Our tastemaker interviews give you the chance to get some insight and advice from some of Australia’s best wedding peeps.
We chatted to Sydney-based celebrant and all-round excellent human Sophie Coombes to get her tips on how to write wedding vows, how to personalise your ceremony and how to prep before meeting a celebrant for the first time.
Let’s start with a big one. What are your top three tips you’d give to couples to make their ceremony as personal and special as possible
1. Your wedding day is really all about celebrating your love story and the love that you’ve found for each other.. how you came to meet, the journey the two of you went on from there to be here today, so I feel that it’s so important that that you include a snippet of the history of your relationship in the beginning to set the scene.
2. I always encourage my couples to share with me so that I can include it in the ceremony why is this the person for you – what is it about them out of all the millions of others in this world that you have discovered to make you feel that you want to choose this person, above all others, to spend the rest of their lives with. I so love receiving emails from my couples with their answers to this question!
3. I also love to encourage my couples to see how we can include as many of their guests in their ceremony as possible so that everyone feels part of it all…you might have a friend who can sing or play the guitar- why not ask them to sing at your ceremony? Or you might have a friend who loves to write – ask them to write something personal for you and have this read out either by them or by another guest.
What drew you to become a celebrant?
Ever since I was a girl at high school I would underline sentences in books that spoke about love in a way that just opened up my heart. I would often re-write these passages in journals to read over again before I went to sleep. I always wanted my parents to hold hands and kiss more often…so I guess you can say I am bit of a hard – core romantic! I’m not that into the Mills and Boon mushy kind of love…but love that sets people free to be themselves…the kind of love that lights each other up and brings butterflies to fingertips from one glance. Basically I love that kind of LOVE!
So when I organised my own wedding with our wonderful celebrant I was so excited with the freedom that came with civil wedding ceremonies .. so much so that I basically took over the role of our celebrant, the poor thing! I loved thinking outside of tradition and coming up with creative and fun ways to involve guests… and of course I had a plethora of readings from books that I had saved over the years to include. I had just had my daughter and so was looking for part-time work and after creating our ceremony, the seed popped into my mind that this could be something I could do every day for others and so I made it happen!
What’s your favourite part of the ceremony?
AH ! This is a hard one as there are so many but it would have to be the first look… when a bride walks down the aisle and first catches a glimpse of her groom, and he first sees her… and you can almost feel the rush of raw emotion in the air between them. That is pretty damn good I have to say!
Vows: any advice you can share to couples that are keen to write their own?
To me the vows are the most important words in any ceremony so I always try and ask my couples when they want to write their own vows to start by really taking the time out to sit quietly and think about and write down:
– What sort of life do you envisage together?
– What sort of things do you want to promise to do for the other person?
– Most importantly, what sort of person do you want to be in your marriage?
The answers to these questions can be the crux for your vows.
What have been some of the most memorable moments of ceremonies you’ve officiated?
I was so lucky to officiate my brother’s wedding who is a bit of an unbridled romantic as well, and I’ll never forget when his gorgeous wife walked down the aisle to ‘Into My Arms’ by Nick Cave – there was no stopping at the end – she just walked straight into his arms, he dipped her and they started kissing passionately from the very beginning and I almost had to break them apart and say… ok… we get the messsage… that’s enough!
I also remember a wonderful wedding in the Hunter Valley where all the guests thought they were there for a 40th birthday and then had it sprung upon them before heading into dinner that indeed there were also there for a wedding… the screams of excitement went up… and they were then ushered outside beneath the stars amongst the vineyards for the Bride and Groom to say their vows under candlelight… that was pretty amazing!
What questions would you suggest couples ask their celebrant when they first meet?
I think the most important thing is that you feel a good connection with your celebrant… that you feel they speak your ‘language’ in how you see and express the world and that they really take the time to find out the type of ceremony you would like, and that they are genuinely interested in hearing about your story and how to include this in there.
On the flipside, are there any questions that couples should probably have a think about and be ready to answer?
I think it’s good for couples to think about previous ceremonies they’ve been to and share with their celebrant what they liked or disliked and to think about the sort of feel or vibe they want their ceremony to have. It’s also a good idea to for couples to start thinking who they might like to include or involve in their Ceremony too.
What are your favourite kinds of wedding celebrations?
I love wedding celebrations that are so uplifting, fun and yet meaningful and really depict the essence of the love between the couple. I love when I see family and friends who know the couple are just bursting at the seams to see them married because they are such a good fit. I love seeing happy tears of love fly everywhere… because really this is why we are all here – to love and be loved and to celebrate that in fine form!
What’s the best thing about your job?
Please don’t tell many people… but really I have nailed the best job in the world! I get to hear about people’s love stories, which is always so wonderful, beautiful, unique and fascinating, and then I get to create a Ceremony that expresses this love and see the two of them exchange their life-time promises in front of all the people who mean the world to them… and see them on one almighty all-time high! Doesn’t get much better than that!