Anitra and Ben

I have a serious weakness for engagement parties – it’s like the first celebration, the raw celebration of the engagement. There’s no pressure – it’s relaxed, joyous fun with the excitement and sparkles of new journeys to come.

Leo Farrell sent over this fun engagement party of photographer Anitra Keogh and her fiance Ben and I love the atmosphere of it.  I am swept up by the fun and relaxed party details and the faces of joy throughout the party!

Anitra tells the story. “A week after getting the keys to our first home, amidst painting and preparing to move in, Ben painted on the wall “Anitra, will you Marry Me.” Naturally then, it made sense to have our engagement party at home. Being the “beginning” of everything, the house became the focus for the night and it became a housewarming/engagement party. As it would be the first time most of our friends and family would see the house I set out to create an atmospheric “front yard” party; making the most of the gorgeous trees, big lawn and front verandah. I used a photo of Ben’s proposal and the facade of the house as the invite.”

“Being a photographer myself, creating good lighting and atmosphere was a must! Hence we strung up bare bulbs and Chinese lanterns that my friend Helen and I had collected from various $2 shops. A lot of the decorations I already had, or had part-thereof. What I did buy for the party had one requirement; that it either had to have been used or being able to be used again- more than likely at the Wedding! My mum, Helen and I made the fabric pom poms from different shades of cream, white and mustard fabric from a tutorial I found online. Helen and I scouted op shops and markets for vintage hankies and doilies to make the bunting. Every Sunday leading up to the party Ben and I drove around surrounding neighborhoods looking for outdoor furniture that had been put out for hard rubbish. Helen then decided to paint all of it white the morning of the party – along with the front door, which we hadn’t quite got round to painting yet! We used cheap foldout chairs from Ikea and $3 net curtaining from Ikea on the front porch. I had a ball putting it all together with the help of some wonderful friends. Seeing everyone was putting so much work into it,  i decided that as it’s usually me carrying around the camera, if I was going to have any chance of relaxing on the night I needed to hire a photographer that I knew would capture it all.”

“Without being asked, friends and family just turned up with desserts and in the end we had quite the dessert buffet also with slices, cakes, and homemade ice creams. “

“We had the party catered by Hot Trucks – a local woodfired pizza company that come out with their own pizza oven and make pizzas on the spot. It proved to be a great talking point and people raved for days about it!”

“Another of my favourite memories was quite a sombre one- my father passed away 5 years ago, so to honour his memory and presence I set up a table with a photo of him, a bottle of his favourite Irish whiskey and a sign saying “Have a swig with Jim”.  As I went up to the table, a couple of his oldest friends and his sister were there – they all said how proud he’d be of me, then teary eyed we all raised our glasses and “had a swig with Jim”. He would have loved it. “

“One of my favourite memories of the night were the sparklers. We handed them out just after speeches and it was the most wonderful thing to see everyone, young and old, mesmerised and entertained by them. It made for beautiful photos too!”

“All in all we had the most wonderful night and are so excited that we have some beautiful photos from Leo that captured the atmosphere so perfectly! We have sent prints to friends and family as thank you’s and they absolutely love them.

And yes, the proposal is still painted on the wall…”

Photos by Leo Farrell Photography