OK, the time has come...I've had our official wedding photos back for nearly two weeks, so here are some of my favourites.
Our wedding photographer, Carly Whouley, is the bomb! To all of those who aren't getting married in Cairns, I am very sorry for you. If you are getting married in Cairns: hire her now! I'd always known Carly as an artist/photographer, so when one of her friends told me she had started doing weddings I nearly burst with excitement. Not only will she give you beautiful details and fresh portraits, she knows how to work a crowd and is a bundle of positive energy. She also took about a million photos, I kid you not!
Charles and I got married on the beach at the Barron River Mouth, Machans Beach, Cairns. The week before, so we discovered later, 14 crocodiles were spotted in that river during a night time survey—oops! The reception was held just up the road at the Machans Beach Community Hall. The Hall was perfect. It had an enclosed garden out the back to keep the 20% of wedding guests who were under 11 years of age contained and safe, it had a kitchen with gas stove for the caterers, it had its own tables and vintage chairs included in the bargain of a hire fee, and it had all the perfect old-school charm of a low-set, 'Queenslander'-style country hall, despite being in a relatively near-to-town suburb of Cairns.
All images in this post © Carly Whouley
There were, of course, many, many special moments in the day, as well as great food thanks to Mama Coco, lots of yummy wine, and a whole lot of laughs. Exit polls indicate that a good time was had by all. Apart from the obvious—you know, getting married to the most perfect man in the whole world for me whom I absolutely love and treasure with all my heart—there were a few stand out moments for me that I'd like to share with you.
1. The scandalous bridesmaid confession
My bridesmaid, Morgan, is amazing; I love her so much and ours was one of those love-at-first-sight friendship formations, despite the fact that I am 17 years older than her and cannot share her passion for Mariah Carey. Morgan broke all standard etiquette rules, as to be expected, and asked to be my bridesmaid, which was perfect because up until that point I had been thinking that I might not have a bridesmaid at all. She decided for me, as a good bridesmaid should.
I made up our bouquets with flowers from my garden on the morning of the wedding. Then my mum turned up and told me that was supposed to be Morgan's job—why don't they write all these things down in one place?! Anyway, I intentionally put some Havana Cigars into Morgan's bouquet. I love these flowers: they are waxy, weird and brown—what's not to love? They are also quite phallic, so I thought they would make a highly amusing bridesmaid's bouquet. Morgan got the joke without me saying anything, and loved it. As she was doing my make up she 'fessed up that she'd had a, ahem, 'reunion' with an old flame the night before...she'd only been in town three days! Here's the moment when she tells me:
2. The abusive encounter with a young bogan
Those who deal with me on a regular basis know I am always at least 10 minutes late to everything. Always. It is a bad habit I have tried to break many times, but I just have not been successful yet. I really didn't want to be late for my wedding. Not only was I exceptionally keen to get married to Charles as soon as possible, I was also painfully aware of all our guests standing out in the tropical midday heat on the beach without any shade unless they brought it themselves. Despite being 15 minutes ahead of schedule when I sat down to get my make up done, we still managed to be something like 35 minutes late to the ceremony. I am at a loss to explain how that happened, but by 11:20am (for a 12 o'clock ceremony) I was pretty frantic for an increase in our pace. I was seriously stressed from that point on about how late it was getting. Fortunately, as we pulled up at the start of the dirt track to the beach, my brother Steven, who was on car park detail, told me that our last guests had only just arrived.
We headed down the track in my friends Mick and Jude's amazing EK Holden station wagon, aka Pearl, which they had decked out with all sorts of vintage knick knackery in honour of the occasion. The track is narrow and dotted with small dips and rises, like a mini roller coaster, and we soon saw another car coming towards us. Mick tried to pull over a little, but the left-hand side of the track was very sandy and boggy so he couldn't. He slowed right down instead and promptly stalled on the next rise. He thought he'd just wait and let the other car pass. The other car—a middle-aged model, dark green Commodore bedecked with 'P' plates indicating a probationary-level driver (Australian readers, you know the kind of car I mean!)—pulled up next to us and the roughly 19-year-old driver—shaven of head, with girlfriend in the front passenger seat—leaned out and snarled: "F#%ckin' get outta tha way, ya wanker!" This, dear friends, instantly classified him as an Australian bogan of the highest order. Now, I ask you, if you saw this coming towards you with a bride in the back seat, is that something you would say?
Fortunately, the ridiculousness—the sheer inappropriateness—of his abuse, just cracked us all up and Mick started Pearl up again and we laughed our heads off the rest of the way down the track, all tension at being late broken, ready to celebrate a beautiful life event.
3. Jane reveals a hitherto unknown talent
When my dear friend Jane semi-eloped to Vanuatu in 2010 I was supposed to be her bridesmaid. Unfortunately, it was such a snap decision that I:
a) didn't have a valid passport;
b) was already booked to be interstate the weekend before for my 40th birthday celebrations and couldn't get a connecting flight in time to make it for the ceremony; and
c) would have been plunged into bankruptcy since all funds and annual leave were already dedicated to the aforementioned 40th celebrations.
We were all really disappointed. Since I was in the quandary of either having four bridesmaids/MOHs (too many, if you ask me), or none, and was leaning towards the latter until Morgan resolved the issue for me, I still really wanted Jane to play a part in the proceedings since she is so dear to me. I asked her to think about whether she wanted to make a speech, or give a reading or something like that—whatever she felt comfortable with.
It turns out Jane was not comfortable with giving a speech, the thought of public speaking gave her the willies. Instead, she thought about something that was meaningful to her in how she experienced our friendship. In lieu of giving a speech, Jane taught herself how to play the ukulele in two weeks, with the assistance of my other dear friend Jan, and sang The Owl and the Pussycat in front of 75+ people—much easier than making a speech, right?! TO&TP is something that I have sung to Jane's daughter, Saskia, many times, accompanied by my ukulele, but Jane's version was a million times better than mine and she revealed herself to have the voice of an angel. I was on the verge of tears I was so moved by how much effort she had gone to. Saskia sang too, and Jan accompanied them on second uke. It was just beautiful.
4. The 'Chocolate Moose' Cake
I asked my friend Phil to make a pavlova for the reception. He is the Pav Master. Phil thought that was too boring, so he got all Heston Blumenthal and lateral, and decided to subvert the overly popular chocolate mousse wedding cake concept and make a Chocolate Moose Cake in honour of Charles's home country, Canada, instead. What resulted was a 'big reveal' of a half pav/half cake diorama of a snow-covered mountain sprinkled with edible glitter and billowing with dry ice smoke. He then jokingly told the assembled children who were gazing on with awe to just 'dig in'. They took him literally and 10 pairs of little hands were shoved straight into the cake, promptly demolishing it. Heaven!
5. The groom gets a little tipsy
Now, I will preface this tale by admitting I was no angel at my wedding. I was pretty shickered by the time the speeches rolled around and I told myself to switch to water for a bit or else I'd be asleep under a table before it was time to cut the cake. However, in the early evening I had been chatting in the back yard of the hall with friends and thought I had better go inside and see what was happening. I walked in the back door and my first thought was: Uh, oh! The groom is smashed! There was Charles, shirt unbuttoned, bow tie still around his neck, singing his heart out and swaying drunkenly with his dear friend Kevin, the man who was inadvertently responsible for us meeting. Soon after, they each decided it was a good idea to get up on the wonky trestle tables to try to cut down the giant balloons that were attached to the ceiling. Charles's table collapsed underneath him and it's lucky he didn't break his neck (please don't tell the people at the hall, I think it all turned out OK). Thank God the Hilton Cairns serves the biggest nachos you have ever seen as part of their late night room service menu. I think the big plate of it I forced him to eat saved my new husband's life!
From a blustery beach ceremony, through a great meal, much wine, speeches and cake, the evening turned into a free-for-all dance party, with playlist by the groom. I wish I could do it again tomorrow! Thank you to all our guests, thank you to all those well-wishers who couldn't make it, thank you to all the vendors who provided the details big and small, thank you to all those who helped set up and pack up, and thank you, thank you, thank you to my new husband and his two children for welcoming me with love and agreeing to make a little family...with me.