How did you meet your partner? Ben and I met as uni students just over 10 years ago. We both were lucky enough to live at Ormond College - a residence for students at Melbourne Uni- and we first laid eyes on each other on the first day of my O-Week in 2007. Ben was in 3rd year and was one of the organisers of this crazy week-long initiation into the life that we would be part of for the next few years. Despite both admitting later that we were keen on each other from day one, it took several months, and many glances and awkward his across the dining room at lunch or dinner, before anything happened. Ironically, one of the first things I remember about Ben was his thick, dark curly mop of hair ... As you will realise from the photos, luckily I have fallen in love with some more long-lived qualities since then. Thanks must be given to our beautiful MC, who was the one who finally set us up at the very classy local pub, Turf Club. Very romantic beginnings!
How long have you been together? About 10 years
Do you have a proposal story? Ben popped the question on a morning walk along Sandringham Beach in January 2016. He had found this secluded beach that we could only get to at low tide, and he presented me with a book that he d written facts about time in (i.e. it takes 24 hours for the moon to rotate around the earth etc.). On the second last page he wrote it takes 3160 days for light from the nearest star to make a return journey to earth and back (he has a nerdy love for space).... and then on the next page he'd written today we have been together for 3242 days, therefore I have literally loved you to the stars and back. When I looked up he was down on one knee.
What was your wedding date? 1st April 2017 (April Fools Day!)
Ceremony Location? Ormond College, The University of Melbourne
What made you choose there? We were lucky enough to be able to go back to where it all began to tie the knot, which was so special. Ormond is like a big Harry Potter castle covered in ivy, so it is extremely beautiful. We had about 140 people attend our ceremony that we held in the quadrangle. We then followed this with drinks for all our guests in the grounds looking back at the building, while we had a lot of our photos. It was really important to us that the ceremony reflected to our friends and family who we are as a couple and we were truly excited for that part of the day, especially because we'd written our own vows that we each heard for the first time on the day.
Reception Location? Gardens House, The Royal Botanic Gardens
What made you choose there? When I was a uni student I worked at many weddings as a waitress, so I'd seen my fair share of venues, one of which was Garden's House. As well as this. Ben and I were lucky enough to have attended a wedding there too, so we both knew the venue reasonably well so it wasn' t a particularly hard decision in the end. It did however mean that we needed to erect a marquee to fit our 130 guests, so we not only had to style a blank canvas but also had to think about and organise all the furniture, cutlery, crockery and linen as well. Needless to say my experience in project management and excel skills from work came in very handy and while I relished the challenge, my advice to future brides is to only take on organizing a marquee wedding by yourself if you are extremely organized.
How was the weather on the day? The weather ended up being fine, but slightly cool. It was, however, an anxious couple of days leading up to the wedding reloading the Bureau of Meteorology frequently because the forecast was for rain and wind. It had been the most perfect March, but in Melbourne you can never predict the weather so we had backup plans ready to go. Luckily we didn't need to use any of them.
Was there a reason you decided to get married on this date? No, it was just the date that was available, but it did mean that we had frequent April Fools Jokes and our hashtag was #benfoolshannah.
The Wedding Details
Theme? I love flowers and colour and we both knew from the beginning that we wanted our reception in gardens, so this formed the backbone of our style. We wanted the colours to be bold so very early on we decided to use a lot of deep red (or as our lovely florist called it- Marsala) and then contrast it with white and green. We knew we didn't want anything fussy or perfectly formed, but instead were after a more free-flowing, unstructured look. We couldn't have been happier with the outcome and were very proud to have created the style ourselves (with the help of our wonderful vendors, of course!).
Where did you draw your inspiration/ideas from? We trawled through a lot of blogs (KWH blog being one of them, of course!), looked at a lot of photos and followed many people on instagram. We don't know what we would've done if we got married before the internet!
Were any aspects of your wedding D.I.Y? If so What? Yes, we made a lot of the little details ourselves: Our beautiful friend Kate designed the invites, place cards, signage and table numbers and we loved them! As well as this, my incredible mum and grandma made the apricot jam and mango chutney favours, plus we wrote individual cards to each of our guests that formed the place cards, and finally, I baked and decorated the cake.
Bridesmaids – who/relationship?
Maid of Honour: Lauren (aka Lozzi) who has been one of my closest friends since school.
Bridesmaids: Anna & Claire who are both friends from Ormond College days
Groomsmen – who/relationship?
Best Man: Dave who has been Ben's best mate since they started together at Ormond 12 years ago.
Groomsmen: Aaron & Scott. Aaron and Ben went to med school together and then subsequently shared a house in Shepparton when they were on rotation. Scott is another Ormond alumni who now lives in London and so we were truly honored he made the long journey back for us.
Flower girls/Page boys – who/relationship? Ben's two beautiful nieces Isabelle (5 years old) and Grace (3 years old). We weren't sure whether they'd walk down the aisle or get overwhelmed when they saw all the people looking at them, and we really didn't mind. But they blew us all away, walking independently down and scattering every flower petal in their basket along the way.
Wedding Gown (the most important part!)
What made you decide to come into Karen Willis Holmes? I thought I knew what type of dress I was looking for, but was keen to try on many different styles to be sure, so I trawled through Instagram and online blogs to get an idea of the designers out there. Karen Willis Holmes dresses came up frequently and I thought they were beautiful in their elegant simplicity so I booked an appointment.
Where have you seen our gowns (if at all) before? Instagram and online blogs (including KWH Blog)
How many gowns did you try? I booked appointments at 5 different designers over several weekends, so I probably tried on about 20 gowns in total. Karen Willis Holmes was my final booking and 'Antionette' was the final dress I tried on. I will never forget the faces that greeted me when I walked out of the change room and I knew immediately that I'd found it.
Where did you purchase your gown from (which store or stockist)? High St, Armadale
What did you especially like about your gown? I loved the simplicity of the gown and how it fitted my body perfectly without restricting me at all, meaning I could eat and dance all night- a definite prerequisite for me. I also loved how it moved when I walked, shimmering differently depending on the light.
Who is your bridesmaid dress supplier? Shona Joy (different styles, same colour).
Where did you get the groom and groomsmen’s suits? The team at MJ Bale helped Ben create a bespoke navy tux. They were extremely accommodating making the whole process easy for him, especially considering he was living in Hobart at the time. The groomsmen's suits were also bought from here.
What accessories did you choose to finish your gown and also for those in your bridal party?
Ben's Accessories: Paul Smith Astronaut cuff links and Happy Feet socks.
Where did you get your shoes from? I am quite tall so as much as I love beautiful stilettos, I wanted heels that were not too high. This proved one of the hardest things to find! Then I remembered the online custom shoe store Shoes of Prey where they allow you to choose everything about your shoes, including the height. I opted for gold leather open toe heels with a deep red insole the same as my bridesmaids dresses. They were perfect!
What advice would you give brides organizing their wedding? Get organised early, especially if you want to create anything yourself. It will most definitely take 3 times as long as you plan. Enjoy the whole planning process and don't wish for the wedding day to come too quick because it will be
over before you know it. I particularly loved all the days I spent with mum, whether it be looking for a dress, meeting with the florist or choosing the linen .. We spent so much quality time together because we almost always followed our planning session with a good lunch. Ben and I also had a lot of fun with the planning, whether it be choosing the songs for the ceremony, meeting with our beautiful celebrant, or tasting the food, we created some wonderful memories. I encourage anyone who is getting married to enjoy this time with whoever they are sharing the planning with. Finally, remember that everyone at your day is there to celebrate the love between you both. They will not notice if the flowers aren't the exact shade you wanted, or the place cards aren't put in the right place. Don't sweat the small stuff and just enjoy the day, it will go so fast.
What advice would you give brides searching for their wedding gown? For someone who initially had their mind set on getting a lace gown, it still surprises me that I fell so in love with the gown I did. So my advice to all future brides: do not close your mind off to anything. You never know what will look right on your body until you try it.
Photographer – Tess Follett. Tess was an absolute superstar. We met her over skype for the first time and it felt like we 'd just picked up where we left off with an old friend. We knew immediately that she w as the one for us. Despite capturing so many weddings every year, Tess made our day feel special and she seemed genuinely excited for it. The photos she took of us, our family and friends express exactly how we felt and who we are, and we couldn't love them more.
Florist – Ivy & Eve. Jess was incredible. I absolutely adore flowers and I had a strong vision for what I wanted to create (Ben cared less about this part..). Jess seemed to understand exactly what I was after within minutes of sitting down with her, and she delivered way beyond what we expected, we loved absolutely everything about what she created because she turned the marquees blank canvas into something stunning.
Videographer - Tom Swinburne from TPS Weddings. Tom was recommended to us by one of our closest friends and we were very lucky to find him. People have since commented that they didn't even notice that Tom was at the wedding, but the moments he managed to capture are absolutely priceless.
Our video can be viewed here
Ceremony - Keyboard + Singer, Jake Fehily - It is really hard to know where to look for a acoustic singer for a ceremony, so we were so lucky to find Jake. He is a friend of a friend's brother and was exceptional. We would recommend him to anyone who is looking for someone to sing for their special occasion (guitar or keyboard).
Reception - Rutherford Entertainment, These guys were so professional. We had both a DJ and Sax player for the night and they had everyone out on the dancefloor from straight after speeches until the end of the night. Exactly what we hoped for!
First Dance - 'I love you, Always Forever' ~ Betty Who, We choreographed the dance ourselves through many fits of giggles in our living room. It didn't quite go to plan on the night, but that was part of the fun!
MC - Our wonderful friend Brittany, who has been there since the very beginning. She in an incredible speaker and was a very funny MC, picking up on our honeymoon trip to Africa by dressing herself and every person who did a speech in safari attire and referencing to Ben and I as our doppelganger African animals- Gorilla and Giraffe.
Celebrant – Megan Watson from Marry Me Megan. We cannot recommend Megan more highly, she was incredible! In our first meeting with her, we assumed we'd be there for only half an hour or so ... 2 hours later we walked out feeling as if we'd made a new friend. She is so passionate about what she does and is so intent on finding out as much as she can about each of her couples to make sure that their ceremony reflects them to a tee. She really set the tone for the rest of the day and made it so much more special!
Stationery - Designed by our beautiful friend Kate. She is an absolute talent and we were so lucky that she offered to help us.
Menu - Peter Rowland Catering. Rowland's were incredible. The food was exceptional, the service outstanding and the staff so friendly and accommodating.
Cake - Made by Self! I love to bake - and I actually find it very relaxing- so I made our wedding cake two days beforehand, so it was quite special to cut into that. It was a two tier cake: white chocolate mud with pistachio filling and caramel mud with hazelnut filling.
Bombonieres - Jars of Apricot Jam or Mango Chutney homemade by my beautiful grandma and mum- they symbolized memories from our childhood: I grew up eating apricots from my grandma's garden and Ben grew up on a mango farm. We also wrote individual notes- which became the place cards- to each person who attended our wedding to thank them for coming and explain why they are important to us.
Make-Up - Amy Kenny Make Up. I was introduced to Amy when she did the makeup for one of my best friend' s wedding, and she was fantastic. In fact, she was one of the first things I booked in once we had locked in the da te because I knew how popular she is. Mum was nervous about getting her make-up done by someone she hadn't met before but as soon as she met Amy she relaxed and was so happy with what Amy created.
Wedding Bands - Simon West Fine Jewellery, Manchester Unity Building. Simon is an absolute star when it came to helping with the rings. A very down-to-earth jeweler, with a beautiful selection of diamonds. He came well recommended from two of Ben's best friends.