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

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.

IMG_4458

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

Alison and Owen

When you’ve met The One, you don’t just know. You feel it. All over. Everything tastes better, sounds better, smells better. All the colours suddenly seem so much brighter because the right person is now there to see them with you.

And that’s how it was for Alison and Owen.

Blue Print Photography

Blue Print Photography

From the moment they first laid eyes on each other, Alison and Owen knew they were headed for this day. ‘Made for each other’ can be a cliche, but in this case it’s merely an accurate description. To see them together is to understand this immediately. To see their families together is to cement it further. They’re meant to be.

I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a wedding rehearsal as much as I did Alison and Owen’s. We sat down first with their parents and had a long chat over coffee, then did a walk-through in the ceremony space. There were so many laughs that day. Alison and Owen couldn’t decide which of two songs would be best for their exit from the ceremony, so we played them both to establish the favourite. Alison favoured Kool and the Gang’s Celebration and all of Owen’s fears that it would be too cheesy disappeared when the rehearsal turned into a disco! It was such an infectiously happy choice that he, Alison, their parents and I couldn’t help but have a bit of a dance before we left.

Blue Print Photography

Blue Print Photography

The ceremony took place on a beautiful spring morning. Owen was excited but relaxed as he chatted and posed for photos at Fenix before Alison’s arrival. At the rehearsal Alison and Owen had made bets on who would cry first and Owen lost as soon as Alison appeared in the doorway, the first of many tears to be shed that day. She made her way down the aisle on her Dad’s arm to an instrumental version of the U2 classic, All I Want Is You.

Blue Print Photography

Blue Print Photography

In front of the glass windows at Fenix with the Yarra and bushland spread below us, we recounted the story of Alison and Owen’s relationship. It is a story rooted in certainty; once Alison and Owen were in one another’s lives, each of them knew that they would end up at this day.

Their first date, however, had the potential to go very wrong when they ended up in a somewhat confronting human body exhibit at the Melbourne Museum. Thankfully, Alison and Owen were already so comfortable with one another that they were able to laugh it off and it is now one of their favourite shared memories.

Blue Print Photography

Blue Print Photography

Their ceremony was a personal and family-focused celebration with tears and laughter shared in equal measure. We spoke about their life together, their achievements as a couple and their hopes for the future. We shared how lucky each of them feels to have found the other and  the qualities that Alison and Owen have brought to one another’s lives.

Blue Print Photography

Blue Print Photography

Alison and Owen exchanged self-penned vows interspersed with tears and the occasional giggle. Alison and Owen cracked up when Owen got a bit teary during his vows, further losing the bet they’d made the day before!

The honesty and emotion with which they spoke was beautiful and it was a privilege to witness it. They received their rings and a kiss each from Owen’s Mum and Alison’s Dad before I had the happy task of pronouncing them husband and wife.

Blue Print Photography

Blue Print Photography

They invited Alison’s Mum and Owen’s Dad to act as their witnesses and then, with all the formalities over, they were introduced for the first time as a married couple. They danced their way back down the aisle before being embraced by those they love.

Thank you, Mr and Mrs T. For the opportunity to get to know you, to work with you and to share such a magical day with you.  You reminded me why I love what I do so much and what a privilege it is to be invited into a couple’s lives. I wish you everything wonderful. xx Koren

Blue Print Photography

Blue Print Photography

Alison and Owen, 27 October 2012
Venue: Fenix, Richmond
Photographer: The wonderful Chris at Blue Print Photography
Celebrant: Koren Harvey

Naomi and Jason

Have you ever met a couple and thought that they fit so naturally together, there couldn’t possibly have ever been a time when they weren’t together? That there’s no way the world could have existed without them in each other’s orbit? Without them knowing and loving one another’s friends and family? Naomi and Jason are one of those couples.

Darin Collison Photography

Darin Collison Photography

Naomi and I met through Twitter. I can’t recall how exactly, I just remember that we were following each other and had a few wedding related chats that led to us meeting in person. And when we did, I felt as though I was catching up with old, great friends who I just hadn’t seen for a few years. We laughed and talked and laughed some more. They told me about their life together, their engagement and their plans for the wedding. By the time they left, I was crossing everything that they would choose me to be their celebrant. Happily for me, they did.

Darin Collison Photography

Darin Collison Photography

 

Naomi and Jason first met through work. Jason would find whatever excuse he could to talk to Naomi who was initially oblivious to his affections – she just thought he was the friendliest person in the company! He admits now that for at least half of their conversations he couldn’t remember a word that Naomi said to him, so entranced was he by her. Eventually, Naomi cottoned on (she, meanwhile, fancied Jason too!) and after drinks one night, their feelings for one another became clear.

Darin Collison Photography

Darin Collison Photography

Uncertain as to how their relationship would be viewed at work, they employed pseudonyms to use whenever they talked about one another. For several months, Naomi’s colleagues believed she had fallen head over heels for someone called Brian, while Jason was apparently deeply involved with someone named Claudia. When Jason left the company a few months later, they were finally able to come clean but the permanent smiles on their faces meant no one was very surprised.

Darin Collison Photography

Darin Collison Photography

Five years later, they married in spring at the rustically beautiful Potters Receptions. It was such an inclusive, warm and loving day that I still smile whenever I think about it. But that’s just who Naomi and Jason are. Warm, loving and inclusive –  and incredibly generous of spirit.

Their wedding rehearsal was not long after I had got engaged and the first thing Naomi did upon seeing me was pull me into a hug. She excitedly congratulated me then took me around to her Mum and bridesmaids to show off my ring. At her own wedding rehearsal. That’s just who she is.

Darin Collison Photography

Darin Collison Photography

On their wedding day, Naomi made her way down the aisle on the arm of her Dad to the strains of Pachelbel’s Canon in D. To describe her as radiantly beautiful would not do her justice. Jason lit up at the sight of her and from the moment she took her place next to him, their didn’t take their eyes off one another.

They had two readings, I Want to Grow Old With You (yes, from The Wedding Singer) and Wedding Vows. These two readings were a wonderful mix of the light-hearted and the heartfelt. We also retold a story Naomi’s Mum had once told her about the love she feels for Naomi’s Dad. Naomi said that once she met Jason, she suddenly understood what her Mum had been telling her all these years. Oh, were there tears then.

Darin Collison Photography

Darin Collison Photography

Naomi and Jason wrote their own vows and kept them secret from one another until the day.  I can still vividly recall Naomi’s lower lip trembling as Jason made his promises to her, and Jason caressing Naomi’s hand as she told him how much he means to her. Both of them teared up, as did many of their guests (and their celebrant may have – just may have –  had goosebumps) as they promised to honour each other, the love the share and the life they have made together for the rest of their days.

We signed the register then the bridal party exited to the most appropriate song possible – You’re My Best Friend by Queen.

Darin Collison Photography

Darin Collison Photography

Congratulations again, Mr and Mrs C. I hope you know how much you both brought to my life by allowing me to be part of your day. I feel so lucky to now be able to call you my friends. Thank you, modern technology, for introducing us! Sending you both much love and joy. xx Koren

Naomi and Jason, 29 September 2012
Venue: Potters Receptions
Photographer: Darin Collison Photography
Celebrant: Koren Harvey