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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

Prelude

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”!

Planning

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.

Morning

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!

Ceremony

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!

Walking down the aisle to Elvis Presley’s ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love With You’, I was shaking with nerves but as soon as I saw Lawrence waiting under the beautifully decorated Chuppah, I knew that this was gonna be everything we’d been waiting for.

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.

Reception

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.

Ms Floral Says: Absolutely gorgeous! Love how you did things your way, honoured your different cultures, and found two perfect venues to tie it all together. Congratulations and wishing you all the best for your married life together!

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The below wedding vendors made this magic happen and are an approved part of the Polka Dot Directory. Visit their portfolios to learn more and enquire about their services!

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Rachel & Anish

If we’re looking forward to anything over the next year, it’s the reception celebrations of the many, many couples who have eloped. And today? We get to share the reception celebration of Rachel and Anish, who tied the knot in Ireland before a massive party with their Australian family and friends. “We actually had our wedding ceremony in Northern Ireland, five months earlier in July” admits Rachel.

“I’m from Belfast and Anish is Aussie-Indian, and we wanted to be able to incorporate all cultures and all our family and friends across the world. Who wouldn’t want 2 weddings?! Our ceremony was beautiful – so much more emotional and meaningful than either of us expected. We had a humanist ceremony and the main reading was an excerpt from one of my favourite books, the amber spyglass by Philip Pullman.”

Across The Forest joined the pair for an event that was full of good food, good dancing and so. much. to celebrate!

Rachel and Anish’s paths first crossed in Vietnam. “I was backpacking around South East Asia and Anish was on holiday with a friend” remembers the bride. “We met on a tour group and spent 10 days travelling south to north by train. The rest is history!”

Anish popped the question, or almost didn’t, on a trip to Tassie. “We went to Tasmania for a long weekend. Anish almost cancelled the proposal because I got such bad food poisoning on day 2, but luckily I recovered and he was able to do it! It happened on a secluded beach and we celebrated with a champagne picnic.”

Rachel entrusted her traditional outfit to her mother in law, sharing “My mother in law chose my outfit for me in Mumbai – luckily she has impeccable taste and I was able to do some research before she left and give her some tips on what I was looking for. My outfit is called a lehenga which consists of a full ankle-length skirt, separate top and dupatta (scarf). I wanted the skirt and top to be a bit mismatched for a more relaxed quirky look, she hit the brief perfectly.”

Rachel did don something sentimental for the day. “I wore a set of anklets that my mother in law wore on her wedding day. It’s traditional to gift them to your daughter in law to wear on her wedding day.”

“Anish’s mum also chose his outfit in Mumbai! He had asked for something plain and dark in colour but they came back with something a little different – a head to toe gold outfit! It’s called a sherwani and consists of a jacket and separate pants. Luckily he ended up loving it.”

Not everything went completely to plan laughs the bride. “Anish left his pants at his parent’s hotel, about 45 minutes away from the venue, and didn’t realise until we were about to start taking photos. Luckily my brother in law had a very similar pair with his outfit, so he had to lend them to Anish until his parents arrived! I was surprisingly chill about the whole thing. I would also say that we were very lucky to avoid having our wedding affected by the fires, although there was an eerie red glow about the sky all day!”

The couple held their celebration at the beautiful venue The Stables of Somersby. “The minute we drove up to the Stables of Somersby we knew it was our venue” remembers Rachel, “Louise and her family (the owners) have done an unbelievably amazing job turning their family barn into a wedding venue of dreams. She has sourced all of the amazing features like the windows and the bar from antique shops and auctions and commissioned a local carpenter to custom make the tables. The dam with the little jetty is a dream for photos and the apartment above the venue for getting ready in is the icing on the cake. Louise is a dream to work with and makes everything so easy.”

 
 

Rachel’s favourite shot? “There’s a beautiful photo of us taken on the edge of the property with some trees for a background. I love it because it shows what an amazing eye Anton and Raya have for a great photo – Anish and I couldn’t understand why they had picked that spot until we saw the results. It made for such a dramatic background and we have it framed in our house now.”

You might have guessed these two were thrilled with their choice of photographers. “Our photographer was Across the Forest, also known as Anton and Raya. We fell in love with their photos online and decided to meet them for a coffee in the city to make sure we clicked. Immediately we felt relaxed in their presence and knew they were a perfect fit for us. They made everything so easy on the day and had so much energy and enthusiasm. The photos are perfection and the album they created for us is gorgeous. Raya also created our wedding invitations for the wedding in Northern Ireland – she is such a talented artist.”

The Fernery Co adorned the space with beautiful bright floral garlands, says Rachel “We kept it fairly simple, choosing pinks, reds and yellows as traditional Indian wedding colours. My favourite part of the floral decor was the flower garlands hanging from the entrance and the swing seat. The florist had never made them before but definitely rose to the challenge!”

The Wandering Waterhole made sure everyone was topped up with drinks. Rachel noting “The first thing I booked was an amazing caravan bar called The Wandering Waterhole. It’s run by a husband and wife team who converted a horse float into a bar and named it Christine. All you need to do is provide the booze and they serve it for you. You can pay extra to have them make cocktails or mocktails or keep it simple and just serve beer and wine. It’s the most gorgeous feature for any outdoor venue. They also provided lawn games which were awesome for an afternoon in the sun.”

“I have a geeky love for researching and had a lot of fun discovering all the cool wedding vendors in and around Sydney” reveals the bride. “I also enjoyed getting creative and putting together a vision for what I wanted everything to look like.”

Rachel’s advice for you? “Stress as much as you need to in the days leading up to your wedding, but on the day let go of everything and just ENJOY every minute.”

There was no first dance for the newlyweds, but there certainly was dancing! “We didn’t have one… but we did get dragged up to dance in front of everyone in the middle of the speeches which was very embarrassing! I had to pull out my best Bhangra moves.”

The dancing was definitely a highlight for Rachel and Anish (as was the food, an Indian feast catered by Taj Indian Restaurant). “A bunch of our family and friends prepared dances and performed them for us. This is quite normal for Indian weddings but was such a fun novelty for our guests that had never experienced this. Food is also super important to us and we were delighted that everyone enjoyed our Indian vegetarian feast – even the hardcore meat eaters! The best part was the live cooking stations with freshly made dosa (South Indian savoury pancake) and naan bread.”

“We loved having Anish’s extended family over from India, it was the first time I had met most of them and it was great getting to know them all.”

A big congratulations to the newlyweds! What a stunning celebration of your knot-tying. Thank you both and thank you to Across the Forest for sharing today’s celebration with us.

Credits

This post features the following wedding vendors. If you've been featured below, we'd love to get to know you. Click here to join Polka Dot Bride.

Pettina and Melissa 

I can not even tell you how much, we need to share the story of Pettina and Melissa. Because this story? It has been in the making for over thirty years, thirty years of adventures and love stories together. And although they tied the knot unofficially over twenty years ago, when Australia finally made LGBTQ marriage legal, they knew that they had to make it official. We’re very lucky to have their story today,  that kicked off at the Brisbane Registry Office, before a reception filled with their favourite people, complete with beautiful photography Lightsmith Images.

Over to the brides to fill us in on not just how they met, but how they tied the knot the first time around. “We met in 1985 when we attended Hospitality College together. We became friends and one thing turned to another over time and we got together in 1989. After being together for 5 years we decided we wanted to be ‘married’ and have a family. We knew that other countries in the world were legalising same-sex relationships, but we didn’t think this would happen in Australia for some time. We decided to have a non-legal binding, but love-binding commitment ceremony in front of family and friends. On the 27th August 1994, we celebrated our love, commitment and happy future together.
That day was very special. We celebrated with all the usual wedding fanfare such as Jaguar bridal cars, white and red roses, string quartet, exchanging of wedding bands, intimate ceremony with champagne and canapes for all at the ceremony. After photos, a small group of close family and friends were invited to share a 3 course a la carte lunch, wedding cake and dancing in a private dining room at the Powerhouse Boutique Hotel (now the View Hotel Brisbane) overlooking the Brisbane River at Hamilton. We travelled for 3 months around the world as our honeymoon.

When it finally became legal for us to marry in December 2017, we knew we wanted to finally get married ‘legally’. We only ever wanted to legally marry on the same date as our initial commitment ceremony as we always recognised this as our Wedding Anniversary. It seemed to make sense to wait until our 25th Anniversary to celebrate and ‘renew our vows’ by doing it legally this time! The legal part to go with the love part from 25 years ago. We decided to nickname it our Weddiversary to recognise both special occasions.”

Pettina and Melissa chose the Brisbane Registry Office for their wedding ceremony, sharing  “We chose the Brisbane Registry because our very dear friend Roger is a celebrant at the Registry and he married us. Additionally, the views were amazing!”

The brides didn’t choose a song for the processional. Instead of adopting for the registry music, but that was for a very special reason, “We had a string quartet playing Pachelbel’s “Canon in D” at our original Wedding, we didn’t want to overshadow that wonderful memory. To have our daughter walk us down the aisle was extremely special.”

As much as this was a day about, well making it official, it turns out it was the unexpected moments that made it the most special. “Our make-up artist became very ill the day before and advised us she wouldn’t be able to do our make-up. Athena decided to come early and do it for us. We were getting ready and we actually were feeling quite nervous (we didn’t think we would be) and came a knock at the door?! Athena had arranged for mimosa’s for us all, so we sat having our make up done by our daughter drinking champagne at 9.00 in the morning. It was a fabulous mother-daughter moment!”

 

Both Pettina and Melissa added special heirloom pieces to their outfits for the day. “Melissa wore a silver and ruby bracelet that Pettina gave her on their Wedding night. One ruby for every year they had been together before getting married which is inscribed as such on the inside.
Pettina wore a set of stainless steel cufflinks which belonged to our close friend Therese’s grandfather. The cufflinks are special in the McLean family as they had been worn at many Weddings and family gatherings.”

What made this day extra special to Pettina and Melissa? “All the lesbian relationships that came before us in history, to bring us to this point in time where we can legally celebrate our love and have it recognised by all.”

Of their photographer, Pettina and Melissa rave “Danielle is an absolute professional. She has an uncanny ability to capture people’s personality within moments of meeting them and portraying them accurately moments after in a photograph. It is a true skill. Pettina found Danielle’s website when we were considering to ‘elope’ for this Wedding and she felt she knew the people in her images just from Danielle’s style and ability. Danielle met with us twice and undertook location scouting before the big day to ensure she captured us, our guests, and the location to it’s best potential.”

Advice for you from these two? “For the Wedding, get a great photographer.
For the marriage. Respect what each person brings to the relationship. This will ebb and flow depending on what’s happening in your life at the time. NEVER stop talking.”

Guests gathered at Thyme2 Restaurant, Sofitel Brisbane for a lunchtime reception tell the brides “We chose Thyme2 at the Sofitel as it offered a beautiful buffet lunch and we thought this would cover off all tastebuds and appetites, including the kids! Thyme2 also offered a separate area to the restaurant where they could section off for us and they dressed the tables with white table cloths, so with the flowers, it looked amazing!”

Daughter Athena chose the blooms for the day from Flowerlovers, tell Pettina and Melissa. “We didn’t carry flowers, but we both wore small rose (nod to our first Wedding) buttonholes.
Athena arranged the reception so she had ordered vases of a variety of soft white flowers in mason jars which dressed the table beautifully.”

Special details were not such a focus for this day, explain Pettina and Melissa. “It was more about special friends then special details. We never wanted this Wedding to overshadow our first. We had dear friends attend this Wedding that attended our first and that was very special.”

A big congratulations to you both Pettina and Melissa! It was such an honour to get to share your well overdue day. Thank you both and thank you to Lightsmith Images for sharing today’s wedding with us.

Credits

This post features the following wedding vendors. If you've been featured below, we'd love to get to know you. Click here to join Polka Dot Bride.