Twice as nice.
Photographer: Love Jennifer | Photography by Jennifer Skabo
Date: March 10 & 11, 2017.
Clair and Ben met during a work conference in Sydney several years ago. At the time they were both studying, and lived in different states. Ben was in Queensland, and Clair in Tasmania. “We stayed in touch as we shared a love of travel and the environment, and we caught up a few times over the next couple of years, but it was difficult due to the distance,” said Clair. “We didn’t actually get together until I moved to the Gold Coast, Queensland in 2013. It was a big leap of faith, new city, new job, new friends, but absolutely worthwhile!” Clair added.
Ben arranged an elaborate marriage proposal in Northern NSW, at a national park called Broken Head. Ben had booked a ‘weekend getaway’ and on Saturday the pair drove down to the park. Unfortunately for Ben, the Byron Bay triathlon was on, and the road was closed for a few hours! Said Clair, “Ben recovered from this hiccup well by taking me for a walk to a waterfall and then to the beach. He stalled for time until we could get to the national park.”
As they walked out to the headland, Ben was carrying a delicious looking hamper. “He mentioned that he’d left the camera in the car, and asked me to go back to get it,” Clair said. Slightly frustrated and getting peckish by this time, Clair ran back to the car while Ben walked on. “As I got to the headland, 5 minutes later,” Clair said.
“I rounded the corner to see Ben kneeling on the top of a grassy cliff, with waves crashing below, asking me to marry him. It was just magical and I was absolutely blown away!” she said. “After sharing Champagne, cheese and many smiles,” Clair mused, “I thought he [Ben] handled himself very well. I hadn’t a clue what he had planned. The only odd part of the day was when we were at the beach and he was stalling for time, and he didn’t get in the water for a surf!”
“Ben not only planned an incredible day, but he had arranged the perfect ring.” Clair added. “He knew I didn’t want a diamond, and that was all the information I ever gave him. Sapphires have history in our family, and Ben designed a unique ring, choosing a stunning Sri Lankan sapphire surrounded by diamonds and set in white and yellow gold. It is the most amazing ring.”
Clair and Ben had two wedding celebrations. As Clair’s mother is Indian, on a Friday they held an Indian celebration at Sandy Bay Sailing Club, on Nutgrove Beach in Hobart. “We had 150 guests, most of whom dressed in traditional Indian clothes and jewellery,” said Clair. “It is traditional for the groom, and not the bride to arrive at the ceremony. So on Friday afternoon, I waited on the balcony with my bridesmaids, as Ben rode along the beach with his groomsmen, and he arrived up the hill on a great white stallion!” Clair said. “What an entrance!”
A traditional ceremony followed, with offerings to the fire and many blessings. The ceremony was run by Clair’s great-aunt, her Jyan- Nani, who had flown from Canada to officiate the ceremony. The wedding party and guests feasted on a range of vegetarian delights for the rest of the evening, followed by Bollywood dancing with professional dancers who showed everyone how to get involved. “It was an incredible day, full of colour, vitality, culture and joy,” Clair added. “Most importantly, all of our friends and family completely embraced the Indian culture, and loved exploring new traditions.”
On the following day, Clair and Ben enjoyed a traditional Western wedding, which was held at Clair’s family home, ‘Pearwood’ in Taroona, Hobart. Clair’s family have lived on the 3.5-acre estate for 20 years, and it was a joy for Clair and Ben to hold their ceremony and reception there. “The ceremony was performed in a small amphitheatre built into the natural slope of the garden,” said Clair.
“The bridal party wore a mix of blues with peach highlights, while our reception was held in a large marquee with chandeliers and incredible flower arrangements by Botanical,” she added. “A real feature was the food, including Tasmanian oysters courtesy of The Oyster Butlers, and a delicious Italian meal created by Fico, using Tasmanian ingredients.” Clair is passionate about wine, and selected an all Tasmanian wine list for the day. “I wanted to showcase what the state has to offer to our interstate and overseas guests!” she added.
HIGHLIGHTS AND HITCHES
“We were very worried about the weather in the lead up to the wedding,” said Clair. “Ben was constantly checking the Bureau of Meteorology website, and we nearly erected emergency marquees for the beachside wedding on Friday. However, in the final moments it appeared to clear, and we decided to risk it! We had perfect sunny weather for the Indian wedding on the Friday, and a glorious, albeit moody day for the Saturday,” she said.
A major highlight for both Clair and Ben, was Ben’s horseback entrance to the Indian ceremony. “Arriving at my wedding on horseback was the most surreal and incredible experience,” said Ben.
“I felt like a movie star. We had a wonderfully long entrance along Nutgrove beach with musicians playing traditional Indian music. Everyone was dancing and cheering. It was phenomenal!” he said.
Clair and Ben visited French Polynesia on their honeymoon. Said Clair, “Ben arranged the honeymoon – it was his one big job, and it was incredible!” The happy couple spent five days in an overwater bungalow on Moorea, and five nights on Bora Bora. “We spent our time snorkelling, scuba diving, kite surfing and exploring the islands. It was absolute tropical island bliss, with plenty of Champagne sunsets to celebrate! After the intense wedding period, it was a treat to relax and enjoy each other’s company in a secluded paradise,” she said.
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES
- According to Clair, “Weddings are such fun, but everyone has an opinion about how to do it ‘right’. My advice would be to stay true to what is important to you, and make sure the key things you want in the wedding are included. I believe you also need to let some things go. Trust the people you have hired to help and let them do what they do best. I found it worked best when I discussed a broad concept, and let my incredible designer and decorator, (Olivia from Red Letterbox) and florist (Kate from Botanical) work their magic!”
- “Also, we chose to have two events that were not held at traditional wedding venues. This meant absolutely everything had to be brought in! It meant [the wedding] was very personalised, unique,
and the locations were of special importance. However, do not think that this makes a wedding any less costly. It also adds to the organisation and stress-levels slightly. Hiring Olivia made it all run smoothly, and Ben and I would never change a thing! We had two of the most magical days that far exceeded our expectations. If only we could do it again next year!” she said.