James and I met through a mutual friend and instantly connected over our shared sense of humour. I always joked that he “knew my every reference”. Whilst we enjoyed a great friendship, the stars would not align until three years later when in 2005 and James finally confessed his feelings in a crowded St Kilda nightspot and we’ve barely spent a day apart since. James proposed in 2008 and we began planning our 2010 nuptials.
One night whilst poring over the details for the grand event it suddenly occurred to us that what we really wanted was just to be married in an intimate ceremony surrounded by our closest family and friends and to celebrate with beautiful food and wine. We realised that we could simply invite guests to my 30th birthday which fell conveniently on a Saturday in 2009 and we could be married at the same time. And so the surprise wedding birthday plan was hatched, with the promise by James that I would never have to receive a combined anniversary/birthday present! He happily agreed as this meant only one date to remember.
We designed the invitation ourselves and it was produced by graphic design studio Qube Konstrukt. Hidden in the text box were the words “James and Nicole Wedding” and these words were then highlighted on the thank you cards.
The theme was Old Hollywood Glamour, black, white, silver and a touch of hot pink in keeping with the venue’s beautiful pink curtains. Immediate family and the best man and maid of honour were in on the secret and helped us throw other guests off the scent.
The day started with the myself, my maid of honour and mother getting ready at the home and studio of makeup artist Julie Dammery whilst James woke in his childhood home and shared a brunch with his father, brother and best man.
Two black Chrysler C300s (1300 Limo now) then collected the bridal party and we posed for photographs at various locations before arriving at the Prince Hotel suite where everyone relaxed and chatted while waiting for the guests to arrive downstairs.
Guests arrived at the bar from 6.30pm while James, his best man, groomsman and our celebrant and photographer waited in the dining room.
I waited nervously upstairs with my father and maid of honour. James and I both sent sneaky text messages to guests complaining of traffic and suggested that they head into the dining room to be seated while they waited for us. Once there, the celebrant announced the surprise and the photographer brilliantly captured the moment as people realised they were actually attending our wedding.
The ceremony then commenced as my father walked me down the aisle to the ‘Love Actually’ rendition of the Beatles’ ‘All You Need is Love’.
Our ceremony included a reading (The Art of Marriage) by James’ brother and I brought some of my father’s Jewish heritage into the ceremony by including the tradition of the breaking of the glass by the groom, which serves to represent the fragility of marriage. James’ father gave a toast, which included an old Scottish blessing in honour of his family’s Scottish heritage.
My vows were both sincere and a little humorous as I promised, amongst other things, never put sultanas in James’ food (he thinks they are unexpected bursts of flavor, like hidden food mines I guess!) and to never schedule activities that clash with a F1 Grand Prix.
James invited guests to then sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to me as I had almost forgotten it was my 30th birthday with all the wedding excitement.
Once seated I slipped on some Peter Alexander pink satin slippers to ease my tired tootsies!
We enjoyed our first night as husband and wife in the King Suite at The Prince Hotel and joined close friends the following day for a debrief over Yum Cha.
As we were due to settle on our first home a week after the wedding and then I was starting a new job the week after, we had a “mini-moon” of 10 days at Kudos Villas in Hepburn Springs where we indulged in massages, spas and plenty of delicious food and wine.
Our best man and maid of honour also organised post wedding hens and bucks events for us the following month.
We are so glad we changed our plans as we had the best surprise wedding birthday ever!
Dress: Baccini and Hill
Inside the dress, my mother suggested that my late grandfather’s St Christopher be sewn in as my ‘something old and borrowed’.
Hair Flowers: Alannah Hill
Photographer: Adrian Tuazon
Celebrant: Jason McCheyne
Favours: Personalised Pink and Platinum M&Ms imported from the US (James and I always shared M&Ms during our early courtship)
Personalised Guest Book by Bookbinders Design
Flowers: Flower Flower (which included to my surprise my favourite white peonies which were kindly sourced by the florist from The Netherlands due to them being unavailable in Melbourne at that time of year)
Hair and Makeup: Julie Dammery of Beautique Creative
Rings: Janai Jewellers
Shoes: Steve Madden “Something Blue” Collection (a silvery blue as the bride’s ‘something blue’).
Cake: Babycakes By Design – flavours were first tier chocolate, and second tier, raspberry and white chocolate.
Groom’s Suit: Soho Workshop, 407 Chapel Street, South Yarra, Melbourne. Phone: 03 98261990
Ms Polka Dot says: The gorgeous surprise wedding today of Nicole and James. Everything about this wedding screams ‘elegance’ but with a more than the usual element of surprise and delight! Congratulations Nicole and James and thank you for sharing your wedding/birthday with us!
Nicole says: Melbourne based, married to Mr F and new mum of one particularly gorgeous baby S, I love my boys, all things wedding, travel, food, my cat Chloe and of course all things Polka dot!
Visit Nicole’s blog here Bumps Bubs and Stuff I Love