Nadine & Ben

It was all about the couple’s love of all things retro for Nadine and Ben’s wedding. The bride donned a customised vintage gown and surprised her groom with an outfit switch for the ceremony where they walked in together. This walk was not unlike the decisions they made for their wedding: made together, considered and a complete reflection of who they are. With Keepsake Photography behind the camera, every moment – from their very special ceremony guest to the surprise reception swing – was beautifully captured for these two. It was a day that was, in the bride’s words, “themed around of the plenty of food, wine and socialising, which we certainly achieved! The reception was really relaxed because of that, which I was really happy about.”

After meeting at a mutual friend’s New Year’s Eve party, where Ben wooed Nadine with his talkative, loud personality, the groom proposed over a surprise picnic at one of the bride’s favourite spots at the National Arboretum’s Cork Oak Forest.

The day was kick started with plenty of DIY! Nadine explains, “Like many couples getting married, we had a lot of plans for DIY elements at the beginning of the engagement that were quickly hurled out the window once crunch time came. The things we stuck with were the ‘unplugged ceremony’ letterboard sign, providing most of the table decorations (as I went on a candle binge buying craze in the early weeks), making ribbon wands for the recessional and making the seating chart by myself in Photoshop, which I am still really proud of. I also taught my sister to do my hair in a vintage style. She’s a wedding hair stylist by trade (The Studio 01) but her day-to-day features a lot of beachy waves and messy buns as she’s based on the coast, so my request was something a bit different to her usual stylings. We pulled it off in the end, and I’m glad it worked out.”

Ben had his suit custom made, with a little retro style by InStitchu. His groomsmen each wore a suit in their own personal style so they each felt comfortable.

Nadine and Ben chose to meet before their ceremony for a first look. “By far our favourite photo of the day is Benjamin and me in a candid moment during our First Look photos. He’s talking to me and I’m laughing, and we both look so happy. I think at that moment we were so excited to see each other and have the ceremony to look forward to. Before he saw me, we were both pretty nervous, but having that time beforehand to enjoy each other’s company was really refreshing,” tells Nadine.

The bride wore a tea-length gown by Alfred Angelo that she customised to suit her own style. She tells, “My dress was a tea length tulle and lace dress inspired by bridal gowns of the early 1960’s. It was originally a strapless Alfred Angelo dress, but I had a seamstress add a top with sleeves made out of matching lace I found on Etsy. It was really hard finding what I wanted off the rack in Australia, so I had to get creative.

It was really important to me that I had sleeves for our outdoor ceremony, and a shorter skirt for dancing later! I wore a floor length, wine-coloured overskirt for the ceremony, as I still wanted the drama of a train and a bit of colour. It was pretty heavy though, so that quickly got abandoned once the formalities were over. I had the skirt and the top custom made with a seamstress, which was a pretty stressful experience as I’m the kind of person who has things done a month in advance, but in the days leading up to the wedding I spent every night sitting in her sewing room watching her finish my dress, instead of spending it with family who had flown in from all over the country to be with us. If I had any advice for people getting custom garments for their wedding, it would be to sound out whether or not the seamstress or tailor has the same project management expectations as you do!”

Nadine’s bridesmaids wore red wine dresses from La Femme En Noir. “The bridesmaids wore a beautiful velvet dress by La Femme En Noir, an LA-based fashion label with goth and vintage-inspired clothes.” explains the bride. “I’ve never been into the chiffon bridesmaid look and I wanted the bridesmaids to look and feel super glamorous while also being really comfortable, and that dress feels like you’re wearing pyjamas! ”

Of their photographers, Nadine notes, “Daniel and Maria from Keepsake Photo were the best. It was so wonderful to work with them, and they were really accommodating of us. Neither Benjamin or I am big photo people, but on the wedding day, we hardly noticed they were there, and the photos were amazing. It was so lovely working with them both, and it felt really good to have my needs understood by them.”

Nadine and Ben chose to hold their wedding at Hotel Kurrajong in keeping with the vintage vibe of their day. “Everything started and finished at Hotel Kurrajong, which is a 1920’s art deco hotel. We spent the night before there and Benjamin got up and left for our house to get ready with the groomsmen, which made it so much easier to get ready in the morning for me and the bridesmaids. We had the ceremony in the courtyard garden followed by the cocktail hour before everyone moved into the reception in the ballroom, which meant everyone could catch a taxi to the venue and not have to worry about carpooling to other locations throughout the night. It saved a lot of time and made the whole event a lot more relaxing for everyone.”

For the ceremony, Nadine added a full cherry red overskirt to her look, meeting Ben at the top of the aisle. She tells, “Benjamin and I walked from opposite doors in the courtyard and met in the middle so we could walk down the aisle together as equal partners. We walked down the aisle to Elvis Presley’s ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’, as it was on high rotation when I first got a crush on him!”

Megan Bobos officiated the ceremony. Nadine remembers, “We wanted the ceremony to be a mix of a traditional religious ceremony while being modern and inclusive, as we’re both atheist but our families have long histories with Catholicism and the Church of England. Because I knew they’d never be comfortable with giving a speech at the reception, I asked my parents to read Neil Gaiman’s ‘All I Know About Love’, which caused a few people to catch feelings (myself included).”

“Our celebrant, Megan Bobos, was amazing. She was so on the ball from the start and wrote a beautiful ceremony that was moving, intelligent and funny in all the right amounts. There are plenty of things I would change if we had to plan the whole thing over again, but we absolutely would not budge on her, she was perfect!

Nadine and Ben ensured they included their favourite four legged friend. “Our dog, Maverick, was our enthusiastic ring bearer, and was led down the aisle by my childhood friend Alana, who then read Taylor Mali’s ‘Why Falling in Love is like Owning a Dog’. We exchanged vows by starting with an adapted version of the Church of England’s vows, omitting any parts about obeying husbands, of course! Both of us made three promises to each other to uphold for the rest of our marriage. Making those promises in front of our friends and family made them very real, and I’m so glad we did it.”

Nadine notes, “I planned on wearing my great grandmother’s crystal brooch, but in all the chaos of the morning I completely forgot it and left it sitting in the hotel room still in its box. My grandmother was very sweet though and slipped a horseshoe onto my arm before the formal portraits, so now I have this sentimental lucky charm in all my family photos. It’s an old Scottish tradition that you rarely see anymore, but it was so lovely of her to think of it and let me have that nod to our family’s heritage.”

Show Pony Events helped ensure the day went smoothly – even after plenty of mishaps! Nadine explains, “My favourite part of wedding planning was when it was over! I read so many forums and books before we started and I felt like I totally had it under control when we started. Two months into planning we had literally everything locked in, then it all just turned to custard. So much went wrong, I can’t begin to list it all, but we had to start over in a lot of areas.

I think the only part of wedding planning I really enjoyed was the time spent with Benjamin figuring out a plan to overcome all the issues we encountered. One thing that saved my sanity was talking to our event stylists, Show Pony. I originally went to them to hire chairs for the ceremony, but they stepped in and saved the day in so many ways. If you’re struggling with how you’ll cope with getting everything to fall into place on the day, outsource it to an event stylist because they were so much more affordable than I thought they’d be, and when 4:00 PM came around everything was in place all thanks to them.”

Nadine had always had her heart set on Moxom + Whitney to create the flowers for her wedding, even before she found the groom! She tells, “Before I had even started dating Benjamin I had already decided that Moxom + Whitney were going to do the flowers for my wedding. I loved their work so much, and working with Lou and Belinda was a dream. I told them I wanted to go for something in a deep red with vintage goth vibes, and they completely nailed it. I watched them set up the flowers on our arch from my hotel room, and when I went outside to thank them I burst into tears. Seeing them bring it all to life made me feel like the day was going to go just right, and I felt really confident in their work. Getting a cuddle from the team also helped!”

The speeches were an incredible highlight for the bride, who tells, “The groomsmen gave a speech which caused several of my relatives to come to me afterwards to ask if Benjamin was okay because they thought the speech was a bit rough. If anything they went a bit softer than I expected! It was really funny and very heartwarming. The highlight of the speech had to be the competition to see which guest could imitate Benjamin’s trademark raucous laughter the best. I was too busy cackling at everyone else to participate myself, but the winner was a very deserving one. They even had a little medal made up, which was very thoughtful!”

Nadine and Ben enlisted help to make sure that their first dance was one to remember with lessons from the Canberra Swing Katz. “We both really wanted the first dance, as we felt it makes for a good start to the party. We spent weeks learning how to swing dance with Canberra Swing Katz, who could not have been more amazing and patient with all of our left feet. We danced to Queen’s ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’, as it’s sweet but fun, and we figured there’d be enough sappy moments without a slow jam getting involved. We were originally going to do a fake out by starting the first few seconds of our dance to Ben Fold’s ‘The Luckiest’, but my nerves were way too high so I asked the DJ to cut it as we walked onto the floor and just skip to the main event. I’m glad that we did, we were dancing for just the right amount of time before everyone else wanted to join in.”

Congratulations on your marriage Nadine and Ben! Thank you for sharing your day with us. Thank you to Keepsake Photography for sharing today’s beautiful images.