Kimberley & Justin
The scene is set – it’s time to celebrate that birthday of one of your favourites. You don your party clothes and arrive early, hoping to make it on time for that surprise Beyonce impersonator performance you were so eagerly encouraged to show up for and then surprise, there’s no impersonator, there is, however, a wedding and doughnuts and cake and did I mention the wedding? Well, that’s exactly how Kimberley and Justin celebrated – with a surprise wedding at Brunswick Foodstore. So beautifully captured by Long Way Home Photography the day unfolded from a first look to a birthday, to a wedding with all the celebration in between!
Kimberley explains how the surprise came to be. “With Justin’s birthday in November and mine in December we had a small window of time in between to throw our “birthday party” without raising suspicion. We had been putting off getting married for so long that using our 30th birthday as a cover, we had decided to stick with tradition (kind of) and not see each other before we did our reveal. Justin spent the night at home, with his grandparents who were staying over. I had to sneak out my wedding dress and everything else we needed without them noticing! ”
The couple met before their day kicked off for photographs, the bride remembering “I chose to stay at a nearby hotel the night before the wedding so I was nice and relaxed on our wedding day. I then spent the day with my three best friends having our hair and makeup done (like a normal bridal party would.) Justin and I chose to have all our photos taken before the wedding so we did a reveal at the hotel, then headed to the gardens around the corner for some more photos with our dogs, Chuck and Roary.”
Of their photographer, Kimberley notes “Steph from Long Way Home Photography was absolutely fantastic! She was very laid back and unobtrusive. She was always there to catch everything but you never really felt like your photo was being taken. We wanted our photos to be natural and tell the story of our day, not feel posed or staged. With 896 photos, it’s so hard to pick a favourite one! We have so many beautiful photos of not only Justin and I, but all our guests as well.”
The bride chose a sparkling gown from Rachel Gilbert, telling “After years of trying on wedding dresses of all sort of shapes, colours and styles, the one thing I knew, was that I wanted something a little out of the ordinary. I absolutely hated the stereotypical gaggle of girls that attended bridal shops in packs on weekends and take over the entire store! So I took a day off work and walked up and down High St Armadale until I found something I liked the look of. After seeing a preview on paper in store, I pinned all my hopes on the Rachel Gilbert Spring Summer 2016 collection that was being showcased a few weeks later. When the day finally came for trying on the collection, I enlisted the help of my best friend Truc (and her honest opinion).”
She continues “We arrived at Rachel Gilbert and were led through a secret door, upstairs to a huge private dressing room with strawberries, champagne and the entire collection hanging there ready to try on. and not a single gaggle of girls in sight! It was just us and it was perfect!
There were only 10 of each dress made so the pressure was on to make a decision that day or risk missing out! I tried on the entire collection and quickly discounted the two dresses I had originally thought could have been the one. It was instead the Electra gown that caught my eye with a dusty pink silk slip, a sheer beaded layer over the top and a small train. It fit me perfectly. Luckily Truc made me try it on again, and again, convincing me it was the one.”
Kimberley and Justin chose Brunswick Foodstore for their “birthday party” wedding, the bride remarking “Justin had been to the Brunswick Foodstore many times in his never-ending quest to find Melbourne’s best burgers. I had joined him there for brunch one day and noticed that they also did functions. With the beautiful hard wood floors and central location, this could be the perfect venue for my epic 30th birthday! A few months later, when we had decided to turn my epic 30th birthday into a secret wedding, we started to search for other possible venues around Melbourne but they just couldn’t compete against the Brunswick Foodstore.”
Kimberley and Justin worked with Ruffles & Bells to plan and style their day, “By hiring Ruffles and Bells to style and set up the event, it took away a lot of the stress that I had about every little detail being perfect. I gave Eliska all the images I had saved in my phone of things I liked and she found a way to incorporate everything. The one item I really had my heart set on, was a doughnut wall. I’m still not too sure why I wanted one so badly, but Ruffles and Bells made it happen for me and it looked amazing! So good in fact that some of our guests didn’t realise they were doughnuts and were edible.”
The venue was also perfect for the surprise “The room could be easily divided in two, creating the secret ceremony space at the front, hidden behind the draping, and the rest of the party at the back with the bar and amenities. We were able to use all of the existing furniture from the venue, only needing to bring in our doughnut wall and arbour.
Suzy and the team did a great job. The food was amazing, the staff were so attentive and obliging to anything we needed. They even made Justin a special plate of burgers when he said he was still hungry! I didn’t actually get to eat any of the food, but all our guests commented on how delicious it was.”
Juliet Louise Flowers created the floral arrangements for the day, choosing plenty of greenery with pink and apricot blooms. Kimberley explains “I have absolutely no idea what sort of flowers I had! Doing everything secretly meant it was hard to get things organised without people knowing what I was up to. I chose to go with Juliet Louise for my flowers as they were only a few minutes’ walk and I could go down and organise things in my lunch break. Ruffles and Bells met with the girls from Juliet Louise who did all the hard work!”
The bride’s grandfather created the ceremony arbour – much to his surprise, the bride notes “I had my heart set on a copper arbour. I looked at cost of hiring one and decided that my Grandpa would be able to make one easily. I had to trick him into thinking it was going to be used as part of a back drop for the photo booth. He was so shocked to see it set up for us to get married under.”
Kimberley explains how the surprise unfolded. “As we finished our photos and it got closer to party time, I changed out of my wedding dress and into a party dress to throw people off. We were worried our guests wouldn’t arrive on time so my plan was to coerce our guests into arriving nice and early with the promise of “special entertainment”. I managed to convince most people that a Beyonce impersonator would be performing. The plan seemed to work as everyone was there nice and early! I greeted all our guests in my decoy dress before I snuck off to the bathroom for an outfit change.”
Once the guests had arrived, it was time for the big reveal, Kimberley recounting “Just after 8 pm, our MC / Celebrant / my great Auntie Terri introduced herself, and announced that she was there to perform a wedding! The sound that followed after her announcement was my favourite moment of the day. First, there was a great big gasp, a few squeals, then cheers of excitement. Of my favourite photos is of Justin’s grandmother’s face and then our guests after the ceremony as they all came up and congratulated us individually.”
The bride entering in a wedding gown was a magic surprise for the guests, Kimberley telling “My Dad walked me down the aisle to a song called “When the right one comes along” from the TV show Nashville. We didn’t have a videographer there but our awesome DJ’s from Salacious captured my Dad and I walking in without me even realising. It was such a nice surprise to see the video pop up on Instagram a few days later.”
Of the ceremony vibe, Kimberley explains “We wanted the ceremony to feel nice and relaxed. I didn’t want the vibe of the party to die down while we stopped for a ceremony so we made sure our guests were huddled in nice and close with everyone going from party mode, to celebratory mode seamlessly.”
The bride’s aunt performed the ceremony. “Growing up, a visit to my Aunt Terri’s house would not be complete without some time spent sitting in her office, staring at all photos of couples that she had previously married. I always wanted to be up there so having Terri marry us was really special.”
“No one could believe that we actually got married and that I had been able to keep something a secret for once in my life! Over the course of the evening (and the next few weeks), our guests started to put all the pieces together and realised all the hints we had dropped over the previous months. Justin’s two haircuts in 3 weeks, me getting my first ever spray tan, why everyone needed to arrive by 8 pm…. It all started to make sense to everyone! There were a few guests who were already convinced they were coming to a wedding, apparently, the invitations were too nice for a birthday and gave it away!”
“All of our vendors were absolutely fantastic, in particular, Eliska from Ruffles and Bells who went above and beyond. Since our wedding was a covert operation, I didn’t have too many people to bounce ideas off. Eliska was a great sounding board and offered so many unique ideas. When my grandmother passed away a month before our wedding, the last thing I wanted to do was plan a wedding, let alone actually get married. We considered cancelling the whole thing but instead decided to scale things back. During this time, Eliska went above and beyond. She took control of everything for me, liaising with all my vendors to finalise the last few details for me (and ever so politely reminded me to pay their invoices). Words cannot express how grateful I am for Eliska!”
Even the bride’s love of Lego had a nod. “Since I love Lego so much, I decided I wanted a few more personal touches to the dessert table. Sandy (my auntie) generously offered to use my Lego moulds and make chocolates for the dessert table and for our guests to take home.”