Prepare to feel warm and fuzzy inside.
Sydney-based marriage celebrant Melissa Soncini stopped counting after her 500th wedding.
Soncini, who became a celebrant after a career in finance, has been marrying couples for nine years now – though not legally for same-sex couples, something she desperately hopes will change with Australians voting Yes to same-sex marriage.
For now, Soncini calls them weddings – and says all love is welcome and should be celebrated.
“I call them weddings, they are not marriages. Once the law changes, I will make it legally official free of charge. So my advice is to not hold back on your celebration of love and commitment because of our laws,” she says.
Yes, Soncini will happily conduct commitment ceremonies for same-sex couples and offer a free legal ceremony to those couples once the laws are passed – and with 61.6 per cent over the country voting Yes, she’s already seen a return in bookings.
“I celebrated with a couple on February 20 this year. They’re both grandmothers, Shell and Kell, who had their children and grandchildren at their wedding. Theirs is a soppy love story, with so much love. Once they heard about the plebiscite they booked me in for the same date in 2018, because they were so excited to have the chance to make it legal.
“I also have two wonderful gentleman booked in for next November who I’ve told I will charge you the same amount as any couple, but hope I will be able to hand you a marriage certificate by then,” she says.
Soncini, who lives in Surry Hills somewhere “completely surrounded by the yes vote” admits its disappointing same-sex marriage had to go to the postal vote and couldn’t just become law in the first place.
“It’s sad we’re a first world country, but lagging behind in the human rights. However I do understand we are a democracy.”
Soncini is thrilled with the Yes result, and while you could argue her stance is part of her marriage celebrant brand, she says it means so much more to her.
“It’s something I believe it – it’s not part of my brand, it’s part of me.”
In fact, at every first meeting with her couples, same-sex or heterosexual, she asks what their stance is.
“The current law states I must say marriage is between man and woman to exclusion of all others. I make a point of asking whether each couple would like me to acknowledge a different point of view on their behalf. Nearly 80 per cent of my couples are strongly opinionated and want that recognition included in their celebrations.”
With parliament still to make the final decision on whether the law changes, Soncini says don’t wait – as she’ll honour your original booking fee, making the legalities free.
“I look forward to collaborating with creative and exceptionally loved-up couples who want their wedding ceremony to be memorable and just as extraordinary as their love.”
Australians say congratulations on a Yes result in same-sex marriage survey