Our first date was at a Japandroids gig at the Corner Hotel in August 2013. They’d long been my favourite band, and I’d bought two tickets when I found out they were coming to Australia, unsure of who would take the second. On a whim (and because I had a pretty serious crush on him at the time), I asked James.
I’d known James for a year or so at that point – he’d gone to high school in Canberra with my good friend and former housemate Andy, and was living in a sharehouse with some other friends of mine. I had the uncomfortable realisation that he was actually pretty cute one day, and after that (at least in my mind) I was painfully awkward around him.
But I guess he didn’t mind, because he came to that gig with me, and things basically went from there.
When the band returned to Australia three years later in December 2017, James popped the question in the beer garden at The Tote, with the sound of the band warming up in the background.
Ours is a relationship defined by pints of draught, sticky floors, music festivals and grungy beer gardens – and so when it came to planning a wedding, white tablecloths and tuxedos were never going to be the order of the day.
Instead, the aim was an event that was fun, inclusive and true to us. Budget was also a major factor – we’d purchased a property with the help of our parents a year about six months before the proposal, and were eager to pull off the wedding with as little financial help as possible!
“This is going to be the most expensive party we’ll probably ever throw,” was something I said throughout the planning process. “The worst thing would be if it was less fun than house parties we’ve thrown that cost a couple of hundred bucks.”
Finding a dress caused some hiccups – I was so focused on making sure everything else was perfect, that I sort of put myself on the backburner. I’d initially purchased a white, beaded tea-length gown from Alannah Hill, then decided it wasn’t ‘bridal’ enough. To overcome that, I commissioned a bespoke overskirt in a soft grey tulle, with the idea that I’d wear that over the dress for the ceremony.
About two weeks before the event, I decided that the skirt was too much – so I panicked and bought a sequin gown in shades of cream, gold and white from ASOS, which I paired with a beaded capelet from Alannah Hill. My shoes were by Kurt Geiger; all jewellery were family heirlooms borrowed from my mother.
James, of course, had a much easier time with his outfit, with a shirt and pants from MJ Bale, an existing jacket he had, and shoes from Oxford.
My three bridesmaids, who are all of different heights and shapes, were given the fairly loose brief of ‘pink and floral’. True to form, they all came back with wildly different looks, that somehow worked so well together! With the groomsmen, we kept it simple – pale blue shirts from Cotton On, suspenders and bow ties from ASOS, and dark pants of their choosing.
On the day of the wedding, we got ready at the nearby Quest Abbotsford, with the boys in a room next door to us. We’re not exactly sticklers for tradition, so there was a lot of flitting back and forth between the rooms – though I did make sure James didn’t see me in my dress until the ceremony! It was all extremely relaxed, and I didn’t get nervous until I was at the front of our venue, with my dad by my side.
The venue, Moon Dog Brewery Ballroom, is a spacious, light-filled urban space in a side street in the inner-Melbourne suburb of Abbotsford. We kitted out the blank-canvas space with florals by Thrive Flowers & Events, who created our table arrangements and a beautiful, asymmetrical, suspended arbor, created (incredibly) without the use of floral foam. To round it out, we’d also brought in rustic trestle tables and benches, rose-gold and copper accents and jumbo helium balloons.
I walked down the aisle to True Love and Free Life of Free Will by Japandroids, since our story really began at that Japandroids gig back in 2013. Our ceremony, performed by our celebrant Karen Cramer, was short and simple, with James’ sisters giving readings from Alain De Botton and The Velveteen Rabbit, and us exchanging rings from Arbor in Brunswick (his by Arbor, mine by Elise Newman).
After the vows, we performed a ‘fight box’ ceremony – where we sealed a bottle of Jameson, and love letters to each other in a wooden box, only to be broken out in the event of a big fight.
We walked back down the aisle to How We Met (The Long Version) by Jens Lekman, and took off down the streets of Abbotsford to take some photos with Russell Borrett of RTB Photography.
When we returned, our friends had broken the ceremony space down into a reception space, with plenty of room for dancing and mingling. Guests were served Vietnamese street food from food truck Lil Nom Noms, with music provided by local soul DJ, DJ Lady Love Potion. Instead of cake, an ice cream cart The Rolling Scoops provided gelato and ice cream, including vegan and dairy-free options.
For us, what made our wedding extra special were the little details – such as the ‘show us your marital advice’ board, the courtesy baskets in the bathroom, and our use of the Veri app to collect everyone’s photos – that made things easy and fun for our guests, while showcasing our personalities and roots.
If I can give any advice to future brides, it’s this:
- Ask for help early on – giving people an end-to-end task (e.g. find and book a DJ) is easier than having someone come in halfway through a task.
- Take time out for yourself throughout the process.
- It’s 2018, and anything goes these days. Don’t like cake? Don’t have one! Want to give a speech? Go for it!
- Buy cute flats for dancing. I recommend sequinned Converse.
- Enjoy it. Seriously, it’s the best time ever.
Ms Zigzag says: Firstly, I love how Kimba just bought those concert tickets and invited her crush (well now, husband). Secondly, how refreshing to read about a wedding where the bride and groom are this chilled out about all the planning. It was their wedding, their way. Thank you to James, Kimba and RTB Photography for sharing this wonderful day with us.