It was a slow burn for Monica and Ken, on the path to falling in love. “We met through mutual friends and became friends ourselves for a few years, gradually spending more and more time together until we realised we get on pretty well!” explains Monica. “It took a while before I was convinced to give a relationship a try (I was very happily single) but it was the best decision because I got to marry my best friend!”

Bride Monica, who also happens to be a wedding photographer (Monica Defendi) had a very clear vision in mind for the wedding day, enlisting Nat of We Are All Stardust to capture a beautiful winter’s day that moved from a traditional Chinese tea ceremony to a classic church ceremony, to a modern warehouse reception. Each step? Filled with moments, filled with details that beautifully reflected not just Monica and Ken’s cultural heritage, but their love together. As the sign that decorated their reception so beautifully put it, “Woo Hoo!”.

It was a beautiful way to celebrate Ken’s romantic beachside proposal, of which Monica shares “Ken suggested a quick camping getaway down south and on the last day surprised me with a beautiful ring at the beach.”

The day kicked off with a traditional Chinese tea ceremony, which of course, is all about the colour red, Monica finding a beautiful red lace gown at Forever New. “I had a red dress for the tea ceremony which I found my chance on a sale rack at Forever New! It was way too big for me, but my sister did an incredible job taking it in and I loved the fit. It was the perfect mix of traditional/modern for the ceremony.”

The bride and groom opted out of a traditional wedding party, noting “We have so many wonderful friends, and I have 3 sisters, so it seemed a little unfair to pick favourites! We didn’t have a traditional ‘bridal party’ but a few of Ken’s closest friends came along to play Chinese door games in the morning, organised by my friends and sisters. My girlfriends all still came along in the morning to help me get ready – It’s handy when one is a talented hairdresser and another is a skilled makeup artist!!! They all just wore whatever they wanted to wear.”

For the church wedding, Monica found her modern gown at Revolve, but first? She custom-designed her own gold wedding shoes! Telling  “I couldn’t find anything remotely close to what I imagined, so although it was a bit of a splurge, I created my custom shoes online through Shoes of Prey (…little did I know they’d soon close! I must have gotten in just in time!) They were so comfy and I got to design them which was fun, and they even stamped our wedding date in gold foil on the insole. I made shoes that would match the red dress as well as the white dress. It was a bit of a special touch! I’ll wear them again, they’re fun and glittery and not too wedding-y, I think.

After a couple of disappointing visits to some local bridal boutiques, I couldn’t bear the thought of walking into another shop and ended up looking online for a suitable dress instead. I’m usually a pretty standard size, and I chose a simple white dress from Revolve online, which had some stretch so it fit me right from the beginning. I then had some alterations made, to further simplify the dress, add a train, and take it up as I knew I wanted to wear flat shoes and to be comfortable all day. I borrowed my sister’s veil from her wedding.”

The groom donned a classic suit from Politix.

Monica walked down the aisle with her father to  “First Day of My Life” by Bright Eyes, sung live by Bernardine.

The couple’s niece and nephew acted as ringbearers on the day. “It was a touching moment when my nephew and Ken’s niece (who had only recently met as they flew in from over east for the wedding) held hands and came up together to deliver our rings to the priest. They were so cute and completely stole the moment!”

The ceremony, honoured tradition. “Our ceremony was a traditional Catholic ceremony, so we did want it to retain the sacred, traditional and festive atmosphere of a church wedding. You don’t really ‘personalise’ a catholic ceremony, but the music was all sung/piano, which was beautiful and a bit more personal than simply playing a recording, and we chose readings that we felt reflected our relationship and our mutual love for family. Our priest delivered a really lovely homily tailored to us and our relationship, with advice for us for the future, which was really nice!”

Monica and Ken chose the beautiful St Brigid’s Church, Northbridge for their ceremony, the bride telling “We chose Saint Brigid’s Church in Northbridge for our wedding ceremony. It was the same church my parents got married at in 1986, which is a bit special! I was also baptised there when I was a baby!”

You might think it would be tricky for a photographer to be happy with their wedding photos, but Monica? She and Ken were over the moon! She explains “Everyone asked me if it was hard to pick a photographer (being a photographer myself), turned out it was a super easy decision! We booked in Nat from We Are All Stardust pretty early on (probably third after church and reception venues). I’ve always loved Nat’s work because of her ability to capture true and authentic moments, and she oozes creativity. I barely noticed her all day, and just trusted her to do her thing (which she kicks butt at doing).”

Monica adored the work of her chosen floral designer Michelle Mok, telling “I had all but given up with florists until a chance meeting with Michelle Mok (Michelle Mok Creates) at an industry event just a couple of months before the wedding. She’s friendly and easygoing, and she was the first florist who I spoke with who genuinely listened to my ideas and then created the most incredible floral installations that far exceeded even what I could have imagined! She also managed to keep it within budget somehow! I was impressed with the outcome, she transformed the church and the warehouse in the most epic wonderland. She’s a superhuman ninja, so if you’re lucky enough to have her for your wedding – you’re in good hands!”

In keeping with the modern vibes for the ay, Monica and Ken wanted a modern space for their reception, enter Locally Crafted. Monica explaining “For our reception, we just wanted a big space that we could be free to do what wanted with! Locally Crafted was the perfect space – it was spacious, clean and had a bit of a ‘warehouse’ vibe, but without being too grungy, if that makes sense. It’s really well presented with no ‘ugly bits’ that you need to hide. Just really clean, simple and ready to decorate! Onkie was also just so easy and friendly to deal with and really went above and beyond for us!”

The newlyweds entered the reception to a traditional lion dance, performed by Lion Dance Troupe. Monica noting “The Lion Dance entry at the reception was really fun and definitely got the party started! Ken was a bit hesitant to have them at first but he’s glad I pushed for it, because seeing the reaction on our family and friends’ faces with us entering the room to the loud banging of drums and the lions following us in, it was priceless! Definitely a highlight. Ken’s mum was really moved by it, and thanked us so much for including this tradition into our day!”

A flower-filled photo booth by Little Wooden Booth Co. was one of Monica and  Ken’s favourite parts of the reception. “We may be biased, but it’s the best photo booth in Perth! We even had one of them (we had two) set up for a low and wide lounge setting which our guests LOVED and we got so many amazing photos of all our guests enjoying themselves there.”

Lovers of tea, Monica and Ken chose The Tea Booth to serve delicious treats to their guests all night, telling  “Our guests LOVED the option of having a yummy tea (hot or cold spritzer) at our reception, all her blends are ridiculously good and her little booth set up is SO CUTE.”

The fun modern details were a result of the couple’s family and friends all pitching in, explains Monica. “Our amazing friends made us an LED neon party sign that said ‘Woo Hoo’, which was super awesome and we keep it at our house now. My father-in-law made our gigantic cake stand, we bought second-hand couches, and my mother-in-law made all of the table runners and napkins. Lots of friends all helped out the day before to set up the venue – Ken and his friends strung up the lights, and the rest of us set out the tables, including lots of fresh greenery we ‘harvested’ from around the neighbourhood…”

The first dance? To “The Way I Am” by Ingrid Michaelson, the bride remarking “It was a beautiful song with lyrics that resonated with us. We are both terribly uncoordinated and don’t dance, so we attempted to learn a dance thanks to a recommendation by our friends, and took a few dances classes with Amanda from Chase Dance. She was incredibly patient and fun! We forgot most of it on the night, but nobody noticed and we had a lot of fun! Guests seemed impressed – haha!”

A big congratulations to you both Monica and Ken! Thank you for sharing your beautiful day with us and thank you to  We Are All Stardust for today’s beautiful images.