Braden and Emily
Braden and I met on the other side of the pond in London whilst we were both working as actors! At first we didn’t like each other much – too much ego in the way! Something clearly altered when ego changed to charm in a bar with over 130 beers on the menu. When I asked Braden to surprise me he came back with a beer from my hometown! The one beer out of 130 that I would’ve chosen! It must have been “fate”. Although we’re both far too practical to believe in that! However, ever-since (as it was before) beer has been an important part of our relationship! So much so, we brewed our own for the wedding; a dark porter ale, best served warm (for the poms) and a cool refreshing pilsner (for the aussies).
When we first got together, Braden had given up on acting in London, had 10 days left on his visa in the UK and I had an acting job in Italy I was heading off to. As they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder and we chased each other around the globe for a while. Armed with my passport and a backpack I headed from Italy towards Melbourne on the off-chance that what we’d been chasing might be worth giving a go … and seemingly it was worth it!
We had actually vowed we would never get married – too stubborn for our own good perhaps. As neither of us are religious, and the feel of a civil ceremony wasn’t our cup of tea there was nothing that drew us to the symbolism of the day other than a jolly good excuse for a party. We spent a while feeling that we didn’t need a ring to prove the value of our relationship, after all we had already had to prove it to the government so I could stay here in Australia allowing us to remain together. We had enough paperwork documenting our relationship we felt it wasn’t necessary to prove anything further. Our commitment to each other was clear enough for all to see. Then our best mate (newly qualified celebrant) made us promise him something – that when we wanted to, could he please do us the honour of marrying us, as his faith in our relationship was as great if not greater than our own. This little seed was sown … how amazingly perfect and wonderful it would be to have our union conducted in such a personal and honest way. Then on a cold winter’s day Braden took the end of my scarf and tied a thread of wool around my finger. Braden asked me – we asked Matt – and we kept it all a secret from everyone else – except Braden’s parents (as we wanted to use their garden) and my family (who needed to book their flights!). It was so much fun planning in secret and knowing what a surprise it would be for people as they received an invite in the mail as their first knowledge of the day!
There was only one place we would have held the wedding and Braden’s folks didn’t think twice about allowing us to use their property in Gippsland. There was so much to think about in the set up and thankfully his folks are wonderful organisers who thought of pretty much everything from hiring the loos, outdoor lighting for the campers to organizing a spare paddock for parking cars!
Most of our wedding was DIY. My brothers spent most of the day and evening before on the top of a 10 foot ladder hanging beer bottles from beams. Family set flowers in place under my direction, placed tablecloths on the morning, set up top-loaders filled with ice. Braden’s mum put the finishing touches to the cake whilst my mum helped with the finishing touches to the back of my dress (the bits I couldn’t reach). It was a real family affair, which was so special to us as we really wanted the whole thing to be more than just about us. We looked to all of those we love and care about as our inspiration and source of strength for our relationship and to have them so generously help with our big day was a huge thing for us. Being in the wedding industry helped too as this wasn’t my first wedding set-up! My dress, the invitations, the cake, lolly bar, flowers, styling, grog … it was an endless DIY list. There were a lot of us involved in our wedding, which created an overwhelming sense of the day lasting longer than just 24 hours.
With the rolling Gippsland paddocks as our backdrop a marquee was erected, hay-bails and picnic rugs were set amongst the native garden. Giant garden games were dotted around the lawn, so our guests could enjoy boules, croquet, jenga and four-in-a-row as the mood took. The informal feel of the wedding had tables decorated with a mix of vintage tablecloths and continuing the eclectic feel of the flowers, the tables had jars and bottles brimming with every variety of flowers available. On the jars we had little “take me home” tags, so our guests could enjoy our flowers long after the day. We had no formality to the place-settings allowing people to choose where and with whom they sat. We found it was a great way for people to move around between courses and kept the informal feel throughout. We loved the ceremony and reception being in the same place as it gave us all the opportunity to relax and make the most of every minute.
My dress was made by me. (I really took on the “homemade” theme to our wedding, stared it in the eyes and cried “come on let’s do this”!). When I started my search for a dress I began looking at vintage 50’s dresses. I adore this look; fun and cute yet feminine and flattering. However, with a garden setting in mind this style didn’t quite seem to work for me. (And I also have an insatiable desire to take on a challenge). So, I rummaged through my craft box for inspiration. I started with a small, yet sentimental length of vintage lace, which was my grandmother’s and went from there. The thought of creating a “one-off dress”, unique to me was both exciting and overwhelming. I knew I didn’t want a “traditional bridal gown” but wanted a full-length dress (just in-case our Autumn wedding was a cool one). I also wanted to reflect my down-to-earth character, love of all things op-shop and the rural nature of our setting.
At my local (independent) fabric shop, I found on the end of a roll, (just enough) of the most beautiful Italian linen in a subtle and charming wheat colour. This suited the vintage, relaxed, country feel I wanted perfectly. I then set about looking for more inspiration for the details of the dress and came upon a fantastic website, Etsy.com. This was a wonderful source for inspiration, everything from dress styles to the little details of fabrics. I started to gather vintage tablecloths (which we were to use on the tables) and came upon the vintage barkcloth roses, which I completely fell in love with. I loved the vibrant colours and bold design with the original vintage 50’s feel. As a reasonably novice dress-maker, I knew I had to keep the design simple, however I really wanted to add a little drama too – so I got creative with the back of my dress. I found a stunning Victorian era petticoat on Etsy, that completed the vintage look. I finished the ruff at the back of my dress with detailed embroidered stitching in matching red and lace doilies found at op-shops tied on with ribbon as cuffs for my wrists. My mother gave me her mother’s vintage cameo necklace, which was my only piece of jewelry (until my ring!). It was so exciting and rewarding working on both the design of my dress and flowers as a whole so that both worked together to enhance the other.
As a florist in the wedding industry, when it came to my own wedding I found it really difficult to decide on what to go for from the mass of ideas I work with on a daily basis. With a garden setting, it was always going to be important to complement the venue and work with our natural setting. We wanted our wedding to have the feeling of homemade fun with country-vintage style and fundamentally the theme of our day was: an Aussie boy meets an English girl and eventually gets her to marry him. I really wanted to combine the pretty, gardeny English flowers and the textured, robust Australian natives flowers.
Our invite had the wording “there’s a party on the hill, would you like to come?” So, all the styling was reflective of a fun party atmosphere. I basically went crazy at the flower market choosing vibrant colours and varieties that echoed our English and Australian backgrounds. I had a collection of old jars and bottles of all shapes and sizes, which we placed all around the property, on fence posts, hanging from the old gates, on window ledges, in the bird bath. Our aim was to create a never-ending space that worked with the rural surrounds and also had a sense of the whimsical fun. We had old brown beer bottles hanging from the red-gum verandah beams filled with vivid blooms, creating a canopy under which our guests could enjoy our home-brewed beer and an endless supply of chilled sparkles.
For the bouquet itself, I worked with the design of my dress and my dress worked with the design of my flowers. I wanted to capture the essence of the ‘English Rose’. Highlighting the colours of the roses on my frock, I had a mass of garden roses, hot-house roses, spray roses, freesias to remind me of home, trailing foliages and vines, leucadendrons and gumnuts to represent my honorary Aussie-ness. I finished the handle with lace matching my dress and a mass of complementary ribbons. I absolutely LOVED designing and making my own bouquet, even if it meant I was up late the night before the wedding and early the day of. (It is thought in the world of floristry, that it is bad luck to make your own bouquet. Luckily I’m not superstitious!)
I arrived in my father-in-law’s vintage GT, driven by him onto the lawn to meet our waiting guests. Without a bridal party, the arrival with our parents and meeting Braden, was something we wanted to have as our big moment. Our wedding was about the union of us and also of our families, who had never all met before. So, we made a series of moments with me arriving with both my parents and Braden’s dad. Braden’s dad then walked my mum to meet with Braden. Braden’s mum was waiting with Braden, and his parents then walked off together, leaving my mum with Braden. My dad and me then had a little walk to meet mum and Braden … my folks wandered off together. Then Braden and I had a cheeky peck and little wander off to meet our best mate, Matt, who then married us! (did any that make sense? – guess you had to be there)!
I walked down the aisle to Tales of Boys, Girls and Marsupials (The Wombats! – An English band with and Australian name and our nicknames for each other has always been boy and girl! Also, we love the song). As we had a rather lengthy series of walks, we also then had: “All I want is You” by Barry Louis Polisar (Juno soundtrack) and “Harmony to my Heartbeat” by Sally Seltman. All suitably fun, easygoing and mildly lovey without being gushy.
Our ceremony was the highlight. Our best friend (and celebrant) was in his element and it could not have been more personal, honest and special. During the ceremony we caught a wedge-tailed eagle circling overhead as a jet plane left a trail behind it in the clear blue sky. Matt had spent time with us before the day planning the content of the ceremony, however there was still heaps that he hadn’t told us about, which was such an amazing surprise for us. Most of our favourite photos are of the ceremony, which lasted nearly an hour and we laughed through most of it. At one point he handed us a rope as his gift to us. The rope represented an honest lifeline. Matt drew his source from a method used during blizzards, when farmers tie a good strong rope to their front door and lead it out as they go into the harsh conditions. When things got bad as long as they had the rope they would find their way home. We love Matt for the honesty and openness he allows us to have in ourselves as individuals and as a couple. The essence of this was in abundance throughout our ceremony. It was so fun too, with Matt offering me a camera at one point so we could capture the day through our eyes too! As soon as it ended I wanted to do it all again. In fact we nearly had to when our friend and witness signed the wrong line on our official documents!!
Our rings were from Trewarne in South Melbourne. Braden chose a modern design that reminded him of a bike chain in Titanium. Braden was a lucky man as I came with BYO diamonds. I had my grandmother’s diamonds that I wanted to incorporate into my ring. I loved the old-fashioned feel of the filigree band and I wanted three types of gold to be present (as I love the Russian wedding ring designs with the 3 golds). With rose gold and white gold in the wedding ring I had my grandmother’s yellow gold wedding ring to add to my finger during the ceremony. As we didn’t have an official engagement, choosing to keep the wedding a surprise until the last minute, my ring is an all in one! As a florist, I’m totally ‘unprecious’ about my hands, they are working hands and I chose a ring on sentimentally and the practicality of diamonds being set into the gold a much required aspect to being in a hands on profession!
My nephew (who had the important job of handing over our rings) was under strict instructions to make sure he didn’t drop them … on his run over to us his pants were falling down, but still he held on tight … then … with his pants almost round his ankles he couldn’t stay upright any longer and over he went!! Stealing the show, with the rings still clenched in his little palms, he hitched up his pants and finally made it to us! Once we’d all finished laughing we managed to do the deed and the rings made it onto our hands.
With a relaxed and casual feel to our wedding (and a very tight budget to boot, having just bought a business!) we invited our friends and family to get snap happy on the day and email us their pics afterwards. (We luckily have friends and family with nice cameras.) We were so surprised by how great some of them were. The best part of this approach was seeing the same moments captured from different perspectives. They all felt really real; the perfect symbol of Braden and I. It has made for some fantastic memories of the day. We love the idea we recently saw on Polka Dot Bride, of having a post wedding photo-shoot with a professional photographer to capture some “now married” shots … (will keep you posted on these!). With access to all the nooks and crannies of the property we made use of the old corrugated tool shed and set up a photo-booth that our guests could take advantage of from their arrival, throughout the day and into the evening as it lit up covered with fairy lights. As we had planned, this turned out to be a really fun addition to the wedding and allowed the guests to explore the cute, rustic features of the property, whilst pulling some embarrassing faces.
As for the video, well Braden is a video editor, so he set up various cameras in different places to record the entire day. He now has some serious hours of footage to look through – but has a master-plan on the boil! Maybe by our 10-year anniversary we’ll have a video to look back on!
On our invitation (which was the first most of the guests heard about the wedding, only a couple of months before the big day!) we asked for a song choice to be rsvp’d. We made our own wedding playlists to include a song for everyone. We found our guests listening out for their songs and there was much merriment when played. It was a great taking point for people to get to know each other and encouraged much crazed dancing as the night grew older. We danced to an Arctic Monkey’s cover “Baby I’m Yours” (original 60’s track) on the grass under the fairy lights. During the song I stepped on my dress, tore the bottom of my petticoat, which got caught on my heel and I very nearly ended up on my bum! Thankfully my new husband was there to keep my feet (almost) firmly on the floor!
Our cake was a traditional homemade fruitcake made and iced by Braden’s mum. She was almost horrified when I asked that she decorate it with cherry tomatoes!! A throw back to the fact that I had to pick tomatoes for 3 months to stay in Australia so we could apply for our de facto visa. I placed a pair of green glass welly boots on the top of the cake with red roses and cherry tomatoes spilling from the top!
Five things that made our wedding day truly special …
- Having our family in the same place to share the day. It is a huge thing to get everyone together. My family traveled a long way with newborn babies and oldies in tow! And the Aussies made sure they showed them a truly awesome time!
- Having our best friend marry us. About as personal a ceremony as you could get. A highlight for us, and our guests commented after how wonderful an expression of us it was. Apparently I didn’t stop smiling the whole day!
- Writing our own vows and asking our parents up to share with us and everyone their thoughts on marriage.
- Having a big bacon and egg breakfast with all the happy campers the morning after. It was fantastic inviting our guests to camp out with us. With no curfew the evening lasted as long as the last guest was standing (or drinking Braden’s dad’s homemade Port, straight from the barrel). The next day was my mum’s 50th birthday, so wedding breakfast and birthday cake was a great thing to wake up to.
- Being able to return to the place we got married every time we visit the in-laws means we relive the day over again. Being able to plant a tree as a symbol of our marriage in the garden was a really personal touch too.
Photography from Emma and Braden’s collection
Flowers Flos Florum
Ms Gingham says: In true country style the whole clan bands together to create and be involved in such a beautiful moment. Thanks so much to Emma and Braden for sharing this with us!
Emma says that her motivation is to create bespoke wedding flowers that will remain captured in your memories and photographs forever.
Get more floristry inspiration from Emma here.