Cara and John
A garden party wedding on a rainy day doesn’t sound like every couples dream, but somehow I don’t think today’s couple Cara and John minded one little bit. Especially as the clouds parted and guests danced their hearts out underneath the moonlight. Sometimes I think that’s the best tale to tell- things went wrong but in the end, it doesn’t matter one little bit.
Cara shares the story of how she and John met. “Ironically, the very first night Johnny and I met, we “got married” in Vegas! We met at a Vegas-themed party at his flat in London in 2008, Johnny’s flatmate who was dressed as a priest married us. My plane had only landed from Budapest a couple of hours before. Johnny claims as soon as he opened the front door and saw my green eyes, he was smitten! It was a few months before I managed to pin him down for a date though.”
Photos today are by Ali Novis Photography who captured beautiful imagery despite the limitations, and certainly captured the love of Cara and John. Girl Friday Weddings was the day of coordinator making sure everything ran smoothly.
Cara and John were married on Johnny’s family property at Glenorie where John had spent his childhood. Cara explains “As soon as we got engaged 6 months earlier, we both immediately knew we wanted to get married at ‘the farm’ where Johnny had grown up. It’s such a beautiful property and we wanted the wedding to be personal and have meaning to us. We realised we were in for some work, but it was so worth it.
I had a ‘garden party’ vision with everything spilling from the marquee onto the lawn but due to the rain it was all under the marquee. Luckily, the day the marquee’s (we had 2 set up in an L-shape) were to be installed there was a double-booking and we ended up with one much larger than planned; we needed it as the first 2 or so hours of the wedding were in torrential rain! We originally planned to get married under some trees down the back of the property than move to the lawn for the reception; all day long Johnny & his family were waiting for a break in the clouds so they could set up but at the last minute had to do everything under the marquee. Whilst I was relaxing at home with my friends & sisters sipping champagne the groom was in a sopping wet t-shirt running around trying to re-arrange everything about 30 minutes before the wedding was due to start!!! We had a pretty loose wet-weather plan as we always knew we could use the marquee, unfortunately we were unable to play the croquet & quoits we had set up or utilise all the outdoor lounges we had arranged on the lawn.”
The Press Club Band kept guests entertained throughout the day, They performed “Beautiful Day” by U2 as the page boy and flower girls walked down the aisle (in pouring rain!) and “Only Fools Rush In” by Elvis Presley as Cara walked down the aisle.
Cara remarks ” I have read so many bride stories’ about how they felt calm as soon as they saw their future husband; I took this with a grain of salt… but it did actually happen! I locked eyes with Johnny straight away and the look on his face was priceless. Standing with him at the alter (and having whispered conversations under our breath!) was such a great feeling. It was a head rush for both of us.”
Cara recalls “Our first kiss caused quite a scandal. We had briefly talked about it beforehand, deciding to keep it fairly chaste…. But on the day passion took over and lots of people commented on it!!”
Of their photographer, Cara says “Ali Novis is a friend of my sisters’. It was important to use suppliers who were highly recommended, and not big companies with impersonal service. Ali & Eraldo were great on the day, both very professional and easy to work with. I LOVE our photos.”
Cara and John put together the reception decorations themselves. Cara explains, “The day before the wedding Johnny and I went to the flower markets at the crack of dawn to buy all the white flowers and on Friday morning we had a lot of help to arrange them all. It was a fun day and we almost didn’t have enough flowers for all the jars we had collected, luckily there was plenty of greenery on the farm to use to fill them out. Throughout the whole process I kept saying I wanted the ‘tables to be laden with white flowers’, luckily there were plenty to choose from at the markets, so we bought a bit of everything (dozens & dozens & dozens!) and haphazardly styled them in the jars. The idea was that the placement of the many jars would be the style, not the way the flowers were arranged – it worked brilliantly.”
There was plenty of DIY at the reception with Ali making the stationery and family pitching in. Ali says, “My dad made the wooden signposts and the blackboard, my very creative sister did all the lettering for them…. These too didn’t have the same effect as they were all over the farm to direct guests around, instead everyone was mainly in one spot all night!”
“My mum made the large fabric letters, they were going to hang in a tree above the aisle, instead they were propped up on hay bales in the marquee. Johnny’s mum made jam from fruit trees on the farm for the wedding favours, I designed and printed the labels. We really wanted personal wedding favours.
We collected jars & tins for months to use as vases, some were decorated with paper heart shaped doilies, recycled paper bags and brown string to enhance the look we were going for- rustic but elegant.”
The quality of food and wine at the reception was of high importance to the couple. Ali explains “We spent a lot of time trying to find suitable wines from NSW, preferably Mudgee or Orange to support lesser known wine regions, and we both love the wines from there. We wanted to be as green as possible. All the alcohol, except for the vodka, was from NSW.
Simon Ekas Catering was second to none. Not only were the waiters & bar staff extremely professional despite the pouring rain, the food was divine. No-one could stop talking about it the entire night. We had grazing tables set up all evening; followed by 10 different canapés and for later on – a suckling pig and shoulder of lamb. It was all divine and I wished I ate more!
We were very keen to use lesser known & local suppliers; and I wanted to use suppliers who were highly recommended. I wanted to support small & local businesses and reduce our carbon footprint. For instance, all of the fairy lights used (over 500m) were solar powered, all of the vases (over 100) were recycled jars & tins from family and friends. The wedding invitations were made from recycled paper, and the decorations we used were either recycled (the old doors, windows and wine barrels) or re-usable (hired furniture) & natural (hay bales).”
The couple had three amazing wedding cakes made by a friend. Ali remembers “We’re not that keen on wedding cakes, we really weren’t keen on keeping to tradition or doing anything too formal but a family friend offered to make our cake as a gift to us- so we chose the most unique design we could think of, 3 books that reflect us and the day. It was definitely a talking point! They looked fabulous and tasted it too.”
As the wedding was at an independent venue we had the responsibility of styling the whole event. I did dabble with the idea of hiring a stylist but decided I really wanted it to be from us, I had a clear vision and I didn’t think anyone else would achieve exactly what we wanted. Surprisingly, I never really got too stressed and knew that if I wasn’t able to complete every single idea I had, the guests would never know. We had a lot of CIY/DIY we were unable to use in the end anyway as it was raining. My mum had made loads of red hearts to hang from trees to guide the guests to the reception, these instead hung in the Marquee and the guests were none the wiser!
The first dance was memorable and fun. Ali explains “Our first dance was to Just The Way You Are by Bruno Mars. There was a lot of to-and-fro about what song to choose. We wanted something meaningful but fun and upbeat. Johnny took dance classes in London to keep fit, so we spent many nights in our flat choreographing and perfecting the dance ourselves. It was a lot of fun and we really enjoyed the process. It’s not uncommon for Johnny to still ask me to dance each night!!
By that stage I had to change out of my 5 inch heels, so was busy trying not to trip on my dress as we spun – but I think we pulled it off. Everyone really got into the dancing, and the party continued even after we left. The band was great and played longer sets and much longer than planned. We both really wanted our wedding to feel fun, casual and like a big party; we didn’t want it to feel structured or formal and I think we pulled this off – everyone was dancing for hours, it was great!”
Disappointments turned into blessings. Ali recalls, “I was so annoyed at the rain on the day, it turned out to be a blessing- not only were my energies diverted away from being nervous; it actually made the ceremony quite intimate by having it in the marquee. We were really grateful when the rain eased and everyone was able to enjoy dancing under the moonlight when it peaked out from behind the clouds (the closest the moon has ever been to the earth!); we were able to light all of the lanterns around the yard and the rain really caused a moody atmosphere.”
A nod to Cara’s heritage was included. “My paternal grandparents are Russian so for the Father of the Bride toast we had Vodka Shots instead of champagne, this was special to me as my Russian heritage and Russian family are very close. Although a shot of vodka is not to everyone’s taste, the guests really embraced the family traditional and joyfully shouted ‘Nosdrovya’! as required.”
Congratulations Ali & John! Thank you for sharing your wedding! Thank you also to Ali Novis Photography for today’s photographs!