This March on Polka Dot Weddings we are celebrating the beauty of bridesmaids as we welcome The Bridesmaid Issue – the glam squad of wonderful ladies (and men!) who stand by your side on your big day, fluff your dress, (hold it up when nature calls) and make the experience of getting married extra special.
But the journey of a bridesmaid begins long before their first step down the aisle. And in these modern times, what really are the expectations of your maids?
We’re going behind the bouquet to explore the definition of a modern maid, showcase unique bridesmaid looks, hens and bridal shower ideas and share some incredible DIY favour ideas to thank your team of loyal besties. We’ll also recommend some fab locations to treat you and your squad to a relaxing (or crazy fun) pre-wedding weekend away.
How do you plan a wedding when you’re not really into all the traditions that usually come along with such an event? Strip it right down! That’s what Sophie and Mark did, and in doing so created their perfect day, complete with a simple wedding ceremony with family, then a party with epic music, pizza and cocktails… and their best friends! Being in their favourite place with their favourite people was important to the couple, and three photographers (Jeff Andersen Jnr, Andy Zito and Melissa Cowan) were on hand to capture the magical moments that unfolded on the day. Below, Sophie shares their love story and the reasons why they wanted an intimate celebration with their loved ones over a large wedding…
Mark and I have been together for 13 years, since we were 16. We had always been mates at secondary school, but I asked Mark to my Year 11 formal and we soon realised we had the hots for each other and the rest is history!
When it came to our wedding, we discovered we’re actually pretty anti-wedding. We wanted to keep things very low key and easy, and just have a celebration. We’ve been together for over a decade non-stop and I think that deserves to be celebrated. We were both turning 30 too, so it seemed like a good time to do a 2-for-1 party. He’s a June baby and I am July baby, so a joint birthday seemed appropriate and we decided to tag a wedding on to it!
So, we decided to surprise our best mates and extended families. We kept the engagement hush-hush, but our immediate families knew. We got married just in front of our families, which was the most surreal experience. I couldn’t recommend it more, having a super small ceremony and bringing it all back to what it all truly means…
We were married in August at a location called Deep Rock in Yarra Bend Park, at the end of our street! It is a location we both love and cherish. We love where we live and often find ourselves on long walks in Yarra Bend Park and often stopping there for a moment.
My dad Martin and dog Maximus walked me from my apartment to the footbridge where everyone was waiting. We then proceeded on foot together as one big family to Deep Rock.
I wore a long fitted sequinned dress with a fringe along the bottom by New York designer Rachel Comey. For anyone that knows me well enough, they know I’m obsessed with sparkles so there was no doubt I was going to wear something sparkly for the big day.
I wore Steve Madden sequinned boots under the wedding dress too. The boots are amazing but killed my feet (I rarely wear heels) so as soon as we announced that we got married, I quickly changed into a mini sequin dress by Torannce and pink, sparkly Converse. I found both dresses very quickly and still love them both and can’t wait to wear them again!
My beautiful and creative mum Catherine made my bouquet the day before. We went to our local fruit and veg shop, picked out whatever might look lovely and Mum went about creating it. It was perfect!
Our ceremony was quick and to the point. Mark and I are the youngest of both our families so our audience knew our story and they’ve all seen us grow up so we didn’t need to drag it out! Our beautiful celebrate Sarah Dobson (Mrs Hitch Celebrant) did the most spectacular job. We loved how she kept what we loved about each other secret!
Our official photographer, Jeff Andersen, is super cool and creative. He’s done a music video and promo photos for Mark, whose day job is a musician. Mark loves his work. He told us what he was thinking and we completely trusted him – all his images turned out perfect! We also love how they are different to your usual wedding pics.
The party was at our local, Lulie Tavern in Abbotsford. Lulie is such a rock and roll venue – they play the best music and serve the best pizza from Rita’s, which is next door. It was the perfect venue for our guests who enjoyed the endless pizzas, cocktails and tunes.
My beautiful best friend Wei-lin created our grazing tables and we organised for a donut wall to be delivered to the venue, and we brought some Krispy Kreme donuts in! Everything else was taken care of by the team at Lulie.
I was exhausted by the time I got to Lulie, but once we announced our little wedding surprise I was BUZZING AGAIN! The roar and love we felt in that room as soon we announced that we had married earlier that day was really special.
The dance floor was epic – I’m pretty sure I danced from 9pm to 1am straight!
My advice for future marrieds is to have fun, stress less, breathe and enjoy every single moment – it’s gone in a flash! Also, don’t listen to anyone else – do what you want to do. Your day needs to reflect who you are.
Going against the grain and choosing a baby blue dress is something to be celebrated – especially during our Colour Issue! With a shared love of colour, music and love of family, the gorgeous Hannah and Charles created their perfect day at the Panama Dining Room. With family being central to a lot of the day, the pair chose Darling One Photography, a long time friend, to capture all of the special moments. Bride Hannah details their day in November and shares their love story!
In a nutshell, we chatted for a bit on Tinder, then he told me he had a beard so I agreed to a date. I’ve always been attracted to men with a solid beard game!
Our first date was on Chapel Street in Melbourne, we met outside the Jam Factory and walked up and down the street (how many times we can’t remember) and stopped at a bar to have a drink. Neither of us can remember which bar, we were having so much fun chatting away, neither of us took notice of where we were.
I have a very unique style, so I knew with my dress I didn’t want it to be like anything anyone had ever seen before.
My dress was a mix of a few different styles; a racer back style dress, a full feather-like skirt dress and my own personal tweaks that my wonderful dressmaker and I came up with. The colour was the most important to me.
Years ago, I watched the episode of Gossip Girl where Blair and Chuck got married. Blair was wearing this sensational blue gown and I did some hunting and figured out it was from Elle Saab’s Spring/Summer 2012 collection. That colour made my heart go kaboom and when the time came to start getting a dress made, I was determined to wear a dress in that stunning blue.
I wore my Grandmother’s engagement ring (along with my own) and a Georg Jensen bracelet she gave me for my 21st birthday. I adored my Grandma, she meant the world to me. To me she is a massive reason I make any sense at all in this world and we lost her a couple of years ago, so wearing that jewellery meant in some little way she was there with me.
My dressmaker Michelle had never made a blue dress and although it was a lot of work with the train, she loved the challenge and the colour.
Funnily enough, Charlie thought on the day I’d chosen that colour because back when we met on Tinder, I had a photo in my Tinder profile of me in a dress in a similar colour and he’d told me years ago that photo was what caught his eye and had made him message me on the app. He even told our guests at the wedding that he thought I’d picked it for that reason. I hadn’t, but we had a good chuckle that he thought that. It was very sweet.
The fit of the dress was also very important to me. I’m very sporty but also love fashion. I knew I wanted to be comfortable and holy moly, I was so comfortable I think I could wear that dress every day of the week!
Charlie wore a Politix jacket and Peter Jackson suit pants and shirt. He loved the idea of a smoking jacket. We found a green velvet Politix jacket with a black satin lapel and he looked super sharp.
Our vendors were absolutely amazing. It was so special making it such a family affair. I work as a marketing and content coordinator, so I pretty much had everything sorted in three days haha!! The process was so much fun and because we had so much family involved it made the experience really cruisey.
In terms of a favourite moment we’d say picking up the rings. My engagement ring was from Lucy Folk and Charlie worked with the designer to create a ring that is more beautiful and unique than I could have ever imagined. So naturally we returned to Lucy Folk where their designer, Craig, created our wedding bands that were unique and really represented our personalities. Picking up the wedding rings was so exciting and made things feel very, very real!
Our bridesmaids walked down to Vogue by Madonna – and yes, they did a pose once they reached the top of the aisle!
My Dad and I boogied down the aisle to Blame it on the boogie by Jackson 5. I am a massive fan of Michael Jackson’s music. A very controversial figure I know. But his music is something that brings the most enormous amount of joy to me. His music comes on and I am swept up in it and can’t help but feel incredibly joyous. One of the things I love about Charlie, is from the first beat of an MJ song he knows to meet me on the dance floor ready to bust a move – even if that means ditching a conversation with other people. So yes, as a figure, I understand that MJ may seem an odd or even insensitive choice, however, I have adored his music since I was a kid and I couldn’t imagine walking down the aisle to any other artist.
Also, at the end of my vows I recited MJ lyrics from the way you make me feel. Hilariously, so did Charlie. He was a little shattered that he had to go second with his vows, but I loved the fact that we were so in sync.
We’re not terribly romantic people. We’re best friends who love exploring and adventure and share a very dry sense of humour, so we wanted our ceremony to be fun and full of laughter – it was exactly that.
My Mum was our celebrant and she did a brilliant job of not only telling our story but also throwing in some solid roasting of her now son in law. It was hilarious, loving and fun. Just perfect for us.
We had a cocktail style wedding.
We didn’t really have a theme although I pretty much came out of the womb with a degree in colour, so I guess you could say our theme was reflective of my love of bright hues and patterns.
We’re both pretty chilled people so we wanted everyone to feel relaxed, comfortable and to have a blast ripping it up on the dance floor, so we made sure we picked a venue that really suited that kind of atmosphere. Panama Dining Room was perfect.
Charlie’s mum Sarah is a florist, so we always wanted her to be involved. We loved the idea of using native flowers. I worked in a florist throughout my high school years and they were always my favourite flowers. Sarah was great at including eucalyptus leaves too, which was really important to me because my Aunty (on my dad’s side) and my cousins lived on a gum farm in Seville and I pretty much grew up there, so the smell of eucalyptus is very nostalgic for me.
A favourite moment of the day was when Charlie saw me at the end of the aisle. He’s not usually an expressive person but he was ridiculously excited to see me. He seemed overwhelmed with joy and he just seemed to be blown away. I was so overwhelmed with love for him in that moment, everyone else disappeared and it felt like we were the only two in the room. Every time I think of that moment it gives me butterflies.
We have two favourite photos from the day. One that is in front of the archway for our first kiss, the gorgeous green leaves from the tree outside were the perfect backdrop. The other is in front of our neon sign, it looked absolutely amazing and lit up our wedding.
Panama Dining Room was the first venue we checked out and we loved it. We love exploring together, whether that’s in Melbourne or overseas. We love music, playing records and going to gigs and checking out bars where we can have a sneaky vino or G&T and enjoy each other’s company in a chilled-out atmosphere that still has lots of character. Panama Dining Room ticked all the boxes!
Our photographer was my sister Libby’s friend Jacqueline (Darling One photography). I pretty much grew up with Jacs, she was like an extra older sister to me, so it was perfect having her be our photographer. Basically another family member taking part and making the day even more special.
Jacs did a sensational job, our photos are the perfect combination of colourful, while still having a little bit of a rustic edge. Just perfect.
We had a big bridal party. Our “Hype girls” (aka flower girls) were Charlie’s two nieces Layla and Ivy and my two nieces Mackenzie and Tegan. “Hype boys” (aka pageboys) were Charlie’s nephew Henry and my nephew Harvey.
My Homegirls (aka bridesmaids) were my two sisters Jen and Libby, who were also co-maids of honour. The other two bridesmaids were my best friends Cara and Caroline. Cara I’ve known since birth and I’m 20 days older than her. Our mum’s went to primary school together and have been friends ever since. Caroline, I met in high school and we’ve been best friends since. Fun fact, Caroline had had her first baby (a boy named Hugh) only a couple of weeks before the wedding, so to me she was an absolute Rockstar standing up there with me on the day.
The Groomsmen were Charlie’s two brothers Andrew and Ross, his friend Russell who he’s been friends with since primary school and Best man was Charlie’s friend Brendan who he’s been friends with since kinder.
We had a few special details sprinkled throughout the wedding. The main one would be our brilliant neon sign which read Palindrome & Beard in neon pink. My nickname for Charlie is Beard and my name is a palindrome, so we themed some little touches around that. Our stickers on our sauce bottles read Palindrome & Beard BBQ sauce est. 2019.
Our favourite ice-cream place is Billy Van Creamy’s, so we had ice cream from Billy’s for dessert – we’re pretty sure all our guests are now hooked. We also had Jenga as our guestbook, which ended up mostly with scribbles from the kids!
It was important to us that our wedding was very family focussed. Charlie’s mum created some sensational flower arrangements and bouquets, my Mum Carol was our celebrant, my sister Jen made the cake (which was a cookie cake because I LOVE to bake) and my brother in law was our MC. This made the day even more special.
In terms of DIY, our wedding favours were bottled barbeque sauce. Our favourite restaurant is a Texan style barbecue joint called Bluebonnet and so we wanted to bring our love for that to our wedding and share it with our guests by making a homemade BBQ sauce. We still receive pics from our guests of how they’re using the sauce and I’m getting requests to make more!
Again, we’re not super romantic peeps so we wanted to have some fun with our first dance. We chose The most beautiful girl in the room by Flight of the Conchords. It started with Charlie *singing* the lyrics while his best man played the ukulele while I pretended to ignore him and talk to my sisters.
Eventually after he brought out his dance moves I met him on the dance floor and we had a lot of fun with it. There was lots of laughter from the crowd and everyone really enjoyed it.
Enjoy the process because the day will arrive before you know it. Try and take it all in as much as you can, the day will absolutely go fast but just enjoy it. You’re marrying your best friend, so what’s not to enjoy?
Ms Zebra Says: What a gorgeous day and filled with beautiful colour! A truly unique day – congratulations Hannah and Charlie and we wish you both all the best in your new adventure together as husband and wife!!
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