How did you meet your (now) husband? We actually went to high school together! So we knew each other from grade 8 onwards. We dated in grade 8 for a few days (I was his first ever girlfriend!!) –after that little fling we went our separate ways during high school. We then caught up again during Schoolies week at Airlie Beach. Ben always jokes that I am his first and last girlfriend!
How long have you been together? 8.5 years- we started officially dating on Feb 12th 2007 (during O-week of university) I started to get worried that I was on a 10 year probation or something before he would ask me to marry him!
Do you have a proposal story? We had just moved into our newly built house and one weekend we invited our families over for a big lunch to welcome them into our new home. That morning, Ben wanted to take me to breakfast at the Heritage Tea Rooms up in Harvey’s Range (which is absolutely gorgeous btw if you’re ever up our way!) -but I told him I really didn’t feel like it as we had so much preparing, cooking etc. to do for the big family lunch. (Ben’s family is Italian, so they eat a LOT) So after we had finished eating lunch, Ben stood up- in front of everyone, pulled out an AMAZING looking ring from his pocket and just asked me straight out! He explained he was meant to ask me up in the mountains at breakfast and then come back and share the good news with everyone at lunch- but I had changed his plans and so he improvised. I was so shocked! He then went on to explain that he had been planning this for a long long time for me and how he had helped design the ring that was hand crafted by Jay from Kim Bartlett. I immediately fell in love with my ring, it is absolutely stunning- a total of 1.75 car- a cushion cut 1.1car center diamond with a halo and diamonds either side, set in platinum. I couldn’t stop staring at it and thinking how lucky I am! Both of our families were wrapped that they got to be a part of the experience, although looking back now, I really wish I had have said yes to the breakfast up at the tea rooms, it would have been so romantic! At least we have a funny story to tell now.
What was your wedding date? 7th June 2015
Location (Ceremony and Reception)
Where? Ceremony- The Sacred Heart Cathedral, Townsville. Reception- Picnic Bay SLSC, Townsville
What made you choose there? We were originally going to have our ceremony in the Queens Gardens (where some of our professional photos were taken), but in the end we chose the Sacred Heart Cathedral, it is absolutely stunning. It was undercover in case of rain, and it is so grand! We had a string quartet playing, which filled and echoed through the entire cathedral, and Ben’s great Uncle Father Dave was able to be our Priest. It still gives me goosebumps and makes me smile thinking about the moment Dad walked me down the aisle to Ben.
The reception was on Townsville’s Strand headland – it overlooks the ocean and across to Magnetic Island. It has a big covered deck and grass area for all to be seated on to enjoy the sunset and island views. The roofing also meant we were able to get fairy lights, drapes and chandeliers strung up to make it look really romantic yet still with an open and airy feeling.
How did you find it? The surf club has the best views of Townsville for our out-of-town guests to experience. We didn’t really want to be cooped up in a dark venue. Both locations are very close to each other and also to the city, so it was easy for guests to get around easily and access everything no worries.
How was the weather on the day? The day was perfect- not too hot, not too cold, and no rain. The sunset was apparently stunning at the reception.
What made you decide to get married on this particular date? June is a beautiful time of year in North Queensland- the sunsets are spectacular and the weather is perfect. It was also the Queens Birthday long weekend. We were married on a Sunday so our out-of-town guests could travel up on the Saturday and back on the Monday and not have to sacrifice work commitments etc. It is also ironically the same weekend that Ben’s parents were married on 25 years ago as well.
The Wedding Details
Theme? Blush, rose gold
Where did you draw your inspiration/ideas from? Pinterest!!! It was my second job!
Were any aspects of your wedding D.I.Y? If so What?Of COURSE! We tried to save $ wherever we could so we could have more towards our honeymoon! We didn’t have a wedding planner. We had a deal- if I planned the wedding then Ben planned the honeymoon. We must mention that we were very lucky to have many friends in the right industries who helped us out immensely towards our day- so we did get some great discounts or complimentary services. We are so so grateful and realise this is not the case for everyone getting hitched!
-The invitations, ceremony booklets, name place tags, seating arrangement sign and favor stickers were designed and made by my very talented mum Kerry (Kaebee Designs) I will never forget the day all my bridesmaids, mum, grandma and mother in law came over my house a few months before the wedding and had a lovely girls day putting together all the invitations. Some parts were very tedious (copper foiling!), but well worth it- we are a little bias and think they look so beautiful and unlike any invites we had seen before!
-Our favors were little jars of mango chutney handmade by my grandmother who lives in Bowen. Of course made with delish homegrown Bowen Mangoes! She really needs to publish the recipe or make it in bulk because everyone was raving about it weeks after the wedding wanting more!!! We tied some lace and chevron neutral material and copper twine around the tops of the jars and mum made stickers that said “spread the love”. We also got a few mini pomegranate candles if anyone didn’t want mango chutney.
-As we didn’t have a wedding planner- This was my second full time job for a while!.. I sourced and organised everything for the day including the venues, accommodation, caterers, entertainment, decorator, photographer, florist, cake and hair & makeup. I highly recommend anyone also DIY’ing to do up a wedding day run sheet with times, places, who’s involved and details columns. Go over it with all those involved and double check everything and once finalized, print copies for yourself, groom, photographer, drivers, both immediate families, MC, entertainment /band/singers and the venue managers so they all know what’s going on and when and everything should run to plan. Also we recommend when doing up your seating plan- draw big circles/rectangles for the tables and write every guests name on mini sticky notes to stick at each table.. this means you can easily chop and change people at different tables without having to start over!
-I sourced all the reception and table decorations both online and at local homeware shops. I fell in love with the copper flower boxes with our names and date hand stamped – these were from Rainy Sunday online if anyone is interested. I also found matching copper mason jar lids from a local homeware shop. The sequin rose gold and sequin chevron rose gold and white table runners I found online in bulk. Copper milk jars were from typo & the little jars for the mango chutney were from Just Jars online. I also handmade the gold foil table numbers in wooden photo frames and the eye spy game. The table seating plan was made from an old easle that we repainted white, and a mirror. We stuck big fake flowers and vines around the edges of the mirror and then the table arrangements in the middle of the mirror.
-My other grandmother sourced and put together all the flowers for the table centerpieces from a local lady and then went down to make sure everything was set up correctly at the surf club before the ceremony started. She also spent a few months collecting lots of the little jars from her friends for the candles to go onto the tables.
-Ben and I bought our photobooth backdrop second hand on gumtree and added more materials from spotlight! We also got some dress up props from the crazy shop and an insta polaroid camera for our DIY photobooth.
-All the desserts for the dessert table were homemade up in Ingham the week of the wedding and frozen until the big day. Myself, mother in law, grandmother in law and a few Lancini family friends all made the trip up to Ingham to Bens great Aunts house, where we spent all day baking their favourite traditional Italian sweets. We made around 200 of each dessert- chocolate and vanilla cannoli’s, powder puffs, peach blossoms, creamed horns, orange blossoms, storch, lemon biscuits, triple chocolate biscuits, lace biscuits and almond bread.
-The cars we used on the day were all owned by family and friends- three white SUV’s- two white Audi’s for the bridesmaids and groomsmen and the bridal car was a white Lexus. The car ribbons we bought online and looked up a tutorial on how to put them on!
Bridesmaids – who/relationship?
-My younger sister Bekki
-My best friend Danielle (MOH)
-Ben’s younger sister Samantha
Groomsmen – who/relationship?
-Ben’s younger brothers Luke and Mitchell
-Ben’s best friend Tim (best man)
Flower girls/Page boys – who/relationship?
-My little niece Sialle was our flower girl.
Wedding Gown (the most important part!)
What made you decide to come into Karen Willis Holmes? I couldn’t find anything I liked at the bridal shops in Townsville, and I had no clue what style I wanted so couldn’t get one made! So mum suggested we take a girls trip down south. Of course I jumped at the suggestion, and mentioned I had never been to Melbourne before- so it was done. We booked many appointments along high street in Armadale and also in Collins Street in the city. I was having no luck at all, and was getting quite anxious and frustrated. Then we walked past KAREN WILLIS HOLMES.. and the Caitlyn gown was on the mannequin in the window, I was adamant I had to try that dress on. We walked in, I didn’t have an appointment, but the very helpful staff (Enza and Sally) were able to fit me in within an hour for a private fitting! As soon as the gown was on me, I knew it was the one. When I walked out to show my mum, she started tearing up and was speechless. The ladies also made me try the similar style Alexandra dress as well just in case, but I liked the Caitlyn better. The Armadale store didn’t have my exact size in stock, so luckily Karen herself was flying to Melbourne the next day and so she bought my dress with her and I got to meet her! WOW- Things are meant to be sometimes!
Where have you seen our gowns (if at all) before? I had never seen or heard of KAREN WILLIS HOLMES before I saw the boutique on High Street that day. One of the unfortunate downfalls of living in North Queensland- we don’t get the really good things like the capitol cities do!
How many gowns did you try? Countless! But only two at KAREN WILLIS HOLMES.
Where did you purchase your gown from (which store or stockist)? The High Street Armadale store
What did you especially like about your gown? It was so unique to anything I had ever seen or tried on before. It fit like a glove- all I had to do was get it taken up. It was just very me!
Who is your bridesmaid dress supplier? The Fashion Gallery in Townsville- they were taupe coloured Alfred Angelo gowns.
Where did you get the groom and groomsmen’s suits? The boys hired their suits, shirts and ties from New Park Menswear in Townsville. Their shoes were all Julius Marlow’s from Style Tread online and their cufflinks were all from Myer.
What accessories did you choose to finish your gown and also for those in your bridal party? I fell in love with the Samantha Wills blue head comb for my something blue. I then found teardrop crystal earrings and matching bracelet from The Silver Shop in Townsville to compliment the belt I wore with the gown.
For the girls, we got them each a Samantha Wills white marble bohemian Bardot ring and some beautiful pearl drop earrings from a jewellery store in Melbourne.
Where did you get your shoes from? I really wanted a pair of special heels as a keepsake of the day..some nude Valentino heels were my dream.. but I had to be realistic- we had a budget to stick to and I knew they would get wrecked on the day anyway. So instead I went for price and comfort and got mine and the bridesmaids heels from Betts- mine in silver and the girls in nude. - Whilst on our honeymoon in Paris Ben surprised me & took me to the flagship Valentino store and I splurged on the nude Valentino rock stud pumps.
Did you wear a veil/headpiece? Where did you get this from? I wore a beautiful cathedral length silk tulle veil. It was very sheer and soft with raw edging so as to not take away from the details on my gown. I also liked the traditional idea of the ‘veil over the face’ whilst walking down the isle and since we were in the cathedral; it had to be cathedral length! My friend and dressmaker Hester from Ja Delle Designs gave the veil to me as a gift; she also spent many hours taking up my beaded gown and sewing in bra cups.
What advice would you give brides organizing their wedding?
-Make a budget and stick to it. (we made an excel spreadsheet to keep track of everything!)
-Try to save on your wedding day wherever you can so you have more to enjoy for your honeymoon! I know it sounds selfish- but its only one day and it will be amazing for you and your family/friends no matter how many layers the cake is or what brand of champagne you’re serving. We had an amazing day and got to enjoy a four-week honeymoon in Paris and Italy afterwards!
-Ask your guests to put away their phones/cameras at the ceremony-best thing we did! This is the photographer’s job. We now have beautiful photos of our guests actually enjoying the ceremony and not behind their phone screens.
-Enjoy being with each other all day and night- don’t leave each others side- it’s your day! If people want to come and talk to you, they will. We made this mistake at our engagement party- we didn’t see each other all night! So this time we didn’t make an effort to go around separately to tables and make sure everyone was happy- we wanted to enjoy & make the most of our day together, and not have to worry about how everyone else was feeling.
-Sneak off just by yourselves at some stage during the day or night and enjoy a quite little moment together!
-If something goes wrong or not to plan, (which thankfully didn’t happen to us) but- don’t let it ruin your day- there is probably nothing you could do about it anyway, just move on and remember its not the end of the world and why you are celebrating this day!
What advice would you give brides searching for their wedding gown?
-Definitely don’t give up hope if you are having no luck- sometimes things happen for a reason and are meant to be!
-You really do ‘know’ when it is ‘the one’, so if you don’t get that 100% feeling, then it’s not the right dress for you.
Anything extra that is special or you would like to share about your big day.
Ben and I had agreed no wedding presents to each other on the day- but I couldn’t help myself. He had spoilt me so much with my engagement ring and he didn’t want a fancy wedding band, so I really felt I needed to give him something special he would cherish for the rest of his life as well and maybe one day hand down. Ben has a thing for watches- he has 11 now. So I secretly saved and saved and saved & finally went and got him a classic black-faced Tag Heuer Carrera watch. He is a smarty-pants, very cluey and kept asking me why the budget was out and not matching up with where it should be-I kept having to try to dodge the subject! Ha! Apparently the look on his face when he opened his present on the day was priceless.
Something Old? White crochet hankie
Something New? The Dress!
Something Borrowed? The veil
Something Blue? Samantha Wills head comb
Florist – Townsville Flower Market- I wanted a bouquet that was not too perfect/structured, blush colours and long stems. Peonies and roses are my fav so they had to be in there! For the bridesmaids and flowergirl, I loved the look of simple big bunches of babies breath.
Photographer – Sweet Mary Photography. Katie, one of my talented friends owns Sweet Mary and so there was no other choice for us!
Videographer – NA- we wanted to remember our day as we saw it from our own eyes.
Music – Laurence Sorbello. Was FANTASTIC!!! Highly recommend him! Laurence is a local who a few years ago made it to the top ten of Australian Idol. Our families all love live music, country and rock- he specialises in this and did an amazing job. He had the whole set up- stage, lighting, smoke, and can even organize fireworks. Between his live sets he DJ’s as well! From the end of our first dance until we were told it was home time everyone was up on the dance floor having a blast, it was so much fun!
First Dance – ‘A thousand years’ Christina Perry followed by Father daughter dance of Ed Sheeran’s ‘Thinkin out loud.’
MC – Peter Motti- Our friend who we went to school with. He currently lives in UAE and made the trip all the way back to AUS to be there for us. He loves a good yarn, is very organised, quick thinking, and knows how to crack people up, so it was a no brainer for him to be the MC! We also had friends from Hong Kong, and interstate Australia who traveled great lengths to share our day with us. We are so thankful.
Celebrant – Ben’s great uncle- Father Dave Lancini
Stationery – KaeBee Designs (owned by my mum Kerry)
Menu – Michel from Essentially Fresh catered our wedding and absolutely nailed it. We gave him the task of keeping our large families/big mob of Italians full, and he delivered!
- For canapes there were 6 different dishes including: Pork belly, prawn and avocado tostadas, duck crepes, scallops, beetroot & goats cheese & caramelized onion stacks, mini beef burgers.
- For mains- we didn’t have the traditional alternate drop- we wanted to have big share platters in the middle of the tables so people could eat as much or as little as they liked, and eat whatever they liked. It also really encourages people to mingle and interact with each other. We had three main dishes for guests- and enough servings so each guest could have all three dishes if they wanted. The share platter mains included eye fillet wrapped in prosciutto with sides of roasted potatoes tossed in garlic butter, char grilled king prawns served in a chilli garlic sauce on beds of rice, organic whole chicken legs with sides of seasonal steamed vegetables.
Cake – another of my talented girlfriends Karina from Just Peachy Cupcakes was no other choice for our wedding cake! We had a small three-tier cake of white and dark choc marble mud cake, lime and coconut mud cake and Karina’s secret traditional fruitcake. She also made us some delish macaroons as well.
Bombonieres – Homemade Mango Chutney and mini pomegranate candles.
Hair – Pamela from Da Vinci, my hairdresser and friend of 13 years
Make up – Cheree from Urban Miss Make-up, my friend and best MUA in Townsville
Wedding Bands – Jay Bartlett from Kim Bartlett Master Jewelers. Ben’s 18k gold band & Kasey’s platinum with diamonds all around.
Extra features – Decorator - a local lady from Magnums Weddings set up the ceiling lighting, drapes, chandeliers and chairs.
Other – All in all, we are so lucky we have such wonderful family and friends who all helped us out in one way or another to make our wedding day so special - it would not have been the day it was without any of them. xxx