Laura and Joe

I have so many fond memories of our proposal! Joe’s family has a cabin at Port Fairy where he spent his summers as a child and where we would go during our little weekend getaways. We have a routine that we follow when we are there, and this weekend was no different – walk along the beach, into town, and back to the cabin. As we were about the leave for the beach Joe says he needs to “use the facilities” and heads to the public bathrooms while I wait at the cabin.

A short while passes yet I am non the wiser, and when he returns we head to the beach. As we get to the hill above the beach he stops me, thinking there is a snake at my feet and I start looking down. Frustrated by this, he turns me to the beach where he had written ” Marry Me” in the sand. I didn’t believe it was for me at first until he got down on one knee and pulled out a metal ring which he had filed down for two weeks. I instantly burst into tears and Joe had to remind me to give him an answer – of course it was yes!

Even before getting engaged I saw a Karen Willis Holmes dress on Pinterest and knew I had to try it on when the day came. A few months after our engagement there was an opportunity for my Mum, sister and I to meet up in Melbourne and go to a bridal fair, as well as go to an appointment at Karen Willis Holmes.

I first tried on my dream dress and I was quite underwhelmed by it. I then let my stylist pick a few others and after a while she showed me a sleek sequinned gown, “Aster”, which I instantly loved! It hugged all my curves and looked amazing on. However as it was my first appointment I decided to wait it out and maybe find something similar. Luckily I did, after months browsing closer to home and finding nothing, Karen Willis Holmes came out with an extended collection similar to “Aster” so I booked another appointment. This time I tried on “Fontanne” and knew I had to have it! The different patterns of beading was breathtaking and I loved how it glistened in the sun!

Joe originally proposed with a metal nut which he filed down to make a ring, unfortunately it only fitted half way down my finger. It is now kept in a picture frame with a photo of the proposal. Joe and I had discussed designing a ring together, but after a bit of research we found it difficult to find something we liked within our budget. Only a few days after our engagement I was Christmas shopping and walked past Micheal Hill Jewellery just to have a look, and after trying on a few, I tried on one last ring and I literally gasped out in the middle of the store at its beauty! I went home that afternoon to tell Joe I had found the one! He was a bit disappointed we didn’t get to design one together, but it was perfect!

Choosing flowers was always difficult for me as I never knew what was in season our what would cope in the hot weather! I wanted something simple and not too formal so I opted for white flowers and gum leaves to tie in with my “Modern Australian” theme. Luckily both my Mum and Aunt were florists so they used their supplier contacts to source great flowers for the day. I mostly used peonies, poppies, roses and lambs ear, with a combination of artificial flowers in aisle decorations and on our arbour.

I had my sister Megan as my only bridesmaid as I wanted to keep things simple. Megan wore a navy gown from Bariano which looked stunning on her. We only had one day to shop together and although we tried to stay away from navy in fear that it would be too “matchy- matchy” with the boys and our Mum, it ended up fitting the theme perfectly. On the day I presented her with an illustrated portrait of us from when we were little. Joe had his best friend Ben (Doddy) as his best man. He was a great help when it came to buying the suit, as I can be quite decisive yet Joe didn’t really care what he wore, so when Ben made a decision on a suit he liked which helped a lot.  The team at Connor were so great and patient with us and were happy for us to try endless combinations of shirts and suits.

Sherise Fleming was the only photographer we thought of. She went to school with my sister and I and have followed her photography career from the day she started. I loved the brightness and freshness that come from her photos and it fitted our style perfectly. Working with her was a dream, she was so easy to get along with and great at directing us and making us feel comfortable.

For my pre-wedding celebrations, my sister hosted a “Minute To Win It” bridal shower and it was the most fun I had in a long time! We played classic games of wedding ‘pictionary’, toilet paper bride and “how well do you know the bride” as well as some new hilarious games. The girls in my family can get quite competitive so it was great seeing them play against each other and egg each other on.

Our celebrant, Wendy Spalding was one of the best choices I made through our planning process. She was so friendly, bubbly and listened to everything we wanted for our ceremony. She went above and beyond to really make the day about our journey as a couple and not just about the marriage. Both of our families love the movie “Love Actually” so we included quotes from it in our vows, as well as walking down the aisle to “the PM’s Love Theme” and then greeting our family and friends to “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys.

Our ceremony had a lot of family touches included as well. Joe built our benches for our guests to sit on with included the names and wedding dates of our parents and siblings, which became a great keepsake for them at the end of the wedding. Joe also built our arbour which was hexagons to represent his Dad’s love of beekeeping. Joe’s Dad also gave us his honey for thank you gifts as well as an old beehive that we used as a card and gift box. It was the most perfect day.

Looking back on our wedding, here are my words of wisdom to help other brides-to-be:

  • Finding a dress consultant/stylist, is like finding a good hairdresser; if they won’t listen to what you want, get out and get out quickly. I once went to a well known bridal store in Melbourne, and after telling the assistant I wanted a beaded gown she gave me a few then started showing me what she thought was right and they were nothing like I had suggested – plain, lace, ballgown.
  • Ask as many people to help as you can, especially during the week of the wedding, as you never know what could happen and you could be unavailable to pick up items, finish writing signs etc. If you can, do hire a planner. If I could have afforded, I definitely would have. Joe was admitted to hospital with appendicitis and had surgery three days before our wedding, and as he was out of action, the family was all hands on deck. As I raced back and forth to the hospital between appointments, planning final details and communicating with family, I barely slept nor ate.
  • The week before the wedding do a meal plan and pack portable and quick breakfasts and lunches. The two days before the wedding I don’t think I sat down till after 9pm.
  • If you are providing anything yourself e.g. music, speakers, entertainment, have a back up as you never know what might fail on the day, despite testing it 100 times and multiple devices.

Ms Chinoiserie Says: Congratulations Laura and Joe – exchanging vows under the majestic tree by the lake was so special!