Annie & Tony
Tony and I had been high school sweethearts, back in the distant past of the early nineties – or noughties! It certainly hadn’t been for forever, but it meant that when time and circumstance put us back on the same path more than a decade later, it felt straight away like it was one for us to stay on together.
‘Love’ isn’t the first word that comes to most people’s minds when they think of the 2010 federal election campaign, but that’s what it means for us! If it hadn’t been for the campaign bus stopping in Melbourne at just the right moment in both our lives, we may well not have been getting married five years later.
I had always wanted to get married on my parents’ farm, ‘Woody End’. They were married in the dry creek bed in 1981 and had danced their wedding waltz in the driveway that later became the garden. I grew up there and we’d lived together there for almost a year when we came back from a few years in London. It also happens to be a really beautiful place.
Katalane Tents set up two of their stunning tipis the week before the wedding. Their size brought a majesty to the garden, and Dad decided he liked them so much he wasn’t going to let them take them away. Katalane also provided the fairy lights, festoon lights, tables and benches and the bar, so by the time they left it really felt like we were about to have a big party!
I took on making the flowergirl and bridesmaid dresses because I love to sew, and I’d always imagined that when I got married, making things would be half the fun. With a few family sewing bees we made seven tutus and matching jackets for the flowergirls and ushers and dozens of pillows for scattering around the garden furniture. I was still finishing the bridesmaid dresses the week before the wedding, and Mum was sewing the last buttons the morning of the wedding, but we got there!
I am very lucky to count Ellen Stanistreet of Lissom Yarn as one of my dear friends. I was even luckier because she agreed to make my wedding dress despite moving interstate to start a masters degree. I flew to Melbourne for a toile just before Christmas, and then we opened the new year with four days madly sewing together over metres of tulle, silk and lace. It was a great privilege to work beside Ellen on my dress, discussing design decisions and finalising details as we went. It was everything I had hoped for and really reflected the organic, gentle feel that I wanted for our whole wedding.
Lady Larissa worked with us on flowers to decorate the tipis and tables, as well as crafting the bouquets and button holes. I clipped foliage from from the paddocks and Larissa worked them in to create a wild, grassy, country look. Her flowers transformed two old louver doors into a romantic rustic archway for us to get married under, and filled rusty pots and watering cans with bunches of blooms for scattering around the garden.
The big day finally arrived after almost a week of set up and finishing touches. I started the day in bed with my dog and a coffee, before Kirsty and Ellie turned up to do our makeup and hair. My sisters Kate and Elizabeth were my bridesmaids and we had all spent the night before at the farm with their young families. The house was buzzing as everyone put the final details in place.
Tony had asked his two brothers, Julian and Daniel, to be his groomsmen. They are the same ages as my sisters and we had all known each other for such a long time that it just felt like a family party. The boys were ready first on the day and when our photographer Hilary Wardhaugh arrived, they headed up to the top of the hill behind the house for photos with a view.
We had decided to have some photos taken before the ceremony so that we didn’t have to leave our guests alone. Tony waited for me to arrive at the top of the hill and had his back to me as I walked up the last bit of the slope. He said later he got more excited and nervous as the speed of Hilary’s camera shutter told him I was getting closer…
Back down the hill our guests were assembling in the garden ready for the ceremony, being handed programs by our beautiful fairy ushers.
I walked down the long garden ‘aisle’ to ‘I Will’ by the Beatles. My nephew and Tony’s little cousin led the procession and bravely picked their way through the throng of family and friends waiting for us. My mum held my 18-month-old niece’s hand as she walked the whole way, casually ‘dropping’ (throwing!) her flower crown on the grass every few feet with a mischievous ‘Uh-oh’.
Roger Thompson, our celebrant, had married Tony’s Mum and Dad over 35 years ago and had also married three other sets of aunts and uncles, and helped the family commemorate their grandfather Tom. With four Hodges’ family weddings and a funeral to his name we couldn’t think of anyone better suited to marry us.
Our rings had been lovingly cast in silver from plants and flowers by Marian Hosking, my mother’s best friend. We chose tea tree flowers and leaves as ‘his and hers’ parts of the same plant. She gave us a beautiful handcrafted box to put them in and lined it with fabric from my dress. She also made dozens of candle holders for our tables, each one imprinted from hessian and gum leaves from our invitations, and the lace from my dress.
After the ‘I dos’ the party kicked off with a Beatles soundtrack while everyone grabbed a glass of something and headed out into the garden to enjoy the sunshine and lawn games.
Canapes flowed and Tessa Saltet’s amazing team set up stunning food stations and kept the guests full all night.
Our guests used antique typewriters to leave us words of advice – some made more sense than others!
Tony and I had learned to dance latin ballroom when we were 16, and have danced on and off ever since. Tony even taught for a while so the guests had high expectations. We asked Becky Fleming from Kokoloco to teach us to waltz. We had listened to a lot of waltzes to find the right one for the day, but we couldn’t really find one… juicy enough.
In the end we went for Powerful by Major Lazer (which is a blend of reggae and house music in 3/4 time), and asked The New Savages (who have a hill country blues sound) to cover it for us. Having danced a bit we’d been confident we wouldn’t need a routine, and though it was quite a fast song, even after quite a bit of practice, it all came together in the moment. The guests gasped when the waltz hit full speed and cheered and whooped as we whirled around under the tipis and chandeliers. We followed it up with dances with our parents and getting everyone on the dance floor.
Just on dusk the family’s horses came up to see what all the noise was about. Hilary stole us away from the party for a few photos and some quiet moments together.
We cut the gorgeous orange and almond cake that my sister Kate had made for us and everyone helped themselves to the four different desserts Tony’s mum had created. The uncles lit the bonfire, the band hit full swing, and both our families danced harder than we’d ever seen them dance before.
The whole night was a whirlwind of laughter, fun and love. The whole experience carried us along without a hiccup, and we enjoyed every moment. As our fantastic MC, Michael Cooney, pointed out, we had decided to get married on the day before daylight savings ended, giving us a precious extra few minutes to enjoy our perfect day.
We couldn’t have done it without the help of our families, our fabulous wedding planner, Natalie Hill from Poppies Weddings and Events, and our other amazing vendors who really helped us bring our dream to life.
Ms Chinoiserie Says: Congratulations Annie and Tony – so much about family and friends, your wedding was just gorgeous; styled to perfection!
About Annie: Earlier this year, I married my childhood sweetheart in a ceremony on my parents’ farm. It was our dream wedding and we are still smiling at the thought of our guests having such a fun time. Being creative and working with my hands makes me feel alive. I love to sew, knit, make jewellery, embroider, garden, cook and so many other things. It gives me an outlet for my day job as a lawyer. By night you’ll find me in the kitchen making jam from fruit in our garden, or knitting up a project for my niece or nephews.