With the official part out of the way, it was time for the party to begin. Neither Alec or I are really party-party people, so we wanted a reception that would be like an elegant dinner party. Choosing the Gunners’ Barracks meant that we could have this, plus a lovely 1920s theme to the evening.
That’s right, booked out … for us!
Programs I made with mum, Alec and my friend Sally, and fans. We thought it might be hot so ordered fans for guests. It was not hot at all, but the fans still vanished like hotcakes.
Menus – image design by my friend Fadhila, created on the computer by Alec and assembled by Sally. Tea cups organised and assembled by my mum. Chocolates by Belle Fleur, organised by our friend Greg. Thank you everyone for your help!
Engagement photos featuring the dogs on the mantle piece. Unity candles by Pink Frosting.
During the evening, my sister-in-law Michele accompanied her cousin Liz in a rendition of our of our favourite songs – “Bubbly”. She sang her own version of the song, which I think was more beautiful than the original. Liz has a stunning voice – people were asking for an encore.
Liz on vocals, Michele on the organ.
Watching and listening to the song.
After dinner came the speeches. I had been feeling a bit queasy so we changed the arrangements (thanks Bev!) and had the speeches on the balcony. It turned out a great idea as we all got some fresh air and to look at the stunning view over the harbour.
Both my dad and Alec’s dad gave speeches, followed by Alec and myself. Our dads did a fantastic job, saying some really thoughtful, heartfelt and funny words. Alec and I had a long speech, thanking our army of helpers without whom our wedding wouldn’t have taken place or been so unique and personal.
My distinguished dad reading his speech. He was so nervous beforehand, but his speech was so wonderful, he had no need to be.
Alec’s dad gave a fabulous speech. He is so like Alec with his wry sense of humour.
Laughing at our dads’ speeches.
On the podium. Hope I didn’t bore people with my long-winded speech.
True love 🙂
We followed up the speeches with the rest of the official events – the toasting, cake cutting and bridal waltz.
To us – yay, we’re married!
I love this rare photo of my dad smiling. He and my mum had such a wonderful time. It made me so happy to see them enjoy the wedding.
Cutting the amazing giant cupcake. It is currently cut into chunks, frozen, waiting for our first wedding anniversary to thaw it out.
At the end of the night with my amazing girls, Bev and Lisa. Thank you both so much for basically running the day for us. You did a fabulous job.
Goodbye time. Yay sparklers!
Heading home in the Chrysler. Thanks for coming everyone!
Before we knew it, the night was over and we were shepherded off into the car for our ride home. Completely exhausted, I have never been so happy to be in my own bed, with my husband by my side. Totally, blissfully, happily married.
Following the ceremony were our portraits. We didn’t have too many shots, just immediate family and a few with my cousins and family friends who I noticed nearby and knew my parents would really like a photo with. We had them in the courtyard with the sandstone making a nice backdrop.
With my mum and dad.
With my brother, Tim, and sister-in-law, Michele, added in.
Alec’s dad, mum and uncle.
I requested that we have some shots taken after this on the headland next to the venue while people were having drinks. We’d sat up on the headland a few times when we’d visited previously, and I was really keen to have some shots with the view behind us. Sadly it was a pretty gray day so it wasn’t as scenic as I had hoped, but the shots still look amazing.
Overlooking the venue – see the chairs set up on the lawn? This is where our ceremony was supposed to be held. It was deemed to wet to actually hold it there however.
We arrived at the Gunners’ Barracks in plenty of time. Gunners’ was just perfect for us – we chose it to host both our ceremony and reception. A heritage sandstone building overlooking the ocean, with a dining room, terrace, courtyard, sitting room and dressing room all included. It was so private – no tourists or other weddings going on. It was really important to us to find a venue that felt secluded.
We’d told guests the ceremony started at 5pm sharp, even though we had allowed for it to start at 5:30, thus giving guests 30 mins leeway to guarantee they were there in time. Luckily we did, because as we pulled up smack on 5pm, there were guests who had just parked and were slowly walking down to the venue … It also meant that we had time to relax, sit down, touch up our make-up and chill out before the ceremony started.
The Chrysler out the front of the venue.
Candid of Shell and I chilling out.
The groom with the flower baby, ready for action.
Chiara gets a last-minute feed from Dad.
I was so excited to get the ceremony underway – I couldn’t wait to be married. My dad came in and we hung out while the celebrant reminded us of what we had to do next.
Me and my dad.
And then … it was time! I heard the string trio playing on the terrace (Pachelbel’s Canon in D).
Rosalie and Shelley walked out one at a time (I hear everyone coo over the flower baby), and then, it was my turn.
It was so overwhelming seeing all my friends and families’ faces looking at me and smiling as I walked out on to the terrace. I generally don’t like being the centre of attention, so it was hard to not freak out and focus on just Alec at the end of the aisle.
With my dad. Such a happy moment.
Dad walked me to the end of the terrace and placed my hand in Alec’s.
I think we were supposed to face the people at this stage, but instead we just stared at each other while the celebrant gave her talk. I don’t think I’ve ever felt as happy as I did during the ceremony when I was saying my vows and listening to the words our celebrant was saying.
My oldest friend, Beck, gave a reading during the ceremony – one of my favourite poems.
i carry your heart with me – ee cummings
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
Beck read the poem so beautifully.
Next was saying our vows. We wrote our own, piecing them together from some simple, traditional vows we liked. We had planned to memorise them, but in the end we just didn’t get around to it, so we read them out of the book the celebrant had brought with her.
Alec and I said the same vows to each other:
I, Christine, take you, Alec, to be my lawful wedded husband, best friend and lifelong partner in marriage. All that I have I will share with you. Whatever the future holds I will love you and stand by you throughout out lives together. This is my solemn vow to you.
Using the microphone so people could hear me – we both usually have no problem with our voices carrying, but wanted to be sure everyone could hear, just in case.
We then exchanged rings. There was a small funny moment where the best man gave Alec the man’s ring to put on me instead my own ring. The celebrant saw the confusion and ninja-like located the correct ring and handed it to Alec.
“Wear this ring as a symbol of my everlasting love and commitment to you.”
And then we were married! Absolutely the happiest moment in my life so far.
Signing the registry. My brother, Tim, and the best man, Daniel, signed as our witnesses.
After signing the registry and being presented with our wedding certificate, the ceremony was officially completed. The celebrant invited our families and friends to congratulate us. I’m so glad we did this as it gave us a chance to say hi to all of our guests. I didn’t get around to see everyone during the reception, so I was happy I had this one moment to thank everyone for coming. Our guests were so happy for us, it was just so amazing. I’ve never felt so much love in a room before – I’ve certainly never felt so loved and in love before!
Being congratulated by our families.
We asked everyone to gather in the courtyard following the ceremony for a big group shot.
We had our portraits taken before the ceremony as we had no time between the ceremony and reception.
Our photographer suggested we take the pics at Lavender Bay, which was near our venue and offered a quiet park as well as harbour views. It was drizzling when we got out of the cars, but thankfully it cleared up enough for us to take the photos outdoors without needing giant umbrellas.
Group shot – clearly someone said something funny here.
Nice shot of us all full-length.
Dwarfed the giant tree.
Close-up! I love this photo.
With my girls, looking exceedingly happy.
Love the bright punchiness of green in the background on this gray day.
It wouldn’t be a Sydney wedding without the Harbour Bridge.
I like the colour and composition of this one.
The veil was problematic and didn’t fly in the breeze as hoped. We needed to stage a few scenarios of holding the veil and then letting it go to try and get a few shots with the veil in the air.
Love this photo. I had to hold up my dress the whole time to stop it getting filthy pre-ceremony. It weighed a tonne and by the end of the night my hand ached!
One of my absolute faves.
I just loved my dress, shoes, jewellery, flowers, make-up and hair. Yes, I felt like a total princess and I’ve never felt so beautiful in my life as I did on this day.
Our bridal party was amazing on the day – they gave both of us such support and love. Thank you guys, we love you!
My handsome groom. I was blown away with how gorgeous he looked all dressed up.
Most people would agree this is a typical photo of us …
Like a magical grotto. So pretty!
After the photos were finished, we climbed back into the Chrysler and drove to the Gunners’ Barracks for the highlight of the day – our wedding ceremony.
I finally received the professional photos, so here we go, our wedding day!
I stayed the night before the wedding at my parents’ house. I woke up the next morning early, too excited to sleep in. There was not much going on, as people weren’t due to arrive until about 10am. So I got to potter around, play with the dogs and read the Sunday newspaper before everyone turned up en masse between 10 and 10:30.
I wanted to get ready at my childhood home, so everyone came to us; hair dresser, make-up artist, photographer, bridesmaids, groom, best man, and the groom’s mother. Add in the mix my brother, sister-in-law and cousin-in-law who were also staying there, it made for a full house, full of laughter and activity.
First up in the morning was giving gifts to my beautiful bridesmaids Rosalie and Shelley. I gave them each slightly different Swarovski earrings and Alannah Hill hair clips that I hoped they would like to wear on the day.
Rosalie opens her gift – gift giving is so much fun!
While I was getting ready, the photographer roamed around, taking photos of things like our rings and my accessories.
Alec’s wedding ring, my wedding ring, and my engagement ring. Alec’s ring is by a jeweller called Larsen’s in the Strand Arcade. Mine are both by Tiffany & Co. The bowl is by Paloma’s Nest.
In lieu of a flower girl, we had a flower baby. Rosalie’s beautiful little girl, Chiara, made her wedding debute for us on our big day. We had her with us while we were getting ready in the morning. She was such a little angel, loving being held and passed around.
Brushing up on my baby skills, bonding with Chiara.
I bought my hair jewellery and earrings from a local designer, Stephanie Browne. They were gorgeous quality and suited my dress perfectly.
The pearls and designs are vintage-style, perfect for our wedding theme.
I was among the last to have my hair and make-up done. My hair dresser of about 5 years, Yui, came out to do my hair for me – it was so great having her with me on my big day.
Patiently having my hair curled in my old bedroom.
My shoes from Midas.
My dad drove to the florist’s house to pick up the bouquets and corsages around lunch time. I used a lovely local florist called Katrina of Petals and Leaves. The flowers were just stunning and lasted for a week afterwards in a vase!
Since I had a wedding in peak summer, my flower choices were limited. I had roses, chrysanthemums, raspberries and dahlias.
Around lunchtime, Alec, the best man, Daniel, and Alec’s mum all arrived in the Chrysler. Alec and I had a lovely moment where we exchanged gifts – I was beyond excited when he gave me a box from Tiffany – as evidenced by my expression in the photo below. Alec’s gift to me was an Elsa Peretti Diamonds By The Yard bracelet. I gave him a box of goodies including a pair of Atlas cuff links from Tiffany, a photo book I had made of our relationship thus far, his favourite chocolate biscuits (Mint Slices) and a toy frog with chocolate inside from Haighs.
This photo is the very definition of “surprise”.
Alec’s cuff links.
Items from Alec’s goodie box.
It was getting close to leaving time, so it was time for my make-up.
While I was getting done up, Alec chilled out, reading his book.
Meanwhile, upstairs, the girls were getting dressed. It was so surreal putting on my wedding dress … I just adore my dress beyond words. I can’t believe I don’t get to wear it again.
Rosalie helps me with my shoes.
Putting on the veil.
Leaving my bedroom dressed as a bride, with my two close girlfriends of my childhood – what an amazing moment. I was so excited and happy. No nerves at all, I just wanted to get married!
The boys finished getting dressed in preparation downstairs.
Alec gets manhandled by my dad and his mum at the same time.
Last step – putting the corsages on the boys. I totally failed at it and bent a pin, so had to give mine to someone else to finish for Alec.
Alec and his best friend, Daniel. Ready to go!
With Rosalie and Shelley – this photo is one of my favourites from the day.
I love this classic shot. The flowers look stunning and the lace on my dress shows up well.
Then, after hours of what seemed to be doing nothing, it was suddenly time to go.
Couldn’t leave without saying goodbye to my pooches. Kahlua was totally disinterested.
In the Chrysler, ready to depart.
Alec and Daniel with the beloved car. Daniel was kind enough to lend us his vehicle – and be our chauffeur for the day.
Then we were off on an exhilarating car ride with suicide doors, no seat belts, air con or power steering. Our next stop – Lavender Bay to have photos taken pre-wedding.
Yesterday I wrote about my feelings surrounding the wedding. Today I wanted to touch on details of the event.
Decisions I’m Glad We Made
To have a small-ish wedding. We had about 84 people and it felt huge. I didn’t get to speak to many guests, so I can’t imagine if you had more people than that, how you would get to speak to anyone!
Splurging on the venue. Gunners’ Barracks was our only choice. We felt it we perfect the moment we saw it, months before we got engaged, and it made our wedding just magical.
Choosing a great photographer early on. We knew we wanted Vincent Lai also well before we got engaged after we saw photos he took of a friend’s wedding. As soon as we had a date, we locked him in – and were prepared to be flexible with the date if we couldn’t get him. The photos so far have been stunning, and he was a dream to have around on the day.
The “thank you” sign I ordered from Etsy.com and made Alec and my mum assemble for me. It made for great photos that we are using in our thank you cards.
Spending the night before at my parents’ house and the night after at our apartment. It felt home-y and comforting.
Going straight from the ceremony into the reception. It was great having everything in the one place and knowing the portrait photos were all out of the way!
Having a small bridal party and involving our friends in other ways. Our bridal parties organised our hens/bucks events and helped support us on the day, while our other close friends were our emcee, made our cake, read a poem, performed as usher, sang a song at reception, took care of music, etc, which spread out the ways people could be involved and let them showcase their talents more than if we had a just huge party instead.
Asking friends for help and entrusting them with the details. I’m a control freak, so letting go was hard for me. Once I did, it was magical, and our friends all came through in the most amazing way. It also meant the day was really filled with love, as every detail was either made by hand by me and my parents, or by our friends.
Organising a wedding in five months. The insanely short time period meant everything was full-on from the engagement onwards, but it also meant no time for dilly-dallying with tiny, insignificant details. I didn’t have time to change my mind multiple times about things or fuss over things like flower arrangements. It was a simpler process as a result and didn’t mean the entire year or longer was consumed with wedding planning.
Keeping a blog and scrapbook of the whole process – I love having these to look back on. I’m getting my blog printed and bound into a book.
Getting gorgeous shoes – surprising how many people commented on my shoes!
The dress – it cost a small fortune but was totally worth it.
Choosing a local florist. Kat from Petals and Leaves lives near my parents. She did an amazing job at a great price and we got fabulous service which we didn’t get when trying to get quote from other, bigger, florists.
Cutting costs on things we could make ourselves. The DIY projects cause a lot of angst, but were totally worth it. I love that we made all of the stationary (with some help from our very good – and patient – friend Sally). Even though it didn’t look especially professional, it really summed us up.
Ditching hire cars and using the vintage Chrysler. Rental cars cost a bomb and are no-where near as fun as the road trip we had across Sydney in the Chrysler with the “suicide doors”. That’s right. Need to be careful as to where one puts one’s elbows in a car with suicide doors.
Including my bridesmaid Rosalie’s three-month-old baby, Chiara, in the ceremony as our flower baby. She wore fairy wings and stole hearts. The perfect beginning to our ceremony.
Holding a pre-wedding brunch for people involved in the day. It enabled key people to know each other before the wedding.
Engagement photos. Vincent also took these a few weeks before the wedding. It was great to have the dogs involved since they couldn’t be involved in the wedding, and the photos looked amazing framed at the venue. Plus, now we have really gorgous photos of our little family framed on the walls at home!
Spending a few days up the coast at Nelson’s Bay after the wedding to unwind. We were exhausted. Mentally and physically wrecked, so we spend four days sleeping, eating, then sleeping some more. Our honeymoon is in April, which gives me something else to look forward to, and as a result, I’m not feeling any post-wedding blues. Hooray for holidays!
Creating a wedding site to give guests info and using a Google form on the site to collect our RSVPs. Made it all very simple to organise.
What We Could Have Done Without
The “just married” sign I bought from Etsy.com and had placed on the back of the car. I don’t think anyone saw it and it was a hassle for the best man to get on the car in time for our exit.
Trying to be creative with sparklers when we were leaving the venue with the idea of getting a cool photo out of it. Better off letting everyone just enjoy playing with them and heading straight to the car in retrospect.
Family drama. It was minimal in comparison to what it could have been, but zero drama would have been better.
Things That Surprised Me
How much people wanted to help us plan our wedding. It made me feel so loved to know we had such amazing people in our lives who loved us so much.
I was sad that the wet weather meant our ceremony had to be held on the terrace instead of the lawn, but when I look at the photos, it looked amazing!
How great our dads’ speeches were. So funny as well! Nice job, dads.
The fans and tea cups we provided guests with were popular. I thought for sure we would be left with a legion of fans and tea cups to re-home, but they all vanished!
How glad I was when it was over and we were married. I felt so much happiness and contentment the next morning knowing the next step of our lives was now on its way.
Cutting the giant cupcake Julia made for us. Don’t the cakes look amazing?
Sunday marked two weeks since our wedding and my feelings about our wedding day have changed so much since the actual day.
On the day I felt a mixture of stress, anxiety, excitement, happiness, and immense pressure to be everything to everyone. I felt quite queasy during the evening as the stress got to me, and felt terrible that I wasn’t walking to as many people as I wanted to.
The next day I felt 100% relief that it was over and we were married (yay!). The following few days I was on a rush of pure happiness combined with huge guilt for not speaking to enough people, or getting photos taken with everyone (we had table photos taken with about 50% of the tables, but didn’t get to everyone). I also was filled with worry in case people were upset that I didn’t speak to them enough or have enough photos taken with them.
Now though, 2.5 weeks later, those feelings have faded and instead, having spoken to so many of our wonderful friends and family who were with us on the day, I feel totally at peace and happy with how our wedding day went down.
What I think of now and remember the strongest, are the feelings of love and pure joy that consumed and surrounded us. I’ve never seen Alec so happy or smiling so much, and my parents still can’t stop talking about how happy the day made them. We’ve fielded many many emails, phone calls, letters and in-person chats with guests who tell us what a wonderful, loving wedding it was, and it makes me so happy that the focus that we tried to put on all things regarding our wedding day certainly seemed to shine through for everyone present.
My highlights of the day:
Alec arriving in the morning and exchanging gifts with me.
Getting dressed with my bridesmaids.
Road trip to the venue – a vintage Chrysler with no air-con and seat belts, belonging to the best man. Hairy ride to say the least. Seeing the people in toll booths do double-takes when we paid the tolls, looking like we were on our way to a major costume party – priceless.
Seeing my mum in full hostess mode, loving talking to all of our guests.
The moments just prior to, and then walking down the aisle, with my dad.
The entire ceremony. I thought my face was going to fall off it was so sore from smiling so much. I have never been so happy in my life so far as I was at that one moment.
My friend Beck reading the poem “I carry your heart with me” during the ceremony – I got teary.
Accepting congratulations from all of our guests straight after the ceremony finished – so much love it was overwhelming.
My sister-in-law Michele and cousin-in-law Liz performing a stunning rendition of “Bubbly”.
Seeing the cake my friend Julia made for us – it looked stunning!
The speeches by our dads. They were so funny and touching, I’m so glad I have them on video.
Our bridal dance to the Hawaiian version of “Somewhere over the rainbow”. We just swayed a lot, but it was a beautiful moment.
My dress – it made me feel like a princess. I want to wear it every day as my one outfit.
Calling Alec my husband for the first time. “Where is my husband?!”
Waking up the next day – married! The most amazing feeling ever.
Since we knew we wouldn’t get to spend anywhere near as much time with our guests as we wanted to, we arranged a post-wedding lunch at Bungalow 8 for anyone who was free to come. We didn’t ask for RSVPs, just hoping that we didn’t turn up by ourselves, lol.
We were surprised and delighted to find about 15 friends and family make the effort to stop by, including several overseas guests. Result!
We had a fabulous relaxing lunch, finishing it up with some wedding cupcakes left over from the night before.
OMG SO good.
Shanghai guests Chris and Bev.
With Lisa and Beck.
Masa, my NYC guest.
After lunch, Masa, Michele, Liz and I took off to do the Harbour Bridge Climb. Yes this was timing lunacy, but couldn’t be avoided. Masa and I had booked in to do the climb the week before but had such terrible weather we postponed to the Monday after the wedding, when Michele and Liz decided to join us as well.
Masa and I in our sexy suits.
After the climb, I returned home, legs shaking, delighted that we were heading off on our mini honeymoon the following day …