Alisa Tongg of Alisa Tongg Celebrant
Alisa Tongg provides “ceremonies for all people” as a “storyteller and celebrant for the aisle-bound.” Her words and thoughtful imagery brought me to tears under the immersive planetarium dome of The Franklin Institute, where we worked together during a wedding years ago.
Alisa recently launched an online class to help friends and family members officiate, since half of all couples marrying this year will ask a friend or family member to do the honors. “There is a lot of education necessary to the general public about the power of story and authenticity in ceremony,” shared Alisa.
Shannon: What is your experience with working with LGBTQ+ clients?
Alisa: Basically, I try to look at each client as a whole and understand their story, perspective and values, and then be a conduit for amplifying and honoring them in ceremony. I’ve worked with every type of person represented in the acronym LGBTQ+ as well as non-binary individuals.
Shannon: What are some tangible actions you’re taking as a wedding vendor to be more inclusive of underrepresented communities, without tokenizing them?
Alisa: I’ve thought a lot about this, and have landed on when I post about my couples I don’t use labeling hashtags initially. I might come back a couple months later to add one (because representation matters!), but my philosophy so far has been that everyone is treated like they are “normal.” I don’t ever want my clients to feel like I am checking off a list of different types of identities/abilities for my own branding strategy. I never want to out someone online in the service of being considered woke.
Shannon: What’s your favorite part about working in the Philadelphia wedding industry?
Alisa: I love the creativeness of the Philadelphia wedding industry. Honestly, we’re leading the way on decor, photography, film, music, our venues are best of the best, and the professionals who make up the professional scene are really great about collaboration and working together.
Shannon: What are you listening to?
Alisa: Lots of political stuff right now: Revisionist History with Malcolm Gladwell, Pod Save America, Stay Tuned with Preet, NPR’s Rough Translation, Dear Sugars Radio was a favorite while it was on, and Against the Rules.
Shannon: What’s a pop-culture plug you’d like to share?
Alisa: I’m a big fan of the series, This is Us. Excellent writing, storylines and acting.
Be sure to check out her upcoming masterclass — Friend Officiants — an online course comprised of 14 videos (averaging 6 minutes each), including her questionnaire for couples, an inclusive starter ceremony, a confidence building playlist, and her primer on vows.