There’s a lot to love about Chris and Tara’s Canberra Wedding and we’re not sure which part takes the cake. For us it’s a coin toss between their very cool ceremony and reception venues and the spin they placed on ‘normal’ wedding traditions.
“…we swapped the flower girl for a surprise flower groomsmen, a page boy for a page poodle, and added a champagne toast to the ‘just married’ announcement at the end of the ceremony”, said Tara.
The fact they managed to organise such an epic event after three postponements and keep the same team of vendors including Kelly and Dan of All Grown Up Weddings and Baker Boys Band (“the most brilliant and most fun wedding band to have ever lived”, according to Tara) was pretty impressive, too.
Check it out below.
How did you meet? It was all a matter of chance. Like in a bizarre movie, Tara had received an inheritance from a family member she had never met (and still doesn’t know their name!). Without that inheritance she wouldn’t have moved to Sydney nor have been in Canberra the weekend we met.
Then, by chance we met through our mutual best friend. Tara had a boyfriend at the time, but a year later (having ditched the ex!), she was still thinking about this great guy she had met one time…. so she pestered our friend for months (and little did she know I was doing the same), until he organised a ‘reunion’. The rest as they say, is history.
Hit or (near) miss: Oh so much went wrong! During setup we realised our bridal party wouldn’t fit along the front of the room for the ceremony (no problem – we had them enter and then sit in the front row), then the signing table was too big (no problem – it was carried in when it was time to use it), then the groomsmen’s room to get dressed in wasn’t ready on time (no problem – we borrowed a friend’s room), our celebrants heel broke right before (no problem – Tara had an extra pair of shoes!).
We just had to laugh. Luckily most of the challenges happened while Tara was getting ready, so I was the chief problem solver on the day!
The proposal: We were in Noosa (Tara’s home town) for Christmas in 2018 (I think? The years have rolled together). I forced us to hike up through the National Park to a lookout called Hell’s Gates. Tara had whinged the whole hike (she says in retrospect she wouldn’t have been surprised if I threw away the ring – she complained endlessly!). But at the top, Tara turned around and there I was on one knee. It was all well and good until we realised we had to hike all the way back down before we could get a celebratory wine!
Wedding venue: We held our ceremony at Ovolo Nishi Hotel and our reception at Parlour Wine Bars. We loved Ovolo Nishi – the incredibly unique architecture, the beautiful art collection, and the wonderful staff. It was the perfect spot for us – intimate, modern, unique, and close to a good bar!
We held the reception down the road at Parlour Wine Bars. We wanted our guests to be entertained all day and have everything within walking distance. We also wanted a cocktail style wedding, brilliant live music, great food and drinks, and fun decor. Parlour ticked all our boxes.
Wedding vibe: We just wanted everyone to have a good time. We wanted it to feel special, but casual. Meaningful, but celebratory.
This was our third wedding date after two cancelations (thanks, Covid!). But that experience really cemented for us what was important and what we really value, which is quality time and good laughs with our friends. Yes, we focused on some antique/ classic decor, vibrant colours, and unique venues, but really we just wanted it to be simple and fun, with no small detail overshadowing the purpose of the day – to have a damn good time!
Also, we agreed early when Covid led to us cancelling our first date that we were committed to our vendors. So across three dates we managed to keep the same venues, band, florist, makeup and hair, arbour, cake maker and photographer!
Traditions: adopted, adapted or ditched? We spent a good amount of time unpacking traditions to decide what we valued and why, to really decide where we wanted to invest our time. For me, writing our own vows was really important, everything else I could go either way on.
Chris is more the traditionalist in our pair, and he loved the general reception flow (speeches/ cutting the cake/ first dance). We agreed to ditch table seating plans, party favours and long speeches. Then, we swapped the flower girl for a surprise flower groomsmen, a page boy for a page poodle, and added a champagne toast to the ‘just married’ announcement at the end of the ceremony.
The outfit/s: I had two dresses on the day. A beautiful gown from Karen Willis Holmes for the ceremony and then a lighter silk dress from Self Portrait for the reception. I purchased both online without trying them on. In each case I saw them and just knew… and luckily, they both worked! I loved the gown so much, and felt like I was in a dream wearing it. But, our reception was cocktail style in a small venue… I didn’t want to be stood on or get stuck trying to move around, so changing outfits to something light and comfortable was perfect for me.
Chris’s wonderful friend owns R&H Custom, so he designed Chris’s (and his groomsmen suits). Chris opted for a dark grey and the groomsmen in a slightly lighter grey. They each picked a pattern for the lining inside their jackets – Chris picked dinosaurs! Having them custom made was a really fun and special experience.
Standout vendors: Our photographer Kelly Tunney from All Grown Up Photography. Kelly was a dream. Her skills are second to none, but more striking was how central she (and our second photographer, the incredible Dan O’Day) became to the day. She was with me from the early moments getting ready, right to the end when we kicked off our shoes to dance. It just wouldn’t have been the same without her.
If I could pick a second it would be Saloon. They not only took care of my hair and makeup on the day, but skincare leading up, tan, hair and makeup trials, all while being wonderful friends and great supports. They made every second special.
Soundtrack: Aisle song: “Tiny Dancer”, by Elton John. Recessional: “Ring of Fire”, by Johnny Cash. Entrance song: “It’s Friday Then”, by Dubskie. First Dance: “The Night We Met”, by Lord Huron.
For the reception we had a band – The Baker Boys – who were the most brilliant and most fun wedding band to have ever lived. They kept everyone on the dance floor all night!
Words of wedding wisdom: Don’t get caught up in the small things. Decide early what’s important to you and the things you really value, and use that as a guide to how you invest your time (and money!). Be fully present on the day and enjoy every single moment – things will go wrong, but you’ll find that in the end, none of that really matters! Also, delegate!
I’ll always remember… The entrance to our reception. The roar of welcome and celebration from our friends and family and seeing everyone laughing and dancing… it was a moment of pure jubilation! My entire body had pins and needles, we would relive that moment a hundred times over if we could!
The future: Chris is my home, my safe place and my joy. I’m not sure what the immediate future holds. Covid taught us to not plan too far ahead and to find joy in the small and perhaps insignificant moments. I hope we can keep doing that.
CREDITS: Photos All Grown Up Weddings // Celebrant Aisle Meets Annie // Venue Ovolo Nishi (ceremony) and Parlour (reception) // Cake La Ombre Creations // Bridal gown and veil Karen Willis Holmes (ceremony) and Self Portrait (reception) // Bride’s shoes Wittner // Flowers Gather // Jewellery Cendre, Francesca, Mrs Fray, Brie Leon // Bridesmaids gifts Ruby & Sage // Groom and groomsmen suits R & H Custom // Ties and groomsmen gifts Peter Jackson // Rings Unique Diamonds // Hair and makeup Saloon // Music Baker Boys Band // Arbour The Prop Smith // // Robes/PJ’s Homebodii.
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