NICOLE + SAUL - Surprise!

By Sally Hughes, Melbourne Marriage Celebrant

Surprise weddings.  Whenever I receive an enquiry for a surprise wedding ceremony, I always feel a little ping of excitement as I head to my calendar to see if I'm available.  This is because surprise ceremonies (ceremonies that are a surprise to guests, not the couple) are most often the loudest, liveliest and most adrenaline-filled ceremonies to conduct. 

Nicole and Saul were married at Little Henri , a popular cafe/restaurant in Thornbury, during what began as an engagement party.  When Saul’s dad Michael stood high on the steps in the courtyard to welcome guests, no one seemed to notice that Nicole had slipped away to change into a stunning Sherri Hill tulle-skirted gown. When Michael finished his welcome speech with “because tonight we’re having a wedding!” the crowd well and truly roared. Guests literally descended on a beaming Saul, offering congratulatory hugs and kisses, while several men exchanged high fives and many women held their hands to their faces in shock.

Bench seating was swiftly brought in and within minutes, to the soundtrack of Ben E King’s ’Stand By Me' the very beautiful Nicole entered the courtyard on the arm of her very proud father, Peter.

Together Nicole and Saul stood alone, until one by one, I invited wedding party members to come and stand beside them. The cheers that ensued after each surprised member was announced (OK, perhaps the bridesmaids had a heads up), were priceless. In keeping with the surprise element, I invited Saul’s siblings to act as official witnesses to the marriage, before Nicole’s father stood to offer his blessing on behalf of their community of family and friends.

Unrestrained cheers, laughter, applause and comments ensued as I told the story of Nicole and Saul’s on-campus meeting, the osteopathy study group that gave Saul the opportunity to both impress and distract Nicole, the relationship they kept quiet in order to avoid wolf whistles on campus and Saul’s very romantic and well rehearsed Byron Bay proposal - complete with a ring that Nicole, despite her best efforts, couldn’t find prior.


One year on and I still recall this lively ceremony and this sweet-natured couple so clearly. 

Nicole and Saul, you are two of the nicest people I have had the pleasure of meeting. You have such warm and kind souls and I feel so very privileged to have been entrusted with your very happy of secret.  Thanks for sharing your beautiful photos - the one below still sits on my desk.

Celebrant: Sally Hughes

Images:  Dijana Ristevska Photography

Venue:Little Henri

Nicole's dress: Sherri Hill

Make Up: Magical Makeovers


GEORGE + JACK - Loud and Laughter-Filled

By Sally Hughes, Melbourne Marriage Celebrant

One year ago today I presented one of the most lively and interactive wedding ceremonies I’ve ever known.   This was due not only to the fact that George and Jack are hilariously quick witted and clearly well-loved by many, but because they are actors.  And many of their guests were too.

When dozens of actors, dancers, musos and other creative types enter a ceremony space, the energy level rises dramatically.  Without fail.  At George and Jack's ceremony, it went through the roof!  I recall laughing as I tried to hush the crowd in readiness for George’s entrance.  I knew there was no way I’d be able to temper the excitement in the room.  Instead, I’d embrace the sense of celebration and encourage guests to "play along".

George and Jack were married at Lot Four Studio in Richmond. Guests arrived to discover old-fashioneds, Pimms and martinis being served from the coolest of vintage caravans and a studio space decorated with festoon lighting and shiny confetti wall decals (and if you scroll to the end of this blog you'll see my favourite decal).  Everything shouted, "Be yourselves and have fun!"

The cheer George received as she walked toward Jack and the minor delays that occurred in getting her to the end of the aisle (her unashamedly excited father couldn’t resist shaking hands with guests) made for the happiest of beginnings.

I loved telling the story of George and Jack’s post-show meeting at the Portland Hotel, Jack’s earnest attempts to woo George, their Don Don’s first date, their love of board games, poker and road trips and George’s Scrabble-inspired proposal.   With every story (or toot from a passing train) came either a roar of laughter, a light-hearted heckle or a cheer.  Usually all three.


George and Jack, one year on and I still remember your ceremony vividly.  The combination of your playful styling, your “colourful cocktail” dress code, your talented friends Ben Abraham and Shannon McDonough's performance of 'I Belong To You’,  your lively crowd and your happy and easy-going personalities made for an unforgettable ceremony.  Oh, and your post ceremony 'Horns of Leroy’ lane way procession was fabulous too!


Happy anniversary George and Jack.  I hope your first year of marriage has been as laughter-filled as the day you danced and said "I do" on the lot.  xx

Celebrant: Sally Hughes

Images: Warrenphotography

George's dress: Remake of a vintage dress by Lucy Slater at Era Vintage Bride.

Musicians: Ben Abraham & Shannon McDonough

Styling: By George, the bride herself.

Image: Celebrant's own.

Image: Celebrant's own.