: Simoney D Hair & Make Up

Make Up: Littledollface

Cake: Cake Ink

Baked Treats: Cupcake Occasion

Instagram Live Printer: Social Playground