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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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

Carla and Peter

Do you believe in fate? The kind that means we’re pre-destined to meet people at certain points in our lives? I wasn’t sure that I did, but then I met Carla and Peter.

Alex Pavlou Photography

Their meeting is one that could quite easily have never happened. After a night out at Crown, Carla and Peter were each making their way home early one Sunday morning. Carla had sprained her ankle after a few too many dance moves in some seriously lethal platform boots and was limping across the car park. Peter was walking with his friends through the very same car park and noticed the fair lady’s distress.

Being a true gentleman, he offered to piggyback her across Clarendon St. Carla accepted his gracious offer and they chatted all the way to Carla’s car. When it became clear that each was too shy to ask for the other’s number, Carla’s best friend, Anita, stepped in and insisted that they exchange digits before each went their own way home.

Alex Pavlou Photography

If either of them had decided not to go out that night, if Carla had decided not to wear her injury-causing boots, if Peter hadn’t offered to help her and if Anita hadn’t stepped in, we may not have been celebrating their wedding earlier this year.  So many ifs, so much scope for things not to happen.

But all of the above did happen, and so on 22 April, six and a half years after they first met, Peter and Carla became husband and wife.

Alex Pavlou Photography

They married at the stunning 333 Collins Street, Melbourne.  This incredible venue has a beautifully long corridor and Carla used it to full advantage for her entrance. Her flower girl and bridesmaids entered first and Peter kept his back turned until Carla entered the main hall on her Dad’s arm. She walked in to Marry You by Bruno Mars and timed it perfectly so that the bells at the end of the song were chiming as she reached the side of a very relieved Peter.

In a twist on the giving away of the bride, we asked both Carla and Peter’s parents to give their blessing to the marriage.  All four parents stood and proudly stated their support for their children before Carla and Peter said moving vows that they had written themselves.

Alex Pavlou Photography

Their witnesses were, fittingly, Carla’s friend Anita (who had encouraged the exchanging of numbers all those years ago) and Peter’s godmother. They were then embraced by a seemingly endless line of happy friends and family, before hitting the road in some seriously cool Mustangs.

Congratulations to a beautiful couple who made me believe in the power of fate. It was my pleasure to work with you on your wedding and I wish you every joy in your future as husband and wife!

xx Koren

Alex Pavlou Photography

Carla and Peter, 22 April 2012
Venue: 333 Collins Street, Melbourne
Photos: Alex Pavlou
Celebrant: Koren Harvey

Make it yours

Will you indulge me in one more post on the delightful Sam and Phil?

One of the many things that I loved about their wedding was that it was a rule-breaker. They didn’t get wrapped up in convention, rather they made both their ceremony and reception true reflections of who they are.

Broken rule #1: You must have even numbers in the bridal party

Red Butterfly Photography

Sam had four bridesmaids, Phil had seven groomsmen. Who said everyone in your bridal party has to be partnered up? I love that the make-up of their bridal party was determined by who they wanted with them rather than the aesthetics of matching numbers.

Broken rule #2: The bride must be given away by her father

Red Butterfly Photography

It sounds a bit twee to say that Sam and her twin sister, Rachel, are inseparable but they are. Sister and best friends, they have shared almost all their major life experiences. Marriage is one experience that Sam could only have with Phil, however, and so it was particularly moving when Sam was given away by her twin sister.

Broken rule #3: The bridal party must sit together

Red Butterfly Photography

Given the romantic nature of the evening, Sam and Phil didn’t want their bridal party to spend it separated from their partners. They let each of them sit with their partners and the bride and groom had a sweetheart table all to themselves.

Broken rule #4: The formalities must come before dancing

Red Butterfly Photography

Not for these two. Sam and Phil wanted their reception to feel like a party, so they threw away the rule book and cut the cake as soon as they entered the reception. Speeches were spread throughout the evening and the newlyweds took to the dancefloor as soon as the entrees had been cleared, allowing several hours of dancing.

Broken rule #5: Guests must leave with wedding favours

Red Butterfly Photography

Rather than having bomboniere on the table for wedding guests, Sam and Phil chose to make a donation in their guests’ names to the charity that they were volunteering for when they became engaged.
 
There are no rules when you get married. Well, aside from the obvious legal ones, of course. Your wedding is exactly that – your wedding – so follow Sam and Phil’s lead and make it your own!
 
Samantha and Phillip, 21 May 2011
Venue: 333 Collins Street, Melbourne
Photos: the uber-talented Tatiana of Red Butterfly Photography. More photos here.
Bridal gown: Collette Dinnigan
 

Samantha and Phillip – Part II

All weddings are wonderful. That’s why I do the job I do – because I love weddings! I am yet to go to one and leave unmoved by the love and commitment of the couple involved. When it’s the wedding of someone close to you, however, it’s just that little bit more moving.

Red Butterfly Photography

In May this year, my surrogate brother, Phil, married Sam at the heritage-listed 333 Collins Street, Melbourne.  It was perfect, even if I do say so myself.

Phil had seven (yes, 7) groomsmen standing next to him on the day, with his brother Mat and best mate Rod sharing best man duties. I used to think that large bridal parties were excessive, but after seeing Phil with his mates I get it.

Red Butterfly Photography

For Phil, this was simply a reflection of the importance he places on friendship. Many of the men standing next to him on his wedding day have been his mates since primary school and it was unimaginable to Phil that he enter the next stage of his life without them next to him, offering their silent support.

When Sam arrived, Phil chose not to turn around until she was at the top of the aisle. I can still hear him asking me as the bridesmaids entered, his voice choked with emotion, ‘Is she there yet, Koz? Can I look? I can’t wait to see her.’

When Sam entered on the arm of her brother to Chantal Kreviazuk’s Feels Like Home, the look on Phil’s face was a mixture of pride, tenderness and love.

Highlighting the importance that Sam and Phil each place on family, all of their siblings were given roles on the day, whether in the bridal party or sharing readings. Perhaps most poignantly of all, Sam was given away by the one person she has shared her whole life with – her twin sister, Rachel.

Before the ceremony, Sam and Phil wrote down some of the things they love about each other for me to read out. They heard these for the first time on their wedding day. There were quite a few giggles when the bride confessed that she found it really very difficult to identify one thing that she loved about her new husband.

Red Butterfly Photography

What she meant was that there were so many it was hard to pick just one – not that she couldn’t think of any! Phil also endeared himself to every woman in the room when Sam revealed that he can’t fall asleep unless they’re holding hands. Such a small gesture, but one that speaks volumes about the depth of their connection.

Continuing the theme of family getting involved, the show was almost stolen by Phil’s 16-month-old niece, Charlotte. When Sam started getting teary during her vows, Charlotte decided action was needed. We all heard a loud ‘Oh, Sabby!’ and looked down to see Charlotte throwing her arms around her new aunty in comfort.

Red Butterfly Photography

After I pronounced them husband and wife, Phil asked me to announce that he had a surprise for Sam. Unbeknown to his wife, he had re-recorded Duck Sauce’s Barbra Streisandreplacing Ms Streisand’s name with Sam’s new married name. The newlyweds walked out of the building to much laughter and applause.

I think the above picture pretty much sums up how we all felt on Sam and Phil’s wedding day. Thank you, my dear friends, for giving me the honour of marrying you. All my love and friendship always. xx Koren Samantha and Phillip, 21 May 2011Venue: 333 Collins Street, Melbourne
Photos: the uber-talented Tatiana of Red Butterfly Photography. More photos here.Bridal gown: Collette DinniganCelebrant: Koren Harvey