Saturday, May 5, 2012

Oh what a night! Our wedding reception

Our wedding reception was held at the Oakey Cultural Centre. I chose this venue because not only was it recommended to me by everyone whom I asked, but it was great value. We were able to hire the whole hall, terrace bar and foyer for less than many of the function centres in Toowoomba or Brisbane, plus they didn’t mind me using my own caterer. It was actually a marriage made in heaven between my caterer and the venue, because she loves doing weddings there and the functions manager won’t recommended any other caterer!

My mother and her team of helpers had spent quite a lot of time the previous day preparing the hall. I had asked for flowers in bottles, like those I had seen on countless DIY wedding blogs. She had been collecting bottles ever since I got engaged I think! We hired linen from Event Illusions and the whole thing turned out amazingly lovely. It looked just like I imagined, native blooms everywhere with gum leaves and some sparkly scatters just for kicks.

We arrived exhausted after our photo shoot and fell upon the nibbles and drinks put out for us in the foyer. My new husband cracked open a bottle of expensive whiskey and shared a nip with his best man and father. After the first round my bridesmaid and I asked for one too – my goodness! It may be good stuff but it sure does burn on the way down! But we had forgotten to take drinks with us when doing our bridal party photos and were eager for a drink! After that I opted for a glass of Sauv Blanc.

All our guests we safely ensconced in the bar area, so we snuck into the main hall and took some mock First Dance and Cake Cutting photos. After that they let everyone in and we made a grand entrance to great applause. I hate being the centre of attention so I can tell you it was very uncomfortable for me sitting at the bridal table, with everyone looking at us! I think it was at that point I got sick of being the star of the day and wished everyone would stop fussing over us and concentrate on having a good time.

Our MC was a family friend, the father of C’s Best Man. He did the job well and the speeches weren’t too long or boring, a fact I was grateful for. My favorite was the Best Man’s, considering I knew he had been working on it for quite a while and was terrified!

The food was taken care of by Christine Buckley Catering. I have known Christine since I was born and she has built up a wonderful catering business that everyone in the district agrees is the best. We had an alternate drop of chicken and steak (I cannot remember what the dishes were called! But the chicken was AMAZING) and our wedding cake with berry coulis for dessert. Our beautiful cake was made by my brother’s girlfriend, topped by native flowers arranged by my mum. It was three tiers of mud – white, caramel and chocolate heaven!

I elected not to have a bouquet or garter toss. I didn’t want a bouquet toss because I myself have hated the way they’ve made me feel at weddings in the past. I have been to many, many weddings in my 26 years of singledom and from a young age, I was bullied into standing up there with the expected group of spinsters, all jokingly elbowing each other out of the way. As I got older I grew to abhor the ritual – it is meant to be fun but for me it was a cruel and public way of reminding me that I was alone, without a partner. I even remember hiding on a couple of occasions just so I wouldn’t have to stand with a tiny group of 3 single girls in front of everyone, and mime attempting to catch the toss. As I only had about 3 single girls at my wedding, I elected not to put them through this ceremonial pain and instead presented my bouquet to my mother. She was quite touched, and I was very glad that was what I had chosen to do. The garter toss, I think you can guess, was deleted due to its unbearable vulgarity. The thought of subjecting myself to that embarrassing faux-sexual goings on in front of my relatives and friends just made me feel ill. Thus, I didn’t even wear a garter, and spared my guests the whole uncomfortable affair.

Our first dance was to Brad Paisley’s “Little Moments”. It is a song we listened to a lot at the beginning of our relationship. To me it brings back memories of long weekend drives up into the mountains, and C likes the lyrics because he thinks they describe me.

After that the DJ (Veetone) played music all night long. Apparently our guests all grooved away until midnight, making the money spent on the DJ well worth it (and to think, C didn’t want to hire one!).

After such a huge day, the newly-minted husband and I we completely exhausted. We did a 'goodbye circle' then  tootled off to our wedding night accomodation - the Toowoomba Central Plaza Hotel. Fairly generic name, but probably one of the best places to stay in Toowoomba (if you don't have the budget for Vacy Hall, which we didn't. It's on my bucket list though!). 

All in all, we had the greatest of days. From the beginning, we wanted our wedding to be like a big party for our family and friends. And it was. I tell you what though - I could not have done it without the help of my mother. That lady is an organisational and styling maven!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Our Big Day

I married the love of my life on 24th March. It was a stunning day. Having rained the three days prior we were very stressed about the weather but it was beautiful blue skies all the way on the day.  It was an afternoon garden wedding and the theme was country rustic.

My mother, along with her helpers (my aunties, mother-in-law-to-be and family friend) did a wonderful job of arranging everything for the ceremony. Mum really had a chance to exercise her stylist muscles, and I was so proud of her. I had been using Pinterest to show her ideas and the look I wanted for months. In the end, I left the decorating entirely up to her and she really did a stellar job.

She set up tables where the ceremony was and artfully arranged old items along with a chalkboard sign (not shown), gumleaves and flowers in bottles. There were old milk cans, boxes, cooking pots and cross-saws as well as a rusty kettle filled with gum leaves. We hired chairs for our guests and she put bows on them. The crowning glory was a garden arch, completely covered in eucalyptus branches and leaves. Everything looked amazing.

I also need to acknowledge the help of the men in my family here. They not only did all the heavy lifting and carrying, they made sure the lawn and gardens were neat, tidy and presentable. Not an easy feat on a farm where the gardens are mostly left to themselves for most of the year! My dad also painted up some signs for me on rusty corrugated iron – one for the wedding, one for parking and one saying “thank-you” which we will use for our thank-you cards.

My preparation began at 9am when I fronted up to the local hairdressers (Oakey Hair Designers, Bec took care of me). It seemed to take hours but I was kept entertained by gossiping with my bridesmaid and future MIL who were also there getting their hair done. I was extremely happy with the result – a slightly retro-glam look with loose curls. I thought it matched my dress well.

After that I headed home to meet the makeup artist (Catwalk Nine Mobile Beauty Service). Mine was one of four faces she would be making up that day and Simone did an amazing job of us all. A direct quote from my bridesmaid – “that woman is a bloody genius!”. I have to concur – I looked pretty darn great, but still like myself. I hadn’t wanted anything dramatic or over-the-top and I was very pleased.

We had picked up our bouquets and buttonholes the day before (Oakey Florist and Gifts) and I was simply amazed. My bouquet was HUGE. And they had done a great job interpreting my vague wishes of “all natives”.

Throughout, one half of my photography team, Sue, (Malmac Photography) was snapping away at our preparations. She was so much fun and as unobtrusive as possible. Down at the other farmhouse where the guys were getting ready, Sue’s husband Mal was joking around and taking photos too. These two were absolutely great and we couldn’t be more pleased with our choice of them as our photographers. Not only do they take amazing pictures, they’re lovely people too!

The day really did fly by. Thank god for the caterer, who dropped off sandwiches for us to nibble on as we went along. Before I knew it it was time to be zipped into my dress! I peeked out the bedroom window and was surprised to see all my guests had arrived without me even noticing! Pausing for a few more photos, my mum put on my necklace and my bridesmaid affixed my veil. And then it was time for the big moment!

We had decided to incorporate C’s truck as part of our ceremony. The truck is the reason we met and has been a big part of our relationship so it was important to us both to include it as the wedding car. My long-suffering bridesmaid squeezed herself in the back of the cab and I climbed in the passenger side. Future father-in-law had laboured for hours that morning polishing and cleaning it to make it shiny and bright. My dad drove it down the driveway of our house and about 20m to where the ceremony was! It was slightly ridiculous but C and I thought it would be funny when I could have just walked!

Then my processional music started and I didn’t even have time to be nervous. I tried to descend from the truck cab as gracefully as possible with everyone watching, no mean feat! I was acutely aware of everyone’s eyes on me. My dear dad walked me down the aisle and I was grinning fit to burst. I risked one glance at C but has to look away – I knew if I kept looking at him I would burst into tears!

And then we got married. I don’t remember much about the ceremony at all, except that the cows all came up to the fence to watch. I was looking at them over C’s shoulder and he kept giving me these puzzled looks like “what the hell are you grinning at?” but I couldn’t tell him! We exchanged rings as per our photographer’s instructions for the maximum viewing pleasure of our guests (did you know there’s a trick to it? I didn’t!) and then kissed! After that everything was more relaxed and we signed the register then strode down the aisle greeting our friends and family as a married couple.

Kids blew bubbles, my nanna wiped tears from her eyes and everybody hugged. I was so happy I couldn’t stop smiling. Family group photos followed then the bridal party went for our own photos. We went all over the farm – on the old farmhouse verandah, down by the windmill and old watertank, in the sorghum paddock… I’ll tell you what, I was pretty dry by the time we were done. Tip for young players: take an esky of booze with you. You’ll need it. The best man forgot ours!

For our very last shot the sun was just touching the horizon. Our photographer ushered us quickly into the front paddock amongst the foxtails and yelled “now kiss!”. And this is what happened:

Next post, I'll talk about our beautiful reception.

Processional: 'Prelude, From Unaccompanied Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major, BWV 1007' - J S Bach

Signing of the Register: 'Many Meetings', 'The Council of Elrond', 'The Ring Goes South' - Fellowship of the Ring soundtrack - Howard Shore

Recessional: 'Beautiful Day' - U2

Valentine Bride, Toowoomba

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Final days

The wedding is approaching at alarming speed. This time last week I was still complaining about work, today I'm running endless lists in my head wondering what on earth it is that I've forgotten to do. Because I will have forgotten something, mark my words.

At present I'm supposed to be sending a copy of one of our readings for the ceremony to my friend, but I'm blogging instead. So I'll probably forget that.

I came up to the farm on Tuesday afternoon to find my mother a virtual whirlwind of activity. She has lots of lists which is helpful. And she's remembering things I'm not (I thought it was supposed to be the other way around?).

Yesterday we had an appointment with our reception venue coordinator. Very happy with the venue and all the arrangements, especially my banquet tables. They are going to look awesome. The coordinator remarked that I seem pretty calm for someone getting married in a few days, and she was surprised that she hadn't heard more from me over the past few months. She said other brides are usually constantly on the phone/email/wanting meetings. I could only think to myself - what for? Surely your floral arrangements, linen hire, caterer and DJ aren't that taxing in their requirements? You hire people, they show up and do their job. Trust your vendors, Bridezilla. Trust them and all will be well.

In the afternoon I had a waxing appointment and happily gossiped with the girl about beauty maintenance whist she ripped off my facial hairs. It occurs to me that I'll never give myself an excuse to pamper myself in this way ever again - hair dye, make up, waxing, spray tan, professional hair-do, manicure... I could never justify the expense. How do those high maintenance ladies do it?

Today we went to town with dad and got him a new dress shirt and tie (very helpful shop assistant, shout-out to the young man in Tarocash Grand Central!), then trundled over to the liquor barn to look at booze. I was just guiding the purchasing, as dad and future father-in-law are doing the actual purchasing tomorrow. Knowing nothing about champagne I have instructed them to buy a middle-range one (no brut), no Yellow (which I abhor). For the white wine I have asked for a Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough NZ (can't go wrong) and the red will be a Cabernet Merlot of some description (leaving that up to them as I don't drink red).

This afternoon my makeup artist came over and did a trial run of my face, and a spray tan. Extremely happy with the makeup (not too dramatic or OTT, I still look like myself but nicer) and the spray tan wasn't too bad. It was cold (but I expected that, having watched Toddlers & Tiaras). It just remains to be seen how well it turns out, should be able to see the shade by tomorrow. If I go full Tandoori, you may never hear from me again. Tomorrow - wedding rehearsal, last minute details and a good night's sleep. Hurrah!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Fitting and Sitting

Two weeks to go. I cannot adequately explain how quickly the time since I got engaged has flown. I have gone from a laid-back “she’ll be right” attitude to worried anxiety in the space of a few weeks.

I had my final dress fitting on the weekend, so it was back to the farm I went. I was a bit worried truth to tell, I have been feeling a bit on the large side lately and the previous dress fitting included a small struggle to do up the zip! At that point I was cursing myself for not getting a lace-up style bodice but… guess what? It fitted perfectly!

The dressmaker was very pleased – she had done some darts and hemming and the whole thing fits like a bloody glove. To top off a successful fitting they are also going to make me a birdcage veil. I have been researching and fretting about the bloody veil for about 3 months now so I am relieved to get it out of the way – AND for a cheaper price than any I could find on the internet!

We brought the dress home and it is now hanging in my mum’s spare room. She kept sneaking in there every few minutes and unzipping the garment bag to look at the dress, it was so cute. I must admit it is a glorious thing to be seen hanging up there. It’s a powerful visual reminder of how close the actual day is getting.

In the afternoon, after lunch and a little lie-down to recover from the excitement, the wedding photographers came over to do some reconnaissance. I loved that they did this and that it was included in our photo package price. We strolled around the farm talking about good photo locations, backdrops, lighting and cheesy pic ideas. It took ages but they were happy and we were happy. Afterwards my feet were so sore I could still feel them hurting when I went to bed later that night!

But those two things got me really excited about getting married.

On Sunday mum and I debated going to the local markets but then decided on a lazy day pottering about the place instead. Did I say lazy? I meant PRODUCTIVE. Mum recalled that I had mentioned getting all the place cards done this weekend (stupid me). So off to the printer and good old Microsoft Excel to print out 82 placecards in our theme font, and glue them onto the luggage tags we got from Officeworks. Then we threaded each one with some jute twine for a rustic feel.

I am really happy with the way they turned out – they look just like I imagined! They will be placed strategically in the middle of the guests’ dinner plates. They can then tie them to their bonbonierre bags if they wish.

And once they were all done, of course nothing else would do but to figure out the seating plan for the reception tables. Both of us being visual people, it became clear that we would have to clear off the entire dining table to do this. It was at this point I was glad we’d kept the numbers fairly small! So that took a while longer. When done, it felt like we’d been going for HOURS and lo – we had.

I can tell you, it was a good mental workout working out who can/should/needs/shouldn’t sit next to who – keeping exes far apart, parents close to their children, making sure everyone was sitting near at least someone they know – what a nightmare! I have no idea how society hostesses work these things out all the time.

Then we packed up all the place cards and hid the plan from my fiancée (he would only have interfered and wanted to change things) and collapsed with a profound sense of accomplishment.

There are still quite a few things to organize – mainly around confirming vendors, but one thing that has had the bottom fall out of it is my makeup artist. Turns out the bride she’d booked for the morning (and had booked well before me) wanted a later appointment so she couldn’t make my afternoon wedding. My backup had already booked someone else (as I had been rude and never answered her quote) so now I am googling like mad and taking recommendations for anyone who has my date free and will travel to the country to make me up like a painted doll!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Hen's (I refuse to call it a "Night")

On Saturday my wonderful bridesmaid organised a "do". I refused to call it a Hen's Night because of the negative connotations associated with the phrase. You know what I mean. I encountered several other parties in my travels on the night having Hen's Nights and I can tell you they embodied everything I hate about the "ladette" culture that seems to be prevailing amoungst young ladies lately. Yes, I'm a snob, I know that.

My gorgeous bridesmaid knows this and suggested straight away instead of an evening drinking/watching male strippers/having a "naughty" scavenger hunt/generally being vulgar, that we go to High Tea. She knew it was something I'd always wanted to do and of course it made me love her even more that she knows me so well. I had given her strict instructions - no idiotic pink veil, flashing badges or penis straws. That paraphrenalia makes me uncomfortable in the extreme (and I think it's vulgar, and people only go along with that stuff because they feel they have to).  One cousin still showed up with penis-shaped peppermints because she just can't help herself, but I forgave her because she also made a bride bear for my guests to sign and a (tasteful, kind of) tiara with small veil for me to wear.

We went to the Marriott at 3pm. It was lovely. For $35 a head we got sandwiches, little tarts and eclairs, scones, tea or coffee and a complimentary glass of sparkling white. The staff were lovely and the service exquisite. They even put our napkins in our laps for us. And didn't mind that I had a teddy bear dressed as a bride in the middle of the table.

We stayed until 5pm and I got tipsy on two glasses of that lovely sparkling wine. My cousin considered buying us a bottle of the 1971 Dom but then thought it would probably be wasted on our uneducated palate.

Next we wandered down Eagle St to Jade Buddha. Now, I loathe pubs and loud events with alcohol of all kinds (including but not limited to Race Days, country shows and music festivals) but I was making an exception for this establishment. Why? Well because it's posh. And it was early in the afternoon, so we would be beating the usual crowd (a mix of people who think they are somebody, clothes horses and try-hards). We got a table easily and when the upstairs lounge bar opened (called Shadow Lounge) we went upstairs and chose a spot where we could look out at the Storey Bridge. Best view in the city in my humble opinion.

We had a few more drinks, played a game of 'how well do you know the bride' and had some tapas. Nice. I was one of four other bride-to-be's there, which was a little disconcerting. Who knew there were so many hens in the city on a Saturday night? I feel even more sorry for bar staff now.
Anyways, it was pretty much my ideal afternoon and evening - conversation and good friends. Later someone had the bright idea of continuing the evening down at The Victory with some karoke. When we were about to go in, one of my cousins turned to me and said "aren't you glad we didn't get you a six-foot tall inflatable penis?" and pointed. And lo, there was a hen up ahead, complete with veil and sash, dutifully carrying a six-foot inflatable penis.

And then I thanked my lucky stars that I wasn't her.

I called it a night about 11pm and went back to the hotel with Mum. She, my brother's girlfriend and I had booked a room at Oaks Charlotte Towers, an establishment I can recommend most readily, should you ever need to stay in Brisbane city. Great access to both the Mall and riverside.

My partner's buck's night is next weekend. His best man hasn't organised a thing, but I suspect it won't be high tea and quiet drinks on the deck.

Did you have a hen's night? What would be your ideal pre-marriage celebration?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Piquing my Pinterest - Veils

The wedding's getting close and there are still a few things I have not got. A veil being one of them. I refuse to pay $100 or more for it and have been exploring different types.
I'm drawn to the birdcage or French veil - I think it would suit my dress. What do you think of them versus a traditional veil?

Source: via Surely on Pinterest

Source: via Surely on Pinterest

Linking up with:
Tina Gray {dot} Me

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Hairspray and dressmaker pins

On Saturday, I had two wedding things booked; hair and dress fitting. The only hairdresser appointment I could get was 8am. Ugh, too early for a weekend.

But in hindsight, it was a good thing I did book it that early – I thought the time would be enough to have hair done, drive to town, have a coffee then go to my dress fitting around midday. As it was, I spent a good few hours in there. I must be the world’s worst hairdresser client, I hate sitting there having someone fuss over me! Come to think of it, my wedding day is going to be torture.

I went in still not really knowing what I wanted for my hair. I have been growing it ever since the engagement last January and it has gotten really long. Beyond that, I have looked at thousands (ok, maybe dozens) of bridal magazines and websites searching for a hairstyle I liked. Turns out I spotted something in the hairdresser’s book and the lovely girl just created it from there. I’m not revealing too much except to say that the keywords will be sleek and glam. My dress is kind of 1930s/40s so I wanted my hair to fit the style. I can reveal it will be a half-half affair – half up and half down.

The hairdresser didn’t realize my hair would take to rollers so well and we ended up with really tight curls everywhere! She promised me next time she will produce WAVES, not alarming curls. I hope she knows what she’s doing!

In the middle of my hot rollers she went and cut two other people’s hair and did a wax job! I was horrified and annoyed, but mum just put her hand on my arm and told me to be patient. She always calms me down. I guess it is a small-town hairdresser and they had other appointments that morning, but sheesh! Customer service people!

Freshly coiffed, we drove to town to go to my first dress fitting. Arriving on time, we found our harried dressmaker running 20mins behind so my mother and I took a half hour lunch break at a nearby café. She still wasn’t done when we returned to the boutique so we plopped ourselves down on some chairs and admired the beautiful dresses. The other shop lady produced a copy of Martha Stewart Weddings (which in all my bridal magazine obsession phase I had never seen before) and we read that while waiting.

When she was finally finished with her customer the poor dressmaker apologized but honestly, I didn’t mind. Mum asked her if she’d eaten all day and she said no, on Saturdays they have back-to-back appointments so they never even break for lunch! The life of a small business owner I guess. Well, I was happy to wait because their work is exquisite and I really feel like a princess when I go there. I am so happy that I didn’t choose to import a cheap Chinese dress and that the one that I have bought is within my budget PLUS I get personalized service!

So into the gown I went, a little squeeze and it was on. I couldn’t even wear the strapless bra I’d bought especially for it! Dressmaker insisted I didn’t need it anyway. Dammit, there’s $80 down the drain (but hopefully we can return it!). It’s true the dress really does hold everything in, even though it doesn’t have a corset. For the first time since adolescence I will not be wearing a bra with my DDs in public! Scary.

I got pinned up (straps, darts and hemlines) and then we measured where the thing will bustle. Oh my, I had forgotten just how much material was in the train. Heh.

I was happy to note that my shoes matched the dress! I had used a fabric swatch, but still, there’s always that nagging doubt. Was also pleased that this time we were allowed to take photos – so mum snapped away, no doubt thinking of adding the photos to her scrapbook album later! Oh man, it is going to be so much fun scrapbooking this wedding!

After making another appointment for a final fitting, we headed home and collapsed. Turns out all that waiting around is really exhausting!


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