Amanda & Harry
Some things in life don’t go as planned, but that’s the beauty in them. For Amanda and Harry, many parts weren’t quite as ‘little girl’ Amanda had dreamt. There were loved ones not present, there was an emergency room proposal trip. But somehow, and to Amanda and Harry’s credit, this became part of their story. They honoured the people who meant so much to them throughout their lives, they honoured their own stories, and they honoured their love together. And they did it all in the most whimsical of places – Sydney’s own Taronga Centre! What could be more Australian (hat tip to The Australia issue) than to say “I Do” with a backdrop so iconic? Luckily for us, Kiri Shay Photography joined the party, so we can share every beautiful moment with you.
After meeting on Tinder, the proposal happened with the blessing of someone very important. Handing this story over to Amanda to share “After asking my Dads ‘permission’ in his final days (he died three days later) Harry took me to where we went on our very first ‘holiday’ together, Hyams Beach.
He even went to the effort to rent out the same exact room we had stayed in 3 years prior. After cooking me pancakes (my favourite) he got down on one knee and popped the question. Celebrations began instantly (after me asking if he was sure 100 times, and confirming he would still love me when I got old and wrinkly). Within 20 mins of him popping the question my ring finger started to throb a little, thinking it was from all the excitement I asked if I could take it off, the only issue was … it was stuck! 8 hours later, after YouTubing ’emergency ring removal’, using oil, shampoo, ice, elevation, multiple calls to the jeweller and numerous tears we ended up in Emergency (an hour drive from where we were!). I had lost all feeling in my finger, it had gone firm and turned blue – paramedics cut it off. Long story short, after the ring needing to be remade 3 times, it is now the perfect size!!”
The bride found her amazing Costarellos gown at “The Bridal Atelier.” I wore my absolute dream dress. Being bigger than the ‘average’ bride I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to find ‘the one’. The moment I saw my dress I fell in love – with the help from the wonderful girls at The Bridal Atelier in Double Bay, Sydney – my dress was custom made in Greece by Costarello’s and couriered to Australia. I loved it more every time I saw it, and still, do to this day! My mum passed away when I was 18, and as many girls, I had imagined buying my wedding dress since I was a little girl. Not having my Mum there was really difficult, but am very lucky to have a big sister who not only stepped up but went over and beyond in every aspect. I wore my sister’s veil and wedding earrings, and although we had very different styles worked perfectly for both our dresses. My ‘unique’ touch was leopard print shoes, which I adored, and let me dance all night long!”
As with everything on this day, even the accessories were carefully considered and family orientated. “My sister got married a couple of years ago – and for her wedding, I used some special parts of our Mum’s wedding dress to make her a garter. My sister then ‘gifted’ this to me for my wedding day – this will absolutely become a little tradition I hope we can continue with our future kids. My mother-in-law also gave me a tiny baby bonnet that Harry was gifted when he was born, I kept this in my clutch for the entire day, which again we have kept as a special token.”
The bridesmaids, who dressed in bright gowns from Camilla, carried white bouquets designed by Ellebore. Amanda explaining “We were lucky enough to have a friend who is an incredible florist, Maddy the creative genius at Ellebore. All I knew was that I wanted ‘white with some greenery’, and knowing nothing about flowers I entrusted Maddy with the rest. Over the 12 months leading into the wedding, I would tag Maddy in Instagram ‘inspo’ when I saw things I liked and she just rolled with it. The moment Maddy delivered the flowers on the morning of the wedding, resulted in the first ‘tears’ of the day – they were perfect in every way.”
Amanda has a particular love of animals, so the couple knew their dream venue had to be the Taronga Centre at Taronga Zoo. Amanda explaining “I adore animals, particularly giraffes, so when the Zoo became an option it was a no brainer. Thankfully Harry goes by the saying ‘happy wife, happy life’, so embraced the Zoo!”
Amanda took plenty of care to honour her parents throughout the day, starting with reserved seating. She shares “I got custom ‘reserved seating’ signs for my Mum and Dad which were placed front and centre at our ceremony (created by Signed By Row.) It was important for me to not focus on the fact they weren’t there, but that their presence was acknowledged not only by us but by our guests too. I kept these signs as a little token of the day.”
The bride walked down the aisle with her cousin to an acoustic song performed by Zoe Vrachnas. She shares “I walked down the aisle to an acoustic version of ‘You Are My Sunshine’, sung by Zoes. This song was chosen for a very sentimental reason – with it being sung at moments of pure pain, sadness and happiness through our relationship. In my Dad’s absence, my cousin Henry walked me down the aisle – and he couldn’t have been a more perfect fit.”
Amanda and Harry chose sunset for their ceremony, which was performed by Amanda Knapton. The bride telling “Our ceremony was held in the bird amphitheatre in Taronga Zoo, which looks out over Sydney Harbour. Starting at 4.45 pm we had one of the most beautiful sunsets Sydney has ever seen, which I truly believe was a wedding gift from my Mum and Dad. I didn’t want our ceremony to focus on the fact my Mum and Dad couldn’t be there, so we made it light-hearted and fun. We included a special poem reading ‘Oh, The Places You’ll Go – Dr Seuss’.”
Amanda and Harry adored working with their wedding photographer. “As I am sure you can sense, and see from the photos included, Kiri from Kiri Shay Photography was vital to our special day. Kiri went over and beyond from the moment I reached out 12 months prior, and I can’t thank her enough for capturing our special day in the most perfect way. Kiri was with us for 12 hours, from the moment I put my dress on, to changing locations to see Harry arrive at the ceremony to being in the middle of the dance floor at 11 pm – Kiri was there. Sunlight wasn’t in our favour, and she knew capturing some moments with the animals was really important to me, and Kiri made it happen. I hope Kiri will be there to capture many happy moments in the future, and I truly cannot recommend her enough.”
“It was so special having our wedding at Taronga Zoo, particularly the moment where we were having photos with giraffes and elephants as the sun set – a dream come true!” remembers the bride.
The animal theme carried through to the sit-down reception, thanks to a little handiwork by bride. “I spray painted 150 animal figurines gold! Such a mammoth effort, but worth every second. Pinterest gave me the idea, and I was so happy with the final result! Each guest had an animal at their table setting and it was a fun way to decorate our tables keeping in theme.”
Amanda and Harry commissioned Mastello Creations to create a zoo inspired wedding cake, complete with giraffe wedding cake topper.
Walking into their reception? One of Amanda’s very favourite memories. “As you can probably sense, animals were a key theme… our entry song to the reception was ‘Hakuna Matata – The Lion King’, and I have a memory of us walking in and dancing, with ALL our guests singing along at the top of their lungs. I honestly just got goosebumps writing about it, a very surreal moment, walking in as Mrs Morton with my sister, best friends and husband dancing and singing to a childhood favourite song.”
The bride’s sister was a big support to Amanda throughout not just the day, but the planning and even had a little extra guest. “My sister being 6 months pregnant with her first baby, knowing my little nephew was there (even in her belly) was incredibly special.”
Nights dancing in the kitchen, led to the couple choosing a very favourite song for their first dance, tells the bride. “Our first dance was to “Die a Happy Man” by Thomas Rhett’. Harry is a country music lover and introduced me to this song very early into our relationship. We had picked this song before we were engaged and will be forever our song. We didn’t get dance lessons (Harry refused much to my disappointment!!) but practised our twirls and dips in our kitchen in the months leading up to it!”
A big congratulations to you both Amanda and Harry! Thank you for sharing such a beautiful story with us. Thank you also to Kiri Shay Photography for today’s beautiful imagery!