How did you meet your (now) husband?
We met by chance at a bar on Nigel Tufnel Day (only Spinal Tap fans will understand that reference). Paul lived in Melbourne at the time and it was his last night of a 6 week stay in Sydney, where I had moved about 2 years before from Newcastle. He hadn’t gotten any contact details for me when we parted (he forgot, apparently) but he remembered my full name and the law firm I worked for at the time, so to get in touch he sent a letter and a dark red Chanel lipstick to me at my office.
How long have you been together? It will be 5 years in November this year.
Do you have a proposal story? We got engaged in June 2015, 2 days before my 30th birthday. Paul had a lovely plan to propose in Centennial Park, where we often spend weekends with our Labrador Retriever, Guinness. Unfortunately it was raining really heavily, so he set up an indoor picnic at home and proposed there. He was rushing against the clock because he had called my Dad to ask for his blessing, and he knew it wouldn't take long for my Dad to tell everyone and risk the surprise being ruined!
What was your wedding date? 28 May 2016
Location (Ceremony and Reception)
Where? Churchill, Taradale Victoria
What made you choose there? From very early on we had decided that to fit in with our overall theme we wanted to be married in a chapel or church-style building at a venue that also had a separate building or onsite restaurant suitable for dinner. We didn't want our guests to have to move from one venue for the ceremony to another for the reception. With its stained glass windows, beautiful sandstone and location in the moody, wintry Victorian countryside about an hour out of Melbourne we knew the deconsecrated church and old Sunday School hall at Churchill would be perfect for an elegant and intimate autumn wedding with a vintage, old world feel.
How did you find it? We researched venues online for a couple of weeks before coming across Churchill. We didn’t visit any other venues – as soon as we visited Churchill and met Vanessa from Prunella we knew we had found the right one for us. I was happy to book it as soon as we saw their website, but Paul insisted we go and take a look in person. I had just been promoted and was very busy at work, so we drove all the way down from Sydney and back in one weekend.
How was the weather on the day? Cold, as expected! It was a lovely autumn day. It started raining very early in the afternoon, but not long before the wedding was due to start the rain stopped and rainbows appeared.
What made you decide to get married on this particular date? We wanted an autumn wedding, at that magical time of the year when it is cool and grey, but not uncomfortably cold and when the leaves have gone all those beautiful red and amber colours but not yet fallen.
The Wedding Details
The theme was gothic Victorian romance – think Wuthering Heights and The Secret Garden. Our venue suited this perfectly, and for the florals we used shades of burgundy mixed in with dark pinks, purples and deep blue. We also used lots of candles.
Where did you draw your inspiration/ideas from? I was inspired by my favourite novels, which are all from around the Victorian era (my current favourite is War & Peace, the Russian epic by Leo Tolstoy). Prunella, our event stylists, used a fairytale-themed Vogue editorial from 2012 featuring Drew Barrymore and shot by Annie Leibovitz as inspiration.
Were any aspects of your wedding D.I.Y? If so What? No, although one of my friends did loan us her collection of vintage candleholders.
Bridesmaids – who/relationship? My sister, Jasmine, was Maid of Honour and my brother, Hamish, was my Best Man.
Groomsmen – who/relationship? Paul’s brothers Ben and Jeremy were his Best Men.
Wedding Gown (the most important part!)
What made you decide to come into Karen Willis Holmes? I had been to a number of stores and searched online and not had much luck. I had always imagined that I would wear something by Valentino or Alexander Macqueen – not a bridal designer, which tends to conjure images of puffy princess gowns (not my style at all). My friend Sigrid came to Sydney one day to go shopping with me and suggested we stop by Karen Willis Holmes. The store is not far from where Paul and I live in Paddington, right across the road from Orchard St, my favourite raw vegan café.
Where have you seen our gowns (if at all) before? I had walked past the store in Paddington many times, but otherwise, I hadn’t seen the dresses elsewhere.
How many gowns did you try? Several! Maybe 5?
Where did you purchase your gown from (which store or stockist)? Paddington, Sydney.
What did you especially like about your gown? As soon as we arrived outside I saw my dress in the window and immediately fell in love with the peplums. It had short capped sleeves, but I had always imagined long sleeves so they altered the design for me.
Who is your bridesmaid dress supplier? For Love & Lemons
Where did you get the groom and groomsmen’s suits? Pepper’s Formal Wear
What accessories did you choose to finish your gown and also for those in your bridal party? My sister and I wore jewellery by Samantha Wills.
What advice would you give brides organizing their wedding? Outsource, outsource, outsource, but only if you can find a planner and stylist who you know will understand your vision. We are very glad that we hired such a wonderful planner and stylist in Prunella. It made everything so easy. The other piece of advice that I have is to have the wedding that you want to have, not the wedding that your family might want you to have or that you might feel you should have. We wanted a small, intimate wedding in the country, and that meant not inviting everyone we otherwise would have done and the location not being as convenient for everyone as it could have been. Your loved ones will love you anyway, and they will understand. If they don't, don’t let it bother you.
What advice would you give brides searching for their wedding gown? It’s really hard to choose just one dress for a day you will (hopefully) only experience once! Go with your instinct.
Something Old? My grandmother’s faux fur coat.
Something New? Everything else!
Something Borrowed? Rosary beads that had been carried by Paul’s parents on their wedding day were tied into mine and my sister’s bouquets. Originally they had been given to Paul's parents by relatives in Ireland. We are not religious so they were incorporated for their sentimental value.
Something Blue? Blue hydrangea
All our vendors were fantastic! We had our planner, stylist and florist, Prunella, to thank for that. We live in Sydney but were getting married in country Victoria - we had to rely on Prunella to recommend all the other event suppliers we would need (other than for clothes and accessories). When I walked into the church on the day I didn’t notice much other than Paul waiting for me at the altar. Afterwards, when I looked around, I took in all the amazing florals, in the exact colour scheme and style that I had imagined, the candles everywhere, the opulent, vintage style furniture and the stunning stained glass windows. It couldn't have been more magical or more perfect for us. It was exactly what we had imagined. Prunella managed this after only meeting us once when we first went to see the venue and having a couple of phone calls to discuss our brief. Everything flowed seamlessly and we had not had any of the stress that usually comes with planning a wedding.
Florist - Prunella
Photographer - Brown Paper Parcel (Jess Tremp)
Music - Ali E (Paul’s cousin)
MC - Josh Hanneysee (Paul’s friend)
Celebrant - Catherine Crothers
Stationery - Inhaus Creative
Menu - Monsieur Pierre
Cake - Blackbird Cakes
Hair - Melinda Wain
Make-Up - Melinda Wain
Wedding Bands - ManiaMania Fine
Veil - Bride La Boheme
Jewellery - Samantha Wills
Bridesmaid dress - For Love & Lemons