Melissa Fahey from Mine Forever has the special job of transitioning an engaged couple to becoming a married duo. The reason for your special day lies in her hands as she guides you forwards into your future together. With warmth and a love of those special tender moments that make up your wedding day, Melissa tells us her story.
What led you down this career path?
In 2006 my oldest and dearest friend was getting married and she wanted me to marry them (better than being a bridesmaid), at the time the Government had a quota on how many celebrants were registered each year and the waiting list was up to 2 years so we found a celebrant who was happy for me to work with him. I wrote and performed the ceremony except for the legal parts, which he did – and I loved it. I did it again a year later for another good friend and I knew then that I had found my calling!
Image by Warren Photography
What are the special aspects of this career path which make it so important to you?
I really respect the fact that I play a part in a couple’s history, I love getting to know the couple and I love that special moment on the wedding day watching the two of them meet at the end of the aisle for the first time, that mix of excitement, love and anticipation for their future.
What particular qualities do you bring to the couples’ ceremony?
In many of the thank you emails and notes that I receive I am told that I bring a warmth and calmness to their day. I like to think that I also bring a little fun and happiness!
Image by Harvard Wang
Is it important for a celebrant to be a good writer, and to have a sense of the theatrical?
Yes you have to be able to put words together, but I think the delivery is more important, not that you need to be theatrical, I think you should have the ability and confidence to stand before a crowd and deliver the ceremony in an open and honest way and be able to share a couple’s story whilst connecting with them and their guests.
How do you start to write the ceremony vows – what is the starting point?
My couples either choose to write their own vows or choose from a selection I have put together. After a few meetings I usually have a feel for the couple and their style so I put together a draft ceremony and give them lots of options, we use this as our working document and take it from there. I try and make it as simple and stress free as possible for my clients.
Are you known for having a particular ‘style’?
Fun, happy and relaxed.
Image by Anitra Wells Photography
Do you tailor each ceremony to the couple’s needs and personalities, or are most couples happy with a standard ceremony?
I always like to personalize the ceremony in some way for each couple. The best part about choosing a civil ceremony is you get to do whatever you want, of course there are still some legal obligations, but apart from that it’s up to you how you would like to celebrate your love.
Do you travel away from Victoria to conduct wedding ceremonies?
Yes of course! The celebrant registration is national so we can do ceremonies all over Australia. In the last couple of years I have been lucky enough to do family weddings in Queensland and New South Wales. So if anyone would like to fly me to the Whitsundays or Broome I would be more than happy with that J
What special touches can couples include in their ceremony to personalize it?
There are so many things you can do, we can tell your story, or share how you proposed. You can write a love letter to each other, or include children or step children in the ceremony, there are also rituals that you can include like handfasting, a sand ceremony, or lighting Unity Candles to include your mothers. There are also things that we can do to pay respect to those in the family who may have passed away. There is so much that you can do to personalize the ceremony, the key is to make sure that it is personal and reflects you as a couple.
Image by Harvard Wang
Can you describe a typical wedding day in your life as a celebrant?
If I don’t have any meetings on in the morning, I like to pack the car and make sure I have everything printed and prepared, and then if I have time I might go and have a quick manicure or a blowdry ( even the celebrant has to look good for the photos). I work all over Melbourne so I like to give myself plenty of time to travel to the ceremony location and I like to arrive an hour early so that I am already set up and ready to go when the guests start arriving. Once I am finished, I usually like to relax at home with a glass of bubbles. During the busy wedding season I might meet up with other celebrant friends for a drink if we have weddings on nearby and we debrief about our day.
You have been married for 18 years. What is the best piece of advice you could give to the bride and groom?
I often finish my ceremonies with “Love each other- it’s as simple as that”.
Image by Lucy Spartalis Photography
What is your favourite thing to do when not working?
I love to travel, and I am lucky to be married to a man who believes that you can’t go to Europe without going to Paris- he says it’s a rule! The same goes for The States and New York. I can’t argue with that logic!
Sydney or Melbourne – you’ve lived in both – what do you love about each of these cities?
They are both such different cities and so you can’t compare them. My heart will always be in Sydney as my family is there and there is just something about that Harbour!
I love living in Melbourne and our life here is so different to our life in Sydney, I have lived here for nearly 8 years now and this is my home. I always say if I can’t live in Europe I may as well live in Melbourne.
Thank you Melissa for sharing your story with us. If you would like to find out more about Melissa and Mine Forever please visit her website.
Headshot of Melissa by Andre Elhay Photography