Edwina & Lawrence
Edwina and Lawrence’s beautiful Melbourne wedding cleverly brought two cultures (and two big families!) together. Below, Edwina shares the couple’s love story, their wedding planning process and journey, as well as how their dream day unfolded at venues Burnley Gardens and Half Acre. Capturing the delightful details and all the special moments? Tony Evans Photography.
I first set eyes on Lawrence at office orientation day. As a young, fresh graduate eager to impress, I was too busy ‘networking’ with others to notice Lawrence – one of sixteen other graduates in the cohort. It wasn’t until we were assigned to work on the same project and started spending more time together in regional Victoria that I observed the self-deprecating humour and calm confidence beneath the placid demeanour. A year on we started dating, and have since spent endless weeks exploring various cafes, restaurants, hiking trails, campsites and countries together.
Fast forward seven years, one morning we drove out to the Dandenong Ranges for a morning walk. As we completed the descent, he suddenly got down on one knee, pulled out a ring box (that was upside down) and asked if I wanted to marry him. I was too shocked to remember saying yes, but apparently I did say “Oui”!
Being a meticulous planner and an avid Etsy buyer and seller, I rejoiced at the opportunity to plan my dream wedding down to every last detail. The planning process started with a Pinterest board… and before long I had various Excel spreadsheets supported by a Powerpoint presentation to portray mood boards and detailed run sheets to our suppliers.
We wanted our wedding to reflect our personalities and our cultures, which pretty much ruled out all ballroom style reception venues. Another key constraint was that, him being Jewish and me being Chinese, we had big families. We wanted the rustic style but we did not want our friends and families to worry about travelling too far to get there. After two months of intensive research, we decided to go with Burnley Gardens (Richmond) for the ceremony and Half Acre (South Melbourne) for the reception – decisions that did not disappoint.
The hunt for the perfect wedding gown was possibly the hardest part of it all. In the months leading up to the wedding I had visited every single wedding dress shop in Melbourne. Just when I was about to give up and considered eloping, I went back to the first shop I visited (Raffaele Ciuca, Armadale) and there it was, staring back at me, my A-lined dress with a long train, the right amount of ruffles, and a bodice sewn in beads.
Our day started at the crack of dawn. My makeup artist Jane and hairstylist Tammy were both incredibly talented, professional and so, so lovely! They made my bridesmaids and I feel completely at ease, and things simply could not have gone more smoothly in the morning!
Meanwhile, the boys were getting things ready at Burnley Gardens as our guests slowly filed in. When I was sourcing for a florist, I did not know how to choose. There are so many experienced florists around Melbourne, that it can become difficult finding “the one”. One day I stumbled upon some Instagram feeds that belonged to a Geelong based florist, Lustre Blooms. The girls tirelessly communicated with me and answered my 10,000 questions prior to the wedding, and despite the early commute and long day to Melbourne, the girls at Lustre Blooms were so, so amazing. The bridal bouquets were absolutely breathtaking, and somehow matched the design on my wedding invitations! They did a great job styling the tables at the reception, and delivered all the requirements to a tee. If I had to choose a favourite supplier for the day, that choice would have to go to Lustre Blooms!
The ceremony that our celebrant Keren facilitated for us was wonderful. It was personalised, contemporary with a touch of humour, just the way we wanted! With the exchange of rings and breaking of glass, we were officially married.
In my cultural background, tea ceremonies are a common ritual aimed at paying respect to elders. Adamant on doing things our way, we set up the tea ceremony outdoors, under a canopy of trees and next to it a grazing station that allowed hungry guests to take a bite and sip wine while waiting for their turn to drink tea.
We chose Burnley Gardens because of the privacy it offers and the size of its beautifully manicured gardens. Apart from its awesome facilities (e.g. toilets and a spacious exam hall in case of a rainy day), Burnley Gardens also offer lots of gorgeous spots for post-wed photography with the bridal party.
Tony Evans, our wedding photographer was amazing at spotting all the sweet spots and just knew what to say to put us at ease in front of the camera. From Burnley Gardens we moved to Yarra Bend to take advantage of the rustic Australian landscape.
Whilst we had an incredible day, blessed with fantastic weather, the highlight of our day was definitely the reception at Half Acre.
After cocktails and canapés (which we joined in with our guests, there was no way we were gonna skip canapés!) we surprised many of our guests with a traditional Hora dance.
The Hora is an important part of Jewish weddings. People around the world may be familiar with the bride and groom being lifted up on a chair catching handkerchiefs but little do they know the level of chaos that goes on during Hora!
The absolutely mind-blowing Baker Boys Band pushed the atmosphere on the dance floor to a crescendo after 30 minutes of non-stop dancing. The work out was more intense than Zumba and many of our guests had to change their shirts!
As for table setting, most of the items were designed and hand made by me. The candles and tea lights were sourced from a little boutique gift shop at The Glen. Place cards were a bulk buy of plastic toy animals from thrift shops, spray painted in gold and subsequently sawed by hand (this took months of hard work, mostly by dad!).
Table numbers were floating frames bought from Target, filled with patterns of compressed flowers and fallen leaves (sorry neighbours!). Finally our bonboniere was little jars of dukkah that we had cooked up following a recipe from our favourite middle eastern chef, Yottam Ottolenghi. Content and proud with the way the table were set, I know that months of Pinterest surfing had paid off…
Apart from designing and printing the welcome sign, and printing it onto a giant foam board from Vistaprint, I had also turned a little “green house” bought from Ikea into a wishing well using decals bought on Etsy. I had also made a guest book, which was effectively a scratch book filled with photos of our holidays together.
We did not want to put our friends through the stress of public speaking, but our parents speech more than made up for the lack of embarrassing stories retold by friends. My dad’s speech, whilst 12 minutes in length, captured the hearts and minds of our guests and had all 190 guests folded with laughter. Even the Half Acre security guards later congratulated him on his speech!
Coming back from a quick sunset photoshoot, it was time to have cake. Our wedding cake was hand made by my mum and took eight months to perfect. It was lemon poppy seeds on the inside, and delicious icing on the outside. Mum had hand peeled over 100 lemons (thanks to lemon season and friends who grew lemons) in the trial and error process, just to make sure that the final product would be perfect. Of course, Mum exceeded all expectations, and with help from Lawrence’s Aunt Barbara who is a professional cake maker to decorate our cake, the wedding cake was a much discussed feature of our day.
Years before Lawrence proposed, we went through a phase where we learnt to dance salsa. After months of practice at the Balwyn Rio Dance Studio, we danced to Billy Joel’s ‘Just the Way You Are’. As the music stopped, the tunes were replaced by ‘Time of My Life’ (Dirty Dancing theme song). It’s safe to say that we nailed that one, and will probably never dance in front of such a big audience ever again!
Even though half our guests rocked the dance floor, the other half preferred other activities, such as the photobooth. Our photobooth man Jimbo (of Jimbo’s Amazing Photobooth) had awesome quality props and photos that came out super high quality. After the wedding I had so many friends enquire about Jimbo!
They say time flies when you’re having fun. By the time 11pm crept up on us, many bottles of champagne and Coffee Patron have been had. Songs by Whitney Houston, Marvin Gaye, Pharrell Williams had filled the cathedral ceilings of Half Acre, and everybody had had a good feed. I do not recall exactly how we got home, but I remember thinking that we had the best day ever, and that if we could, we would do it all over again… but only if we get to do this again with each other.
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