Kate and Kent

Every girl dreams of the day that she gets to put on a white dress – for me that was something I was lucky enough to witness nearly every weekend from the age of 15. I was immersed in the industry as a waitress and later function manager at some of the Dandenong Ranges’ most magnificent wedding venues. Back then my vision of what a ‘fairy tale’ wedding was going to look like was somewhat different to what we created for our special day late last year. Out went the hot pink gerberas, cumma bands, a massive bridal party and pristine reception venue. We wanted to create an event that was all about us. Ok, maybe not ‘we’; in true bride form, I ran with some of my own ideas and my incredible Mum’s vision. My fiance, Kent just said ‘yes’!

We are one of those new age couples who decided to start a family before exchanging vows. I think after being witness to so many weddings in the past, I started to become immune to the idea and even at one point said the big white wedding and marriage just wasn’t for me. But then that moment arose in my mind that every father deserves the honour to walk their daughter down the aisle, they dream of that day too, that special moment and the bond with my Dad was like no other. I couldn’t deny him that.


The morning that Kent popped that all important question, I had been out officiating a wedding the night before and was craving for a extra few minutes before we had to start the day again. In true form, Harry (our 2 year old little boy) was out of bed ready to start the day at 7:00am. This particular morning Kent decided that he would go and get him and as this was such a rare occurrence in our household, I took the liberty to keep my eyes closed for that extra few minutes.

After a while I was wondering what they were up to, when Harry came running in with a sign saying ‘Mummy Say Yes’… I thought I was saying yes to a ‘baby chino’ and a walk to the shops… but when Kent jumped up onto the bed too, opened a little black box with the most magnificent ring shining back at me, I soon realized that this was far more than going for a morning coffee!  It was that moment that I never really thought was ever going to happen to me!

From the moment Kent proposed my um and dad were onto it. They started planning, creating, collecting and restoring things for our DIT (doing it together) wedding. The best part being that we were going to hold it at our family home, which happens to also be The Log Cabin Ranch Camp and Conference Centre in the magical Dandenong Ranges. With accommodation for 70 guests and every family function being such a hit in the past, our wedding was simply going to be no different. A celebration that would last the entire weekend.

Kent still laughs as he thinks I had the whole wedding planned within a few hours. True to form and being immersed in the industry I was quick to get the call out to a few friends. I had no trouble in organising the most incredible suppliers. I went straight to my list of which some people I had known since I was waitressing weddings at the local reception venues and ensured that they were all available on a particular date in December. It had to be December as all my family members had previously said ‘I do’ in that month of the year, so we were considering it an omen for a successful marriage too. I also had to have a free weekend from marrying other couples so December just worked, it was meant to be! Saturday 13th December 2014. Or if you wrote it overseas it would look like 12.13.14!

The first call I made was to photographer, Anitra Wells. She has been my best friend since we took a high school trip around America. She just gets the lighting ‘right’, there are none of those posed awkward photos which makes couple look so staged. Anitra captures the raw emotion, just as it is on the day and it was exactly the style we were wanting. Lucky for us, Anitra said ‘Yes’ and well, the rest just simply went together like an easy jigsaw puzzle.


As Kent and I decided on just having Harry as part of our bridal party, we could go to town so to speak with Kent’s suit. How can you pass up an opportunity for a cold ‘Stella’ beer whilst you experience the royal treatment of being measured and styled buy such a funky bunch of guys and girls at Briggins. Kent chose to wear a subtle blue check suit with a custom-made waist coat. Being December and the style of wedding, Kent wanted to have the option of taking his jacket off later in the night but still being able to carry on with the formal element. (Many a joke has been had in the past that Kent would be dressed in shorts, as after all that seems to be his trade mark, with many family members thinking he doesn’t own a pair of long pants!)


Our button holes were made by my gorgeous Mum from the peacock feathers we had collected from our bird aviary over the years. I also bought a tie bar from 2 Sisters Hand Crafted in Canada with Kent’s initials engraved into it and a message on the inside. Dad also was given a personalised tie bar with a message on the back ‘love you Dad xx’. Kent’s cufflinks were ones which I had made for his 30th birthday; they were custom-made with Harry’s foot and hand prints.



When it came to choosing my dress, well you could say I have seen my fair share in the past. I just wanted something to fit me well, and the only prerequisite was that I had to be able to dance in it! After several visits with Mum, my sister in law and best friends it was obvious which dress was for me! From Kylie J Bridal,  it was perfectly flattering  with a little sparkle and one strap – and I could move around in it! I wasn’t so keen on wearing a veil, but I wanted the WOW factor and the only way I was going to achieve that was a visit to the amazing Jeanette Marree Jewellery in High Street Armadale. A funky, sparkly head band was simply the perfect compliment to my dress and it was just me!





My flowers had a sentimental element to them. When I was a little girl and I would visit my Great Grandma’s house in Essendon, I remember her gigantic hydrangea bushes. They were the most beautiful blue you had ever seen. Mum and Dad had a few hydrangea plants dotted in and around the property and the ones right by the hall were going to be just perfect in a bouquet. So the florist, Emma, who was also a close family friend from Lakeside Flowers in Monbulk, drove around, picked the best ones and returned the next day with the most stunning arrangement tied together with hessian burlap.


In relation to ‘something borrowed’ or restored, we had every little detail covered with some kind of meaning. Dad went to work on an outside bar area which he named the ‘Rams’ Head Baa’ decked out with things from my late Pa who was a wool buyer back in the day.


My Great Grandma used to say ‘something to wet your whistle’ when serving everyone a drink at our family beach house in Sorrento so it was only fitting to have that quote on the cocktail bar for pre dinner drinks! We made a family tree as guests arrived and walked up the driveway too; old photo frames hung literally from gum trees; all the family was there in black and white prints!


There was a side table set up at the front of the aisle with a sign saying ‘Somewhere over the rainbow our loved ones are watching’, as at my late Pa’s funeral it became our family anthem when thinking how he was such an incredible man to us all. The Log Cabin Ranch sign which hung in between two stunning doors shaped the entrance to our aisle and that exact sign was the original sign from over 50 years ago.


We had old suitcases stacked up, one of which was Dad’s from when he was a little boy and as part of the ceremony, we conducted a sand ceremony using sand from our beach house and dirt from the gardens from both families. Our vows were etched into wood, a ring box was custom-made as well as a special page-boy certificate. Harry made use of an old bird’s nest which he found a few months prior to place our rings in when it came time to hand them over during the ceremony.


Dad owning his very own white MGA classic car was clearly always going to feature in my wedding day. We had many a fond memory cruising in and around the hills on a sunny afternoon. Living on a dirt road we decided that we wouldn’t go on the extended version of a trip around the block, so when the music was cued we drove down the front drive and around to the back drive just in time for the perfect part of the music to make that extra special entrance.



As our song choice was one that every bride was choosing, I needed it to be different and even after my cousin declined on many occasions before to sing at family weddings, I tried my luck and couldn’t believe it when she agreed to sing especially for us. Living in Tasmania it could have been a mammoth task, yet Tess seemed to take it all in her stride and within a few months of asking her she had teamed up with my other cousin who was to play the guitar and were exchanging voice memos on their phones until they thought they had nailed it.

Nailed it was exactly what they did and even at the last minute they seemed to manage to include one more musician to play the violin. John Legend may have been playing at a winery earlier that day, close by in the Yarra Valley, but he would have been hard pressed to trump our little band. ‘All of Me’ sounded simply magical! Pink’s latest song, ‘You and Me’ was hard to find the guitar chords to as it was newly released, so Tess just learnt that by listening to it and with that amazing talent she sang the most incredible cover to that song too.

But the talent for musicians didn’t finish there. Guests were treated to the sounds of the bagpipes as they meandered up the sunny drive way. Later that night the sounds of the bagpipes played by my cousin Andy echoed throughout the property once again as Dad and I did a not so traditional father daughter dance to ‘You’re the Voice’ by John Farnham. Pete Miller and Co. band played a great cover accompanied by our percussionist Dekdrum.


My best friend who I had met whilst studying Primary Teaching at university read the quirky little book – ‘Everything I Need To Know I Learnt From A Little Golden Book’, even sitting out the front on a chair as she would when she teaches her Prep grade.


We had a close friend of ours tell our story and vowed to tell the abridged version later on that night for any keen listeners. Our celebrant was a college and now close friend of mine, Shannon Jeans from Cloud 9 Celebrations. She had the tough job of conducting the ceremony for a fellow celebrant and as a true professional took it all in here stride. It was such a perfect ceremony. No ‘mushy stuff’ and in true ‘never work with animals or children’ style, Harry  spent most of the ceremony running off into the distance after his cousins. Shannon was simply perfect for us and I am just so glad she was able to be a part of our special day.

As for our cake, who could leave out the cake from Cake by Buds n Roses …. I had an issue to tell you the truth, why do people have to serve cake on their wedding day? Well Mum researched why and displayed it right next to the cake in a rustic little frame. Did I mention that it had peppermint crisps in the middle of the chocolate ganache?


The Log Cabin Ranch, my family home, was simply sparkling. Festoon lights lit the outside of the hall and with such a balmy night, speeches were held on the veranda over looking our 140 guests.



We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day. My incredible parents turned our school camp into a wedding venue in under 12 months. That ‘fairy tale’ that I had always dreamed about came true. It simply couldn’t have been more perfect if we tried.




This incredible event will be forever etched in our memory. Thank goodness we have the memories captured on film by the ever so talented Glen from Directors Edge. I approached Glen a few weeks before our wedding day to do something a little random. You see Kent and I were expecting our second bundle of joy and we wanted to announce this to our close family the morning of the wedding. Glen arrived, cards were written and tears were shed as Glen filmed the whole unveiling of us announcing our new addition to our little family. The footage in simply priceless!

My incredible Dad passed away suddenly four months after our wedding. Both Kent and I are so incredibly grateful that we made the decision to hold our special day at the family home. We would love to dedicate these photographs and special words to him (vale Garry Haley).





Swirl divider

Ms Chinoiserie Says: Congratulations Kate and Kent; such a beautiful, heartfelt wedding with so many sentimental touches. And how special that you were able to share it with your Dad.

About Kate: Hi, My Name is Kate and I LOVE LOVE LOVE weddings. I have been in the industry for around 17 years now. Firstly as a waitress, then function co-ordinator, manager and now I am a civil marriage celebrant. I was lucky enough to experience my own wedding last December and I would love to share it as we created the best day at my parents’ property in the Dandenong Ranges.