R O W E N A + J O H N
Rowena and John's wedding was an elegant affair with an abundance of fresh blooms in berry tones. The bride's favourite flowers are dahlias and amaranthus, so these featured heavily in the styling. The bridesmaids' gowns in a pastel shade of blue brought more colour to the joyful day. The wedding was packed with personality too - from the traditional Filipino ceremony right down to the groomsmen's burger print socks!
Falling in love…
Rowena and John first met in December 2010 when they both joined the same team at work. “He seemed really quiet and mysterious and I think that’s what drew me to him,” says Rowena, “I sparked up a conversation with him one day and from then on, we’ve been inseparable”.
As the saying goes: ‘when you know, you know’. Rowena recalls falling in love with John: “I think from the start of the relationship, we both knew it was meant to be. We both have the same family values and a shared passion for fitness, camping, hiking, traveling and eating!”
A wedding proposal in Hawaii…
John proposed in November 2015 in Maui, Hawaii. It was the perfect ending to a two-week holiday of snorkelling, hiking and “eating our way through Hawaii” remembers Rowena.
“It was completely unexpected and it was in the most picturesque setting at the bottom of one of the largest waterfalls on the Road to Hana. John asked me to close my eyes and when I opened them he was down on one knee holding the most amazing ring in front of me. I was completely speechless and had to ask John whether he was serious a few times before I finally managed to say yes!” Awwww!
A modern elegant wedding theme…
Rowena and John had a traditional Filipino church ceremony at St Joachim Catholic Church, Lidcombe, followed by a reception at Sergeants Mess, Mosman.
“It was the perfect backdrop for a summer wedding and the staff and food were exceptional on the day,” says Rowena.
“We had always wanted a modern elegant wedding with our own little touches. There was a big emphasis on flowers and metallics – from our invitations to our big day, we carried this theme throughout our wedding. We worked closely with our florist, Clementine Posy who was able to bring my vision to life with amazing pops of red, pink and purple florals.
“We had planned for a summer wedding by the water and Sergeants Mess was the perfect location and could accommodate our wedding size. It was the first venue we looked at and other venues just didn’t compare.”
The bridal party…
John and Rowena had four bridesmaids and four groomsmen who organised some fun pre-wedding celebrations in the weeks leading up to the wedding.
“I had chosen my childhood friend, Liza to be my maid of honour and 2 of my closest friends, Astrid and Leanne who I had met in highschool and university. I also had my closest cousin, Rianna who flew from LA to attend the wedding.
“John had his brother, James as his best man and his friends, John, James (yes it became very confusing on the day!) and Ken who flew from East Timor,” says Rowena.
Pastel bridesmaid gowns and navy suits for the groom and groomsmen…
Rowena had always envisioned a pastel drape dress for her bridesmaids and found exactly what she was after from Rodeo Show.
John and his groomsmen wore navy suits from MJ Bale with brown shoes and bow ties – black for the groomsmen and red for the groom. John wore Paul Smith cufflinks, which were a gift from the bride.
“John and I also wanted to put our little twist on the outfits and bought each of them burger printed socks from Bamboozld and personalised cuff links,” says Rowena.
A wedding bouquet with dahlias and amaranthus…
“My favourite flowers are dahlias and amaranthus and I knew that these would be perfect for the big day,” says Rowena.
The bride’s bouquet was a loosely gathered, slightly trailing, wild bouquet of lush late summer blooms consisting of dahlias, lisianthus, hydrangea, David Austen roses, garden roses. The shades of creamy white were matched with colourful pops of deep purple and rich burgundy.
The flowers were arranged with wild jasmine foliage, pepper berry, and trailing amaranthus, giving the bouquet an elegant, unstructured feel. A length of vintage linen ribbon bound it all together.
“I wanted very large unstructured bouquets with a lot of draping and colour,” says Rowena, “Clementine Posy created the most amazing bouquets that contrasted well against the colour of the bridesmaid dresses and this theme was carried through to the reception with large arrangements draped over the rose gold vases and centrepieces at the reception.”
The modern elegant wedding gown…
Rowena wore a Leah da Gloria wedding gown. The dress had a mermaid silhouette with beading and lace around the bodice to give it that touch of elegance. “I was so incredibly amazed by the final product… I'm quite petite and the dress fit my body type perfectly without overwhelming my figure,” says Rowena
For the first dance, Rowena changed into a white silk Zimmermann dress she had purchased a week before the wedding. “I wanted to wear something free flowing and easy to dance in as our first dance had a few lifts and turns’ says Rowena.
The bride paired the wedding dress with drop earrings from Samantha Wills and champagne heels from Jimmy Choo.
Modern elegant reception styling…
“Sergeants Mess was already an amazing venue so we didn’t want to do too much to it,” says Rowena, “we had 18 white lanterns lining the entryway of Sergeants Mess that led up to the magical view of Sydney Harbour. We had marquee lights set up with our initials from Light your Event and a wooden welcome sign from Willow and Ink”
The couple used flowers, tea lights and rose gold accents to decorate the venue. The bridal table was covered with a long, low trailing garden bed with florals tumbling over the front. The same flowers were used as the table centrepieces, creating a lush, vibrant feel atmosphere. The couple even had some DIY elements with their lovingly handmade table numbers and menus
For bomboniere, the couple gave guests Oreo chocolate gems decorated with gold leaf to tie in with the wedding colours.
Antipasto platters and a sit-down menu…
Rowena and John had a sit down menu at Sergeant’s Mess. Guests enjoyed champagne and canapés on the balcony before going into the main room. “Everyone loved the food and definitely didn’t go home hungry!” says Rowena.
Antipasto platters of cold meats, garlic prawns, grilled calamari, arancini balls and various cheeses and olives were waiting for guests as soon as they were seated at their tables.
The entrees consisted of prawn tortellini, octopus, tomato and lemon dressing and slow roasted pork belly, apple butter and brussel sprout salad.
For main dishes, there was a sage and crust chicken breast, roast pumpkin puree, pinenust and currents, as well as roast beef sirloin with chimichurri butter, beetroot and sauté pumpkins.
For dessert they had a strawberry, passionfruit and lime Pavlova as well as a crème caramel with strawberries and mint.
The couple’s wedding cake was a four-tiered, chocolate and red velvet cake with a gold chocolate crown of shards made by Cakes by Cliff. “I had met Cliff a few years back and always knew that he was going to make our wedding cake having ordered countless cakes for birthdays, baby showers and my own bridal shower,” says Rowena.
An unforgettable wedding day…
While it’s tradition for the bride to be late, Rowena’s tardiness was not by choice. “Our limousine got into an accident on the way to pick us up from the hotel and an alternative limousine wasn’t immediately available,” explains the bride, “after trying to find alternatives, we turned to trusty Uber Black to get us to the Church but were faced with another roadblock, major traffic on the motorway! After 90 minutes, I finally made it to the church and the rest of the day went off without a hitch!”
Another memorable quality of the day was the scorching temperature. “It was the hottest February day on record with temperatures reaching 45 degrees!” remembers Rowena.
The couple’s first dance was to James Arthur’s ‘Say you won’t let go’. The couple organised a great mix of music throughout the day from John Legend and Sam Smith during the ceremony to Justin Timberlake, Drake and even Earth, Wind and Fire for the bridal party entrance songs.
“We were serenaded by Gene and Jerome who were an acoustic duo for our reception and DJ Xcentrik had the dancefloor full the whole night,” says Rowena.
For their honeymoon, John and Rowena spent a month travelling around South America: “we got to do all the things that we both love. From the beaches of Brazil, exploring the streets of Argentina and consuming our weight in steaks and malbec to trekking the Inca Trail for four days to Machu Picchu. Our honeymoon definitely ticked off a few places on our bucket list.”
The happy couple hope to tick off some more places on their bucket list as they continue their journey together. In fact, in 40 years time, they dream of spending their retirement money travelling the world!
Wedding advice from the bride and groom…
The engagement: “Try to take some time to enjoy your engagement before getting into wedding planning because once you start, you can’t stop!”
Planning: “Don’t panic if things don’t go your way. At the end of the day, it is about you and your partner.”
On the day: “Everyone says that the day goes by quickly, and trust me, it definitely does! Don’t forget to take a quiet moment to step back together, absorb everything in and enjoy the moment being surrounded by all your closest family and friends.”
Photographer: We are Origami / Venue: Sergeants Mess / Bridesmaid Dresses: Rodeo Show / Suits & Shirts: MJ Bale / Groom’s shoes: Aquila / Cufflinks: Paul Smith / Bridal dressing robe: Bronte & Clyde / Wedding gown: Leah da Gloria and Zimmermann (first dance) / Brides shoes: Jimmy Choo / Hair: Honeycombed / Makeup: Yen Hoang / Jewellery: Samantha Wills / Cake: Cakes by Cliff / Florist: Clementine Posy / Wedding stationary: Ink Scribbler / Wedding décor: Light your Event / Signage: Willow and Ink / Bonbonniere: Unbirthday Cake / Rings: Varoujan Jewellers / Entertainment: DJ Xcentrik / Photobooth: Open Air Photobooth / Signage: Signed by Row