Emily & Stephen
It was a beautiful, sunny Autumn day when Emily and Stephen married in a Collingwood Children’s Farm wedding. The urban farm backdrop set the scene for a day that was designed to be all about the couple’s love for their favourite people. From a delicious shared feasting menu to family walking down the aisle ahead of the bride, post-ceremony champagne and involving their talented friends at every turn; this was a day, that was not just about two people, but an entire guest list.
With photographer Phoebe Powell documenting each moment, the heartfelt day unfolded.
Emily and Stephen first met at Carlton’s Finishing School at Trades Hall, on the dance floor, to the tune of Huey Lewis & the News’ ‘Power Of Love’, a song that played again on their wedding day.
It was during a spontaneous spring night picnic when Stephen popped the question. “Steve had suggested grabbing some wine and cheese and heading to the Canning Street median strip in Carlton North for a picnic. I didn’t think anything of it because, without a backyard, we often enjoyed relaxing on the grassy median strips. We were sitting sipping some wine and cheese and Steve gave me a piece of jewellery that he had wanted to give me for my birthday but was waiting for it to be made. Then he said ‘If I had another piece of jewellery for you, would you wear it?’. Of course, I said yes, I would wear anything from him. And then out comes a ring and a simple question asking me to be his wife. It might not seem like the normal proposal spot, but when we first met I lived on Canning Street, so these streets are filled with memories of our early romance.”
After having no luck finding her dream gown, the bride worked with Manavale Fabrics to create it. She explains, “This dress was handmade by Tanya at Manavale Fabrics in Geelong. I had been looking online and went into a few boutiques but nothing really grabbed me. I was fretting a little bit and a very good friend mentioned an old family friend that was a dressmaker and I should go and meet with her to see what I thought. I took some ideas down and sample fabrics and walked away knowing I wanted her to make the dress.
I sourced the fabric and over the coming months, taking a few trips to Geelong to get fitted and have adjustments as needed. Tanya is incredibly talented and it was a joy to watch her work, she would happily accommodate changes from me and nothing was ever too hard. I grew to enjoy the trips from Geelong to Melbourne. We had a second wedding party in Canada recently and I had Tanya alter my dress so I could wear it for a second time.”
Emily remarks, “For the processional as the immediate family walked down the aisle we played ‘Avril 14’ by Aphex Twin. I walked down the aisle with my father to ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’ by Elvis Presley. Both our mothers are huge Elvis fans and we had kept quiet about the song choice so there was an element of surprise for them.”
Emily notes, “We chose not to have a formal bridal party. There are so many people in our lives that we would want to have involved, but we also wanted everyone to be able to relax and enjoy the day. We did, however, have both our older brothers as our witnesses and I had my best friend as the ring bearer. All were standing beside us under the tree on the day.”
Emily and Stephen chose Russell Healy to officiate proceedings, telling, “We wanted the ceremony to feel intimate and personal, to be a public symbol of a very private act and to acknowledge and thank the family and close friends that have shared this journey with us.
Our celebrant, Russell Healy, was a pleasure to work with and have officiate on the day. It was first and foremost important to us to have Russell acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we were standing. We also asked for a personal comment to be put in just before Russell read the Marriage Act as it pertains to a man and a woman. We believe that all love is equal and does not discriminate and that all couples should have the choice and human right to marry.
We knew the feelings we wanted to express but weren’t quite sure how to put them to words, and Russell provided lots of examples and suggestions and from that, we wrote the personal story, vows and ring exchange.”
Even the wedding and engagement rings were designed by a friend (Bread & Circus) says the bride,
“We had so many creative friends to assist us in the process, making our small ideas mentioned in passing into a big reality.
In the lead up to the wedding, we had a production line happening at our place for the wedding favours, stamping bags and filling them, as well as a photo booth backdrop taking 50 metres of metallic garland and making it work. Our close friend Annie also created personalised colouring in books that kept both kids and adults alike entertained.
A close family member, Liz, of Bread & Circus jewellery designed and made the engagement ring as well as our wedding bands, bringing them all the way from Canada for the day.
Our close friends Mel and Gareth of Positive Pop Creative (designed our invitations and all our signage) while our friend Caitlin of Razzmatazz Club took care of the ceremony and cocktail music.”
“There have been a lot of stories that have unfolded over the days and months that have passed, but something we all reflect back on and can’t stop laughing at were the kids on the day and the high they were running on throughout the event,” note the newlyweds, continuing, “There were only a few children and they ranged from eight months to four years old and all of them were in their element on the dance floor. They only took a break to get an ice cream cone from the stand we had as part of dessert and then they were straight back into it.”
Guests celebrated the ceremony with drinks and cheese says the bride, “We didn’t want to leave straight after the ceremony as it was such a special place, so we had music, champagne and a grazing table down under the tree. It was a great opportunity to get family photos and catch up with people.”
Emily and Stephen initially chose The Farm Cafe for their reception, “We had looked at a few different venues but we were really trying to find a space that had both outdoor and indoor arrangements and somewhere we could have both the ceremony and the reception. We didn’t like the idea of separating people and making them travel to another venue. The Collingwood Children’s Farm is such a peaceful space and only a short distance from the city centre. We had often gone for bike rides along the path or eaten a meal at the Farm Cafe. and thought we would inquire about weddings there.
We met with Rose from the Farm Cafe who looked after all the weddings and immediately felt at ease. We went for a walk down to the old Oak Tree and could feel there was something special there. We had initially decided to have the reception at the Farm Cafe, but after an inundation of RSVPs from overseas, we had to move to the Barn. Maya, our event coordinator, and the team were incredibly patient with all our changes and nothing was ever impossible. The team absolutely transformed the Barn and it looked so magical on the night.”
Of their photographer, Emily tells “I first met Phoebe several years ago when we were both waitressing at a cafe in Brunswick, our paths ahead so unknown. It was so incredibly special to have Phoebe at our wedding and as our photographer.
In the leadup to the wedding, Phoebe met with us to make sure she got a clear idea of the look and feel we were after as well as what were the most important moments and people to capture. We went back and forth with reference images as well. On the day, Phoebe radiated such energy and enthusiasm and was so incredibly patient trying to wrangle 80 people into a group photo. Phoebe was so comfortable approaching all the guests and capturing portraits and personal moments of the day. We immediately felt at ease taking our photos as a couple which really shows in the photographs. Phoebe has a natural talent for bringing out the emotions and feelings in a day and is such a pleasure to work with!”
With an expanding guest list, the couple chose the Barn for their reception, noting, “being held at the Collingwood Children’s Farm there was a bit of a rustic aesthetic, but we also brought contemporary elements to the day through the flowers, dress and accessories, suit, and signage designs. The days leading up had been unusually hot for the start of Autumn, but the weather really came on for us, cooling down and staying sunny.”
The couple made sure to pay homage to parts of their lives during their day, explaining, “We knew we wanted to have a mix of Canadian and Australian elements and this showed through in the flowers (eucalypts in the installation), the cake (maple syrup glaze) as well as the wedding favours (small containers of vegemite and maple syrup).
It was also important for Emily to have some hydrangeas flow throughout the day; in the bouquet, the installation and on the tables. These are some of my earliest memories of Melbourne, visiting my grandparents and seeing the abundance and vibrancy of the hydrangeas in their front yard.”
Emily and Stephen made sure that every decision on the day centred around family, explaining, “Family and friends are hugely important in our lives. We wanted to maintain a sense of community and honour around those who have been so instrumental in making us who we are today. Wherever possible we encouraged sharing and mingling, whether it be through the grazing plates at the ceremony or the ‘family style’ shared plates that were brought out to the tables for dinner. Both Steve and I had family travelling long distances and some family that had not seen each other for some time. There was such joy and excitement in the air, to not only be celebrating our marriage and commitment to each other but for the sheer fact that so many loved ones were in the same place at the same time.”
“The speeches from our parents, brother as well as each other really stood out and captured the sentiment and emotions of the day. There were tears of absolute joy coming from everyone.”
Even the wedding cake had a nod to Canada. “Our friends Toula and Ollie from Candied Bakery made the most mouth-watering vanilla and maple layered cake”
“As we got closer to the day and our ideas started to become reality, it was so wonderful to be able to have so much input from our close friends. Being able to involve them and showcase their talents was the most enjoyable element. Making the playlists and writing the speeches was also a really beautiful time. Music has always been a big part of our lives together so being able to spend some time remembering all the songs that have meaning to us and curate them into song requests to the DJ was really fun.”
The dance floor was a favourite part of the day for the newlyweds, who explain, “We didn’t have a traditional first dance. However, the song that was playing when we met on the dancefloor at Finishing School in Carlton was ‘The Power of Love’ by Huey Lewis & The News. At the end of the bride and groom’s speeches, our DJ launched into this track to get the dancefloor happening. A few songs in we had ‘This Must Be The Place’ by Talking Heads played, which was our first, slower dance together.”
Congratulations Emily and Stephen! Thank you for sharing your beautiful day with us. Thank you also to Phoebe Powell for sharing today’s photographs.
Polka Dot Dream Team...
The below wedding vendors made this magic happen and are an approved part of the Polka Dot Directory. Visit their portfolios to learn more and enquire about their services!
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.
- Bride's Dress
- Manavale Fabrics
- DJ Kieran O'Sullivan