Before Tinder there was Compare Hotness on Facebook. Several times I clicked that this man in a suit was hotter before I noticed he had a very similar surname to me – just 1 letter difference. Even more coincidental, his name was Jon Gardiner and my grandfather and uncle are both John Gardner’s. We started chatting, jokingly calling each other hubby and wifey and began getting to know each other via Compare Hotness.
Six months later we met in person when he was on holidays in Brisbane (from Sydney). That night when I went to bed I distinctly remember having a moment when I thought to myself “remember this night, this is the man I will marry”. Since then we have been in a long distance relationship for 25 months, lived in Sydney together with his mum for 18 months, lived in Brisbane with my parents for 12 months and then bought our own home in December 2013. We’d been together 5 1/2 years when he proposed on 21 November 2014.
About the proposal:
Jon graduated from The QLD Corrective Services Academy on 21st November 2014 and I attended to watch him graduate as an officer. After the graduation he told me that his class was coming back into the gymnasium for a class photo and a hat toss.
Since I’m a photographer, he asked me to stand on the stage and photograph it. He said that there would be 3 beats of the drum and they would throw their hats. Instead, to each beat of the drum, a hat was revealed with another letter spelling out “Will You Marry Me Nat?”. He then marched toward me and took me to the centre of the room. With my parents, his parents, my sister, his fellow officers and their families watching, he got down on one knee and proposed.
He had bought the most stunning ring that he had helped design from the pictures I had sent him. He picked a stunning colourless white diamond that shines as brightly as my love for him.
Jon had always said he was going to propose when I least expected it… And I definitely did not expect it on his graduation day!!!
In the 5.5 years we had been together I had (not so subtly) dropped hints about the proposal. I had gushed about how amazing a public, unexpected proposal would be and how wonderful it would be to have a photographer capture it. I never expected that he would get ME to photograph my own proposal. As well as that, he had the Corrective Services photographer photograph it. And it was very public!
My sister captured the video of the proposal:
The evening of the proposal, I was in wedding planning mode – within two weeks the wedding was planned! Now the long wait until July…
Ms Gingham says: Congratulations Nat! How amazing that you have your proposal caught on film for you to show future generations! I can’t wait to hear more about the planning and the wedding!
Nat says: “We have planned a country DIY wedding at beautiful Branell Homestead in Laidley with some amazing vendors!”
We were married on 25 May 2014 at Poet’s Lane. As the leaves welcomed autumn with their crimson shades, we knew that our special day had arrived. Our year of preparation, which included handcrafted cards, invitations, guest lists, flowers, songs, origami, and so much more, was to culminate on this very day and we could not be more excited. This bubbling of excitement manifested quite differently for each of us. While Jo was completely relaxed, comfortable, and enjoying the day’s proceedings, my emotions could be accurately described as a bundle of frayed nerves and a hyperactive mind. Nevertheless, in our hearts we knew that it did not matter much if things went smoothly today or if it was an utter nightmare. Regardless, dreams were coming true.
Our celebrations began on the previous day with both of our extended families gathering for our Chinese tea ceremony. Dressed in traditional Chinese garments, Jo’s a gift from her grandmother’s brother and his wife, and mine a shirt that my Dad bought during his visit to China, people looked on as we served tea to our older family members and relatives. In return, we received much appreciated, little red packets of moolah that definitely helped to pay for the wedding. As was apparently traditional for the groom, my family brought a full suckling pig for afternoon tea, much to the surprise of our guests. Jo’s grandmother also made a sweet dessert for us which we later found out was associated to the number of children we would have in the future.
Image by Samuel Chan
Image by Samuel Chan
Image by Samuel Chan
Image by Samuel Chan
The day I had been waiting for was here, but I don’t think I ever felt more anxious. Our first item of the day was the preparation shots with the photographer. My shoulders were frozen tight in tension, my stomach filled with anxiety about anything that might be forgotten or out of place (I later found out that Jo was completely relaxed and enjoying herself). Nevertheless, I smiled for the photographer and laughed at jokes made (funny or otherwise). Finding myself constantly checking with my groomsmen about timing, placements, and guests, I was chastised pretty soon for worrying too much. Marrying my wife was a dream, something beyond doubt. But my head continued to spin and wonder if everything was perfect, and I couldn’t stand or sit still.
Jo says: “My perfect day began at my parents’ house, with a rainbow painted across the canvas of the blue sky. My bridesmaids and I had our hair and makeup session in the morning, and we were so appreciative of the wonderful professionalism and talent of Miss Aimmey and The Makeup Glossary. Our beautiful bouquets were created by our talented friend Amy from goldpop flowers. My dress and veil from Le Chateau Blanc Couture fit perfectly, but could hardly contain the excitement that was bubbling inside of me. We had plenty of photos taken by First Impressions Photography during our preparations and with my family and after lunch, our dapper chauffeur and friend Daryl drove the four of us to Poet’s Lane in my brother’s car, which had been decorated with beautiful, purple ribbon across the front.
I walked down the aisle with my Dad to the song “Marry Me” by Train – conscious not to trip on my dress while having the biggest smile on my face. The chapel was packed with our loved ones, some of whom had come all the way from Malaysia and Singapore to be here. Our bridal party looked respectively beautiful and dashing in their different shades of purple and grey. It was also such an honour to have our previous young adults pastor, Josiah Conner, conduct our ceremony for us. He was engaging, encouraging and humourous, and lent a light casual vibe to the proceedings. Two of our friends led the congregation in a couple of songs that we chose and also sang and played while, witnessed by our mums, we signed our marriage certificate. We also had a dear friend read a couple of our favourite Bible passages for us. We wrote our own vows, which were kept secret till the day. Al’s vows took the form of a heartfelt poem.
Michael from First Impressions Photography was very professional in organising everyone for our many group photos and then patiently helping us to capture the perfect couple shots with the beautiful autumn scenery as our backdrop.
Two of our friends were MCs for the night and they did a great job keeping everyone entertained and informed. Our bridal party entered the reception room ahead of us, bowing and curtseying to each other before making their way to their seats. Poet’s Lane had cooked up a lavish spread, even after all the canapes that they had served before the reception started. Entrees were alternated between veal white wine tortellini and minted lamb parcels, and as for the main course, there was bocconcini chicken and crispy pork loin. The highlight of the night according to our guests, only in regards to the food I am sure, was the dessert buffet.
Our parents, maid of honour, and best man gave excellent speeches and toasts, while Jo and I did a combined speech, where instead of Jo tossing her bridesmaid’s bouquet, we presented them to our Mums on the night. Later in the night, we cut into our beautiful masterpiece of a wedding cake made by my sisters Connie and Cassie as more photos were taken. The cake had layers that took turns between chocolate and butter, and was gorgeously decorated with flowers, butterflies, and birds. Our night ended with our “first dance,” where we danced a few steps to “All About Us” by He is We, before singing the rest of the lyrics with myself on guitar.
Our wedding day was everything we had envisioned and we are deeply grateful for all our willing helpers and generous support that we received from family and friends.”
Ms Gingham says: A beautiful post! I love having both the bride and the groom write about their experiences of the day.
Jo says: I enjoy laughing and crying through chick flicks and the fuzzy moments that make my heart melt. D&Ms are one of the best ways for me to connect with my friends, especially over a delicious home cooked meal made by my husband. I would like to visit as many beaches around the world and explore as much of the world as I can.
Toby and I decided on our very small garden wedding for a few reasons. The most practical factor was cost! A few months before the wedding we bought a house that needed a lot of work. So we couldn’t justify spending a lot of money on one day, we would much rather put that money in to our house. So instead we opted to have just our close family with us on the day, there was a total of 14 guests plus ourselves. Even my extended family who had expected an invite to the wedding thought the idea was great and congratulated us for breaking the norm.
After hours of research, I stumbled upon The Wise Foundation. The event coordinator, Kendal, told me they would be opening a new venue called The Gardens Club which should be open in time for our wedding. I could not believe my luck! The heritage listed Curators Cottage in the Brisbane City Botanic Gardens was entirely ours for the day, and 100% of the profits raised from our booking were redistributed back to the community. We loved having a relaxed and meaningful ceremony outside the venue with our Celebrant Jamie Eastgate surrounded by the amazing Botanic Gardens with the contrast of the City skyscrapers in the background. Toby and I love the city, and the view was just perfect!
At first I was incredibly stressed about the day going well, but once I realised that I had chosen an amazing group of talented suppliers it was so easy to relax and let them do what they do best! We loved that the venue allowed the toddlers to run amok safely, and their parents could relax and enjoy the incredible lunch put together by the chef, Alastair McLeod. The Gardens Club also lends itself to some pretty amazing photo opportunities which Kate captured so beautifully.
The best advice I can give to couples planning their wedding is to be yourself and stay true to yourself! Of course our parents and grandparents had expectations of how the day would go. My very religious grandparents had never been to a wedding that wasn’t in a church but on the day they were all thrilled and thought it was lovely and very ‘us’.