Tania & Ben
We scream from the rooftops “do it your way” “do only what matters to you” and then we meet couples like Tania and Ben who did just that and we know without a shadow of a doubt that we need to share their story. These two threw out every tradition they didn’t want. They dressed together, they walked into their ceremony together, they skipped the first dance. And it was beautiful & so perfectly “Tania & Ben”. They invited Peppermint Photography to capture their day unfolding.
It was classic house party that led these two together, bride Tania sharing how the couple first laid eyes on one another. “We like to joke that we met ‘the old fashioned way’, i.e. at a party! We met at a house party of a mutual friend in 2010. I (Tania) was meant to be going with a girlfriend of mine, but she couldn’t come at the last minute. I almost bailed as well, but I was just about to embark on a Postgrad Psychology degree and I knew I wasn’t going to have a social life for the next three years, so I decided I’d go anyway even if I only knew the host. Ben happened to be there, and I remember seeing him walk down some stairs and instantly thinking ‘that guy is so my type, I must talk to him!’ He had the same thoughts about me, and it wasn’t soon before we were chatting and discovering how much we had in common, not least of which was the fact that we were both twins. The funniest thing was that about five minutes into our conversation, another partygoer overheard us and exclaimed incredulously, “wow you’re both twins?? If you get married and have babies you’re having twins!!”. We laughed awkwardly and said we’d only met about 3.5 minutes earlier, but they quite possibly had better premonition than we did at the time!”
The bride wanted something different for her wedding dress and chose a short gown by Australian designer Zimmermann. She tells “I knew from the beginning that the traditional ‘bridal’ dresses weren’t for me. While there are some stunning gowns out there (and I tried some on, just for fun), I wanted something that was 100% my style and that I felt like ‘me’ in. I also had a lot of trouble justifying spending thousands of $’s on something I’d only wear once (which is totally fine for others, but it just wasn’t for me), so I went in with the mindset of finding something from a regular designer (rather than a bridal design) that I could potentially wear again. I opened up my options to different colours, different styles (e.g. short, long) and just focused on finding a dress I loved wearing. I ended up picking a gorgeous Zimmermann dress. The moment I tried it on it felt exactly like my style – a touch of modern with a touch of vintage. The fit was close to perfect (I took it in for one small alteration), and I just loved everything about it: the pearly sheen, how it moved, how it fell. It was a dream to wear and I can’t wait to wear it again someday and be able to style it in different ways.”
It as important for these two that their day eliminate stress, so they spent plenty of time with each other, including getting ready. “We opted to get ready together, and it was such a great decision” remarks the bride. “Having each other on hand for moral support and shoulder rubs (well, mainly Ben giving me shoulder rubs) was so comforting, and we got to have some quiet moments to chill out together in the room before the ceremony, which helped to calm the pre-ceremony nerves (I was surprised we had any, but standing up in front of 70 people is actually a little nerve-wracking)!”
Of their photographer, Tania remembers “We really wanted someone who would capture the atmosphere and feel of the day. She was incredible! She was so lovely and had such attention to detail. She had scouted out some locations for our portraits before the wedding and picked out a beautiful antique store right next to where we were staying, which we loved the idea of! We were unashamed photo-posing novices, but she made us feel at complete ease and gave us great guidance on where to stand/look/etc. And she captured the rest of the day so beautifully and efficiently – it was such a relief to be able to just leave it in her hands and know she was doing a great job.”
The couple was set on doing things their way from the very beginning, Ben wanting to pop the question with a calamari “engagement ring” – Tania shares exactly why. “This first part isn’t the actual story, but a precursor to it: About 3 or 4 years ago, we went to dinner at a fish & chip restaurant and entered a ‘Win a Free Meal’ competition by submitting a creative photo of our dinner. The photo was of me (Tania) with a calamari ring on my wedding finger and the caption “will you cala-mari me?”. We were totally just in it for the free dinner (and we actually ended up winning!) but we had to convince a surprising number of friends and family that we hadn’t actually gotten engaged with a calamari ring. Fast forward to October 2018, and Ben had planned to propose by taking me out at a beautiful dinner at a favourite restaurant of ours (unbeknownst to me – his cover story was that we were going for dinner with some friends of ours…who then mysteriously stood us up!). He had asked the chef if he could make a calamari ring, to be served with one of the hors d’oeuvres dishes, so he could pop the question with ‘will you cala-mari me’, but learned quickly that apparently fancy restaurants don’t do calamari rings so he had to settle for one made out of radish and pea puree. Needless to say, I teared up immediately as the hors d’oeuvres platter came out with a beautiful radish ring on it and I figured out what was happening. And the diners around us were treated to a very unexpected experience over their dinner!”
Tania and Ben chose a garden at Stamford Plaza Brisbane for their ceremony, purely for its proximity to their reception venue Malt Dining. Tania telling “We locked in our reception venue (Malt Dining) first. We had been to Malt several times for various birthday/anniversary dinners and had always been so impressed with the food and ambience, so we knew without a doubt that we wanted our reception there. We loved that the restaurant space had so much character and warmth with the beautiful exposed timber beams and bricks, and we loved that the venue had a few different spaces for guests to explore and enjoy (i.e. whiskey bar, wine cellar). After that was locked in, we looked for ceremony venues as close to Malt as possible, so we could minimise travel for everyone and enjoy a leisurely progression from ceremony to reception. The Stamford Plaza was right around the corner, and the Flagpole Garden by the river, with the beautiful Story Bridge in the background, was just the spot for us.”
Tania and Ben ditched tradition and walked down the aisle together. “This was one tradition we really wanted to break, both from a feminist perspective (to me, it would feel a bit like a ‘woman delivery’ to walk down the aisle) and from our perspective of what marriage means to us (a celebration and formalisation of our relationship). So, we decided to walk in together! There was a little garden path to the side of the ceremony, so we came down that and didn’t even have to use the aisle. It was so comforting to have each other there as we walked in, as all those eyes on you can be quite nerve-wracking! We walked in to an old favourite song of ours from early in our relationship – ‘I Like The Way This Is Going’ by Eels.”
“For us, the ceremony was an important moment to celebrate our relationship, as well as the relationships with all our loved ones” tells Tania, who along with Ben chose Erin Woodhall to officiate their ceremony. “So we wanted the ceremony to be a little window into our relationship, as well as a reflection on what our friends and family meant to us. We wanted it to feel intimate and meaningful, as well as light-hearted. We decided not to have any readings as there weren’t any that immediately sprung to mind, and we didn’t want to have any ‘for the sake of it’. Instead, our celebrant, Erin, did a fantastic job of weaving together a beautiful narrative about how we met and evolved as a couple, what we loved about our relationship, and the important role our family and friends played in our lives (as well as a few embarrassing relationship stories for good measure).
We had seen her marry two lots of friends of ours, and both times we saw her we thought she was the funniest and most genuine/down-to-earth (and stylish!!!) celebrant we’d ever come across. We went straight to her to book her in as soon as we started wedding planning – we didn’t even bother looking into anyone else. She was just a fabulous person to work with, from start to finish. You can tell she loves couples and relationships so much, and she is just so warm and effervescent, it honestly feels like she’s just overflowing with love and she’s made it her mission to share it around with everyone. And in a stylish jumpsuit with rocking statement earrings no less!”
Tania and Ben had fallen in love with Malt Dining long before their wedding, so it was a natural fit for their reception. Tania shares “Malt Dining was also a standout. The food was absolutely spectacular (although we knew this from our previous experiences there – that was why we picked it!) and the service was impeccable – the whole night flowed really smoothly.
We love our food, and cooking for our friends and family has been a huge part of our relationship, so the food and drinks at the wedding were a really important detail for us. We spent a fair bit of time helping to curate the menu and drinks list with the reception venue, including adding a favourite cocktail each and a couple of special bottles of whiskey for tasting.”
Tania and Ben worked with Stalks & Stems on a few, simple and bold floral arrangements, sharing “Wanting to simplify our wedding and minimise waste, we didn’t want to go over the top with flowers. I organised a consult with James from Stalks and Stems in Woolloongabba (I’d seen some of their work before and been super impressed with their creativity), and he was amazing at being able to capture the vague ideas swimming around in my head and make suggestions that were aligned with what we wanted. I gave James our overall theme, colour preferences and budget, and left the rest up to him! We didn’t have our hearts set on any specific types of flowers or arrangements, but showed him the ceremony and reception spaces and asked for his suggestions on what arrangements he would use to best complement those spaces. We opted for some creative and elegant props at the ceremony to complement the space (and that could be returned and re-used), I chose a single stem with botanical embellishments instead of a huge bouquet, and we went with some striking foliage in tall vases to take advantage of the high ceilings at the Reception.”
Guests were greeted by live music, explains the bride “We wanted the wedding to reflect ‘us’ as much as possible, and music is a huge part of our lives (both listening and playing), so we wanted our favourite songs and pieces to be included somehow. There happened to be a grand piano at our reception venue, so we organised for the pianist (who we knew through a friend’s band) to cover some of our favourite songs on the piano (heavy metal included), which was special.”
It was important for Tania & Ben that the day was as relaxed as possible. Tells Tania “We were really focused on the final weeks leading up to the wedding and made sure we got everything close to 100% done 1-2 weeks ahead of time so that we could relax, enjoy time with family and friends flying in from interstate/overseas, and be available to deal with anything that came up last-minute (which of course, it did). The day before the wedding we just hung out with some friends, got massages together and chilled out at the hotel, and I even managed to squeeze in some yoga while Ben went for a spa on the morning of the wedding. It meant we were both super relaxed on the day (even in spite of some small pre-ceremony/standing up in front of everyone nerves), and we were able to take in and savour each moment throughout the day instead of rushing around frantically.”
When asked for her favourite part of the day, Tania shares “Our siblings and parents put so much thought and effort into the words they spoke at our wedding, and they filled our already-overflowing hearts.”
Congratulations to you both Tania and Ben! We’re so thrilled to be able to share your day. Thank you to Peppermint Photography for today’s images!
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