Amy and Brenden

If I was to select one photo to represent Amy and Brenden’s wedding day, it would be this one.

Red Butterfly Photography

Red Butterfly Photography

Moments after this photo was taken, Brenden turned and tenderly kissed the top of Amy’s head. You could tell just by looking at him that it was an instinctive gesture rather than a considered one.

He didn’t kiss Amy because it was his wedding day and everyone was waiting for romance. In fact, I don’t know that Brenden even registered the presence of their guests. In this moment, there was only Brenden and Amy. He kissed her because when Amy is in his arms, that’s what feels most natural.

Red Butterfly Photography

Red Butterfly Photography

Their wedding took place at the magnificent 333 Collins St. The mosaic floor, domed ceiling and long, long aisle make it one of the most impressive indoor venues Melbourne has to offer. Amy made the most of that beautiful long passageway by entering from Flinders Lane.

Brenden really wanted to be able to look into Amy’s eyes when he first saw her so he chose not to turn around until Amy entered the main hall. I can still hear him urging me to tell him how far away she was as she made her approach. The grins that broke out across both of their faces as they saw each other for the first time were contagious.

Red Butterfly Photography

Red Butterfly Photography

As Amy and Brenden had spent several years living and travelling together in the UK, a traditional giving away didn’t feel quite right. Amy and Brenden wanted to focus on the fact that their wedding was the bringing together of two families, so we instead asked both sets of parents for their blessing of the marriage.

When Amy and Brenden’s parents stood, I don’t think you could have found four prouder people anywhere in the world. I asked them if they welcomed each other’s child into their families as a daughter, a son and the person who would love their own child for the rest of their lives, resulting in four emotional, happy and very firm ‘yes’ answers from the front row!

Red Butterfly Photography

Red Butterfly Photography

Amy and Brenden first met two years before they became a couple, becoming very good friends before each started to realise their feelings for one another may be more than just platonic. In an acknowledgement of the deep and abiding friendship they have always shared, one of their readings was the appropriately titled Friendship.

Friendship – Judy Bielicki

It is often said that it is love that makes the world go round. However, without doubt, it is friendship which keeps our spinning existence on an even keel. True friendship provides so many of the essentials for a happy life – it is the foundation on which to build an enduring relationship, it is the mortar which bonds us together in harmony, and it is the calm, warm protection we sometimes need when the world outside seems cold and chaotic.

True friendship holds a mirror to our foibles and failings, without destroying our sense of worthiness. True friendship nurtures our hopes, supports us in our disappointments, and encourages us to grow to our best potential.

Amy and Brenden came together as friends. Today, they pledge to each other not only their love, but also the strength, warmth and most importantly, the fun of true friendship.

Red Butterfly Photography

Red Butterfly Photography

Before they said their vows, we also shared some of the things they love about one another. These were kept secret so that both Amy and Brenden heard the other’s answers for the first time on their wedding day and their reactions to these were touching to witness.

There were tears from Amy when Brenden revealed that his favourite part of each day is coming home, cooking together then sharing a kiss before sitting down to eat. There were also a lot of laughs when it emerged that both Amy and Brenden have nominated each other as having the world’s greatest smile!

Red Butterfly Photography

Red Butterfly Photography

After exchanging heartfelt vows, Brenden and Amy were pronounced husband and wife to rapturous applause, sealed with a swoon-worthy kiss! They then made their way back down that long, lovely aisle, high-fiving those that love them before kicking on to an elegant reception at Treasury.

Red Butterfly Photography

Red Butterfly Photography

Congratulations to two of the warmest, most generous people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. Every step of this journey with you was such a delight and I still treasure the memories of our relaxed catch-ups. May there be much more travel, many more adventures and so many reasons to keep flashing those smiles in the years ahead Mr and Mrs V. xx Koren

Amy and Brenden, 13 October 2012
Venue: 333 Collins Street, Melbourne
Photos: Red Butterfly Photography
Amy’s gown: Bernadette Pimenta Couture
Celebrant: Koren Harvey

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To my Mum on Mother’s Day

It always amuses me when people are asked for their ultimate dinner party guests and inevitably reel off a list of celebrity names in response. Celebrities? At my house for dinner? Pah. I couldn’t imagine anything worse than stressing as to whether my glassware was spot-free enough to impress some minor royals while crossing fingers that the prosciutto-wrapped chicken isn’t too calorie-laden for weight-conscious Hollywood A-listers. And what on earth would we talk about? Oxygen facials?

No, if I was having the ultimate dinner party, it would be filled with my real-life heroes, not people I watch from afar on a screen or sporting field. People like my sister, my best friends and my parents. People like my Mum.

Toddler kisses.

Toddler kisses.

If you were to ask my Mum to describe herself, she would use an array of non-specific words. Words like ‘ordinary’ and ‘normal’. They’re not the words I would use, however.

My Mum, Cath, has lived an extraordinary life. She was the second eldest in a family of five children and the only girl. She’s the first to admit that her earliest years were not easy with 4 ratbag brothers and no one to play dolls with, so much so that when she fell pregnant with my sister she wished fervently for a girl, purely so that I would have a sister to grow up with.

Waving Dad off to work, 80s style.

Waving Dad off to work, 80s style.

When Mum was 14, she came down with a virus she just couldn’t shake. She had regular fevers, blood noses and weight loss. Doctors were baffled; it wasn’t until my grandfather insisted on a blood test that a diagnosis was made. Mum had acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, or ALL.

In the early 1970s, this diagnosis was effectively a death sentence. My grandparents were told that while treatment would occur, their beloved only daughter had, at best, six months to live and they should treat her well for what remained of her life.  They were also advised not to tell Mum of her diagnosis, believing it to be too much for a teenager to cope with.

But you see, no one had told Mum that she was supposed to die.

So she didn’t.

Pink was big with Mum, my Nan and I.

Pink was big with Mum, my Nan and I.

Aided by a team of young, well-connected doctors, Mum fought on. She left school at the end of Year 10, as was custom then (and the logic was, if you’re going to die, why do you need a High School Certificate?) and began working in a bank, where she met my Dad. Six years after her diagnosis, ALL in remission, she married him. Her doctor, as proud as could be, was in attendance and would later be one of the first visitors to the hospital when both my sister and I were born.

I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t know what cancer or leukaemia was, but Mum has never let it define her. Most of her friends would be surprised to read this and learn of the monumental battle she fought and won at a time when very few, if anyone else, did.

Hanging out at Katoomba, 1985.

Hanging out at Katoomba, 1985.

But that’s just my Mum and her attitude to life. She is fiercely competitive and loves a good challenge. Heck, this is a woman who took up marathon running at 48 because she was bored, despite never having run before in her life. She’s now run marathons throughout the world.

So today, on Mother’s Day, I want my Mum to know that she is top of the list when it comes to my ultimate dinner party guests.

Don't judge. It was the 80s.

Don’t judge. It was the 80s.

Mum, I want you to know:

I am so grateful for the examples you have provided to me of how to be a woman in a strong and loving relationship – whether that’s as a wife, as a mother or as a friend.

I am so grateful for the way you have proven to me, time and time again, that anything is possible if you want it enough.

I am so grateful for the sacrifices, choices and commitments you have made and continue to make for us.

I am so grateful for the courage, confidence and support you have given me throughout my life.

I am so grateful for your unconditional love and warm, open arms.

I am so proud to be your daughter.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mum.

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