How did you meet your partner? We met when I was on holiday in Sydney from London celebrating my 30th birthday with my friend. Lex used to live here and on our last day suggested we meet up with her ex-colleague for lunch, Oli. By the time we finished lunch and he returned to work, I knew he was something special. We caught up again that evening and I flew home the following day head over heels and simultaneously devastated that I had to leave. When I got home to London we skyped for 5 hours and a couple of days later I had handed my notice in and booked my flight back to Sydney. I returned 10 weeks later and moved straight in.
Do you have a proposal story? Oli proposed on my birthday almost a year to the day after we had met. We went for cocktails at the Shangri-La, followed by dinner at Cafe Sydney where we completely indulged. After dinner, we walked around Circular Quay past the Rocks, towards the bridge to 'walk off dinner'. When we passed the Hyatt Hotel and turned the corner, we walked across the grass between the palms, that’s when I spotted the picnic blanket set up with champagne and a Gelato Messina box. Despite being absolutely full from dinner, Oli insisted I open box, inside was a gelato cake with a 'Will you marry me?’ plaque. The darkness and champagne consumed at dinner make the plaque difficult to read but Oli kneeling beside me with a ring was unmistakeable. He asked, I cried, he cried and then we heard 'can we come out now?!' - his parents, sisters and best friends had been in on the surprise and were hiding nearby! After popping the champagne and celebrating with them, they left us to make phone calls to my family in the UK and USA and we sat soaking up the moment looking out across the harbour.
What was your wedding date? Friday 3 March 2017
Ceremony Location? Governor Phillip Park, Palm Beach
What made you choose there? After considering a couple of venues, it became clear early on that we wanted to get married near water.
How did you find it? We chose the reception venue first and then the ceremony location just made sense. It was great to have the contrast of the ocean side and Pittwater side of the peninsula in our day, particularly for out of town guests.
Reception Location? The Boathouse, Palm Beach
What made you choose there? It’s such a beautiful location! We knew we wanted a relaxed wedding reception, for ourselves and our guests. We didn’t want a sit-down wedding breakfast and the idea of serving baskets of fish & chips won us over straight away! Personally, I wanted to enjoy the planning process and not be bogged down in table decorations etc. Our family and friends arrived in Sydney from two weeks before our wedding date and it was important to us that we enjoy their company and not spend the time crafting or fussing about details. I love the everyday decor of The Boathouse - the marquee lighting and huge pots of flowers - and knew we didn't need to do anything additional as it already felt special.
How did you find it? We visited Palm Beach for lunch at The Boathouse with Oli’s family a week after I moved to Sydney. It was a chilly Autumn day but I fell in love with it instantly.
How was the weather on the day? The weather on the week of our wedding wasn’t ideal. Particularly for overseas guests who had been looking forward to some sunshine for months! We had a couple of wet weather contingencies, one for drizzle and another for the downpour and ultimately Oli was tasked with making the decision at the eleventh hour. The sun poked through the clouds throughout the morning and I was happy when we got the news that we would go ahead with plan A. It was only when we arrived at the ceremony location that it started to rain very slightly, it was blustering though and our poor guests were getting very windswept. I remember saying to my dad 'let’s do this' because I was excited to marry Oli and also felt bad for our guests! The rain was in my face as we got out of the car and started up the aisle but it stopped within a few steps. Either that or I was so focused I didn’t notice!
Was there a reason you decided to get married on this date? No, not really, we were looking at end of February/beginning of March and it was largely due to availability.
The Wedding Details
Theme? No theme. The venue has a wonderful feel and we didn’t feel it needed anything additional.
Were any aspects of your wedding D.I.Y? If so What? No there weren't actually. I kept joking that I was the worst bride as I just wanted to keep things simple and as low stress as possible.
Bridesmaids – who/relationship? Hollie, Kimmy, Lindsay, my girlfriends from university flew over from the UK, and Tash, a childhood family friend who became a great adult friend when I moved to Sydney.
Groomsmen – who/relationship? Oli’s two brothers Taylor and Wilson and his best friends Adam and Adam
Flower girls/Page boys – who/relationship? Lindsay’s 2-year-old daughter Pearl was my flower girl. My 8 year old nephew Tyler was our ring bearer
Wedding Gown (the most important part!)
What made you decide to come into Karen Willis Holmes? I was a bit clueless when we first got engaged and had no idea what kind of dress I wanted and where to begin in my search. Adam’s wife Fina suggested I make an appointment at Karen Willis Holmes as she had a KWH gown herself, the quality and variety of styles. I wanted to make sure I got to share the dress shopping experience with my Mum, so I held off trying any on until we travelled back to the UK a couple of months after getting engaged. I made an appointment at Angelica Bridal in Islington, London as we went along excitedly. Upon arrival, I advised the assistant that I was interested in looking at the KWH and was told that Karen herself was downstairs! Mum & I were the only customers in the small boutique so, after introductions, Karen and my mum sipped champagne and chatted while I was being secured into my choices! From having no idea previously, we walked away knowing exactly what style of dress I wanted (thanks to Karen), I just needed to decide whether to have a lace, jewelled or simpler bodice.
How many gowns did you try? I tried maybe four dresses that day, wanting to try different styles, but there was no denying when I found the right shape.
Where did you purchase your gown from (which store or stockist)? I spent a couple of months back in Sydney trying to decide on the texture of the bodice. Finding myself without plans on the same day as the annual sample sale, I figured I would use it as an excuse for a walk to Newtown and see if there were any veils (I hadn’t decided whether I wanted a veil so didn't want to spend a lot). I was shocked to find the exact bodice shape, skirt and tulle overlay I had been looking at in perfect condition and it fit perfectly. It was without a doubt my dress and I bought it on the spot and smuggled it home in an Uber!
What did you especially like about your gown? It was important to me that I felt like the best version of myself on our wedding day, and not like I was in fancy dress as a ‘bride’. The plain Blake bodice was perfect for me and the tulle overskirt provided just the right amount of occasion to the overall look. Having fit perfect when I bought it, I had to get my dress taken out a little in the couple of months before the wedding since we found out just before Christmas that I was pregnant! I was 16 weeks pregnant on our wedding day.
Who is your bridesmaid dress supplier?
Shona Joy dresses in oyster - I loved the cut of the midi skirt, the fabric and the fact that my bridesmaids could choose the top that they felt most comfortable in.
Where did you get the groom and groomsmen’s suits? Woody Roo - Billy was wonderful and helped Oli find the fabrics and cut that he wanted and then tailored the suit perfectly. I loved the little details such as the striped tape in the cuffs and gingham lining. We both loved hanging out in Billy’s store and would spend hours chatting.
What accessories did you choose to finish your gown and also for those in your bridal party? I wanted to keep things simple, not wanting to add fuss for the sake of it. I knew I didn’t want a necklace or bracelet and chose to wear diamond stud earrings that my mum gave me for my 30th birthday.
Where did you get your shoes from? I had been coveting Valentino Rockstuds for years and was very lucky to be able to splurge on a pair in dove grey for our wedding day. Given the simplicity of my dress and limited jewellery, they added a little bit extra and I get to wear them whenever I like!
Did you wear a veil/headpiece? Where did you get this from? I wore a flower crown made by our florist Wild Lotus. I wore my hair down with loose waves and asked Jess to create something that would be a finishing touch without making me look like a Snapchat filter (I knew Oli would struggle to say his vows through laughter if I did!)
What advice would you give brides organizing their wedding? Enjoy it! Tackle one thing at a time - venue, then photographer and dress. Most of all remember what is important, the reason you are planning the day is to marry the person you love, that is all that matters. Don’t get overwhelmed with what you think you should do, just do what feels right for you both.
What advice would you give brides searching for their wedding gown? Choose the dress that makes you feel like you at your very best. If you wouldn’t usually wear lace for example, don’t choose a lace gown. It was important to me that when Oli saw me, he recognised me as the person he loves everyday.
Anything extra that is special or you would like to share about your big day? It was pretty special knowing that our baby was hiding under my dress.
Something Old? Diamond earrings that I received for my 30th birthday
Something New? My shoes
Something Borrowed? A small stud that I borrowed from my mum and wore in the top of my ear.
Something Blue? The blue bow that was sewn into the inside of my dress. And although we don’t know the sex of our baby, we have been referring to him as Blueberry.
Photographer – Sophie Thompson was suggested to us at the start of her wedding photography career. Having had a scroll through her instagram and her food blog, we caught up with her over a coffee and both walked away feeling like we had made a new friend. Sophie was such a sweetheart throughout the planning, was brilliant on the day (our guests loved her as much as we did) and the photographers are better than we could ever have imagined.
Florist - Wild Lotus. Jess did bouquets for myself and my bridesmaids, flower crowns for myself and my flower girl, buttonholes for the men, corsages for the mums and our ceremony arbour. I chose white David Austin roses and grey gum to represent the meeting of England and Australia, and freesias for a family significance. I couldn't stop smelling my bouquet throughout the day, it was incredible!
Videographer - Ben Piers
First Dance - INXS Never Tear Us Apart. Oli and his grandparents are huge Port Adelaide fans and this is their team song. We were delighted that Nan and Pa were able to make the journey to Sydney and knew this would put an extra special smile on their faces.
Celebrant - Liam Chapman. Another person who was suggested to us and when we met him, instantly knew he was the right person to marry us. Liam focused us on the ceremony as the most special part of the day, the reason we were having a wedding day, to get married. He worked with us to write a ceremony that perfectly captured us and our story and helped us to write our vows.
Stationery - Oli designed our 'save the dates' and invitations himself.
Cake - Gracious Honey who we found at The Boathouse Wedding Fair and fell in love with Hannah’s lemon and coconut cake, which we combined with a large carrot cake tier (our favourite) and a gluten free chocolate tier.
Hair - I did my hair myself.
Make-Up - My bridesmaid Tash did my makeup.