Edwina & Matthew's Jane Austen meets pop-culture wedding

Updated Oct 12 2015
 
Photos by: Southern Light Photography
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Photos by Southern Light Photography

The Offbeat Bride: Edwina, Social Worker

Her offbeat partner: Matthew, I.T. Guy

Date and location of wedding: The Great Hall, Sydney University, Sydney, Australia — October 23, 2011

Our offbeat wedding at a glance: Matt and I decided to go for a tradition-lite, money-conscious wedding. I had my dress made because I wanted a Regency era-style dress and I didn't think it was possible to get one in the style I had visualised for years. What I eventually had made was a sleeveless outer-coat with a train over a lace dress, so I could take the coat off when I wanted to dance.

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Our perfect venue was the Great Hall at Sydney University. We're not particularly religious, so it was perfect as it was secular, but had the feel of a grand church. It also meant so much to both of us to hold the ceremony there, as we met when attending the university, and Matt still works there (which helped to decrease the cost of hiring the place).

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The reception venue owners (at Castel D'oro, Five Dock) were wonderful, as they let us take their big room when their previous client fell through at no extra cost. This room being much nicer and having fun lights during the dancing.

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Some other favorite details include the cake that had icing-sugar figurines of Matt and I with Green Lantern and Frodo details, the place cards with their geeky quotes, and the background music (orchestral music from our favourite movies and TV shows). It became a guessing game, and I had friends and family approaching me all night, asking where the music came from.

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Tell us about the ceremony: At our reception, we had non-traditional vows (i.e., not "honour and obey"), which we repeated back to the celebrant, as neither of us felt we would be much good at memorising a speech. Our two readings were "The Day the Saucers Came" by Neil Gaiman and "My True Love Has My Heart" by Sir Philip Sidney.

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We also had a handfasting as part of the ceremony, with our mothers working together to tie the cords. Finally, my aunt kindly agreed to play the piano for us: "My Father's Favourite" by Patrick Doyle from Sense and Sensibility.

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Our biggest challenge: My family is a bit more traditional around what they consider should and shouldn't be done at weddings (though they were fine with the wedding being secular). They would share their anxiety with me that I would be making the wedding too geeky for their tastes. However, by the day of the wedding, they were also providing a lot of support and indicated she was very happy with how everything went. I may have escalated her concerns a little by over-exaggerating the geekiness of our cake beforehand.

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My favorite moment: Standing outside with my brother (who was also my head bridesmaid) and sharing a quiet moment with him before I brought a new family member into the fold.

The speeches were also amazing. My mum did one which was mainly about my father, who passed away when I was 12. It meant so much to me to have him brought into the day. My partner's and brother's wedding speeches were beautiful, too, especially for being impromptu.

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Finally, I loved our first dance, which was to "Dark Waltz" by Hayley Westenra. It was beautiful, but mainly cobbled together on the spot (due to the room change) and contained some Regency-style flourishes which made it a bit different from the norm.

My funniest moment: Matt's favorite funny moment was hearing the laughs that came when the wedding party entered to "Ghostbusters" by Ray Parker Junior and when we entered to "Ride of the Valkyries" by Wagner.

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What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding? A lot of the day blurred for me. I know I was bubbling over in joy and happiness, but it's hard to remember the details. I found that I needed to look over the pictures afterwards to remind myself of what happened. It almost felt like watching someone else's slideshow of a place you have visited. I would probably suggest that future brides try to keep this in mind on their big days, so they can absorb a bit more of what is happening.

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Care to share a few vendor/shopping links?

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn!

  1. Thank you! I felt sorry it had to be cut up, but then it was also delicious! I'd also like to put a shout-out to my bridesmaids; their efforts meant the bridesmaids' (and throw-away) bouquet and bonboniere were made (and beautifully!). Also to my brother, who stayed up overnight helping create the tags for the bonboniere and the menus, they were beautiful and I have the best brother ever!

    • Thank you!!! The Great Hall was the only place I could think to get married in. It is gorgeous and normally would be expensive, but due to Matt working at the uni, we got a staff discount, which was really wonderful! Castel D'oro was a surprise find. I was leafing through a friend's bridal magazines when I saw a picture of their hall set up with black and white chair covers/table-cloths (our main wedding colours) and candelabras. Then I found that their prices start from about $70 a head (much more reasonable than other places around Sydney) for a four course meal (not including the wedding cake). They also threw in the DJ for free and moved us up to the larger room for no cost. I think the only difficulty they had with us, was that they were much more traditional in outlook, so started freaking out that we were going to have the Best Man and my brother/Head Bridesmaid walking in together. They thought the boys would have issues with it. We laughed and said it was alright, but they kept asking if we were sure, including on the day. I don't think I included it, but there is a picture of the boys walking in together laughing, so obviously they had no issues, lol!

    • SO TRUE. I'm dying over that hall. Never knew it existed. Wonder if I can find something similar in Victoria.

      • Thank you! I did a quick check using "sandstone universities" in google and the main one which popped up was University House at The University of Melbourne: http://unihouse.org.au/functions/weddings/

        I'm not sure how close this is to where you are, or what your budget is like (we only hired the Great Hall as we couldn't afford to use their function rooms, which is why we went to the Castel D'oro for the reception).

        Good luck!!! I'm sure your wedding will be beautiful, wherever it is held though!

  2. A) I love your wedding! I'm a Jane Austen nut (wrote my thesis on her and everything). Your dress is gorgeous, I love that you included some contradance in your first dance, the Sydney reading is precious…gaaah.
    B) Your ceremony venue looks exactly like the Great Hall in the Harry Potter films!! Gorgeous!

  3. That dress. THAT DRESS! I LOVE THAT DRESS! It's absolutely beautiful and perfect. 🙂 You look gorgeous in it.

  4. Thank you!! My first day at uni I went to the hall and was blown away by the gorgeousness. An acquaintance then got married there and I realised it had a dual purpose, lol! We are both so tied to the uni (especially Matt), including having two graduation ceremonies each there, that it seemed to be the only place for us to have the ceremony.
    Re the dress, thank you both!! I spent ages trying to work out what I wanted. I've also had a life-long obsession with Jane and the regency period outfits and given the hall was built around that period, it seemed to be serendipitous! The one thing which concerned me was that I wanted a train (I love sweepy, swishy dresses) but regency dresses aren't great with the bustle look. I spent ages looking up regency wedding dresses and found one which had its own overcoat/train thing and the idea went from there 😀

  5. Thank you!! I let the girls choose the style so they could find the one they felt was the most flattering. As we were a large party, with two boys (one of whom was mine) I decided to split the colours so there would be three girls per guy. The ones on my side during the ceremony were in a purple-blue colour (blue being my favourite) and the ones with Matt were in green (his favourite). I tried to go with colours which would suit their complexions, in the hope they may want to wear the dresses again and colours which worked well mixed up too! 🙂

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