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JoJo & Cam

I met Cam in India ten years ago, on a graduate training program with the company we had both joined; he was from Sydney, and I was from London. Our holiday fling turned into something more serious, and we decided to give long distance a go. After six months apart, I moved to Sydney to be with him, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Cam proposed in a photobooth, which he had decorated with balloons, streamers and photos of us. He even remembered the red rose and a princess tiara on the seat. I just thought that it was part of my birthday celebrations, and it wasn’t until he gave me the coins to count out, that I turned back and saw the gorgeous Tiffany & Co. ring he held out to me. The camera flashed just in time to capture my utter shock!

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Our engagement snaps!

I always wanted the fairytale wedding, so getting married in a castle seemed the perfect choice. We knew that our guests would be coming from all over the world, so we decided to pick a beautiful destination, where people could relax and make a real holiday of it. We asked Marry Me In France to find our perfect venue in the land of wine and cheese. The Chateau Cazenac was everything I had dreamed of, and I fell in love with it instantly. It’s nickname is the fairytale chateau – so it was obviously meant to be!

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My dress was a Ronald Joyce design that I found whilst with my mum and sisters in the UK. I knew it was the one when I put on the veil and burst immediately into tears, then turned back to tell my mum, only to find her already crying and nodding in agreement. I wanted something with a dramatic back, and I loved the beautiful beadwork that I attached for a more glamorous look in the evening. As my Mum helped me to step into my dress, ‘Kissing You’ by Des’ree began to play, and I was completely overwhelmed with emotion.

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I left my dress a surprise for my Dad. He waited for me at the bottom of the Chateau’s spiral staircase, and the look of absolute pride on his face is an image I will treasure forever.

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We held the ceremony on the lawn outside, under the trees. It was touch and go as to whether we would be able to as it showered on and off all morning. But we made the call 15 minutes before show time, and the sun shone gloriously throughout.

Our wedding planner Louise (from Marry Me In France) was sensational. Every detail had been covered and executed to perfection. She was the first one on site in the morning, and one of the last standing at the end. I was so grateful because organising a destination wedding is pretty difficult, but she gave us brilliant advice, and answered my millions of questions with the patience of a saint! Everyone commented on how chilled out I was on the morning of the wedding, and it’s really because I knew everything was under control, and all I needed to do was turn up and tell my man how I felt about him.

My little sister did my hair and make up. I’m so lucky to have such a talented hairdresser in the family, as I trust her implicitly, and knew that she would make sure that I looked perfect for my big day. We did two hair trials prior to the wedding, and I felt like a total princess when she was finished. She also did the hair of the entire bridal party,including an elaborate up-do on herself. She seriously amazes me.

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We wrote our own vows, so there were plenty of tears during the ceremony. I almost lost it a few times. It was important for us to make promises to each other that were heartfelt, and to let our playful side shine through at the same time. Our celebrant Roland was great fun, and worked with us to make sure that the ceremony was exactly as we wanted. I walked down the aisle to ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’ by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole.

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Our friends are a huge part of our lives, and we wanted them to have a special place in our ceremony too. We had three readings: ‘A Gift From The Sea‘, ‘A Lovely Love Story‘ and my favourite passage from ‘His Dark Materials‘. We also asked our parents to be part of a French wedding tradition, holding out a white ribbon across our path, to be cut before we walked back down the aisle as man and wife. The idea is that the couple cut the ribbon and walk into their new life and show that together they can overcome any problems they may encounter in their married life.

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Lou organised our flowers with a local florist. She was delighted that I wanted to go for something with a real pop of colour, rather than the more traditional pale pinks and whites. We opted for deep fuchsia and purples in peonies, roses, lisianthus and alliums, which stood out against the navy of my bridesmaids’ dresses. There were some very special people missing from our celebrations; my stepdad Colin, Cam’s stepdad John, and our grandparents. I carried them with me, attached to my bouquet, and close to my heart.

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Our photographers were Mckinley-Rodgers, and they were absolutely brilliant. Pen and Cam are a super-fun couple, who made us and our guests laugh constantly on the day. They are based in Newquay, in the UK, but are soon moving back to Australia. We went to meet them for a coffee whilst on a visit home in the year before the wedding. They set us at ease immediately, and we knew that we had found life-long friends in the two of them.

Their style is very candid, and they captured the story of the day so beautifully. Even the afternoon rain showers didn’t faze them, and they managed to get one of the most impressive shots of the day inside, in an impromptu ‘Vanity Fair’ style shot of the bridal party in the Chateau kitchen.

The multi-talented pair also captured a video of our day, which makes me cry every single time I watch it. It really brings alive some of the most precious moments, in a way that stills just can’t. We absolutely love it!

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We didn’t have a specific theme, but we were going for a romantic, rustic vibe. The venue was so beautiful we didn’t need to go overboard with additional decorations. We used vintage keys for our seating plan, and Luminous Event Lighting did an amazing job with candles, fairy lights and uplighting on the chateau itself. I’m a massive literary nerd, so we named the tables after books. As Cam told everyone in his speech, our own story and table name, Mr and Mrs Swords is a tale still in the process of being written.

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We decided to embrace our destination and chose to have a cheese tower, rather than a wedding cake. The catering, including the tower, was prepared by Chez Amis. Everyone told me that I wouldn’t actually get to eat much at my own wedding, but the food was so delicious, so I made absolutely sure that I did.

We had a sweetheart table for the two of us, which gave us a chance to enjoy a few private moments together during dinner, as well as slipping away for some photographs when a beautiful mist rolled in over the hills, and again later, when we were blessed with a truly spectacular sunset.

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Our first dance was to ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’ by Frankie Valli. We had thankfully taken lessons with Sydney Dance World, so we felt ready to have some fun with it. I loved the dips and lifts, and the way that my dress swirled out around me as Cam spun around. All of our guests joined in with the chorus and it really set the tone for the night ahead. We danced until 3am, and couldn’t believe how quickly the night had flown by. We didn’t want it to end!

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My favourite memories of the day were the moments that we spent laughing with each other and our loved ones. We took several moments to just stop and soak it all up, and were completely overwhelmed by the amount of joy and love in the room. All these people that we adore were under one roof, smiling and dancing and laughing, and all because of our love story. We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect gift on our wedding day.

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Ms Chinoiserie Says: Congratulations JoJo and Cam; your beautifully romantic French chateau wedding was straight out of a fairytale!

Bride’s Dress: Ronald Joyce / Hair and Make-Up: Rebecca Cheri / Ceremony and Reception Venue: Chateau Cazenac / Wedding Planner: Marry Me In France / Photographer: Mckinley-Rodgers / Ceremony Officiant: Celebrants In France / Catering and Cheese Tower: Chez Amis / Dance Lessons: Sydney Dance World / Cinematographer: Story Catchers Films

Inspired Words - Kate

As Kate looks back on her formal cocktail party wedding to Stuart, she remembers that it was important to both of them to keep things simple and relaxed.

“I think being a makeup artist and hearing about the lead up to many, many weddings over the years, keeping it simple is my best advice. Remember that a wedding is really about the two people getting married – and their guests are the people they wanted to share that special ceremony with.”

Wedding ceremony at home

Broadbeach wedding cereony

Emotional groom

Wedding ring exchange

First kiss as husband and wife

Kissing as marrieds

Images by Glass Slipper Photography

Tanya and Adam's Stormy Spicers Hiddenvale Wedding

Tanya and Adam

Adam and I had been set up on a blind date by mutual friends desperate to “marry off” the last of their single friends.  We had for years randomly been at the same parties and events but never really managed to meet. So with the match makers at work we decided to briefly catch up for a coffee given we both worked in the city, and can I just say it’s not what I expected, he just-wouldn’t-shut-up!

No longer teenagers, but both in our late 20’s at the time, what’s the customary first date other than a going to pub or a casual meal? Ours was at Strike Bowling. Adam has quite often said that it was smack talk while walking “to his future crushing defeat” that was what made him fall in love. I think it was more my sheer silence, whilst wearing those Ronald Macdonald type bowling shoes after he annihilated me that set things in motion. Or maybe it was afterwards sitting in the Queen Street Mall having a casual drink, people gazing and having a laugh at who was out and about.

Three years into our relationship and not to do anything by convention Adam decided to pop the question at Mount Cootha on 1 January 2014 at midday. The ring had been burning a hole in his pocket all night waiting for midnight but he confessed he never really found the “right time” while watching the fireworks at Southbank. He also tells me later that while walking back to our unit that night, we crossed the river and on the middle of the Good Will Bridge he thought this would be neutral territory and a great place to propose (he’s from the South, I’m from the North), though again it just didn’t feel right time. Honestly, Mount Cootha was right.

Our 18 month engagement flew past incredibly quickly. All the tireless hours of planning and coordination, the DIY preparations, the bumps, the stumbles and the stresses along the way now seemed like a blur as “the day” was as nearly here. The 1st of May 2015 was tomorrow!

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We had chosen Spicers Hiddenvale for our wedding venue specifically so we could marry under the large old figtree, and have our reception under the stars.  Arriving the day before, we thought we would use the opportunity to catch our breath and unwind before the formalities of the next day with a welcome drink. Our entire wedding day, from ceremony and canapés through to the reception had been planned to take place outdoors so some last minute coordination with the Spicers’ team was also on the agenda, and to see how the setup was progressing.

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Adam and I knew before we arrived that there was a good chance of rain on the day so we had scrambled in the days leading up to the wedding to secure an all-weather “clear” marquee to be positioned where our outdoor reception was to be held, just in case. The best of plans, including Plan B’s were starting now to come undone. The marquee didn’t quite fit as originally planned due to some large fig trees tree branches, so a smaller version was setup.

The long table we had planned was also reduced based on the marquee size so all our guests would need to get friendly for the evening. Then lastly we realised the chandeliers/ feature lights in the centre of the space were in fact incorrect and not the ones we had ordered. What could we do? Nothing really so decided we had to “run with the punches”. That welcome drink from the Spicers team was well planned and perfectly timed – the second one helped too!

They say that any rain on your wedding day is a sign of luck and prosperity so when we woke up on our big day we were greeted with an abundance of “luck and prosperity”. On this day, the weather system affectionately named by meteorologists as The East Coast Low arrived and flooded parts of the Sunshine Coast, Brisbane and Gold Coast, so you can imagine how lucky we were feeling at the time. In some small way, it seemed fitting given our engagement party 12 months earlier, the hens party and the bucks also enjoyed the pleasure of rain!

Adam, ever the optimist, still set up our ceremony arch in our preferred spot just in case the weather cleared for our afternoon vows. “Plan B”, the modified version was also in full swing and he remained confident we wouldn’t need it, but suffice to say plans change and mother nature on this day was in full force and unrelenting.

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It was time. The ceremony moved indoors to the old Homestead Restaurant, flowers on the archway were rearranged and we started a little after 3pm given the rain had slowed the arrival of a majority of the guests (some didn’t arrive until the reception based on the weather and localised flooding). While Adam was chatting with guests and trying to keep his nerves in check, I was getting ready with Dad to walk down the aisle (albeit the ‘restaurant’ aisle). I think Dad in all of this was more nervous than me as the music was playing but he wouldn’t budge.

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I walked down the aisle to the ‘Boat Song’. My beloved man at the other end who was waiting for me was clearly a little emotional when he saw me, I have the pictures to prove it. With eyes now dried and noses blown, we composed and steadied ourselves for the vows. The twelve months prior we had been to several weddings and heard the typical “say hi to your mum” vows and it was from here we knew we wanted something different, something funning, something us.

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So in the spirit of our relationship Adam expressed his sheer love of garlic bread (minus the bum bits) and how he loved me so much more including my bum bits. I admitted to knowing that I knew about his secret stash of cookies and cream icecream in the freezer, and quite often ate some, smoothed the top and put it back with him none the wiser. Our guests clearly enjoyed the spirit of the moment.

We decided in the end not to have any bridesmaids and groomsmen (that was an unexpected bump during our preparations) so we could keep the focus on what we wanted to do, so we incorporated our families into the ceremony. Both fathers handed us our wedding rings whilst we gave our mothers the duty of signing the registry.

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After some mingling with our guests and a calming drink, it was time for the wedding photos. The Spicers Hiddenvale property is magnificent and we had been looking forward to the post wedding photo shoot as the old buildings, scenery and fields are just beautiful in the late afternoon sunlight. Big problem, it’s still raining heavily and there wasn’t a lot of sunlight. Solution, run with the punches and see what happens. The keys to the Spicers’ 4WD handed over, umbrellas in hand, and with the help of my brother we set off.

First the hay shed, then old barn, our photographer, Tricia King, was getting some moody but classic shots. Outside was wet, windy and muddy, though we persisted again also got some amazing shots, with photos on the back roads we never anticipated. The umbrellas were a last minute thought from my Dad, something unplanned yet so central in our lasting memory of the day.

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After the photos, we took a couple of moments to ourselves and enjoyed a quiet celebratory drink in our cottage. Soon after, we were back on our feet and heading out to the reception. Our guests were mingling happily with one another, being entertained by a guitarist while waiting for our arrival. We finally entered that famous marquee where we found sandbags were now placed around the perimeter to limit the amount of groundwater flowing through our festivities!

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There were no stars in the sky to see that night, but the festoon lights and alternate chandelier played their part, much better than we had planned. The space was unexpectedly warm and intimate, though felt spacious at the same time (given we choose the “clear” marquee) as we could see outside the illuminated trees and the JUST MARRIED sign Adam had made setup on the lawn.

We sat down and looked forward to having the chance to order from the special menu we had organised with the Spicers’ restaurant team, a little surprise we thought our guests would enjoy instead of the traditional alternate drop. We didn’t know it then, but we were about to be surprised again. Adam had a tap on the shoulder from the Spicers’ wedding coordinator; he thought we were about to be told what we had selected from the menu was not available. If only.

We were informed that a severe storm warning for the area was just announced, and for guest and staff safety we were to move to an alternative area. This was the start of our “roving dinner”. Off we headed back to the Homestead Restaurant and into the function space setup just in case. There was a lot of just in case going on that day! As all our guests were now in different seating arrangements, and with people loosing place cards reminding them what they had ordered, this made the meal service even more memorableLike the Titanic, our band (the solo guitarist) continued to play unphased by what was happening. The food was as were expecting was fantastic.

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By the time we had finished our meals, the severe storms had passed and we were allowed to return with the band in tow back to our marquee again. The sandbags had worked pretty well to keep the space dry, the cake sitting in the corner had survived so we got on with the party.  Cutting of the cake was the first order of priority, followed by our first dance to Cold Play’s ‘Us Against the World’.

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The JUST MARRIED sign was looking a little worse for wear, though we partied on enjoying our time with those guests which were staying overnight. There were a few unlucky guests who had to make a brave drive home, a usual 60 minute trip into Brisbane taking some up to three hours. The night, the day, the event, was a success and memorable beyond compare, namely due to the Spicers team going above and beyond what was expected – and our guests just going with the flow.

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The morning after, we woke up to sun and warm weather; for some the perfect day for a wedding. In the weeks after, our guests continued to praise us on the day and classed it as one of the most memorable events for obvious reasons. There was we found out an unexpected casualty, the photographer was days later nearly hospitalised for “trench foot”; who knew weddings could be dangerous!

Ultimately what we learned was it’s about the rest of your lives together, not only the wedding day. It can all go to plan and yet the marriage never works. I now believe that despite nothing going to plan on our big day I will be married to this wonderful man forever. Well as my vows said at least 60 years! On reflection this is the day (weather included) that they gave us and we wouldn’t change it for the world.

As a footnote, we celebrated our one year anniversary in Hawaii with perfect weather, while back home in Brisbane it was raining, again! Moral of the story, more holidays abroad for us as that’s where the good weather is!

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Ms Chinoiserie Says: Congratulations Tanya and Adam – what an amazing day; your marriage is truly blessed with good luck for ‘weathering’ those storms with such good humour and smiles!

Ceremony & Reception Venue: Spicers Hidden Vale / Photographer: Tricia King / Ceremony Officiant: Annie Grace / Entertainment: Kris Wason / Makeup Artist: Lou Hansen