Belinda and Thomas

Hello, friends. I have something very special to share with you tonight. A word of warning in advance – it involves a bit of bragging, for it would seem I’m quite the matchmaker.

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On a Friday night in November 2009, I caught up with one of my best friends, Belinda, for drinks at a Prahran bar. We laughed and chatted and laughed some more as we made our way through a bottle or two of wine (and a rather excellent cheese platter) before reaching the decision that what we really needed to do next was dance.

We made our way to that salubrious Chapel St institution, Bridie O’Reilly’s, where we knew there’d be a cover band playing enough 80s hits to indulge our dancing desire. Also influencing our decision was the fact that my now-husband, Dave, was having drinks there with his mates. As it so happens, one of those mates was a tall, handsome fellow by the name of Thomas.

You can guess what happened next, can’t you?

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Almost four years after that first, fateful meeting, I had the sincere privilege of marrying my dear friends.

They married in sophisticated style at the Dome at 333 Collins Street. There was a distinct air of excitement as guests embraced Thomas enthusiastically, but no one could match the beaming grin he wore as he anticipated Belinda’s arrival.

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Belinda was, quite simply, breathtaking.  She made her way down the aisle to the theme from The Princess Bride (one of their favourite films) and Thomas couldn’t tear his eyes away as she approached on the arm of her rightfully proud Dad.

After their parents gave an emphatic blessing to their marriage, I spoke of the night Belinda and Thomas met. Having been there, I could do this with some authority, and more than a few laughs were shared as I recalled the somewhat cheesy moves Belinda and I pulled on the dance floor, none of which – thankfully – seemed to discourage Thomas’ interest in our bride.

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I spoke of how quickly each of them realised that they wanted to grow old together, and their pride in the strong and loving relationship they have created.  I then shared some of their most treasured memories, including Thomas’ romantic London proposal last year, and highlighted some of the (many) things they love about each other, resulting in many laughs when an affection for Neil Diamond was revealed!

Being huge movie buffs, Belinda and Thomas chose to forgo traditional readings and instead looked to the silver screen for inspiration. Friends shared carefully selected quotes on love from some of Thomas and Belinda’s favourite films.

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I love that after I spend a day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it’s not because I’m lonely. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.
When Harry Met Sally

In my opinion the best thing you can you do is find a person who loves you for exactly what you are. Good mood, bad mood, ugly, pretty, handsome, what have you, the right person will still think the sun shines out of your ass. That’s the kind of person that’s worth sticking with.
Juno

We need a witness to our lives. There’s a billion people on the planet….. I mean, what does any one life mean? But in a marriage, you’re promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things….. all of it, all the time, every day. You’re saying ‘Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go unwitnessed because I will be your witness.
Shall We Dance?

Belinda and Thomas kept their self-penned vows secret until the day. They were heartfelt and emotional, Belinda stopping to compose herself as she was afflicted first with giggles, then tears!

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I cannot adequately describe the joy I felt in pronouncing my dear friends husband and wife. The thunderous applause that followed suggested that everyone in the room felt that same joy.

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Congratulations to two of my favourite people in the world. To say a couple is meant for each other is often a cliche, but in your case it’s merely an accurate description. It has been a delight to watch your relationship grow from that very first night and Dave and I could not be happier for you. May your life together forever be as you wish, my dear friends. xx Koren

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Belinda and Thomas, 21 September 2013
Venue: The Dome at 333 Collins Street, Melbourne
Photos: Tatiana at Red Butterfly Photography. I get so excited when couples tell me they have booked Red Butterfly. They’re super talented and super lovely, plus they get the shots without getting in the way and never, ever do cheese.
Celebrant: Koren Harvey

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One month married – a reflection

One month. Or, more accurately, five weeks and one day. That’s how long it has been since Dave and I stood in front of all the people we love and made our marriage vows to one another.

In the lead-up to the wedding, amidst the planning and preparation, I didn’t give much thought to how I would feel after the wedding. Actually, that’s a lie. I did give it some thought – I worried that I would have a massive wedding hangover; becoming mired in sadness because that one, magical day was now over. I thought I would spend my days fervently wishing that we could go back to being engaged. But I haven’t.

Because being married is so much better, so much more fulfilling, so much more joyous than being engaged.

It is so much more than I thought it would be.

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On the face of things, marriage wasn’t going to change our life together. We had already been living together for over four years and all of our long-term plans included each other. We felt loved and accepted by one another, safe and comfortable. I am known to Dave’s niece and nephew as Aunty Koren and my parents have long considered Dave a son. Neither of us was naive enough to assume that being married would make us more committed to one another, but much to our mutual surprise, something has shifted.

I remember standing at our reception just before we made our speech, looking out over a room filled with the people we love. There was an energy in that room that I can’t quite describe. It was like a pot of water just before it hits the boil – rolling, sitting just under the surface. You can feel it but not quite see it.

That energy was made up of love and hope and faith and happiness, and to realise that it was all on our behalf was humbling. It is a feeling that I hope everyone gets to experience in their lifetime.

Since the wedding, I find myself saying the word ‘husband’ a lot. I like the way it feels on my tongue, the way it fills my ears and the way it envelopes my heart.

I like knowing that in marrying, we have become part of a tradition shared with my grandparents and parents.

I like knowing that our love for one another has been marked in the pages of history and will still be there for our descendants to see in centuries to come. Whatever other stories about us survive, they will know we loved each other.

Our love feels deeper and more intimate. We feel closer to one another. Our relationship has subtly and almost imperceptibly grown. It’s wonderful.

I didn’t think it possible that our life together could get even better.

Never before have I been so happy to realise I don’t know everything.

 

Image by Warren Photography

Amanda and Cameron

Photo by Kirralee

When I think of old Hollywood, I think of evening cocktails, of champagne in coupé glasses, of glittering candlelight. I think of effortlessly stunning women, draped in gowns so beautiful they defy imagination. Of handsome men in well-cut suits, leaning on marble bars as they sip on a martini.

All of these images and more were brought to mind at Amanda and Cameron’s stylish Melbourne Town Hall wedding.

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Everything about their wedding hinted at old Hollywood glamour, from the timing and the setting of their ceremony to their perfectly attired bridal party. Beautifully dressed guests mingled on the balcony at Melbourne Town Hall, their excitement only growing when they saw Amanda and her bridesmaids cross Collins Street. Cameron, keen to keep an air of mystery, refused to look and stood facing his groomsmen until he knew that Amanda had entered the building.

Amanda’s bridesmaids were beautiful in their floor-length blue gowns, providing a sharp contrast to the ivory silk of Amanda’s stunning Shane McConnell couture gown. She stepped on to the balcony with her very proud Dad to the sound of Rachael Leahcar’s La Vie En Rose and Cameron, a man not otherwise given to displaying his emotions, was visibly undone at the sight of her.

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Amanda and Cameron chose to face towards the street for much of the ceremony, giving guests ample opportunity to appreciate Amanda’s beautiful veil and train. Amanda and Cameron were conscious that their marriage was about joining two families together, so rather than having a ‘giving away’, Amanda’s Dad stood and lovingly welcomed Cameron into his family – as a son, a brother and the man who will love and cherish Amanda for the rest of his life.

We recounted the history of their long and happy relationship, sharing stories of treasured trips overseas, the life they have created together and the home they share with their beloved dog, Angel. We also spoke of Cameron’s ability to surprise Amanda, which was shown off when he proposed on Acland Street, St Kilda, one of Amanda’s favourite places.

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Amanda and Cameron then made their heartfelt and emotional vows.

‘I promise to give you the best of myself and to ask of you no more than you can give.

I promise to respect you as a person with your own interests, desires and needs, and to realise that these are sometimes different, but no less important than my own.

I promise to keep myself open to you and to share my innermost fears and feelings, secrets and dreams.

I promise to grow along with you, to be willing to face change as we both change in order to keep our relationship alive and exciting.

And finally, I promise to love you in good times and in the bad, with all I have to give.’

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Amanda and Cameron then exchanged rings, holding hands and looking lovingly into one another’s eyes.

‘This ring I give to you as a token of my love and devotion. I pledge to you all that I am and all that I will ever be. With this ring, I gladly marry you and join my life and dreams to yours.’

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I then had the great honour of pronouncing them husband and wife. As Amanda and Cameron shared their first married kiss, a huge cheer went up from Swanston Street below. Unbeknown to us, a crowd had gathered across the street to watch the ceremony unfold and their spontaneous applause only added to the joy up on the balcony.

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Congratulations, Mr and Mrs F. It was such a joy to work with and to get to know you both and I felt privileged to share in your happiness. May the years ahead be filled with many more moments as special as these. xx Koren

Amanda and Cameron, 10 November 2012
Venue: The Balcony, Melbourne Town Hall
Bride’s gown: Shane McConnell
Photos: Kirralee
Celebrant: Koren Harvey

 

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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

Ash and Sam

Whoops! I’ve fallen a bit behind with the blogging of late. It has taken a backseat to meeting and marrying some seriously wonderful people, but I have so much love and beauty to share with you all that I’m determined to get back on board.

Today, it’s with the beautiful Ash and Sam, who make me happy just thinking of them.

Warren Photography

Warren Photography

We first met one lunchtime and the smiles didn’t leave either of their faces for the entire meeting. Ash and Sam weren’t just excited to be getting married, they were excited about life, full stop. As they told me about their relationship, their families and their plans for the wedding, I found myself getting excited too. I just wanted to spend more time with these gorgeous people and their infectious zest for life.

They had booked one of my favourite venues, Stones of the Yarra Valley, for their springtime wedding. Stones is stunning no matter the season and in springtime it is beyond beautiful. The blossom was out on the trees, the air was crisp and everywhere you looked were fields full of green. The idyllic surrounds of the Yarra Valley were the perfect setting for the beginning of a new life together.

Warren Photography

Warren Photography

Warren Photography

Warren Photography

Sam was a relaxed groom, greeting family and friends with hugs as they arrived. John Warren was on the camera that day and I love the candid moments John has captured as Sam waits for his bride. In fact, Sam kept his cool right up until the doors of the chapel closed, notifying us to Ash’s arrival. Then, it was up to his groomsmen and I to distract him until he laid eyes on his bride!

Once the doors of the chapel opened and the bridesmaids began their walk down the aisle, Sam took a big breath, put his shoulders back and readied himself for Ash’s entry.

Warren Photography

Warren Photography

Warren Photography

Warren Photography

Following the entrance of Ash and Sam’s utterly adorable niece and Ash’s bridesmaids, the bride herself appeared in the doorway of the chapel. This was the moment when all of Sam’s resolve left him and I can’t say I blame him. Ash was simply breathtaking. She appeared lit from within  as she made her towards Sam to an acoustic version of Christina Perri’s A Thousand Years on the arm of her very proud grandfather.

We began the ceremony by asking Ash’s Mum and Sam’s Mum and Dad for their blessing of the marriage, which all of them gave with a resounding ‘I do’! We then paid tribute to Ash’s much-loved Dad and lit a candle in memory of him. It was a moving, emotional and loving moment and I don’t know that anyone was left without goosebumps by it.

Warren Photography

Warren Photography

The ceremony incorporated the story of Ash and Sam’s relationship, beginning with a chance meeting one night out and culminating in an engagement while on a family holiday to Thailand. There were also many laughs when we recounted how one of  Sam’s favourite memories was of the secretive way Ash first told him that she loved him – and then pretended she hadn’t!

Warren Photography

Warren Photography

Two readings were shared by Ash and Sam’s close friends, the first being Holding Hands and the second An Irish Blessing. Both prompted more tears and big hugs with the bride and groom. People often worry that crying during a reading or vows will take something away from the day but in my view, it adds so much to it. Honest emotions are beautiful to witness and it was clear how much Ash and Sam mean to their friends by the sincere and loving readings they gave.

Following their self-penned vows and the exchange of rings, I had the great pleasure of pronouncing Sam and Ash husband and wife. Ash’s brother played live guitar during the signing as a gift to the couple and they took a few moments after the signing to stand alone and just take in the fact that they were now married. Then there were cheers, whoops of joy and a few high fives all round as they were introduced to their guests for the first time as Mr and Mrs before exiting the chapel to a shower of rose petals!

Warren Photography

Warren Photography

Warren Photography

Warren Photography

Congratulations to two absolutely beautiful people. It was my honour to be part of such a special, love-filled day and I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to get to know you both. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for you.

Much love, Koren xx

Warren Photography

Warren Photography

Ashleigh and Sam, 12 October 2012
Venue: Stones of the Yarra Valley
Photos: Warren Photography
Flowers: Blooming Brides
Celebrant: Koren Harvey