How did you meet your (now) husband? Ben and I met a long time ago – he was my unrequited teenage crush. I was in Year 7 and had been dragged along to watch my oldest brother’s basketball game and Ben was in that team. He said ‘hi’ to me, thinking nothing more of it, but I was starry-eyed. My brothers teased me about it for years! However more than a decade later, thanks to a chance encounter at a work party Ben hadn’t planned to attend, he got in touch. The rest, as they say, is history.
How long have you been together? Our first date was Valentine’s Day 2013 (yep, brave), so three and a half years.
Do you have a proposal story? It’s something of a family joke that unlike his brothers, Ben is not at all musically inclined. However Ben asked his dad (who had then recently been diagnosed with MND) to teach him one song on the guitar and spent the following months secretly mastering it. Imagine my surprise when Ben organized a picnic at our favourite spot by the water in Sydney, and disappeared at one point, only to return with a guitar, which he started to play – and play really well. He rewrote the lyrics to a song so it incorporated our story and at the end, reached into the guitar case to pull out a box and bent down on one knee… The ring was designed by Ben and Jacque Fine Jewellery, with the central diamonds from his great grandmother’s engagement ring.
What was your wedding date? April 15, 2016
Location (Ceremony and Reception)
What made you choose there? We just wanted somewhere that felt intimate and not too formal – we really just wanted our wedding to be a huge celebration, with shared platters of delicious food, good music and wonderful people. We looked for quite a while for our reception venue, but as soon as we saw The Grounds, it immediately felt like ‘us’. Similarly, Sacred Heart is just a beautiful little church and felt very welcoming.
How did you find it? I could not rave about The Grounds enough. Ben and I had obviously never organized anything this big before and they helped us every step of the way in the lead-up and made sure everything went smoothly on the big day. The location itself is gorgeous, but combine that with fantastic staff and the exceptional food (oh my, the food!!) and it was perfect. The people are Sacred Heart were lovely and personable, and as hands on as you needed.
How was the weather on the day? Beautiful. Sunny and a touch windy.
What made you decide to get married on this particular date? We needed to time it when Ben’s brother Paul was home from the UK, which was significant 1) because he’s Ben’s brother, but 2) because he married us.
The Wedding Details
Theme? Navy, white and burgundy. I love film and television, and Ben is a fan of Marvel superheroes, so we also had a few cheeky pop culture and superhero nods here and there.
Where did you draw your inspiration/ideas from? Pinterest. I’d never used it before and it became such a lifesaver.
Were any aspects of your wedding D.I.Y? If so What?
- We designed our invitations and the wedding booklets ourselves and had them printed at iDesign & Print.
- I hand wrote all the table cards, by finding a calligraphy font I liked on Google and using it as a guide with a white pen on dark blue cards.
- I also baked personalized shortbread biscuits for every guest as a party favour, using cookie cutters bought through Printsicle via Etsy. I also made slightly salty/slightly sweet popcorn, to tie in with our love of movies.
- Every guest was also given a personalized Lego-style figurine to assemble at their table. We matched the figurines, whether it was Batman, or Thor, or Queen Elsa, to a person and individually wrote them a description that incorporated not only the amazing traits of the character, but also the guest we were giving it too. It meant that we were able to let every single person know how much they meant to us, and how thrilled we were about them being there. And yes, our mums both got Wonder Woman.
Bridesmaids – who/relationship? Hayley and Emily – both highschool friends.
Groomsmen – who/relationship? Cavan – best mate from highschool. And Nicholas – younger brother.
Wedding Gown (the most important part!)
What made you decide to come into Karen Willis Holmes? Karen Willis Holmes was the very first store I went to. Everyone told me it would take weeks of searching and dozens of gowns before I would find the right one. But one gown at Karen Willis Holmes had caught my eye at One Fine Day and so we made it our first stop in a day of shopping.
Where have you seen our gowns (if at all) before? We went to One Fine Day for inspiration and I saw some of the gowns in the runway show.
How many gowns did you try? When we came into the store, my mum and bridesmaid picked out a couple of choices, but I went straight for this one particular gown. It was the first one I tried on. And that was it. It was unanimous – this was the dress. I tried on a few others, but the bar had been set and nothing else quite reached it. The time-frame to make the dress was tight because of the beautiful detail in it, but the amazing team at Karen Willis Holmes made it happen. As I was leaving the store, I asked the name of the dress. When the reply came “Ava”, I was stunned. I’ve been writing a novel for a couple of years and the dress had the same name as my main character. What are the chances? Believe in coincidence or not – I think it was meant to be.
Where did you purchase your gown from (which store or stockist)? From the Paddington Sydney store, with the help of the lovely Hannah Kate. Also a big thanks to Susan who was at our fittings and just fantastic.
What did you especially like about your gown? Where do I start?! The fit, the intricate detail, the way the sheer overlay floated and how it could be removed when the dance floor got started. The look was a bit art deco, similar to my engagement ring (and which we also got vintage cars to tie-in with as well). There was also an indescribable element I’m sure other brides are familiar with. It just felt like ‘me’. I never thought I would wear a strapless gown – I actually didn’t have my heart set on anything. But once I put it on everything clicked into place. And I was honored to discover I would be the first bride to wear the Ava gown.
Where did you get the groom and groomsmen’s suits? InSitchu
What accessories did you choose to finish your gown and also for those in your bridal party? I wore a Swarovski bracelet we bought through Karen Willis Holmes and borrowed my mum’s Bulgari earrings. My bridesmaids bought/brought their own shoes and jewellery. I gifted them with cuffs from Jezebel Charms via Etsy, not for the wedding day, but so they had something unique to say thank you.
Where did you get your shoes from? Nine West.
Did you wear a veil/headpiece? Where did you get this from? Elizabeth Bower lace patterned hairpiece with Swarovski pearl and crystal accents. From Babushka Ballerina.
What advice would you give brides organizing their wedding?
- Create boards on Pinterest. It meant when we were organizing flowers/table decoration, we could easily convey the kind of look we wanted.
- Yes, it’s stressful. But all the organization and emailing in the lead-up to the big day, meant that on that day, we could just relax and soak it all up.
- Don’t do too much DIY. I loved making the cookies and Lego descriptions and they made all the difference on the day. But for some time I entertained the idea of creating our wedding cake as well and I’m so glad I didn’t. Making your wedding personal is wonderful, but having a break-down trying to achieve it by making absolutely everything would not be.
What advice would you give brides searching for their wedding gown? I felt lucky in that it was the first shop and first gown I tried on. But I know it’s not the case with everyone. But don’t settle and also, make sure it’s what you want – not what everyone else wants. It’s easier said than done, but when you’re walking down that aisle, you want to feel like you’re still ‘you’ and not someone you don’t recognize.
Something Old AND Blue? I had a little blue handkerchief from my childhood, which my bridesmaids held onto me for the day.
Something New? Swarovski bracelet.
Something Borrowed? My mum’s Bulgari earrings.
Photographer – White Lane Studio
Videographer – White Lane Studio. We chose White Lane because I stumbled across one of their stunning wedding videos while searching for reception venues. With my film background, the video was important to me, and I was struck by how they capture the mood and tone of the day. Their photos are equally gorgeous. The way they incorporate natural light and the colours are beautiful. They’re also very relaxed and just a tonne of fun to have around for the day.
First Dance – “I’ve Got a Question For You” by Rhett Miller
MC – Bride’s brother Jarrad
Celebrant – Ben’s brother Fr Paul Rowse
Cake – Sugar Bee Cakes, who did an amazing job creating a pretty quirky Captain America/Black Widow wedding cake with the lyrics “Home is Wherever I’m With You” – the song that I walked down the aisle to (an acoustic version sung against the guitar backing of Dirty Paws by Of Monsters and Men)
Bombonieres – Made ourselves
Hair – Chervonne and Sarah from Toni & Guy Manly
Make-Up – Make Up by Elizabeth, who does really beautiful, natural-looking make-up
Wedding Bands – Jacque Fine Jewellery
Extra features – Invitations and booklets designed by us and printed by iDesign & Print in Newtown (who also cut and folded the placecard paper)