The offbeat bride: Jo, HR Management Information Manager
Her offbeat partner: Nova, Financial Processor
Location & date of wedding: Perth Town Hall, WA, Australia AND on the frozen Alta Lake, Rainbow Park, Whistler, BC, Canada — Perth: 15 Feb 2009, Whistler: 20 Feb 2009
Our offbeat wedding at a glance: We had two wedding ceremonies, one in the peak of summer in our home town of Perth, Australia — which we called our "Unlawful Union" as gay marriage is not recognised over here — and one a few days later in Canada.
We invited 300 friends and family members to witness our union at the Perth Town Hall, and we had a wonderful friend as our (unlawful) celebrant. We rounded off the celebrations with a cocktail reception in the Town Hall, followed by drinking and dancing at the Court Hotel (our local gay bar).
Although this was our "formal" wedding, we only included the parts of traditional weddings that we were interested in…
We didn't have a proper wedding party, just ourselves and a best friend each. We both walked down the aisle with our fathers, and then we gave a rose to our mothers to include and acknowledge their involvement. We didn't have a sit-down reception and dancing, but we had plenty of food and drinks and a chance for all our guests to chat and mingle. There was no bouquet or garter toss, but we did have a few short speeches.
A few days later we flew to Canada to have a legally recognised outdoor wedding ceremony in the snow on Lake Alta in Rainbow Park, Whistler. This was attended by the two of us, our celebrant and two witnesses (her husband and friend) and their two dogs.
Our biggest challenge: Our venue cancelled on us six months before the wedding, after we had already sent out our Save the Dates. Suddenly we had to start our entire planning process from the beginning, as we couldn't find another venue that fitted our original theme of "outdoor modern casual Japanese." After driving around for countless hours looking for another park and reception venue we eventually decided to move the whole function to the Perth Town Hall. This changed the structure and feel of our ceremony, it became a lot more formal in parts, but ended up being lovely (and more comfortable for our guests, as the air conditioning was a comfort on a very hot day). It also allowed us to invite more guests as we didn't have to worry about transport and parking restrictions.
It was a huge challenge to move on from the original vision that we had planned for our wedding. I was so disappointed that the wedding I had been planning for over twelve months wasn't going to happen. I dealt with the disappointment by realising that the wedding should be more about us affirming and celebrating our love and committment rather than the trimmings, so I was able to start again with a new concept.
My favorite moment: The biggest thing I have taken away from the wedding was the huge amount of support and encouragement we had from our guests. Despite the fact that our wedding was not legal, and also in spite of the fact that commitment ceremonies are often not regarded highly ("why settle for something substandard to marriage?"), we had hundreds of people turn up to witness our love and commitment.
My favourite moment would have been the point where I walked up the stairs to meet Nova who was waiting at the top. She looked beautiful, and remembering the expression on her face still brings tears of happiness to my eyes.
My offbeat advice: Delegate! Even if you are planning and doing almost everything yourself, on the day of you are not going to have time to make sure everything is running smoothly, so put people in charge of tasks.
I had a very good friend who was willing to be our Event Manager. He coordinated with the caretaker of the Town Hall, made sure the person in charge of the music knew what was going on, was the "go-to" person for all our vendors, and made sure that things went smoothly. He did an outstanding job, I don't remember anyone hassling me with questions about what was going to happen.
Care to share a few vendor/shopping links? We decided that we each wanted to have a unique outfit that suited our personal styles, without needing to match or be too coordinated. We decided to keep a common colour through our outfits for aesthetics, and had them designed and made by our friends, Ellen and Ken. They are both experienced bridal and wedding designers, and the experience was wonderful. The final outfits were exactly what we wanted, and we received a lot of compliments on them.
- Dress: Custom made by Ellen Walker (Perth)
- Veil: Fascinators.net (Qld)
- Shoes: Etnies
- Flowers: Olga's Florist (Perth)
- Hair: Cass from Wildilocks (Perth & Melbourne)
- Makeup: MAC Cosmetics (Myer Perth)
- Cupcakes: Hearts & Arrows (Perth)
- Catering: Acclaimed Catering
- Wine: Little River Winery, Lancaster Wines & Charlie's Estate (Swan Valley, WA)
- Tickets/Invitations: Heatseeker (Perth)
- Rings: Bentleigh Jewellers (Melbourne)
Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!