When Amy and Ben set out to plan their bright and fun Perth wedding, they knew from the get-go they wanted it to be different. “I think our mantra became that it was a big party, that we happened to get married at.” They tell “As long as people had a good time we would be happy. We wanted some wedding tropes but didn’t want it to be super traditional.”
The couple ditched flowers, replacing them with pom-poms and Lego, they added balloons and disco balls, they carried through their love of all things celestial and they did it all at their favourite, local BBQ restaurant inviting photographer Monica Cugnier Photography along for the night. Says Amy “I had visions of a night wedding under the stars. We both love colours like blues, pinks and purples (my hair is blue and purple), there would be string lights and neon at the venue, and from there weirdly enough an abstract ‘space/galaxy’ theme emerged, as long as we picked things that we felt fit that vague theme we knew it could go together; it steamrolled from there.”
The couple first met, when Ben became friends with Amy’s brother during high school. Ben sharing “I went to high school with Amy’s brother Jarrad. While they were both still living at home I went to pick Jarrad up to go somewhere. Jarrad pointed to Amy, who was on the couch in the living room and said ‘that’s Amy’. She waved and said ‘Hi!’ and I thought ‘Oh… she’s cute…’.” Amy continues “Years later my brother had a 21st birthday party that was space-themed. She wore a Buzz Lightyear Costume, he was dressed as a Milky Way, and the rest is history.”
And the proposal? Well, Ben decided Christmas 2019 was the perfect time. “For Christmas 2019, we opened each other’s presents a few days early because we were going on a cruise. Amy got us matching nightgowns and nightcaps. I got Amy a projector because she wanted to be able to project the tv onto the ceiling above our bed. She opened it and I offered to set it up and make sure it all worked. But I had planted a video file on the projector. “Oh this must be a test video or something” and I played it. It was a video I recorded of myself giving a little speech about our relationship and how I felt. Then when the video was over I had the ring ready and asked the question. Says Amy “I had no clue what was coming. None at all. It was such a surprise. I had suggested that we wear our matching pyjamas and watch a movie wearing them. We got engaged in our bed, wearing matching pyjamas!”
Amy fell in love with the designer of her gown, ILKA, long before weddings were even on her mind. “Years ago, I saw the dress on Instagram, it was the wedding dress of a co-founder of a local fashion design studio called ILKA. It was love at first sight. At the time I started looking at dresses they were putting out bridesmaid collections, but no mention of weddings….
I started going to stores and looking around but couldn’t get the dress out of my mind. I decided to send them an email and just put it out there and ask if they could make it for me. And they said YES! It was an incredible experience getting to see it made, Erin and Kate were amazing, every step of the way checking in to make sure it was what I wanted. I’m so excited to see they have since put out a wedding collection and ‘my’ dress is in it! My “something blue” was my shoes (from Mime et Moi), these amazing shoes have interchangeable heels, so had a high block heel for the ceremony but then could make their flats for the reception!”
The bride carried pom poms! Says Amy “I did not have any ‘real’ flowers, because I am weird and I don’t like them. I made my pompom bouquets, with many many draft attempts. I love them. They are unique, match the theme colours and I get to keep them forever!”
What did these two love most about their day? “Our vows are so special. Writing them together (breaking the rules!) and making each other laugh. Picking the music together as well, Amy’s phone was plugged into the stereo system in a backroom to play our playlist. We didn’t think it through, it meant we couldn’t leave until the wedding was over. We were planning to walk home but ended up getting a lift, it was that close, it was in our neighbourhood. Truly unique to us.”
Every single part of this day was carefully considered – right down to the bright yellow VW Kombi Amy arrived in. She shares “My Dad collects VW matchbox cars, he has a whole room dedicated to them, and I knew we needed to go to the wedding in a VW for Dad. We kept it a surprise for him. I found Kustard, a bright yellow smiley face VW bus. It was so much fun doing a little scenic route drive before the wedding.”
Ben’s look began with a dark blue suit from Marchesi. Amy explains”Ben wore a suit from Marchesi Menswear, it was dark blue (they were clear it’s not navy blue) with black labels.
We had more difficulty choosing a tie and pocket square; Ben wanted something bold but it was surprisingly hard to find. We went to a department store and the salesmen pointed out a mannequin with a similar suit and pastel pink tie, we never would have thought the light colour would work, but it gave us the idea to do a light purple tie. Ben found one online from The Tie Rack but a week before the wedding it still hadn’t arrived, so Ben bought a red tie! I was trying to maintain my composure, as it was not within the theme colours! But in a wedding day miracle, on the day of the wedding, a Saturday, the purple tie and pocket square got delivered! Ben also had little owl cufflinks from Calibre because I used to collect owl figurines.”
The couple met before their ceremony for a first look. “Because we didn’t want to have a gap between the ceremony and reception, we had photos before the ceremony, did a cute little first look and photos with the family at the park behind the venue, keeping with that local theme.”
Tell Amy & Ben “We knew having a good photographer was going to be important, as we can both be quite shy and awkward getting our photo taken and wanted a night wedding so needed a photographer comfortable with that.
We asked Eddie, our celebrant for a recommendation as we found it difficult to pick based on portfolios, we knew the ‘vibe’ of the photographer was going to be vital. He gave us Monica. What a bloody great recommendation! She was so warm, funny, enthusiastic, and energetic. We met and I knew she was the one about 10 seconds in, she had some fantastic candid night photos as well. Sold.”
“I was dreading planning” admits Amy. “I always thought I would just elope to avoid wedding planning. But once I started I loved it (hence why I did most of it, sorry Ben!). I found it a chance to be creative and celebrate how we are and what we love. My favourite part was all the times I just threw an idea out there to see what was possible (my dress, getting married at Frank’s) and it got met with enthusiasm.”
“People are happy to give you money if you ask for it” advises Ben when asked what he would say to couples yet to tie the knot. “We were nervous about approaching the idea of presents or a wishing well, we actually said no presents, but people wanted to and we ended up paying for our honeymoon with the funds. Amy added “Break the rules! Do whatever you want to do and don’t apologise for it. Even if it means your Mum might have to bring her plate.”
“Maybe a little cliché, but it’s true – just having most of our loved ones in one place, seeing them all together under 1 roof, and being able to do that, and having them notice and appreciate the little details that we did for them as well, so they could have a good time. I had a few people, who have married themselves, say it was the best wedding ever!”
Amy and Ben spend a lot of time together at the local restaurant Frank’s BBQ Texas Smokehouse, a venue close to their home. Never having done a wedding before, Amy and Ben took a punt and asked the restaurant whether they’d be up for hosting theirs. Luckily they were! “It was incredible. We weren’t sure what to expect, they don’t usually have plates, they serve their food on butcher’s paper and in a lunch style tray. My mother kept asking if there would be plates and I kept telling her no, I bought her a fancy gold plastic plate just in case.
But, they had gone above and beyond. I got a text from my brother before the wedding telling me that I wouldn’t believe what Frank was wearing (yes, THE Frank). All the staff were wearing a white button-down shirt when they usually wear red polos. They had plates, they had created a gorgeous food spread with flowers and lights and blackboard signs. I’m so grateful to them. Just having every step of the way be met with “sure, whatever you want”. “Can we have a spark machine that probably won’t burn down your restaurant?” “Sure!” “Can we have all these heavy picnic tables rearranged” “Sure!”
We originally were going to use their big outdoor space; at the venue they have picnic tables and string lights in this big alley that used to be a car yard. We had a backup plan in case it rained (and it did) to use their indoor and patio space as well. A backup plan to the rescue. I think it turned out better because it was so cosy and intimate but lively at the same time. The carving station was about 2-3m away from our ceremony. I could see it behind Ben’s head during the ceremony. It was awesome. I was told “the best smelling wedding ever”.”
Amy created floral centrepieces out of Lego to decorate the reception tables. “I found Lego floral sets online, I found a site that had them on sale and bought 10 of them. We had Lego assembling parties before the wedding to get some help with the assembly and divided the bouquets across all the tables. I got weirdly obsessed with trying to find the exact right vase and couldn’t. So I made them. The venue uses reuseable plastic cups and I had collected about 20 of them over the years, so sanded and painted them to use as flower vases.”
And of course, there were plenty of DIY touches! “I made the table runners from this adorable fabric from Spotlight, it is a navy faux velvet with little robots on it. I wanted navy velvet with some metallic, perfect!
I bought these circular clear cake stands from Kmart and filled them with pompoms, disco balls and little purple glitter fake tea lights from Kmart as well. They were Halloween decorations! To reduce waste there were 2 stands filled with all the yarn scraps, looks almost like pink/purple/blue clouds. The first thing I bought was these fairy light domes from Kmart as well, and I painted the bases silver and glued little disco balls to the tops as well to tie it all together. I just realised how much Kmart stuff we had!
I had such great feedback about the decorations, some of the guests asked to buy them to take home! I ended the night with cash stuffed down my dress! We also had board games and card games on the tables, we knew a few people wouldn’t know anyone else at the wedding and wanted to have icebreakers ready to go.”
Amy and Ben continued their offbeat, colourful and bright theme through to the reception, with the help of vendors like Epic Installs. Says Amy”A few days before the wedding I started getting nervous, I had this horrible feeling of “it can’t be this easy, something is wrong”. Turns out, nope, it was that easy! Jasmin from Epic Installs in particular got an anxious email from me, making sure everything was ok.
She was the one who suggested disco balls instead of flowers on the streamer wall display and we discussed colours and then like magic it all came together. The wall included a sign that says “Amy + Ben 4 EVA” and we got to keep it, it’s on our living room wall now. The streamer wall was originally going to be 2 pieces, one for the ceremony and another as a photo wall, but that change to the patio meant that they put them together and I was so grateful to them that they could roll with that change.”
The music was carefully chosen for these two, tell the newlyweds. “We all walked down the aisle. Boys first, then girls. We wanted Ben to have a grand entrance as well. First, we had a ‘bubble man’, instead of a flower girl/boy, our close friend Reece. Then my brother Jarrad, then Ben. The boys walked to “Come and Get Your Love”, by Redbone. We wanted to make sure everyone knew it was a ‘fun’ wedding straight away, and that we weren’t taking it too seriously. A bit of a strut moment.
Then it was the girl’s turn. Beth first and then I walked with my dad. We wanted some classic wedding tropes included and that was a special one, I have a fun Dad and in rehearsal, we skipped but I think we forgot to do that when the real-time came. Because of the last-minute change, there wasn’t a real aisle per se just a gap in the people. We walked to Iron & Wine’s cover of “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper. I was hoping it would be an emotional sucker punch, and we chose it as the original is our go-to-karaoke song, very much us. We played “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” by Stevie Wonder when signing the wedding certificate (because you have to right?) and “Rock n’ Roll (Part 2)” by Gary Glitter walking back up the aisle as a married couple!”
Amy, and Ben chose Eddie Lemos Couto to marry them. “We can’t choose a favourite vendor, they all smashed it out of the park. Honestly not a single dud. Our ceremony was funny and adorable. Our celebrant Eddie was a big part of making that happen. There was a funny bit in the ceremony where he joked about doing a long speech and my brother interrupted him that they cut that, I don’t know when they rehearsed that.
Eddie our celebrant made our wedding special. It was all about delivering that message overtly that this was not a wedding to be taken seriously, and was someone we could trust to tell our story.
Our ceremony was funny and adorable. and Eddie was a big part of making that happen. There was a funny bit in the ceremony where he joked about doing a long speech and my brother interrupted him that they cut that, I don’t know when they rehearsed that.
There was another funny moment when we did rock, paper, scissors to decide who would say our vows first. We were both nervous about writing our vowels so we wrote our vows together, they had the same structure but then we changed little details, so it was very competitive who would go first, as the other would look like they plagiarised. The end quote of our vows was “Let’s grow older and weirder together forever”.”
The couple had most of the BBQ specialty dishes of their venue for dinner. “We had a custom menu, with some of their usual staples but everything was elevated. The burnt end was a highlight. Deep-fried mac and cheese on a stick. Ben and I have a running bit that we are obsessed with food on a stick and cornbread, and our wedding had both.”
Of course, the vibe continued throughout the night. “The music at our wedding was an eclectic mix of 70s funk and 80s and 90s pop, we were thinking about what would match our space/galaxy theme but also BBQ smokehouse vibes….I think it worked” tell Amy and Ben of their first dance. “We knew we wanted to get married in September and we love the song September by Earth Wind and Fire, so that was our first dance song. Just pure joy. We found a dance routine on Youtube but just ran out of time to properly learn it, so we improvised a dance. Lots of twirling!
We had a smoke machine and spark machine as well. The spark machine was originally going to go off at the end of the dance but they were worried about setting me on fire if I was dancing too close so they set it off at the start instead.” Ben adding “Amy has a pair of Puma sneakers that I liked and for my birthday the year before she bought me a matching pair. We changed into them for the first dance. My brother had suggested it as a joke but we loved the idea.”
And of course, when the dancing began, so did the fun, says Amy. “I had a slight costume change, I had two veils, one white for the ceremony and one colourful polka dot for the reception from Crown & Glory, and I wore my amazing tinsel jacket from Nocturnal Wonderland. I had owned it for a while and it matched my veil. I have a few terrible quality photos I took on my phone of Ben dancing around in it too.”
A big beautiful congratulations to you both Amy and Ben! Thank you for sharing the stories of your day with us. Thank you to Monica Cugnier Photography for sharing today’s celebrations.