Caroline & Dave's sunrise beach wedding

This week we're celebrating the tea-length, the mini, and the cocktail — that's right, it's short dress week! We're showcasing brides who dare to bare their gams in shorter dresses.

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Photos by Robyn Brown (bride's aunty) and Sally Frith (bridesmaid)

The Offbeat Bride: Caroline, Policy Writer

Her offbeat partner: Dave, Remuneration Manager

Date and location of wedding: Shoreham Beach and Merricks General Wine Store, Victoria, Australia — February 15, 2013

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Despite not being morning people, for some reason we thought a ceremony at 7:15 a.m. on the beach would be a good idea. It was — we just had to convince everyone else! Besides, breakfast is the most important meal of the day, right?

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Some of the unexpected highlights were the coffee van, the idea of a wedding breakfast, and the entertainment we put on for the kids to keep them happy during the reception. It's sometimes hard to know ahead of time if these things will work or if they'll fall flat and be ignored. It was such a relief and a joy to see the queues at the van, to hear the kids shrieking with laughter, to see that all the seats were actually filled, and that no one had turned over and hit snooze on their alarms after deciding it was all too early.

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The timing also had the added advantage of giving us the most relaxed wedding day afternoon. All the stress and excitement was over by lunchtime, and everyone had generally scattered by mid afternoon. We had the rest of the day to wander around in our fine attire, pick a restaurant for dinner, and be in our posh accommodation by 7:00 p.m. And given that I was 18 weeks pregnant at the time, that was about where my stamina ran out. I preferred to risk morning sickness to unconsciousness at my own wedding.

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Tell us about the ceremony:
We're lucky enough to know a lot of ministers, so we had plenty of options for the celebrant. We chose a friend who would conduct a ceremony with just the right amount of formality, fun, and relaxedness (is that a word?!), and another minister helped us out with pre-marital counselling.

The Christian ceremony featured a lot of our favourite music that has been important in our relationship (Boy and Bear, The Wombats, Xavier Rudd, and Bliss N Eso). It included a reading of Taylor Mali's "How Falling in Love is Like Owning a Dog" and a reading from Song of Solomon about love being greater than all the riches you can imagine.

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The great thing about being at the beach (apart from how beautiful it was watching the sun rise over water) was that it was perfect for the dogs and the kids to burn off some energy, even during the ceremony, without disturbing anyone. A few times I looked around during the formalities, and caught a glimpse of a little superhero splashing in the shallows, or a flower girl digging a hole in the sand.

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Our biggest challenge:
Finding a venue that could cater for a wedding-size function at breakfast time was a challenge. This was also why we chose an outdoor public location for the ceremony, as no other venues opened early enough. We found a venue that offered a "recovery breakfast" for the morning after a wedding, and we asked them if they'd make that the main event instead, and they were really enthusiastic about the idea. They had an amazing breakfast menu catering to all sorts of dietary quirks and restrictions. As far as the outdoor venue, we just watched the forecast closely and made plans to hire umbrellas if we needed. Thankfully thankfully thankfully, we didn't.

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The other challenge was obviously getting makeup and hair done so early. It was a 4:30 a.m. hair appointment for the girls, and so we had to find someone willing to get up at stupid o'clock and come to the house. This involved lots of promises of coffee and pastries and thank you gifts above and beyond the basic payment!

DIY takes a LOT longer than you think it will. I feel like most people know this, but I didn't. I had to outsource a lot of it to long-suffering friends and family. Things like painting the archway, making the dog signs, and all the zillions of paper flowers were all very time-consuming. It was good to make things that had a life beyond the wedding though. The archway is in our garden, the "Good Morning" bunting is in our kitchen, and we have paper flowers everywhere even still.

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My favorite moment:
We wanted the wedding to be brimming with the importance of family and friends. We chose the date as it was Dave's grandparents' anniversary (they were married in 1941). As they are both deceased, it was a small way we felt that they could be there. It was also a year and a day after our engagement, so it all worked nicely.

The vows were the moment when we really stopped and connected, which is just how it should be. The light at that time of the morning was just glorious, and at that moment, it was just us and the minister having a private conversation and the rest of the world fell away.

It was also a surprisingly meaningful relationship that developed with my Etsy dressmaker (whom I obviously never met as she is in the US and I am in Australia). Due to the very nature of her involvement, she was actually the first person to find out I was pregnant, and so she ended up providing advice on a whole lot more than just dress measurements! She also relieved a lot of stress as I had actually ordered the dress before I knew I was pregnant and I was convinced I was going to have to cancel the order and find a kaftan. But she resolved that with the more common sense approach of providing extra seam allowance and a lace-up back. It was a beautiful dress to wear and clothed my little bump very well.

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My funniest moment:
Our flower girls and page boys were all pretty little, and we figured that while the little girls were very happy to dress up in pretty dresses, the little boys didn't want a bar of tiny suits. So we dressed them up as Batman and Superman. This had the unintended effect of revving them right up, so instead of walking down the aisle in time to the music, alongside the grownups, they RAN (or flew) down the aisle at top speed through the sand.

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Have you been married before and if so, what did you do differently?
I have been married before, and I think the hardest thing was learning not to dismiss things because I'd done them before, for example a ring warming. It was important to consider if I was against an idea because I actually don't think it works for us, or do I not want to do it because I've done it before? As it was the first time for Dave, I wanted to make sure he got all the bits and pieces he wanted, without worrying about whether it was old news to me.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

  1. Wow! A beautiful wedding to start the day! It is so lovely. Like the super hero shirts.

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  2. A wedding at sunrise by the beach. I love! And breakfast is an awesome idea!

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  3. Thanks, so exciting to see it up here!

    Of course now I realise I am terrible for mentioning how early the hairdresser had to get up without mentioning her website, so for any Peninsula people, it's
    http://www.siennajack.com.au/! 🙂

    1 agrees

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