Ciara & Ben
It’s a well-known fact around here that I am a lover of Winter, but I think today’s sweet garden picnic wedding at Old Parliament House may just swing me to the dark (or spring) side. With the most amazing garden as their backdrop, Ciara and Ben celebrated with a picnic wedding; lawn games, picnic boxes, woodfired pizzas and gelato set their guests up for the best kind of garden party. Their day was captured beautifully by Anthea and Lyndon.
It was a “typical office romance”, in the words of the bride, that brought these two together with Ben finally proposing while on holiday in Kyoto. A story the bride almost ruined! She explains, “For Christmas 2014, I surprised Ben with flights to Japan the following May. In return, he surprised me by proposing on the trip, in the beautiful gardens of Fushimi Inari shrine, Kyoto.
Although I totally ruined the whole thing!
While exploring the city that day, I was carrying Ben’s backpack (which had the ring secretly stowed!) to help with his camera gear. While he didn’t have a set plan, Ben had decided this day in Kyoto was the day and was focused on finding the perfect spot away from tourists. He even tried to go down some private paths…I just assumed he was getting lost and kept trying to get him to follow the crowds! Eventually, we got to Fushimi Inari, and I let him take me down this clearly private ‘we-shouldn’t-be-here’ path. Ben asked for the bag as he was going to put his camera stuff away. I offered to hold the bag up and save him having to get dirty, kneeling on the ground. Clearly stressed, Ben tersely asked for the bag and busily got things ready, including the ring. By the time he looked up, ring box in hand, I had stormed off…’Wait, can you come back, I have something to ask you?!’
I turned around and burst into tears! My ‘YES’ was jumbled amongst apologising for ruining what he was trying to make a special moment for us both!”
The bride chose a lace gown from Annabel’s Bridal, telling, “After a lot of shopping around, I went into a local boutique and met Misty who was amazing! She was able to help me narrow down to two options, one in the style I had dreamed and one in a style that suits my figure and event style. Surprisingly I chose the latter, but it truly was the perfect dress for me! Misty was great at helping me decide on a dress that would best compliment me and the day, taking a heap of pressure off what is often a huge decision for most brides. As a result I ended up with a dress that worked for me, and because it ticked the boxes for moving around (the ‘original dream’ dress had a fishtail skirt, the real dream dress was a flowy A-line), I was able to be relaxed all day, rather than worry about being uncomfortable, or limited moving/sitting. It was the classic, ‘you wear the dress, don’t let the dress wear you’. In the end, I loved the dress I chose and wish I could wear it all the time!!”
The bride walked down the aisle to “‘Book of Love’ by Peter Gabriel. This was Ben’s choice – from the series finale of his favourite TV show, Scrubs. We were also lucky that my cousin Nic, and his bandmate Archie, learnt the song and played acoustically at the church for us!”
The couple chose Sacred Heart Church, Calwell for their ceremony noting, “We had no idea this little church existed until Victor (our groomsman) got married here two years earlier (just weeks after our engagement!) so again it was a no-brainer decision. Just the right amount of space for us to create a special space for all our favourite people to gather together.”
Of their ceremony, Ciara remembers, “We wanted a relaxed, approachable ceremony. We were lucky that one of my aunties helped put our ceremony together, making sure we had readings that reflected who we were and respectful of the religious venue. However, it was also really special having a family member conduct our service. Fr Gary had married my parents and has been part of other special family events (christenings, blessing), so having him up the front with us made such a beautiful ceremony, and even helped settle our nerves. And boy, did he know how to party with us afterwards!!
There is a lot of laughter amongst these two, evident in some of the planning stories Ciara shared. “I asked Ben to organise a joint email account for us to contact vendors and organise things. I should have known something was up when he was very quiet, but I got the notification that our email ‘[email protected]’ was set up. Over the course of the planning, we had lots of laughs with our vendors, and used it throughout our stationery and bonbonnieres, thanking everyone for making the ‘world’s bestest wedding’ a reality!”
Of their photographers, Ciara tells “Anthea and Lyndon are the bloody best! We love them (so much we decided we wanted to be friends with them afterwards and now catch up regularly for dinner and board game nights).
We had admired their portfolio for a while before we met them, but after our first chat with them, Ben and I knew we had made the right decision. They were so supportive of our alternative approach to the reception and were full of great advice for everything, not just photography stuff.
Then, on the day they were absolutely fantastic and helped Ben and I stay chill and relaxed (and helping deal with the overwhelming nature of family photos, and families in general). They were also so patient and accommodating and an absolute pleasure to work with!”
One of the bride’s favourite photos is of the groomsmen, she explains, “There’s a photo of the groomsmen laughing very hard (story goes Ben cracked a joke and this shot is the boys reaction at Lyndon’s very, VERY delayed reaction to the joke! haha!)”
The Senate Rose Gardens, Old Parliament House provided the most beautiful setting for an afternoon picnic, Ciara telling “Because of our picnic vision, finding the right reception venue was our first priority. We spent months investigating potential options, even interstate, trying to find a fairly blank canvas with big open space so we could host our own catering and make it our own. By chance, I found about hiring spaces in the Parliamentary Triangle and then it all made sense – the Senate Rose Gardens at Old Parliament House! It was centrally located for guests (so no awkward buses/taxis back all over town), the on-site kiosk served as our bar area and the grounds are just stunning, with plenty of open space for our vision to come to life!”
Ciara tells “I have a graphic design background so did all the visual styling for the wedding, from our invitations through to reception signage, ceremony booklets and bonbonnieres. I also made giant crepe paper flowers that we hung in the trees with paper lanterns and my Mum made over 20m of flag bunting! Ben and I coordinated most of the outdoor furniture used for the reception (minus the wine barrels and stools), so a BIG shout out goes to the boys that helped build all the flat pack furniture!”
Guests took home bottles of “Ben’s Bestest Bitters”, homemade by the groom in three flavours (Smoked Coffee, Lavender and Peppercorn, and Orange and Cinnamon) and labelled by the bride, along with recipe cards to create their own custom cocktails at home.
Guests enjoyed a picnic feast of picnic boxes from Hauberg & Co, pizza from Wandering Woodfire Pizzas and gelato by Bertoldo’s Gelato Mio. Ciara explaining “Hauberg and Co. were great, especially coming on six weeks out after our original caterer, unfortunately, had to cancel, but also being able to deliver what we wanted (but make it even better!) Wes and the crew from Wandering Pizzas were so easy to work with, nothing was too hard for them (especially with getting into the gardens) and ensured everyone was well fed, and their pizzas were delish! Gary from Gelato Mio was also great to work with, and we’re so glad we decided on wedding gelato.”
Sweet daisy biscuits, baked by Lulu and Sis were the most appropriate garden party treat.
Ciara tells, “All we wanted was a small, intimate event with our favourite people, our favourite foods, none of the pretention, but instead laid-back and relaxed as if we were having everyone over for a backyard barbecue. We were so happy to see everything come together, and see everyone have such a good time on the day – I just wish it could have lasted forever!”
The decor and flowers were all beautifully spring picnic inspired, with Pia & Jade hired to assist with the flowers and decor styling. Ciara explains, “It was important to me that any florals we had complemented the gardens. I worked with Dany (Pia and Jade) on unstructured arrangements, in muted, understated colours. What she created was perfect, in true keeping with the feeling we wanted for the day and paying homage to the grounds of Rose Gardens.”
Congratulations on the start of your lives together Ciara and Ben! Thank you for taking the time to share your day with us. Thank you also to Anthea and Lyndon for sharing today’s wedding!
This post features the following wedding vendors. If you've been featured below, we'd love to get to know you. Click here to join Polka Dot Bride.
- Wandering Woodfire Pizzas