Mat and Athena

In June 2010 Mat took me to the UK to meet his parents and we had also planned a few days in Paris. A few weeks before we flew out he announced out of the blue “I am not cliched enough to propose in Paris, so I hope you weren’t expecting me to.” It really hadn’t occurred to me, so I then got upset that he didn’t want to marry me! Imagine my surprise then, when on our first day in the City of Love, he towed me up the million steps of the Sacre Coeur and proposed! I was so legitimately stunned that I forgot to say yes.

With close family and friends on both sides of the world, we made the decision to have two weddings in two weeks – one in Australia (Maleny) and one in England (Bath – in a divine 17th century converted threshing barn!). We had approximately the ‘normal’ wedding budget to see us through both weddings and a week in Italy, which we ended up achieving! At the time of planning our wedding, I was working as a Wedding & Event Coordinator, so I had a lot of wonderful industry contacts for help and advice (thank you Lovebird Weddings! x) On the downside it was hard to switch off from work and focus on our wedding!!

We decided on a French, whimsical, romantic theme for our September 2011 wedding with a hefty splash of humour and decadence. Vintage vintage vintage… with lots of ostrich plumes, family heirlooms, cut glass, crystal, roses and tiny birds. Mat’s family flew out from the UK and we booked out the entire Spotted Chook Ferme Auberge in Montville, on the Sunshine Coast – the family stayed in the main house and Amelies Petite Maison became the most perfect Bridal Suite. Above is a  little Spotted Chook with my ‘something blue’ – Mat’s grandmother’s sapphire and diamond ring.

Ultra whimsy! Divine flowers by Twig & Grace, with feathers, a tiny gold bird and rosemary for remembrance. I sourced my little vintage birds via ebay, and my Mum scoured op shops for vintage photo frames for our little quotes. Our Australian invites were a design called ‘Mr Darcy’s Letter’ by the wonderful Nikki from Days Gone Design, USA, and we had a customised letterpress wedding certificate made by Wiley Valentine, USA. A special mention goes to my favourite OPI polish ever! ‘Otherwise Engaged’ from their bridal range.

Mat and his brother may look all smiles, but they were secretly scheming against each other to have the Funniest Speech in History. The red vespa was at the Spotted Chook – Mat having his little Jamie Oliver moment!

It was important to us to have two intimate meaningful celebrations, rather than a day full of third cousins and people we didn’t recognise, so at each wedding we kept it to around 60 guests, just close family and friends. Above is Mat with the two mums, while below my Scottish father is en route to Amelies, resplendent in the Stuart tartan. We only had one attendant each, my sister Ellena and Mat’s brother Darren.

We’d only just moved to the Sunshine Coast when the wedding planning began, so I was incredibly fortunate to stumble across Kim from Shima Gloss for my makeup who then recommended Evalyn Parsons hair. It would be hard to find two more truly lovely and talented ladies! They were especially wonderful when the morning of our wedding I broke out in a head to toe red rash (seriously) and they had to calm me down and still make me look presentable. It was raining all morning and any potential ‘Bridezilla Wet Weather Freakout’ was averted due to the distraction of the rash. It didn’t go away for 2 days but luckily you can’t (hardly!) see it in the photos.

We were living in Stanthorpe before our big move Northwards in search of warmer weather, and we already had a brilliant and creative photographer booked for our wedding – Cory Rossiter. We love Cory’s use of light, eye for detail and quirkiness and most of all the sweeping dramatic shots which we knew would be amazing in Maleny. Thank you Cory for agreeing to drive so many hours to capture our day!

Dad walked me down the aisle to a beautiful piece of music my grandfather used to play to me on his record player when I little – ‘The Flower Duet’ by Delibes from Lakme. Our grandparents are no longer with us, but in so many ways they were very present on our wedding day. Mat carried his grandfather’s pocket watch on the day as a token of remembrance.

Our ceremony was at the Little White Wedding Church in Maleny. Chandeliers, white Tiffany chairs… swoon. A dear friend of mine from university (whom I have known for nearly half my life) Kate Heffernan, was our amazing celebrant and her ability to be humorous yet meaningful began our day with laughter and tears! We’re so glad she asked us to take a moment to look around at everyone, the love and support from everyone was unforgettable.

My cousin’s adorable children Tahnee & Israel were our tiny attendants, and congrats to them for making it down the aisle! Mat’s father and my stepfather gave readings during the ceremony ‘Sonnet V’ Shakespeare “Live with me and be my love” and an exerpt from ‘The Prophet’ by Kahlil Gibran. As a surprise for Mat I gave hime a Certificate of Adoption for my three cats!

We included our mothers in a meaningful way in the ceremony as they handed us our rings on cushions hand sewn from same the French lace on my Henri Josef website gown. I had originally chosen a different (smaller!) style of dress, but then fell in love with Ireland. Champagne taffeta, tulle, lace…. I was in girly heaven. Our original theme was different as well, but once Ireland was in the picture our whole colour scheme became softer and more romantic. Definitely heavy and cumbersome ‘carry on’ luggage when we flew to the UK for the second wedding, but so worth it! Apologies to all the poor flight attendants who had to stow my big gown! My earrings and hairclip were from Fletcher & Grace, my new favourite shop!

My young nephew James, flew all the way from England for our big day, which was very special.

Our photographer Cory is an expert at dramatic images, so he turned the weather to his advantage and got some incredible shots. It was freezing though, and for one set we were in a cow paddock and when I tried to crouch down and pull my huge dress up around my shoulders to keep warm, I nearly toppled into fresh cow leavings. Luckily my sister rescued me in the nick of time!

French lace cloths from Lovebird Weddings, wedding cake from Eden Cupcakes, ostrich feathers straight from the ostrich farm (thanks mum!).

Our reception venue changed hands only a couple of months before the wedding, which caused initial concern but the new owners at Weddings at Tiffany’s were incredible. The venue got a lovely facelift and we were promised Tiffany chairs and crystal candelabras – unfortunately they were all stuck in customs for weeks, and were only released 2 days before the wedding. Our mums were at the venue the day before helping assemble the candelabras…. they were so worth it. It was a magical venue, from the attentive staff, to the chandeliers, Tiffany chairs and the incredible views of the Glasshouse Mountains.

Mat’s speech was hands down the funniest speech in the history of the world (with Darren’s a close second), I cried my makeup off laughing and actually tore my dress bodice from laughing so hard! A good friend of my mother’s (Mick from EMG) sang our first dance song “For Once in My Life” while everyone waved sparklers around us. My new husband dedicated a Rod Stewart number to me later in the night (which was a surprise!!) and followed it up with a special performance of Duelling Banjos with his brother.

Photography by Cory Rossiter

Ms Gingham says: I just love the talent in Australia… what a beautiful wedding story told with such finesse by the images. Gorgeous!

Athena says “Thirty-something from the Sunshine Coast, newly married to a talented & passionate Pommie chef, parents to 3 cats. Soon to start househunting for our forever family home, where I am planning to build my very own Secret Garden complete with peacocks. (Mat is more realistic and just wants a media room).”