How did you meet your (now) husband? We met at the movies when I was 15 and he was 18 just before Christmas. We were with our separate groups of friends, and my cousin Rik happened to be one of Dave’s closest mates. I was quite shy so focused entirely on the catch up with my cousin rather than his friend who was apparently eyeing me off! I didn’t even remember what he looked like..oops. It was at all the family gatherings for Christmas that Rik shared how much he was being hassled by Dave to give him my number, but as my big cousin there was no way. A couple of months later at Canberra’s annual firework show Skyfire, me and a big group of friends were going and Rik organized a proper introduction. While I was waiting for him to arrive I spotted this terribly cute guy walking down the hill, until I realized he was with Rik … and this was Dave… and I have never been so excited that this guy would be keen on me?! Skyfire has always been our unofficial anniversary as the first proper night we met.
How long have you been together? We were married on our 10 year anniversary
Do you have a proposal story? It was very Dave – after a hilarious day spent at a 5 year old family friend’s birthday party, we went to my favourite restaurant for dinner where I of course indulged beyond appropriateness. We arrived home, showered and I came to sit on the couch in my oversized T-shirt PJ’s, a knob on my head and a food baby, when Dave directed my attention to a small box sitting across from me on the TV cabinet being held by a little Santa figurine I had made. After basically being pushed off the couch to go and collect my surprise, I opened the box to find the most exquisite ring I had ever seen, with my Braveheart loving boy curled up into my side quoted Mel Gibson in a Scottish Accent ‘I love ya, I always have, will ya marray me?’- Lots of squealing, crying and Oh-my-gods followed. He designed the ring himself, nearly 12 months in the making with friends picking up diamonds from overseas and visiting multiple jewelers till he found the right fit, to make the most perfect ring that reflects us both perfectly.
What was your wedding date? March 21st 2015
Location (Ceremony and Reception)
1. Where? Lake George Winery, NSW. We had our ceremony under a tree at the bottom of the property.
2. What made you choose there? It was the only place Dave got really excited about haha. It fit our woodland, warm, candlelit theme to a tee, plus from the minute we walked in, Janine the events coordinator, made us feel like anything was possible, and she was there to take care of EVERYTHING. I am the world’s biggest control freak so she made the whole process to easy.
3. How did you find it? I was familiar with the venue having driven past so many times en route to Sydney. I didn’t realise how beautiful it was up there until I googled it, and I basically threw Dave in the car to go and check it out
How was the weather on the day? PERFECT, slightly fresh 22 degrees with a breeze and the most beautiful golden glow across the vines and neighbouring paddocks. We couldn’t have been luckier.
What made you decide to get married on this particular date? The time of year was perfect and it was our 10 year anniversary since we started dating
The Wedding Details
Theme (if any – colours, features, etc.)? The theme was so easy, we both love red/dark autmny tones (which matched the time of year perfectly), forests and I have an unhealthy addiction to candles. We wanted to create a warm and cosy rustic woodland feel, without being vintage or country, with lots of little touches to make our guests feel as important as they are to us. We originally wanted to get married in the woods somewhere, but there were just no options for us that really worked, and Canberra weather can go either way, so we brought the forrest to the winery! We hired real trees for around the room, had tree slice placemats, pine cone place card holders and dark burgundy napkins. We had hanging glass ball tea lights from the ceiling to create a starry night feel, and being a bit too warm for an actual raging fire, we filled the fireplace with thick candles.
The length of every table was filled with varying height glass tea light holders and rustic looking flowers in mixed. Our guest book was made of wood and all the signage was displayed in dark wooden frames. We provided a polaroid camera for guests to capture themselves and add it to their guest book entry and a bucket list for everyone to give us their suggestions on fun things to complete throughout the years! The wooden chairs also added to the overall feel. For our wishing well, we opted to have a ‘honeymoon fund’ for guests to contribute a little something if they wished towards the biggest adventure Dave and I will have been on since we started dating – a month in Canada. We setup a small suitcase with ‘travel photos’ of the places we were going to visit, a Canadian guide book and wooly jumpers. On the same table we wanted to remember both our family members that had passed who were with us in spirit, and also those celebrating from afar who couldn’t make it with framed photos. There was definitely something to look at everywhere you went, including big candle vases on the floor lighting the walkways and veranda, emergency kits in the bathrooms, vases on the barrels behind the bridal table so our bouquets stayed safe yet on display and even personalized cocktails with stirrers.
I am not a fan of favours for the sake of favours, we wanted to mix it up a bit so provided 4 different kinds of favours, mini Limoncello and Patrone, Chilli Jam and old school bottle openers. All the favours were topped with personalized wooden gift tags. We also wanted to make the trip home a little fun so we sent everyone home with a midnight snack, paper bags packed with chunky cookies and potato chips!
Where did you draw your inspiration/ideas from? Pinterest is always a bride’s best friend, our theme developed almost immediately and we stayed on point throughout the whole process which was great, we were secure in every decision we made and never questioned ourselves, it was so us.
Were any aspects of your wedding D.I.Y? If so What? We made half of the favours ourselves. We are chilli fanatics and grow our own, so we made our own Chilli Jam and Limoncello for some of the favours. We did all the stationery ourselves, including save the dates, invitations, place cards, menus, programs and all the signage. The only part we bought was the laser booklets the main invitation went inside of, which we loved because when on display you were looking through the trees to the invitation. I also made the word BAR out of used corks for fun, because we were at a winery.
1. Bridesmaids – who/relationship? My little sister Maddy was my maid of honour and I had my cousin Jackie and bestie Georgie as well (basically grew up with us). We are all so beyond close, it was the easiest decision to make and made the whole process so lovely because we are the best of friends anyway!
2. Groomsmen – who/relationship? Dave had his best friend Rob (or Fazz) and brother Liam both as best men, and close friend Drew. Another easy decision.
3. Flower girls/Page boys – who/relationship? We decided not to have baby dumplings at the wedding for logistics as the winery is about 40 minutes from Canberra and everyone was coming by bus.
Wedding Gown (the most important part!)
What made you decide to come into Karen Willis Holmes? I had a number of appointments before we came to KAREN WILLIS HOLMES, all of them were terrible. We had pushy service who kept putting me in ridiculous ball gowns because ‘that’s all that would fit me’ even though that was not what I was looking for, despite making an appointment I was told there was no room for me so was put in the mens changing area with my mum, nan and bridemaids standing amongst the mannequins, while I stood there with my boobs and back out in dresses far too small for me surrounded by men trying on suits… I was even told by one assistant to not even bother trying a certain dress on because I would rip it.
Naturally by shop 4 I was so disheartened that nothing I liked I could try on and these stores wanted me to pay thousands in deposits without even trying the dress on and stuff if I didn’t like it. My mum brought me a bridal magazine with an advertisement for KAREN WILLIS HOLMES on the back cover and she said “I have a good feeling about this place, let’s try visiting the actual store” (rather than a store stocking multiple designers). After an anxious 3 hour drive, it was a treat to have the store to ourselves to play around, take photos and really enjoy ourselves!
Where have you seen our gowns (if at all) before? I hadn’t seen KAREN WILLIS HOLMES gowns before I visited Paddington – but I still receive the newsletter and follow online now.
How many gowns did you try? I tried on Paige, Brooke and Madelyn at first. Paige was really special I loved the sequins but I was after a bit more of a flowy skirt, a bit more Grecian, and was also tossing up between the bodice of Madelyn which I think suited my shape a bit better. Which is when I came across Millie. I saw the skirt first poking out between the others, then noticed it had the same top as Madelyn and decision made. I was just amazing.
Where did you purchase your gown from (which store or stockist)? Paddington
What did you especially like about your gown? I loved the flowy fabric of the skirt, it fell so beautifully, yet was still full and bridal. The knotted bodice I also loved as it fit my curvy shape nicely, and was a nod to our planned Celtic ceremony which included a handfasting rope ceremony. My dress is a perfect in-between proper princess and soft flowy. It was magic.
Who is your bridesmaid dress supplier? We bought the dresses online at www.shopbop.com after finding them in a bridal store as they didn’t have the colour we were after. They are Amber Halter Wrap dresses by Joanna August.
Where did you get the groom and groomsmen’s suits? The boys had/purchased their own slacks, shirts, belts and shoes and we organized the matching bowties and suspenders from mrsbowtie.com. Dave had a custom made suit already so he wore those slacks, and his vest we purchased from MJ Bales.
What accessories did you choose to finish your gown and also for those in your bridal party? I wanted to wear a flower crown like my mum did at her wedding, and wear my hair out so I wanted jewellery that was really simple and let the flowers and my dress be the star. I had a simple bracelet and floating crystal pendant necklace purchased from etsy.com, and I bought some beautiful drop earrings from Swarovski. For the girls I purchased drop Swarovski earrings as well, simple necklaces and had filigree cuff bracelets made from etsy.com. I let the girls choose their own hairstyles, I wanted them to feel comfortable in a style that they loved and made them feel amazing.
Where did you get your shoes from? My shoes were from BHLDN.com – my wedding haven! I purchased a range of vases, candle holders and other bits and pieces from this website too to embellish the guest book and honeymoon fund tables. It’s just beautiful!
Did you wear a veil/headpiece? Where did you get this from?I had a ceil custom made by a local business called Three Sunbeams (ThreeSunbeams.com). Hannah is such a dot, she was so lovely to work with, I was able to choose the lace, the comb it was attached to, how long it was and even the placement of the lace. My flower crown was made by my florist to match our bouquets and the reception arrangements.
What advice would you give brides organizing their wedding? Work out your budget and your theme before you start buying anything! You start off with an idea of the things you like… but there is so much inspiration out there that you will probably change your mind a couple of times. Make a decision and stick to it, stop looking at things you have already decided on or you will confuse yourself and second guess your choices. Things snowball very quickly too… pick the things that are important and you will allow yourself wiggle room on if it’s the right decision (photographer etc) … you can’t wiggle on everything!
What advice would you give brides searching for their wedding gown? Go with your mum or just one person. It might seem like a great idea getting everyone together, but at the end of the day you have to take care of you, and it adds an extra layer of pressure to make a decision, or you feel bad dragging everyone around with you to multiple appointments. The people who matter will love whatever you choose because you love it, and the people who don’t, don’t matter.
Anything extra that is special or you would like to share about your big day. The best part of the day is definitely seeing that face smiling back at you as you’re walking up the aisle. Every hope and dream, everything you ever talked about for you future … it’s the day it all starts and there is so much to look forward to.
Something Old? I wore my grandmothers brooch pinned into my bouquet.
Something New? My dress!
Something Borrowed? My nannas brooch
Something Blue? I have a VERY close group of girlfriends, so I asked them to wear blue and be my something blue because I couldn’t have them all as bridesmaids or there would be no guests at the wedding haha! So I stuck to family for my bridesmaids, and my girls still stood out.
Florist –Our florist was Tracey Andriolo of Australian Parliament House Florist
Photographer – Beata English. We would have happily changed our wedding date to have Beata capture our day. I first met Beata at Dave’s sister Lauren’s wedding. I loved her and what she was all about, and the photos she produced were exactly what we were after, candid, in the moment and totally loved up!
Music – We actually created our own playlist. We played everything through hired systems both at the ceremony and reception, my brother as MC queued the important tracks and set everything to go. Bridesmaids and I spent a whole weekend reliving our childhood and teen years collating music from old iPods and mix CD’s, parents stashes etc. We also asked for song requests on our RSVP cards so there was at least one song for everybody. I walked down the aisle to Boolavouge by Davy Spillane, signed the registry to White Dress by Ben Rector and finished the ceremony with Neon Eyes by Saints of Valory. We cut the cake to JT’s Not a Bad Thing.
First Dance – I can’t help falling in love with you by Elvis. It was fitting because the first line ‘only fools rush in’ was appropriate… an engagement 9 years in the making. We loved the fact that it was a classic and unexpected choice for us. It’s also a timeless song, the bridesmaids can be seen in the photos in an epic sway absolutely loving life, and it’s a song loved by our parents and grandies too. It SO romantic, still gives me goosebumps.
MC – My brother Dan. He is hilarious and is happy to take direction from his overbearing sister with a smile!
Celebrant – Roger Thomson
Stationery – Purchased all our paper from Pepes Paperie around the corner from my work!
Entrée options were:
maple glazed crisp pork belly w pear compote and micro greens
seared prawn and scallops on a pea puree and prosciutto shards
veal scallopini served on a capsicum, caper, lemon salad
Main options were:
quinoa and sage stuffed chicken breast w cavlo nero and raddichio slaw
eye fillet served on potato gallette
salmon fillet with caramelized fennel & horseradish dressing
Cake – Our cake was a naked cake, alternating Lemon Mud and Choc Hazelnut because neither Dave or I wanted to compromise on our favourites. Tania from Cake Designz was responsible for the masterpiece that graced our dancefloor until it was demolished for dessert.
Bombonieres – We purchased mini Patrones from our local Dan Murphy, bottle openers from etsy.com, jars and bottles for the Chilli Jam and Limoncello from packmyproduct.com and the packaing/tags from etsy.com too. For my ‘Something Blue’ girlfriends and Bridesmaids I had infinity symbol rings made, with a little note to say “He’s marrying me, but stuck with us” which they loved.
Hair – We used a local hairdresser Pony and Pins. Peter and Carolina (and Emily the apprentice) were a blast to work with, we had so many laughs our trial took way longer than intended because we couldn’t shut up! On the morning of the wedding, Carolina rocked up 2 hours early with a takeaway coffee and said “I hope you don’t mind I’m here early but Peter’s wife went into labour this morning so I need all the time I can get!” … and two hours later, Peter turned up with a bottle of Moet to do my hair… still no baby! Just goes to show how much they care! They had a beautiful baby girl on our wedding day.
Make up – My beautiful friend Lia Mannix is a qualified makeup artist. She stayed over the night before the wedding with me at my parent’s house and was with us the whole day.
Wedding Bands – We purchased our bands from Tony at the Village Jewellers in Manuka (ACT), where Dave had my engagement ring made. Nothing was too much trouble for Tony, he had all the time in the world for us. Dave wanted a band with a Celtic theme, and I wanted my engagement ring to remain the feature, so I opted for a simple rope style, to again embody our Celtic feel. I think they look beautiful together and are definitely unique.
Extra features – We wrote our own vows in little booklets we will be have forever. It was so nice to say exactly what we both felt and make our own promises to each other.
We played a game of heads and tails with our guests for a bit of a laugh. It was a game of elimination, we asked questions like “who manages their laundry better”, “who eats the fastest” and everyone had to put their hands on the bald (head) for Dave or booty (tails) for me. Our winner got a bottle of wine.
Other – My girlfriend Sally-Anne and I run a wedding planning business on the side of our full time jobs, Shampagne Wedding Planning www.shampagne.com.au - We both LOVE weddings and spend our weekends helping couples bring their wedding day dreams to life. We started in 2011 and love every minute of it.