Ash & Erica Emmett
DATE: 6th February 2016
Ceremony at the Port Arthur Historic Site in the ruins of the convict church (no roof, grass underfoot), Remarkable Cave pictures, TacoTaco foodvan, reception at Port Arthur Lavender Farm with a floating candle ceremony on reflective lake.
Gown: Grace Loves Lace ‘Josee’ dress
Photographer: “Love Jennifer Photography” – photos by Jennifer Skabo
We went on a group skiing trip with friends to New Zealand, and told me he’d like to have a day off just for the two of us. I was all unsuspecting and played right into his hands.
He’d booked us a scenic plane ride over the glaciers, down to Milford Sound to do the river cruise. It was a perfect clear day, there was a chill in the air but the sun was shining; and the scenery was jaw-droppingly spectacular, with waterfalls cascading down the forested canyon sides into the river.
We found a couple of beanbags and a little private spot at the back of the boat, and snuggled up to watch the seals lazing and goofing around on the rocks.
I was badgering him to get out the bottle of champagne we had in our day pack.
He said “Ok, but I only drink champagne if I’m either celebrating, or commiserating”…
*My heart starts to go at 100 miles an hour*
“So I should tell you that before we came away, I asked your father for his blessing.
Erica, I love you, and I want to ask, will you be mine and marry me?”
Was just the perfect moment. Eyes filled with tears. And of course I said “Yes”.
Could not have been more romantic.
We were engaged for a year and a half, which we found was a good length of time; not too long, not too rushed.
The very first step was to contact our photographer, as she can book out sometimes 2 years in advance.
We hired her even before securing our venue, which was a gamble, but I’ve found that good photos can make even a more budget wedding seem glamorous; photography was always going to be on the intelligent splurge side of the ‘spend or save’ question.
Cutting wedding cars from the budget was a great money saver for us; we instead hired a minibus to ferry the bridal party around during the day, which also took guests from our cocktail hour location to the reception, and came back at midnight to pick up our guests and take them back to their accommodation.
Learned from experience that DIY doesn’t always mean cheaper, and can involve a heck of a lot of work!
I still have burns on my hands from melting sealing wax over a spoon as I stayed up til 3am, bleary-eyed, individually stamping each engagement party invite envelope with our personalized seal. By the time save-the-dates and wedding invites rolled around, I’d learned my lesson (these were sealed shut with a lick and a prayer)
Etsy is your friend! An entire network of artists and craftspeople at your fingertips who are willing to bring your custom ideas to life; and often for a better price than buying all that kraft paper/hempen twine/crocheted lace doilies yourself.
It took months of struggling to find the perfect venue; seemed like the only options within our budget were yacht clubs or golf clubs, and even those mainstream sterile pre-packaged wedding venues seemed far beyond our reach, let alone the more upscale elegant wineries or hotels and restaurants, and none of them screamed out to me with ‘this is it! The one!’.
I felt like I’d looked at every possibility and come up with nothing; I would just have to compromise and settle for less than I’d hoped for. I’d begun to despair.
Then Ash and I took a trip down to his parents shack at Port Arthur, and it was astounding how everything just fell into place. It’s a beautiful area, where the forest meets the sea and results in breathtaking landscape.
I was thrilled when we chose the convict church ruins at the Port Arthur Historic Site to be married in. It’s an elegant sandstone structure with towering steeples and open arches, but the roof was destroyed in a fire in the 1800’s, so it’s open to the elements and carpeted by grass. Ash had a catholic upbringing, whereas I’m not religeous, so was a perfect middle ground.
Our ceremony reflected this; we were married by “Father Terry”, the family priest, who was extremely welcoming, and kindly pulled strings so we could have the ceremony in our chosen location (the church was built for the convicts and settlers and was non-denominational, and therefore was never consecrated).
We had two readings, one from Corinthians 13; ‘Love is patient, love is kind’, and also an excerpt from one of my favorite books, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, by Louis de Bernières, an analogy about two trees becoming entwined at the roots, and the love that endures once all the pretty blossoms have fallen away.
Oh my goodness, the ‘Josee’ gown! I’d been scouting around for a long time, trying to discern my style. I wanted something unique and comfortable that I could move in; I saw a photo and fell in love!
The studio is based on the Gold Coast, and I was debating whether to have it made from measurements or to fly up from Tasmania for a visit, and I’m so glad I did, as I got to have the full, champagne experience with the lovely girls from Grace Loves Lace.
I tried it on and it exceeded my highest expectations, after flying all that way I would have been happy if it looked merely ‘OK’, but I have never worn something so flattering in my life; despite being the first and only dress I tried I knew it was the one. During the months of planning that followed I never once saw anything to top it, it suited me down to a tee.
I can highly recommend having a dress that you can move about in; this proved especially useful when we went for photos at Remarkable Cave nearby. Locals know that at low tide, you can clamber over the safety barrier and enter the cave, and being barefoot in stretchy lace meant I could vault over like a monkey and climb down with ease; but Jennifer our photographer wasn’t so fortunate!
To put it bluntly, there would have been no protecting her modesty in a knee length dress with a fence that high; we ended up with our Best Man Simon pitching her over his shoulder in a firemans lift, while all the other groomsmen averted their eyes and hid grins behind their hands! We were all collapsing in giggles by the end; there’s a photographer who’ll go above and beyond to get the shots she needs.
Our wedding colours were blush, apricot and peach tones, so for the flowers I had begun by looking at structured bouquets of vintage David Austin roses or peonies. Chaotic wildflowers and natives were much more my style, but I didn’t think my colours could possibly work with these.
Then I saw a post on a Facebook wedding group for Swallows Nest Farm; gorgeous proteas in blushes contrasted by blue and grey foliage, with a variety of textures like gumnuts, kangaroo paw and hempen twine, and fell in love! Grace is a native and wildflower wholesaler who will do your arrangement for a small fee, and she was a local, which was important to us. I changed the entire theme of my wedding from an elegant vintage affair to a wild bohemian styling, based on discovering that picture.
I gave her a few guidelines, but rather than give her an exact briefing, we chose instead to ask her to use her artistic licence and create whatever she wished, and were blown away by the results. I love that she incorporated wild blackberries into my floral half crown, absolutely inspired!
Our photographer Jennifer I’d met at a friend’s wedding, we sat at the same table and she was so friendly, and managed to capture everything perfectly without being obtrusive, which was enough to base the decision on alone; then we saw her portfolio, and I knew we had to have her. I would have been quite willing to change our date to ensure we didn’t miss out. She has an intuitive knack for shot composition; always checking the background detail so that Uncle Barry doesn’t end up with deer antlers. Her photos tell a story, and are clean and unadulterated, not relying on heavy photoshopping to cover up shoddy work.
She somehow managed to be everywhere at once; some brilliant photos from the day I hadn’t even realised were being taken!
FIRST LOOK PHOTOS:
I’m so happy we chose to do ‘first look’ photos. I’d read pros and cons to having photos together before the ceremony, and one of the common negative comments by people who hadn’t done them was ‘won’t that ruin the excitement and surprise of him seeing you for the first time as you walk down the aisle?’; I couldn’t disagree more.
Having that moment in private, between the two of us, was infinitely more meaningful than walking down the aisle and meeting at the alter. We didn’t have the pressure of a room full of people watching us, and we could hug and talk, and ask how the other one was feeling. Such a small thing, but it made an enormous difference to our day.
It certainly didn’t take away from any emotions I felt at the ceremony, other than to help calm some of the anxiety of our big moment. It was another decision that others had attempted to thwart; “It’s bad luck to see the bride before the wedding” was commonly repeated. That superstition traces back to times when the couple had never met before the wedding, in case the groom took one look at the bride and ran off!
Luckily, that didn’t happen, and instead we got to hold each other’s shaking hands, and kiss, and and laugh because we both had quivers when we tried to smile. He’s always on time, whereas I’m notorious for being late, so it was re-assuring for him to see that I could not be more ready to marry him.
We had a little picnic together on the beach, and exchanged stories of the night before, and opened a present from our bridal party; it was brilliant. The irony of your wedding day is that you barely have any time alone to devote to your partner, as you’re flat out having photos taken and socializing with your guests. So having that chance to bask in the life-changing step that you’re making together is a huge bonus.
It also gave us time for some pictures together before the ceremony; meaning we could attend our own cocktail hour and mingle with the guests, rather than rushing off for photos, which was awesome.
FLOATING CANDLE CEREMONY:
My mother passed away unexpectedly a few years ago, and a good friend of Ash’s passed away far too young only last year; we wanted to include some form of memorial to the people who couldn’t be there, so we hald a floating lantern ceremony on the reflective lake at Port Arthur Lavender Farm just after sunset.
Our MC gave our guests the overview; to release a candle into the lake and hold a memory of a loved one who is no longer with us. It was a beautiful and meaningful way to remember the ones we were missing.
I wore my mum’s pearl, as my ‘something old’ and ‘something borrowed’ (it was passed on to my sister), and my mother-in-law Julie gave me her good luck bridal horseshoe corsage for my ‘something blue’, that she had worn at her own wedding.
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES PLANNING A WEDDING:
If the bridal couple are having fun, and the guests are good, fun loving people, everyone will have a blast.
There are only two things that really stick in a guests mind for years after a wedding; the food, and the vibe. Try to ensure your guests don’t get hangry; keep them topped up with good, unpretentious food, and they’ll love you all the more for it.
The great thing about a laid-back wedding is, if things go wrong, nobody cares! A bit of rain won’t ruin your photos, it will make them more dramatic. If Uncle Barry turned up wearing a Pacman tie to an elegant affair, it would be the subject of gossip for years, but at fun-loving do, it will fit right in with the Super Mario cake toppers.
The more personality you inject into your wedding, the better.
Though this can stressful; the night our humorous wedding RSVP’s went out, I was still lying there at 4am with irrational paranoia “What if people don’t get the joke, and are offended?”
But chances are, if you’re a little bit anxious, it’s probably means you’ve been a little bit daring; and that’s what it’s all about. Own your choices. Smile and nod politely when well meaning people try to sabotage your ambitions with fearful warnings, then do it anyway.
To Port Arthur Lavender; not only did they oblige our request to host the lantern ceremony, they went above and beyond with little details like making fancy mocktails for guests who weren’t drinking, without being asked, and creating delicious vegan and gluten free dishes for those with dietary requirements. The meals were just top notch, using only locally sourced produce, the beer and wines were all Tasmanian – and the pavs they created were stunning! A massive thank you to owners Clare and Brendan Dean, and to Babette McConnan our co-ordinator.