After nearly a decade together, with three kids between us, getting married wasn’t at all on my mind. So you can imagine my surprise when, on our first overseas holiday without kids, my partner proposed to me by the beach at sunset. He’d even smuggled the diamond over in my suitcase. My initial reaction was, “What? No way!” (I was so shocked), but after I got over that we started to plan our party.
The wedding didn’t really have a theme. A few guests asked about it in the lead up to help them plan their outfits. I said, “’70s Industrial Garden Party?” Mark thought that was hilarious, and has enjoyed reminding me of it ever since.
In the daunting planning stage, I made three Pinterest boards: girls clothing, boys clothing and one for the ceremony and reception. I worked off those to create the style of party I was imagining, and ran most things by Mark – except for my dress.
Creating and curating a space, an outfit, a photograph (or a whole website or publication!) is something I adore. There’s something incredibly satisfying about bringing a vision from my head to life. Mark and I both have very strong opinions on everything – from where we live, to what pictures we hang on our walls. It was important that every part of the wedding felt ‘right’ to him too.
Deciding on Centennial Park as the venue for the ceremony was easy – we wanted to be in a place that was special to both of us. We walk around the park every weekend when we’re in Sydney, and it’s a place where we feel at home.
A few things about our wedding were unconventional. We didn’t do a bouquet toss or have a garter removing moment or anything like that. Max was six at the time and he made the invitations. He drew a robot groom and a unicorn bride (which was also our wedding cake topper), a map of the park, and wrote all of the words himself. It was from Alex, Max and Rose, inviting the guests to ‘our parents’ wedding’.
My beautiful girlfriends that I’ve known forever were my bridesmaids, and Rose, my nieces Piper and Abbey, and my friend’s baby daughter, Bess, were the flower girls. I’d planned for us to all wear cream lace dresses in different styles, which is how I discovered that it’s pretty much impossible to buy a long cream slip in Sydney! In the end, we had them made by a seamstress. I was told that the kids at the wedding enjoyed picking out which dress they liked the best.
My vintage ’70s dress was an Etsy find, purchased in a frenzy one Saturday morning a few weeks after Mark proposed. I hadn’t tried it on before I bought it, but luckily it fit perfectly. Trying it on in the lead up felt a bit like playing dress-up. Every now and then, Rose and I would try on our frocks together, which she loved. It was so fun being able to share these kinds of things with her.
On the day, we chose not to have bouquets or floral arrangements, but instead wore flower crowns made of cream roses. They were divine – so beautifully made and they really brought the look together perfectly.
Mark’s two brothers were groomsmen, and he asked Alex to be his best man (which I naturally teared up over), and Max was ring bearer. The guys all wore caramel coloured pants, and the groomsman and Max sported navy blue button-down shirts with different patterns. Max loves formal attire and he leapt at the opportunity to wear a bowtie. He was angling for a suit jacket too, but that was reserved for the groom alone. Our wedding rings are both family heirlooms. Mark’s wedding ring belonged to my Opa, who was my dad’s stepdad and my favourite grandparent. My wedding ring was my grandmother’s. It’s white gold set with tiny diamonds in little hearts. My grandmother was my mum’s mother, and she died in her fifties when I was three – the same age Rose is now. I remember my mum getting the phone call and patting her on the shoulder.
Wearing my grandma’s ring reminds me not just of the family I’ve created as an adult, but of the generations of my family that have come before me. They loved, cried and worked just the way Mark and I do to build a strong and beautiful family.
I guess marriage is about the hope we have, generation after generation, to keep love alive for a lifetime.
We wrote our own vows and kept them secret from each other until we were standing together at the ceremony. Our celebrant seemed a little taken aback by how involved we both became in writing the words. Apart from the words she was legally required to say, we tweaked every single part and included two readings: one from Amy Tan, and the other from one of our favourite books, The Little Prince.
After the ceremony, a red double-decker London bus took us and our guests to the reception. It started to rain just as we boarded, and as we rode through the park I remember thinking to myself, ‘This is my wedding, this is my wedding’. It was surreal.
Studio Neon in Alexandria was recommended to me by one of my bridesmaids for the reception, and apart from being stinking hot, it was perfect for us in every way. For the place cards, I wrote the guests’ names down on little filing cards I bought at Officeworks.
The Studio provided long timber tables that we kept cloth-free to make the most of their natural patina. I bought white candles in three different heights to be grouped together on simple white saucers and spaced along the tables. My mum accepted the role of reception stylist (thanks Mum!) and collected armfuls of eucalyptus branches from her garden, hauled them into the city and up two flights of stairs all by herself to lay down on the middle of the tables. She also baked a six-layer chocolate cake for us. Bless her. The handmade robot groom and unicorn bride on top represented our personalities pretty well.
The most special part of the evening was the off-the-cuff speech Alex gave about how much he loves us. It was beautiful. He’s usually a teenager of few words, so practically everyone was in tears. I just sat there smiling as tears ran down my face – it was more than I had ever expected as a parent, for my child to give me such a public and moving gift of gratitude. Our first dance was to Beautiful Night by The Waifs. The Cope Street Parade played and did their own rendition, and then the kids and bridal party quickly joined us (after a not-so-subtle nod from me).
Having the children be a part of the day was the best thing about marrying at this time in our lives. On the way to the ceremony in the car, Max and I were just sitting, holding hands silently, when he said to me, “I’m really happy for you, Mum.”
Rose referred to it continually as “my wedding” (meaning hers), and afterwards asked if we could “go back to the wedding”. I think this picture of her at the reception speaks for itself.
We personalised our wedding down to the smallest detail, which was partly what made it fun, and partly what made it stressful. In many ways I would have been comfortable for us to stay as we were, partnered but unmarried, however if we hadn’t gotten married I would have missed out on how blown away and loved up I felt that night.
Bride’s Dress: Daughters Of Simone / Bride’s shoes: boots from Modcloth / Hair: Toni And Guy Bondi Junction / Bridesmaid’s dresses: Modcloth and Zara / Flower girls’ dresses: Zara and Purebaby / Flower girls’ shoes: Minnetonka / Groom’s outfit: Industrie, Peter Jackson and Myer / Groomsmen’s outfits: Industrie / Ring bearer’s shirt: Indie and Co / Ring bearer’s tie: Cotton On Kids / Ring bearer’s pants: Industrie Kids / Invitations/stationery: handmade by the ring bearer / Flower Crowns: Petal and Pod / Ceremony venue: Centennial Park / Ceremony chairs and signing table: Vintage Patina / Celebrant: Kathryn Breusch / Reception venue and catering: Studio Neon / Wine: Glandore Estate / Decorations and cake: homemade by the mother of the bride / Cake topper: MelaboWed / Entertainment: Cope Street Parade
Bron Bates is the digital editor at child mags blog. She married her partner Mark in Sydney on January 10, 2015. They live with their kids, Alex, 18, Max, 7, Rose, 3 and their cat, Wilberforce. You can follow Bron on Instagram, Pinterest and on her personal Twitter.