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

Lauren and Jamie

Red Butterfly Photography

Red Butterfly Photography

Lauren is the sort of person you fall a little bit in love with instantly. She’s warm and bubbly and possesses one of the greatest laughs you’ll ever hear. (And if you spend more than 3 minutes with her, I guarantee you’ll hear it often). She’s also extremely generous of spirit – whenever you’re with Lauren, she makes you feel like the only person in the world.

Jamie is her perfect match. Patient, calm and funny with an ever-present smile, he was smitten as soon as he laid eyes on Lauren at work. They quickly found that meeting your partner through work has its advantages – namely being able to drive to work together and follow it up with a shared lunch in the canteen!

Red Butterfly Photography

Red Butterfly Photography

Four years and many shared adventures later, Lauren and Jamie sat down with their families to celebrate Lauren’s birthday. It was there that Jamie asked his best friend to be his wife. Lauren says now that despite not suspecting anything beforehand, Jamie only got as far as saying ‘will you…’ before she cut him off with a jubilant and very loud ‘YES!’

Red Butterfly Photography

Red Butterfly Photography

A year later we gathered  in the sophisticated surrounds of the RACV City Club for their wedding. Lauren wanted to be given away by her Mum but also felt strongly about entering the ceremony with Jamie to symbolise their strong and equal partnership. I suggested they follow the lead of Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden by compromising and it worked beautifully.

Red Butterfly Photography

Red Butterfly Photography

Looking absolutely radiant in her lace and tulle gown, Lauren made her entrance with her Mum by her side. They were accompanied by  an instrumental version of the Beatles’ Something and were met halfway down the aisle by Jamie and his best man, Kane. Kane then escorted Lauren’s beaming Mum to her seat before our bride and groom made their way to the end of the aisle together.

Red Butterfly Photography

Red Butterfly Photography

On their first anniversary as a couple, Lauren and Jamie each wrote down 10 things they loved about the other.  Lauren and Jamie have added many more things to the list since then, but to remind them of how strong their love has always been, they chose to share these lists as part of their ceremony. The things they had written ranged from the simple to the solemn, but each point was moving, honest and a reflection of the relationship they share.

Red Butterfly Photography

Red Butterfly Photography

Lauren and Jamie didn’t let go of each other once during the ceremony and I could swear that they noticed no one else throughout. They were in a little bubble of love and joy just radiated from them. It was exactly as a wedding should be.

Red Butterfly Photography

Red Butterfly Photography

After exchanging rings and self-penned vows, Jamie and Lauren were pronounced husband and wife. Their kiss was one of wild abandon; Lauren throwing her arms around Jamie in delight as he clasped his wife to him tightly. It was an honour to witness it and their jubilation was contagious.

Red Butterfly Photography

Red Butterfly Photography

Congratulations, Mr and Mrs M! I know the years ahead are going to be filled with so much laughter, new adventures and special occasions. You deserve it all.
xx Koren

Lauren and Jamie, 25 August 2012
Venue: RACV City Club, Melbourne
Photographer: the always wonderful Tatiana of Red Butterfly Photography
Celebrant: Koren Harvey

You talkin’ to me?

I get to meet some incredible people as a celebrant. I find after I meet a new couple I usually end up hopping around our living room, exuberantly telling Dave that I just met an AMAZING couple who are SO cool and I want them to be our FRIENDS! I’m a very lucky girl to be able to interact with so many wonderful people on a regular basis.

What I’ve realised lately is that as well as being generally awesome, the couples I marry have been raised well. It seems that many of them were taught by their parents that you look at people when they’re talking to you. Rightly so. It’s a way of demonstrating that you’re listening to and interested in what someone has to say. And it’s (almost) always appropriate.

I may be going against years of etiquette and have Emily Post rolling over in her grave, but I’m going to stick my neck out right now and give you permission to break this rule.

The one time when you can get away with not looking at someone who’s talking to you? Your wedding ceremony.

Red Butterfly Photography

Lately I’ve noticed that many brides and grooms look at me throughout their ceremony instead of each other. It isn’t because they don’t want to look at one another, rather a result of conditioning. As the celebrant, I do most of the talking in a ceremony and as per polite convention, the bride and groom will often fix their gaze on me. (I told you they were well-raised).

But relax. You don’t have to look at me. I won’t be offended, I promise. Although I read the ceremony, I am not the centre of it. I’m simply the teller of a story that is ultimately about you and your partner. Just as with a good book, the focus should never be on the narrator but on what’s at the heart of the story.

Red Butterfly Photography

You only have one wedding ceremony. (Well, unless you’re this couple but most people aren’t). Absorb what’s happening around you and most of all, share it with your partner. Do this through eye contact, holding hands or wiping away a stray tear on your partner’s face – whatever works for you as a couple.

After all, when the ceremony is over and you’re married, which memory is going to move you more? I bet a recollection of the beaming grin that spread across your partner’s face as you said ‘I do’ beats the memory of the way the celebrant’s mouth moved. Hands down.

Red Butterfly Photography

Which is just as it should be.

xx Koren

Photos displayed in this post are by Red Butterfly Photography.

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