This post was originally featured in Cosmo Bride. I’ve updated the tense but otherwise it was how I wrote it 6 years ago. I’ve learned a lot since then but you can absolutely see the beginnings of Bridechilla in my words.
I met my Mr Right, the deliciously lovely Rich on facebook. No kidding. It’s a crazy story. He was living in the UK, we skyped for 5 months, I brought a plane ticket on a whim and we ‘met’ for the first time at Heathrow airport. We bummed around France for four weeks, he gave up his high skilled visa, moved home and we’ve been together ever since.
*Fun fact- we moved to the UK in 2014 and have been living in London ever since.
In July 2009, after a stunningly surprising and romance packed proposal in Florence, which included an amazing ring (to which I exclaimed “Is that reeeealll?’ and a post engagement panini) we couldn’t start planning our wedding quickly enough. I purchased the first bridal mag I could get my hands on… a posh English publication, that weighed more than my head, which was filled with vendors and dresses that were worth more than our car and lots of ‘society weddings’ that were both uninspiring and horrid. I then headed to some random online bridal forums, which entertained, overwhelmed and excited me.
Rich and I wanted to share an amazing wedding day that wouldn't financially cripple us and that would live on in our memories and photo albums for years to come.
Engaged in Florence! So tan!
9 months out
For about two minutes we considered eloping…well, having an overseas wedding with just close friends and family. What a great idea. Small group holiday, hire a wedding planner, get married on a beach and drink cocktails in coconuts.
We called our close friends and most of them said ‘Yes, sounds wonderful! Just give us two years to save up.’
We didn’t want to get married in two years. I personally couldn’t sustain an exercise routine or maintain a decision about a dress for TWO YEARS. Come on.
Rich was studying architecture at the time and one of his classmates was getting married at the beautiful Boyd Baker House in Melbourne. We googled it. We were in love. It was Mad Men in the Australian Bush. With hire comes room for 16 guests to sleep there and stay the whole wedding weekend. We arranged a visit.
The property is an hour out of Melbourne and it’s secluded, our own little wedding fortress. We would need to bring our own caterer and chairs and tables and drinks (and refrigerator and nearly everything else you need to hold an event) but that suited us fine. One area that was particularly wonderful for saving us some money, was being able to provide our own alcohol.
The lounge room that we transformed into our cosy eating/dancing area (tables were packed down)
After contemplating weekends spent visiting venues all over the place, we were both surprised and delighted that the first venue we saw was the one. We paid the deposit and then the real planning began.
I had never really ‘dreamed of my wedding day’. I’m a visual person and until we’d locked in a venue, I couldn’t really picture the day in my mind. The venue was so stylish and came with this readymade theme of midcentury modern architecture, poppy furniture and cosyness.
We picked June 23 2012 as our wedding date (right bang in the middle of Australian winter). We knew it was probably going to be cold (and I did consider having a dress made of thermals) but it fell in the university holidays, as Rich was in his final year of his master’s degree and the weekend was free. Hurrah! The decision was made.
Checking our ‘to do list’, which I printed off the Internet…long before I wrote The Bridechilla Field Guide, we only have another 9000 things to tick off. The next important decision (we we’re told) was finding a celebrant and a caterer.
Easy Peasy. My lovely friend Vanessa Ballard, comedian and writer extraordinaire became a celebrant last year. We booked her immediately.
Boyd Baker House has three recommended caterers. As it is a private property and not a function venue we decide pretty quickly that we’d talk to all three caterers that had had experience at the property.
It was like catering speed dating. All three were really nice but all offered very different things. We’re foodies. After breakfast, I’m already thinking about lunch and then dinner. We didn’t want an alternate drop, chicken or fish option. We wanted people to come away saying not only ‘gosh they are in love and that was the best, most interesting wedding EVER’ but also ‘Gee whizz that food was FANTASTIC’. I have left some weddings questioning if we had eaten a dog steak. Enough said.
Some of the moreish dishes prepare by Ed Dixon Food Design
4 months out
We stockpiled alcohol for five months. Every time there was a sale we’d buy more and promptly lock it away. I spent a long weekend sewing yellow polka dot napkins and a couple of brightly coloured buntings to hang around the house. We decided to use minimal floral decoration; perhaps a couple of bunches on each table? From the floristry quotes we received, we realised that decision was going to save us money. Lot’s of money.
In my almost constant Internet surfing, wedding page bookmarking, blog reading routine, I hit the jackpot and found a company that not only made stationary but also cakes. They are called Cake Ink (and are now HUGE on Instagram) and I have a cake/card crush on them. Four months out we hit a bit of a lull in formal planning until we realised THERE’S FOUR MONTHS TO GO HURRY UP AND BOOK THINGS…I worked myself into a minor frenzy.
I rediscovered tha ‘to do; list, I had printed off fourth months prior. The only things ticked off where celebrant and venue.
After talking to Samone at Cake Ink about what we needed (help with most things) she mocked up some invitation designs that really suited our style. We wanted to highlight the house and lots of bright colours.
We specifically requested NO swirly writing or traditional wording. The invitation is the first impression the guests would get of our wedding and we wanted guests to know that this was going to be a stylish but relaxed affair. Janelle, the cake maker of the business planned to create a three-tiered cake (two fake, one cake) that features polka dots and colour! Just what we wanted.
My favourite activity of this planning period… ring shopping! Simon West created my stunning engagement ring and we had a great time picking our wedding rings with him. I chose a simple diamond band and Rich selected a platinum band that made him look all married and sexy.
In the same lunchtime we also found a suit for Rich at David Jones (Australian department store). It was over our budget but we figured he’d wear it again (which he did!). We negotiated with the sales person 20% off. Bonus
2 Months Out
Can I let you in on a secret? I had two wedding dresses. Yes, I know. Miss wedding budget DIY queen had two dresses. Not on purpose though. The first I purchased on a work trip to NYC. It was from David’s Bridal, off the rack, $400. It was a very elegant, traditional ivory sweetheart gown and it had pockets.
Every time I tired it on, I felt very pretty but something wasn’t right. I teamed it with boleros and belts and jewellery but the more I fussed, the more I worried. So three weeks before our wedding I called my dear friend Julia and asked her to go shopping with me. We hit the ground running and picked up every ivory/white dress in our path and I tried them on. Then I found it. A simple, gorgeous, Australian made, woolen jersey dress by Wayne Cooper. $350.
Credit card out. Sold.
Karlie Gartner, the amazing bespoke jewellery designer created a vintage hair slide for me.
I wanted to keep my look simple…inspired by those classic 60s town hall weddings, a great A-line dress, strong lip and colourful pair of shoes (which I found on eBay for $30). I want to look like me and be able to dance (totes important). The first dress, I have concluded is what I think people would expect me to wear and not really what I wanted to wear, hence the panic.
Melissa Heels (thanks eBay)
Handmade hair slide create by Karlie Gartner
Sally, working her magic
Sally Richardson a great gal and a gun hair and make up artist, (who has made up everyone from Florence Welch to Lady GaGa) created my wedding look. We had a trial and she came up with a classic finger wave and a red lip. Très elegant.
I met photographer Louisa Bailey when she took my head shot a few years prior.
She’s talented and sassy and is a photographic ninja. I’d watched her work at other weddings, zipping in an out of crowds, crouching… she get’s the best shots and never does she yell at people.
Rich and I purposefully worked with people who had met before or had been recommended to us by friends and colleagues. Our day was in a small, somewhat isolated location, so we wanted to share it with people who liked and trusted!
Instead of going for a big fancy wedding florist, we approached our local florist and ordered 6 bunches of tulips (which we will arrange ourselves in jars we have been collecting for 6 months…so much pasta sauce), my bouquet, 4 boutonnieres and 3 corsages.
Total cost $248.
My bouquet featuring Australian natives was both very fitting for our location and sourced locally
I’m tired. Really tired.
What. A. day but gee we worked for it.The set up was incredible and I can’t express how thankful we were to have had 15 of our nearest and dearest, worker bee friends to help us turn the lounge room into a reception venue. Three car loads of gear, hessian, tablecloth ironing, table setting, DJ gear setting up, grazing table making (to save money we created a grazing table and the caterer, Ed Dixon provided a to die for main meal…which absolutely lived up to and exceeded our expectations). We danced to Andrew McClelland’s rocking tunes), we laughed, we romanced. The best thing is that 18 people ‘slept over’ and we had a greasy, morning after cook up. BEST WEEKEND EVER.
My A Team, Julia, Dan, Lara, Nicole and Kath
Three generations of McCormacks, My Dad Dave and my Poppy Col
With our celebrant and friend Vanessa Ballard
I remember so much laughing on the day, to the point my tummy hurt
In my speech I highlighted our mutual love for air-drumming to the Mad Men Theme
Louisa Bailey (Photography)
Ed Dixon Food Design
Simon West Fine Jewellery
Sally Richardson Make up and Hair
Karlie Gartner (Bespoke Jewellery)
Vanessa Ballard (celebrant)
Every wedding album needs a fake pash