Welcome to the fourth instalment of my Behind the Brand Blog Series.
This week I’m delighted to be introducing Sommer of Sommer Saunder Celebrancy. I’m a huge fan of Sommer’s work, her approach, her attitude, and not to mention she’s absolutely lovely and someone you’d definitely want as part of your wedding team. Sommer has been kind enough to share her insights and professional advice and allow us to get to know her and her company that little bit more…
1.Tell us a little bit about yourself and your company
Sommer Saunder Celebrancy turns 2 on July 4th, 2020.
I vividly remember the elation felt sitting at my desk with one of my best friends Emma, on the 4th of July 2018 – the very same day I received an email from The Attorney-General’s Department, accepting my Commonwealth Registered Marriage Celebrant application. It was a lot of hard work to get there and I felt nothing but pride, finally achieving something for myself after those tough early years of raising two sons whilst moving around Australia with my husband and his work. I knew even before I started studying, I could offer something pretty amazing within the Sunshine Coast Wedding Industry as I had an extensive career in Customer Service Management, working within the luxury sector of 5-star Hotels and Virgin Australia. I went for it and didn’t look back! I finally knew what I wanted to be when I grew up Haha!
That day, Emma and I completed the NOIM (Notice of Intended Marriage Form), for her and her already wife Lisa. 5 years earlier, on the sands in Hawaii, they had a stunning wedding and commitment ceremony and just wished for me to make it legal here in Australia. The pure joy of doing this not only for my beautiful friends, but on the first day I could by law, was profound. It was also a same sex marriage and dear to my heart, as I was right there in the thick of the marriage equality campaign. I understood how the girls and thousands upon thousands of other LGBTQ Aussies felt, wanting to marry for love when they couldn’t. Another reason these beautiful women wanted to make it legal with me was to make my first time marrying just as special for me as it was for them. I know right! Marrying them on Makepeace Island where we all worked was magical. Our own little slice of paradise each day was now going to be even more special. We popped champagne, ate cheese and ‘casually’ found a spot to say their ‘I DO’s with their two witnesses and photographer Renae Saxby.
From here, I married almost 40 couples in 2019 and called fully booked for 2020. Owning and operating a small business that took off very quickly, leaving not much time to really prepare the back end, offered many challenges. But I have the most terrific support in my husband Luke and wow what a ride it’s been.
Let’s just say C-19 hasn’t been that quiet for me, I overhauled my entire business to sit where I wish I started, so goodness knows how I got through 2019 so well!
So, this year I turn 42. Yup. I can hardly believe it as I don’t feel 42 but am pretty young at heart. I used to be the one at parties dancing on the tables; I’m not going to lie, but now enjoy watching others dance on the tables. I love slinking into the background and helping others shine.
Each birthday is a gift and I treat it as such. Keeping active and healthy for myself and my family is important, it also gives me the ability to turn up to a wedding at my absolute best.
Life is pretty spectacular right now and I really cannot imagine living anywhere else or doing anything different with my weekends!
2. What do weddings mean to you?
I wasn’t that little girl who dreamt of being a bride on her wedding day, but I certainly was that girl who dreamt of finding Mr Right. Deciding to marry is a very personal choice and although it may not be for everyone, having a strong and trustworthy companion is.
Marriage takes work, dedication and commitment. We all know that. Of course, the forever love can be without the big white wedding, but weddings are such a special celebration, a celebration of finding that companion and deciding to commit for life. To do it with words of forever and to seal it with a ring, is kind of phenomenal. The fact that I am the person doing the marrying and coordinating through such a moment in time is still something I pinch myself over!
3. As a professional in the wedding field what are your 5 top tips to couples
- Be sure to book a superstar wedding day team you connect with. I can’t stress how important it is to book like-minded people. The ratio of couples to vendors is incredibly equal, so your perfect match is out there. Ask the first vendor you book in with for their recommendations. It’s a sure-fire way to get it right.
- Trust your vendors. Once you book us, know we’ve got your backs. From then on, relax and enjoy the ride to your wedding day. There are also many ways to book vendors on a budget. Just ask us for options!
- Create a spreadsheet or buy a wedding planning diary. If you are more tech savvy, there are apps that can keep you in check. Look at ‘Evernote, Bride Book, Joy, Mint and Appy Couple.’
- Create a Pinterest vision board. It’s a great tool to log inspiration to show your vendors in your meetings. ‘Pantone’ is also amazing to figure out your colour palette.
- Think twice about a DIY wedding. I can speak from experience. Mine was incredible but hectic! A DIY wedding can be amazing, but you really need support from many good people to be able to enjoy the day once it arrives. If you have that support, then go for it!
- I am going to add one more very important tip in around your bridal party. This one may also take some forward thinking to word the delivery correctly. Be sure to give clear expectations after you offer the role to your besties and before they say yes. It is a common misconception the role is all fun and no hard work. Being a bridesmaid/groomsman brings great responsibility in the lead up and on the day. It can also be quite expensive, so choose wisely.
4. What are couple’s main questions and concerns when they approach you?
- Not finding the right vendor. As I mentioned before we are so lucky to live here on the Sunshine Coast, not only do we have the very best the industry has to offer, Brisbane and the Gold Coast vendors are equally as incredible and will travel!
- Having a long and boring ceremony! Booking with me I can promise they will receive neither! The two most common pieces of feedback I receive afterwards is ‘How beautifully the ceremony flowed’ and, ‘How long have you known the couple for and are you friends?’ #nailedit
- Many couples just want to reach the celebratory part of their day. When I explain what their ceremony can offer, they are suddenly excited about the prospect of it actually being the highlight. I explain it like this: ‘If your ceremony is done well, your love story captured and delivered in the incredible way it deserves, it actually becomes a platform of conversation throughout the reception, especially for guests that are only meeting for the first time’.
- Not being able to write or read their vows on the day. This is very common. Almost every couple I have married or will marry have some sort of concern. I give support through this entire process, to their relief! Through ISO I updated my resource folder and have dedicated 8 pages just to vows! They asked, I answered!
5. What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
Oh wow. There are so many. Each wedding means so much to me, but there are a few that stand out for significant reasons.
- I officiated a wedding at the beginning of C-19 due to one of the brides being a Doctor on the front line, and her partner immune compromised. They were told by QLD Health to separate for safety, so their October wedding date came forward to April before they were to separate. The ladies had a big think about ‘What Matters’. It was incredibly emotional for all of us. As I mentioned earlier, same sex weddings still get me right in the heart because of the struggle for equality. I became a celebrant over the time it was being passed and can honestly say I wouldn’t have gone through with my civil celebrant registration if it hadn’t.
- Being asked to officiate a wedding and be the MC for a wedding in Thailand this October. Definitely a unicorn moment that’s for sure.
- Lately to be honest. I have recently launched a new website, which was a labour of love and the feedback has been heart-warming and positive! I have also finally set up my CRM system to offer my couples the most thorough and professional customer experience as possible.
6. What would you love to see more of in the wedding industry?
- Couples really doing what they want to do. During this tough time, I had many conversations on the option to elope. To hear this was actually a thought couples had in the very beginning was a real eye opener. I know there are many people to consider on such a special day but staying true to what you both want, is really important. Elopements are completely stress free and I am all about stress free!
- Another option to alleviate pressure on those beautiful big wedding days is for couples to have a first look with their photographer. This is when they meet somewhere intimately and have the first glance photographed in private. I first heard of this with my Brother and his wife back in 2015. Last year I had about half a dozen couples choose this as an option. They still had ‘The Processional (Bridal March)’ but with zero nerves in the lead up!
7. Five things you’re loving in life at the moment?
- I am loving the weather! May/June is really an amazing time of the year here on the Sunshine Coast. Lots of pinks sunsets!
- The downtime with my family, which we have heard many times of late. Being able to be completely present and in the moment with my them has been beautiful. Who knew Pizza dough was so easy to make!
- The support from my fellow wedding vendors and couples through C-19. The wedding industry have stayed connected through many a heart-warming conversation over the phone and zoom. There have been many referrals from them which has been a gorgeous way we have been able to support each other. Also, many previous couples have been kind enough to write reviews to help support my business. To add, I have adored the way my future couples have taken the changes thrown at them with their wedding plans. They are all total champions!
- Juice Plus! My whole fruit, veggie and omega capsules keep me in check for my health and fitness. I swear by them!
- RUNNING! I completed a running challenge inspired by my fellow vendor Lee from Life and Love Photography. I ran 100kms in May… now to just keep it up haha!