Weddings like this one are meant for Fridays. They are sleek, sophisticated and chock-full of beauty. In other words, if you are looking to kick off your weekend in grand style, this, my lovelies, is it. A glamorous Canberra wedding with almost too much pretty to handle, with a stunning Karen Willis Holmes gown, beautiful blooms from Manuka Flowers and a whole gallery of lovely from Thorson Photography. See it all right here.
From the Bride… I was completely taken by surprise by the proposal. After a long weekend in Melbourne, Chris decorated our living room with chocolates and champagne, where I opened my eyes to see him down on one knee with the most specular marquise engagement ring. I was blown away and said yes straight away.
In planning the wedding I was pretty laid-back, and everything fell into place on the day. I wanted the styling to be simple and not too girly, as its Chris’ wedding too. Therefore the Purple and Blue colour palette is a combination of our favourite colours. I also learnt early on in planning to trust the professionals. They can offer suggestion and ideas on what will suit. After all they see weddings most weekends.
During an impromptu trip to Karen Willis Holmes, the beautiful sleeves of my dress caught my eye. The crystal detailing on the capped sleeves was simply stunning. I loved it at first sight. I combined a few elements from Karen Willis Holmes other designs to create an elegant yet timeless silk crepe dress with embellished belt. When I tried it on I felt beautiful and very comfortable, plus I couldn’t stop smiling. After looking at various types of veils, I fell in love with the Cathedral length silk tulle veil. Initially I thought it was a little over the top however the minute I saw it in the mirror, I had to have it. Wearing a veil made walking down the aisle much more special. I found shopping for a wedding dress quite overwhelming. What suited me was very different to what I had in mind or had pulled out of magazines. My advice for brides to be: the smile that comes from wearing a dress you love, is the perfect accessory to looking your best.
One of the biggest challenges was finding bridesmaids dresses. I wanted dresses in different styles, yet the same colour and ones they would wear again. After a long search, we found the perfect three quarter Carla Zampatti dresses. The colour was soft and romantic and offset the bold purple and blue colours of the bouquets. It was important to me that my bridesmaids were comfortable too. They were given the freedom to decide on shoes, hair, make-up and jewellery for the day that best suited their individual styles.
The morning of the wedding was spent sipping champagne with my bridesmaids whilst getting our hair and make-up done. ‘Surround yourself with people who will make you laugh and keep you calm on the day.’ The day can get overwhelming, so having fun with your bridesmaids is key. My bridesmaids were family friends who I’ve known since a young age. I remember playing dress-up and creating wedding dresses out of sheets when we were little, so having them a part of the wedding was special.
Amy did so much more than just my make-up. I contacted her a year before the wedding and she offered wonderful advice on creating the ideal skin care regimen to enhance my complexion, even recommended products to suit. We hit it off instantly and I was impressed by how easily Amy dealt with my pale skin. On the day the make-up was kept natural, using brown tones for the eyes and pinks for the checks and lips. I loved the fake lashes, they made me feel glamorous and are a bridal essential. I received lots of compliments and now have Amy on speed dial for future events.
I wanted to look like myself on the day so Danny from La Bimbi enhanced my natural curls by creating beautiful big rosettes pinned in a bun. I had tried a different style prior to the wedding and it didn’t feel right. Having a trail is the key. Danny was wonderful and listened to what I wanted before creating a look to suit. Even though my bridesmaids chose their own hairstyles, they all ended up picking matching soft styles of curls. Jeanette created the beautiful curls for them and the team made us feel very welcome on the day with champagne and chocolates. We had to compete with a film crew in Acton the morning of the wedding which caused minor disruption. I’m sure if we watch the TV show being filmed there will be my bridesmaids and photographer running through the set.
I met with the florist early on to discuss what flowers would be in season, within our colour palette. Sue from Manuka Flowers has a great eye for detail, so I was flexible with my flower selection to allow her to choose market fresh flowers. My bouquet featured tulips, my favourite flowers, ranunculus and baby’s breath, keeping the style simple to compliment my dress. For the Bridesmaid’s flowers, the bold colours highlighted their dress’ cool tones and the lose structure reflected the drapery. I would recommend setting up a mood board so your florist can see the style and types of flowers you are after. Pintrest is a bride’s paradise and allow you to set up private boards so not to ruin the surprise for the groom and guests.
Chris and his groomsmen had their navy suits tailored by Rodger Bartholomew for a perfect fit. After all, why shouldn’t the guys spoil themselves too. Chris picked out his own tie and each groomsman had a different spotted tie that matched yet created an individual look. We had a little bit of drama with ordering the ties; they didn’t arrive until the day before the wedding. I was so happy I hugged the delivery man. As Chris wears a suit for work every day, we went for a colour he didn’t have and picked brown Florsheim shoes for something different and casual.
We had a heartfelt church ceremony at Holy Family Church in Gowrie. The Church has beautiful floor to ceiling windows behind the alter, which overlook a rose garden and let in an abundance of light. I decided the church was magical enough and wouldn’t require additional decorations. Deakin Luke went to school with Chris and led a beautiful ceremony. Many of the guests commented on how relaxed the ceremony was and enjoyed his homely. Chris and I were so engrossed in each other and the excitement of the day we missed being invited up to sign the certificate. That caused a few laughs.
My most memorable yet nerve racking moment of the day was walking down the aisle. I was very proud to have my brother accompany me and was excited to see Chris’ big smile waiting at the end. I become overwhelmed with an emotional mixture of nerves and excitement, so I teared up a little. I walked down the aisle to an instrumental version of Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams by The Vitamin String Quartet. Chris met me with a laugh and squeezed by hand lovely, in that moment the day was perfect.
Amanda and her off-sider Anika did an amazing job at capturing the special moments of the day. When we first meet with Amanda, I knew she was the perfect photographer for us. I was impressed with her love for photographing real people and blow away with her portfolio. I also knew her personality would fit in perfectly with me and my bridesmaids. During the day, we easily felt comfortable and relaxed around Amanda, often not realising she was there. I trusted in Amanda’s creativity to find the perfect location and we were blown away by the spectacular photos we received. The waterfront location Amanda found was unique, romantic and natural. It was wonderful to have photos that captured us, our family and friends enjoying the day. I loved the candid shoots and the photos allow me to look back on the day like I’m still there.
Chris and I decided early on during planning, the most important thing about our wedding was to have our family and friends around us for a fun-filled but relaxed time with specular music, food and wine. We wanted it to feel more like a party then a formal wedding. “Think of the experience the guests will have when determining your venue.”
We knew instantly the Boat House by the Lake was our ideal reception venue. The spectacular water views, wooden and stone features were warm and inviting. On the day there was the most specular sunset and together with the lake provided a romantic backdrop for guests to enjoy drinks on the wooden deck. I recommend setting a side time to mingle with guests. We joined our guests for canapés, giving us the opportunity to catch up with family and friends before sitting down to eat.
It was a pleasure working with James from the Boat House by the Lake. He was full of useful advice on how to make the reception space work for us and easily adapted to some last minute changes. The service before, during and after the wedding was excellent. The food at the Boat House was spectacular, with many guests raving about the duck spring rolls. I appreciated the kitchen designing beautiful vegetarian and allergy free menu with ease too.
I didn’t want to sit at a head table away from our guests, so we arranged for a round bridal table in the middle of the room. Our families tables were on either side, then our friends surrounded us. This set-up felt more intimate and allowed us to easily interact with our guests. It also meant Chris and I could relax and enjoy the reception too. Everyone said as the Bride and Groom you don’t get to eat on your wedding day. I wasn’t having any of this, so I organised entrée and mains to be served over a period of an hour and half then started speeches between mains and dessert.
Guests sat down to the three course dinner, where they found their names hand-written on menus doubling as place cards. Although I kept the décor simple, table centres were decorated with scattered silver tea light candles, round mirrors and a vase of vibrant purple and blue flowers. I wanted the flowers to bring the colour to the reception. The seasonal bunch matched the bridesmaids bouquets featuring calla lillies, tulips, hyacinth and anemones. The glimmering ambience highlighted the specular water view.
Our two tier cake, each level in a different irresistible flavour: caramel mud with butterscotch filling and choc-mint mud cake combined Chris’ and my favourite flavours. A friend made the cake for us and decorated it beautifully with shards of toffee. I was thrilled with the cake, it was simple and elegant and tasted delicious. Ross did an amazing job and there were lots of compliments on the flavours.
Music is essential to creating the right atmosphere. The Baker Boys did a wonderful job at reading the crowd and adapted the music to have everyone up on the dance floor from the start. Acoustic music accompanied dinner and then after our first dance, Better Together by Jack Johnson, the party kicked off and our guests danced the night away. I have two left feet and tend to lead when dancing, so we kept the first dance simple although Chris surprised me with a spin near the end. It was wonderful to see our guests dancing in to the night and enjoying themselves. Always a sign of a good party.
My most treasured decoration of the wedding was the custom vintage poster I had designed from America. I wanted a unique keepsake to remember our wedding day by and when I saw the creation of Alexandra & Co I was swept away by the elegance and romance of the posters. I immediately wanted one for our house and knew it should be a focal point at our reception. In being creative I put a new twist on the wishing well, by using elaborate glass jars for our guests to leave cards in. There were also advice cards for guests to fill out to leave notes for the new married couple. Reading through the advice cards the following day made us laugh.
Etsy provided plenty of inspiration for DIY wedding details. I created photos props – lips, hearts, moustaches and bowties – to add a little fun to the evening. Our guests could track their photos by using a hashtag specially set up for our wedding. This allowed Chris and me to view photos of our guests having fun immediately after the wedding. There were some hilarious photos and some stories to tell by the end of the night.
All the stationery was sourced through Etsy from Wittything boutique and printed locally. I found a design we both like and went about customising the invitations, wedding programs, menus and seating plans. Tailoring the wedding stationery to exactly what I wanted meant I ended up with a unique look. Etsy is now my go to for all future personalised stationery.
I loved every minute of our wedding. It was exactly the way I had imagined, a special day with lots of fun and laughter.
Photographer: Thorson Photography | Floral Design: Manuka Flowers | Wedding Dress: Karen Willis Holmes | Wedding Cake: Emma Harrison | Ceremony Venue: Holy Family | Reception Venue: The Boat House by the Lake | Bridesmaids' Dresses: Carla Zampatti | Makeup Artist: Amy Capeda | Hair: La Bimbi | Groomsmen Attire: Rodger Bartholomew | Groomsmen's Attire: T M Lewin | Girls Accommodation: The Diamant Hotel | Groomsmen\'s Attire: T M Lewin | Music: The Baker Boys | Wedding Poster: Alexander & Company