C H R I S T I N A & B E N
F R O M T H E B R I D E & G R O O M ...
We met in a bar in Manly on an inadvertent double date back in November 2009. We were both accompanying friends who were meeting each other for a drink, neither realising that the other would be there. We hit it off straight away talking for hours (and over many, many Margaritas) about our common passion for music, films, and travel.
Despite Ben briefly deceiving me to believe that he was a children’s entertainer, I soon uncovered that he was, in fact, an electrician. However, this first practical joke and exposure to his dry sense of humour was definitely not my last.
As Ben said in his wedding speech… “I’m not sure when I first knew that I was in love with Christina; however, I know that my friends all knew I was DEFINITELY in love when I told them I’d agreed to get a kitten with her”. We now have 2 furry bundles of joy – our cats ‘Tiddles’ & ‘Miss Meowgi’.
We got engaged on Curl Curl beach just before Christmas 2012 (on the 23rd December). I always knew Ben was quite romantic, but the thought and effort that he put into planning his proposal blew me away! It was a couple of days before Christmas 2012. Ben casually suggested we go for a walk down to Curl Curl Beach in the evening, so we walked from our place to South Curl Curl and then took a stroll along the beach.
Unbeknownst to me, Ben had arranged for our good friends Jody & Alex to help set up for his proposal and lay out (at the far North end of Curl Curl beach) a picnic blanket with a spread of tea light candles in little glass jars, beautiful flowers, a chilled bottle of French Champagne and an iPod dock playing a playlist of our favourite songs.
Ben planned the timing of our walk along the beach so that he would propose just as the sun set over the beach. Even as we got closer and I saw the picnic set-up with all the flowers and candles, it didn’t occur to me that it was for us. There was another couple standing nearby and I actually said to Ben ‘Oh, look how cute that is’ (thinking that it was their picnic).
He took me by complete surprise! He was relaxed and gave nothing away. It was literally not until he got down on one knee and pulled a beautiful diamond ring out of his pocket that I actually realised what was happening in that moment. Obviously, I said yes and we enjoyed the champagne and phoned our family and friends to tell them the great news. The days following, over Christmas and New Year, were filled with celebrations, and luckily Ben’s mum and dad were out from the UK for Christmas so we got to celebrate with the whole family.
We wanted a fairly formal wedding; however, with some personal touches to reflect our own style and personalities. We both had a fairly specific idea for the styling of the day, although not necessarily always the same ideas…
Initially I envisaged a black tie wedding with the bridesmaids also wearing black. However, Ben quickly shot this down by insisting on him and the boys wearing Navy suits. We often joke that ours may have been the first wedding in the history of weddings where the boys dictated the colour scheme for the day. In the end we went with a Seafoam / Tiffany Blue colour for the bridesmaids and Navy for the groom and groomsmen, which looked beautiful against the ocean backdrop of Chowder Bay.
We were lucky enough to be married by my Aunt Vicki (Templeman) who had, at the time, just recently qualified as a registered marriage celebrant. This made our ceremony that much more special and personal as Vicki knows us both (and our family) so well.
Ceremony & Reception Venue...
Sergeants Mess, Chowder Bay
With Ben being English, we had a lot of friends and family fly over from the UK for our wedding; so, a few days before our wedding we had a “Meet the Pommies” BBQ at our place to welcome all of our friends from overseas and for them to all get to know each other and our Australian family and bridal party.
Not having been a girl who dreamed of weddings from a young age, I had absolutely no idea where to even start when it came time to look at wedding dresses. While I was excited about the prospect of finding my wedding dress, I was a little overwhelmed by the number of different options. In the end, the wedding dress I chose was actually the first wedding dress I tried on! While I went to a number of other stores and tried on many other wedding dresses just to be sure, in the end I went back to this very first dress. My wedding gown was a Wendy Makin design called ‘Danielle’. It is a guipure lace sweetheart bodice with layers of tulle for the skirt. I really wanted something classic and simple, without any beading or diamantes, that really showcased the beautiful fabrics.
At first my mum was surprised by the idea of a strapless dress (having envisioned something more classical) but as soon as she saw me in my chosen dress we all agreed it was ‘the one’. Before trying on wedding dresses, I really hadn’t pictured myself in such a full tulle skirt. I had actually seen another Wendy Makin dress in a magazine which I thought would be the one; however, when I got to the store and tried on the ‘Danielle’ dress, it just seemed perfect.
I bought my dress from ‘Marry Me Bridal’ in Mosman and I cannot recommend them enough. Everyone there is an absolute delight and made the whole wedding dress shopping experience easy and relaxing. We never felt rushed or pressured and they were always very accommodating (no matter how many times I went back to try the dress to make sure it was ‘the one’).
My amazingly talented sister Stephanie, made the three bridesmaids dresses. My bridesmaids all wore slightly different style dresses made from a combination of coordinating fabrics. Matt (my brides-man) wore a navy suit (matching the groomsmen) but with a custom-made (by my mum Jane) bow-tie, which was made out of an aqua/teal satin fabric to match the girls.
Amazingly, I managed to find some beautiful mesh clutches in a perfect colour match to the bridesmaids’ dresses (at Mimco) so I bought one for each of the girls as a ‘thank you’ present. My mum also made a matching dress for my little cousin Victoria who was an un-official flower girl.
My groomsmen wore dark navy suits. We all had the same style custom-made for us by The Black Label; however, my suit was slightly lighter in colour. We all had the same dark brown leather shoes from Aquila.
We left most of the floral design up to our florist Aleksandra; however, there were a few key features that we wanted:
- Long ribbon lengths trailing from the bouquets
- Mainly white/ivory flowers for the bridal bouquet with a few touches of pastel colours
- Various brighter colours for the bridesmaids (and a matching buttonhole for Matt).
- Buttonholes to include some greenery/succulents for the groomsmen and immediate family (including our nephews)
- Floral crown for Victoria
- Lots of different flower styles and textures
- David Austin Roses, Dahlias (large and pom pom), Tulips
Aleks added some eucalyptus leaf into the bouquets and buttonholes, which was a surprise to us as we hadn’t discussed it but it worked perfectly with the colour scheme and added a wonderful textural dimension to the flowers.
Again, much of the decoration came down to Aleksandra’s floral installation. The table arrangements were absolutely amazing. Friends of ours are still commenting about the flowers from our wedding and how they’ve never seen more beautiful flowers at a wedding.
Ben wanted to have a Whiskey & Cigar bar for the boys outside so he bought a couple of nice bottles of whiskey and a box of cigars in an old-fashioned cigar box for this. We hired the crystal decanters and ashtray from Ashdown & Bee; they also did the sign writing for this section for us.
Out of all of the photographers that we considered, we just loved Trish’s candid photography style. We wanted someone who would capture the essence of our day naturally, who had a creative flair but without being too quirky. Neither of us was comfortable with the idea of posed wedding photos so her style was a perfect fit for us.
We love how Trish and Joel captured the emotion on the faces of our friends and family throughout the ceremony and reception. There are so many beautiful photos that perfectly capture tears of happiness, affectionate moments and the joy of celebration. We also love the way they captured moments from the day so candidly. Our favourite photos are the in-the-moment photos that are completely natural and un-posed.
One more special mention is to The White Tree Band, who were not only amazing as our wedding band, but also arranged our wedding video - which we LOVE! [See it on the blog tomorrow!]
On the Menu...
- Sesame seared tuna, wasabi mayonnaise *g
- Grilled chorizo & feta toasts
- Tempura prawn, sweet & sour dressing
- Lamb Wellington
- Mini Yorkshire pudding, braised beef, horseradish
- Spiced eggplant & haloumi choux bun *v
- Spinach & gruyere cheese puffs *v
- Ballotine of chicken, chorizo, mushroom and soft polenta
- Parmesan crumbed veal, fig walnut and feta salad, hazelnut and cabernet sauvignon
- Vegetarian: Caramelised onion & goats cheese tart, bitter leaf salad *v
- Prawn crust salmon fillet, spinach risotto, sauce vierge
- Roast beef rump cap, chimichurri butter, boulangere potato, green beans
- Vegetarian: Pan fried gnocchi, field mushrooms, asparagus, goats cheese cream *v
- Mini warm chocolate tart
- Mini passion fruit & lime tart
- Mango panna cotta, lychee sago
- Cheese Plate: International cheese selection, seasonal compote, oatcakes & lavoche
Our guests absolutely raved about the food! We’ve had so many comments about how incredible the food and wait service was on the night.
We gave every guest a photo frame, tied up with a ribbon and gift tag/name tag, which doubled up as a place card. We had a bit of a photo theme underlying the night as we had a huge 2.4m2 chalkboard photobooth backdrop (care of Ashdown & Bee) and we posted everyone copies of their photos to put in their frames with our thank you cards after the wedding.
We also had a honeymoon registry (with http://travelregistry.com.au/) as our gift registry and so we sent photos to everyone (post-honeymoon) of us doing the activity that they had purchased for us. We wanted people to know that we had thought of them while experiencing the gifts that they had contributed towards.
Ceremony – We had a string duo called ‘Mimosa Duo’ learn our ceremony music.
- Processional – Falling Slowly by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová (from the film ‘Once’)
- Signing – Slide Away by Oasis
- Recessional – Do You Realize? by the Flaming Lips
- Bridal Waltz –The Luckiest by Ben Folds
We honeymooned in Europe; specifically France, Spain and Italy with a stop in Thailand on our way home.
Funnily enough, we actually travelled to our honeymoon separately. Ben had to travel to Frankfurt for work less than one week after our wedding so we took his work trip as an opportunity to make Europe our main honeymoon destination. I flew over a week later with my new in-laws and caught the Eurostar to Paris the next day. We met in a Paris train station after being apart from each other for just over a week (longer than we had technically been married).
We spent one week each in France, Spain and Italy visiting 2-3 cities per country so we moved around A LOT!! We spent our first 3 nights in Paris, which was completely beautiful. It was the first week of April and the spring flowers were all in bloom. I’ve never seen such beautiful tulips.
With so much to see and so little time, we must have walked at least 20kms per day. So, we were glad of a change of pace when we left Paris for Loire Valley. We went hot air ballooning over Loire Valley and then toured some of the main Chateaux of the area: Château de Chenonceau and Château d'Amboise. In the evenings we ate our weight in French cheeses!
From France, we flew to Barcelona where we spent 3 nights in yet another beautiful location. We loved the Spanish food and ate twice as much as we did in Paris. We then went to Jerez (to tick off Christina’s bucket list to see the critically endangered Iberian Lynx at the Jerez Zoo) and Seville.
From Spain, we flew to Florence which was probably our favourite city of the trip. Especially for the food! We had the most amazing pizza at Il Pizzaiuolo. I’m sure no pizza will ever surpass this one! We definitely want to come back here and maybe spend some more time out of the city a little in Tuscany and Sienna.
Last European stop was Rome. Some friends who couldn’t make it to our wedding came over from the UK to meet us and we again walked 20+kms a day and visited all of the ancient historical sites. We were in Rome over Easter so of course the Vatican City was packed with people to see the Pope’s Easter message. We managed to spot Pope’s address from afar (from the top of Castel Sant'Angelo).
After 3 weeks of non-stop walking, exploring, eating and drinking, we left Europe for one last stop in Phuket, Thailand for a relaxing 5 days at the beach before returning home. We stayed at ‘The Shore’, Katathani and our accommodation was out of this world!! The hotel staff could not do enough for us and insisted on picking us up and dropping us back to our room in a gold buggie whenever we wanted to go anywhere. Our favourite aspect was our private infinity pool overlooking Katanoi Beach; in fact, I think we spent more time there than at the beach. The perfect way to finish our honeymoon in ultimate luxury!
Photography Tealily Photography Ceremony + Reception Venue Sergeants Mess Bride's Dress Wendy Makin Bridesmaids' Dresses Custom made Hair Stylist Deelush Hair Suits The Black Label Flowers Aleksandra Cake Sweet Bloom Cakes Signage + Photobooth Ashdown & Bee