Photography by Jonas Peterson.
Happy Monday to all of our lovely readers! I am so excited about today’s post, because it’s finally time to properly say hello to you and introduce myself! My name is Zoe Briggs, and I’m Snippet & Ink’s Real Weddings Editor! I was a superfan of our blog even before I was engaged, and pored over every detail of Kathryn’s own dreamy wedding… and everyone else’s she ever posted. When she and our Managing Editor Christina advertised for some behind the scenes help a couple of years back, I applied and they took me on, and in 2016 I was promoted to Real Weddings Editor. I feel so lucky to work with the amazing team here and to do what I do every day – combining my love for words (I’m a lawyer by training and have a degree in English Lit, plus, y’know, I just talk all the time!) and the elegant, playful, meaningful weddings we are known for. What else should you know about me? I am the ‘international arm’ of our team, being based in Australia, and I love weddings (of course), all the great TV these days (hello, new season Veep!) and all things beauty (skincare is my total obsession). Plus, I also love food (all types), wine (all types), dogs (big types), and my brand new husband (just his type, please!) We recently got married in the Australian spring, and I feel so happy and lucky to get to share our very own wedding with you today! And honestly, also a little nervous: my husband Dan and I are both very private people and celebrated with just thirty-eight guests… it’s not in our nature to ‘put it all out there’. It feels right to do it now, though, because I believe in Snippet & Ink so much. Whether I’ve been a reader or an editor, I have always loved that we celebrate the meaningful choices couples make when they marry. So I want to take this chance to share with you a little more about me, and why we had the wedding we did. Please do say hi, and let me know what you think, in the comments below – it would be so wonderful to hear from you!
Tell us about your stationery suite. We ended up somehow not having much time to decide on our stationery, even though it was an element that was very important to us. (We hadn’t quite accounted for how long it would take the find the right people or how long the lead time is!) All we had really decided on was that if possible we wanted to have letterpress, and we knew our palette would involve blue. Suddenly I had to look through my references and bring my ideas to D&D Letterpress quickly, so we really had to rely on instinct! We wanted it to be formal but simple, nothing ornate or over the top. I actually drew a lot of inspiration from our founder Kathryn’s own suite – creamy thick paper with simple use of color, and also what we loved most about her suite: the blind letterpress emblem. That was what really helped us bring the whole design together, without having to resort to something like a monogram that just isn’t really us. Luckily my amazing little brother is a trained architect and a beautiful artist, and got what we wanted after one vague brief: “could you draw us something for our invitations?” What a gem, that brother of mine! We ended up using his illustration across all of our pieces (letterpressed in navy on some, blind on others), and it was the perfect finishing touch, bringing everything together beautifully. We designed a navy inkblot pattern for the envelope liner, referencing books and our library venue, and then our wonderful calligrapher Louise of Floralovely Modern Calligraphy addressed them in a creamy, slightly metallic ink. She also wrote each guest’s name on their menu in a soft, pale blue ink. We can’t wait to have an excuse to work with her again in the future!
Did you include any traditions in your wedding day? We sure did! We both really love some traditional aspects of weddings, and were pretty sure from the get go what we wanted to include, and what was not for us at all. I’ll tell you about them throughout the post!
Tradition #1: To see each other, or not, before the wedding? We kind of did a mix that worked beautifully for us. Dan and I exchanged cards and gifts with each other, and then wandered up the road to the place we had our engagement party for breakfast. We were dying for one of the waitstaff to ask us ‘so what are you guys doing for the rest of your day’ but of course, Murphy’s Law, no one did! Then at about 9am, Dan dropped me to my parents’ place for me to start getting ready, and he went off for a shave and haircut with my dad and my brother. That was the last time we saw each other until I walked down the aisle that afternoon.
I didn’t end up getting my family members presents for the day. What could I possibly buy them that would convey how much I love them and how grateful we were for all they did for us for our day? So I wrote each of them a letter telling them exactly how I felt instead, and they read them and drank champagne while I finished getting ready!
Tradition #2: Something old, new, borrowed and blue? Since I was little I had always wanted to include this tradition! My something old was a 1960s diamond bracelet a very close family friend lent me for the day. Something new were my Manolo Blahnik heels. I wasn’t originally going to get new shoes for the wedding, but happened to be taking a quick peek at a Barneys sale and found the exact same style I’d worn when we met, but in very wedding-appropriate champagne suede. My mother insisted I buy them and they ended up being the very first wedding purchase we made! Something borrowed: my brother’s girlfriend Laura, who was my stunning bridesmaid, has long been part of our family. Her father and sister run a fantastic jewelry shop here in our home town, Robert White Jewellers, and made my engagement ring and our wedding bands. They very generously lent me a stunning pair of drop diamond earrings for the day. And something blue – my dress!
And speaking of my dress… I know it seems to be a mini tradition, at least, for a bride to be dressed by her mom, but that is one I didn’t follow. I just had to include the below image because it makes me laugh every time I see it. My dress had some pretty major corsetry and took my dad, brother and bridesmaid to get me into it… we needed serious strength to get it done up!
Tradition #3: Going to the wedding with your dad? Despite all the planning in the world, we somehow ended up running late for the ceremony. Sorry again to my handsome groom! Towards the end it was all a little bit stressful, and to just be with my dad, the calmest person I know (and one of the most wonderful), was exactly what I needed.
So, tell us about that blue wedding gown! I had decided ages ago I didn’t want to wear white. It wasn’t for any particular reason – I love white clothes and love white wedding gowns! It was just a strong feeling that I had had for a long time that I’d be happiest in a beautiful color. Between that and my being not exactly sample size, I was so lucky to be able to have a custom gown. I’d been drawn to blue for a while – I think icy blue is such a classic, pretty color, plus blue of any shade is Dan’s favorite color. When I met Brad Webb of Darb Bridal Couture and he showed me the particular blue the silk feuille we wanted came in, I thought it was lovely but not quite what I had pictured. He happened to have a bolt of it in his workroom, and held it around me like a skirt, with the creamy silk wrapped around my top half to show how they would look together. Suddenly in a rush I knew it was exactly right – it was the only time in the whole dress process I got a little bit teary! (And if you’re wondering – yes, I did run the idea of a colour past Dan, and he thought it was a great idea. When he saw me in my gown on the day, he kept saying “I cannot imagine you wearing anything else.” Job done!)
As for the design, I’d been slowly piecing it together during our engagement. I knew I wanted a 50s-style floor length circle skirt (because when these days do we get the chance to wear a proper gown?), and I knew I wanted a high sash at the waist, a little like Grace Kelly’s iconic dress. I wanted the sash to come together at the back in an interesting way, sort of a bow shape but a little more organic, and trail down the length of the dress. The top half was harder to put together; I just knew I was definite about wanting sleeves, as they add so much to a wedding dress! I had always wanted an off the shoulder neckline but I have a deep hatred of strapless bras and was just too scared of being uncomfortable on such a special day, so we went for a wide v neckline instead. (Honestly, it ended up showing a little more cleavage than I intended, but I guess as one of my girlfriends told me, “rock what you’ve got”, haha!) The specific sleeves were all thanks to my mom! She adores the TV show Outlander and found a gorgeous shot of its star Catriona Balfe on the cover of W magazine in a Paula Ka gown. Brad pinned and tucked and did a fabulous job of basically getting those sleeves onto my own gown!
Why did you choose this location for your ceremony? We seriously spent the entire first year of our two year engagement traveling around the world (online!) trying to decide on a location – and booked not one but two other venues first. Whoops! Once we finally ended up realizing the city we lived in was the best option, we had a few requirements for a venue that were surprisingly hard to meet: somewhere we could hold both the ceremony and reception, which would allow us to bring in our choice of caterers, would allow live music and wouldn’t force us to finish up early. We knew of the State Library because it’s a beautiful building in a stunning spot right on the Brisbane River (and a five minute drive from our apartment!) but had no idea it would meet all that criteria, be available on our ideal date and have a team so wonderful to work with. For the site of the ceremony specifically, there really was no other option once we saw the beautiful Queensland Terrace – high ceilings and a beautiful outlook featuring trees and sky, but still undercover so that we didn’t need a wet weather option. Perfect. Plus, our fantastic planner and stylist Danielle White of white + white weddings and events thought it would work brilliantly, so with her on board we were all set.
Tradition #4: The Bridal Party? We just had a mini one! We each had one attendant – I had my bridesmaid Laura, and Dan had his brother Myles as Best Man. We chose to have them sit in the front rows during the ceremony and to just have the two of us standing with our celebrant. We also had a surprise flower girl – my 6”9, 26-year-old ‘little’ brother! First, he walked our mom in, as is traditional, then secretly ran back down to the entry, grabbed his own little straw basket, and tossed cream rose petals as he walked down the aisle for the second time. We knew this would set just the right tone for our ceremony – fun, personal – and he was so excited to do it, haha!
Tradition #5: To Veil or Not to Veil? Oh absolutely a veil! I wanted a two piece veil that was short in the front, so I could easily link my arm in my dad’s, and cathedral length at the back (go big or go home!). My hairdresser pinned my veil in and settled it down over my face just before Dad and I left for the ceremony. I wore it that way until we got to the end of the aisle, and my dad lifted it back. After the ceremony, when I somehow already had torn it (I am such a klutz), we switched it out for some fresh flowers that matched my bouquet.
Your ceremony in three words. Happy. So us.
How did you go about planning your ceremony? We spent a lot of time working out how we wanted our ceremony to feel, because we wanted it to be a blend of traditional and fun, while still ultimately being about the two of us. Our ceremony wasn’t religious, but we still wanted the overall tone to be formal to reflect that it was the moment we were getting married! And then we also wanted it to be deeply personal, and for our guests to feel like they were seeing us get married, that it couldn’t have just been anyone’s ceremony.
Who officiated your ceremony? How did you choose him/her? So given we had all of these (somewhat disparate) elements we wanted to include, we were so lucky to find celebrant Jen Arhanic! Meeting her for a quick drink – that turned into three hours – sealed the deal. She was personable, professional, with a totally wicked sense of humor and a deep love for and appreciation of marriage. She didn’t blink an eye when we requested a formal-but-fun ceremony and guided us through it all, from arranging the order of the ceremony to completing the legal paperwork. We miss her now that the wedding is over!
What were your ceremony readings? We are both huge readers and work with words for a living, so getting across everything we wanted to say about us and our relationship, in only four readings, felt like a massive challenge. Plus, we wanted to strike the right note between ‘appropriately serious’ and ‘us’. This was one of those things we thought would take us forever, but when we relied on our instinct we actually narrowed it down really easily, and everything just seemed to fit well.
My dad read from The Velveteen Rabbit, which he used to read to me when I was little. Kids’ books have such a wonderful way of explaining love! When we asked him to do this reading he was delighted but said ‘oh gee thanks, I’ll be a mess’ – if you haven’t read the book, even though it is for kids, it’s very emotional! During the reading, despite much practicing beforehand, he did start crying towards the end and that was the only time throughout the whole day I cried… and of course I had left my hanky in his jacket pocket! My stoic little brother told me later that all he could think was “Oh no, Dad, get it together” as he was worried he’d lose it too, haha! Dan’s childhood friend read a short piece, Picnics by Jim Henson, as Dan is an avid fan of The Muppets, and it is so sweet and had a really happy feel to it. We asked our celebrant to incorporate a short section of Union by Robert Fulgham into what she said, which we chose for its matter of fact way of talking about what being married really means. My best friend read Our Union by Hafiz, which is a short and incredibly moving poem that I found via Cup of Jo when Joanna included it in her wedding. And then a good friend of ours, who we worked with when we first met, read from another kids’ book, A Lovely Love Story, which is about two dinosaurs. We customized the text a little to make it fit us perfectly and our friend did a brilliant job. After the wedding, she sent us a framed copy of it, which now hangs outside our bedroom.
What was your favorite thing about your wedding ceremony? Ok, so you know what? This isn’t any easier to answer even after reading hundreds of other bride’s brilliant answers! I think it was how happy we were the whole time. We were both nervous but as soon as I laid eyes on Dan we didn’t stop holding hands or grinning the entire time. It was a joy to stand beside him.
What were your vows like? In Australian ceremonies you first have ‘the asking’ (the bit where you actually say I do) and then the formal vows, which include some specific words that legally have to be said. You can also add personal vows, if you like. We were initially torn about how traditional to go. Our celebrant Jen was so helpful in making this decision, once she showed us what the options would be. Marriage is of course thousands of years old, and even though what is ‘traditional’ has changed during that time, we found something really lovely in saying words along the lines of what couples have been saying for all that time.
What was your ceremony music? We were originally just going to have an iPod play some classical music we both liked, but my mom kept saying how much more atmosphere she thought live musicians would bring. Guess what – your mother is so often right! We ended up hiring a string quartet, 16 Strings, who were so wonderful to work with. For our Processional, we chose Pachelbel’s Canon in D (it is what Annie’s bridal party walks down the aisle to in our shared favorite wedding movie, Father of the Bride). What Dan didn’t know is that I had also secretly arranged for 16 Strings to learn the score to Jurassic Park. It is his favorite movie (and book!) and the score is beautiful; I’ve loved it since I was a kid. So Pachelbel’s Canon ended up being the Processional for my bridesmaid, my mom and my brother, and then the JP score was the secret Bridal Processional. During our marriage certificate signing, they played Here Comes the Sun by The Beatles (one of Dan’s favorites, and from another movie I love, The Parent Trap). And then for our Recessional, the quartet also learned for us the wonderful, joyful PM’s Love Theme from Love Actually, which we watch every Christmas Eve.
Can we just discuss my wonderful parents for a minute? All throughout the (loooong) planning process, they somehow remained calm every time we changed our minds, stayed interested, involved and available for endless discussions and advice, but wanted us to make all the big decisions ourselves. And after all that hard work, how fabulous did they look on the day? Mom wore a full length fuchsia silk opera coat by one of her and my fave brands, Carla Zampatti, paired with cobalt blue Aquazurra lace up flats and blue Swarovski earrings, and Dad wore a YSL tux. Such a glamorous pair! And still so in love… just before our wedding was their anniversary of having been together for forty years!
What was the best advice you received as a bride? Hmm, you know what? I don’t know that anyone did give me advice, except my mother! (Maybe I now need to go back and obsess over whether I was such an annoying wedding know it all, especially given my day job, that no one else wanted to? Haha!) She told me, as she (rightly) does in the rest of my life, not to overthink things too much. Although of course she was also the one calling me after we’d all made a decision saying ‘now just checking, have you thought of this other option?’, but that’s a mother’s prerogative, I think! Overall, ‘not overthinking things’ is advice worth following, and I think we sort of surprised ourselves in not being as hopelessly indecisive as we thought we would!
How would you describe your reception? An intimate black tie dinner party with a fantastic dance floor!
Why did you choose this location for your reception? Like I mentioned with the ceremony, the wonderful thing about our venue was that it literally suited every single need we had. We had always wanted an overhead floral installation, and another great feature of this room was that the struts that supported the installation could be moved higher or lower with the flick of a switch. So for the ceremony we had it lifted to over 7” high (to clear the head of that tiny ‘flower girl’!) and then for the reception it was lowered to sit above the table. There are stone plinths at one end of the room that provide extra seating, and our planner Danielle suggested the band could perform on one of those. The band’s manager originally said no, but when the incredible band arrived they jumped at the chance, and it was so fun to have them up on a stage! So all in all it really was our ideal space and we are so glad it ended up being available for us. It felt like it was absolutely meant to be.
Are there any DIY details you’d like to tell us about? We’re definitely too hopeless to be DIY people, but my amazing parents got up close and personal with the baby dinosaurs we had found to sit at each person’s place. Unfortunately the bright plastic didn’t really go with our color scheme, so we acquired some gold spray paint as well. They sent us the funniest text updates of each layer of paint, with Dad doing the work and Mom carefully ‘managing’ him. They looked so fantastic, our guests loved them and it was a fun sort of whimsical little detail for an otherwise simple and elegant tablescape. Now we have some of them back at our place and they really do make us smile every time we look at them!
Dan and I also put together a little basket in each of the bathrooms, which was a detail I had always wanted to include because it’s practical and showed our guests we care! There’s nothing more annoying than having your night ruined because your new shoes have given you a blister, right? What we included was obviously a little different for each gender, but broadly speaking we set out: deodorant, breath mints, hairspray, bobby pins, tampons, pain killers, bandaids… you get the idea. I couldn’t recommend more highly doing something like that – it wasn’t expensive or tricky to do and people really appreciated it!
Do you have any budget tips for other brides? For the sake of your sanity, INCLUDE A BUFFER. And do not do what we did and spend the buffer before ‘the buffer time’ comes. And believe me, buffer time can come the week before the wedding, as it did for us! Otherwise: be realistic, also be pedantic (it really pays off when you can ultimately say you came in under budget, woo hoo!), and hopefully one of you knows how to operate a spreadsheet. If you don’t, find someone who does. Buy them wine, ask them to teach you, and make sure you really do get it. Both of you need to understand your budget backwards and forwards, and be able to explain it to anyone else (i.e. parents) who may have a hand in contributing. I am not remotely an Excel kind of girl, but please, please trust me on how helpful – and calming – it will end up being to be queen of your own budget!
Also, I have to add, the one area that we just could not make work in the budget was the flowers, so we were going to forego the overhead installation. My mom, who has such gorgeous taste and for whom the flowers were a bit of a labor of love, swooped in at the last minute and added the cost of the installation to the overall budget. It was over 20 feet long and really anchored the room. How lucky are we!
What inspired you when you were planning your wedding? Oh my goodness, where to start? I have loved weddings forever – and I do mean forever. Australian Vogue used to feature a wedding supplement in the early ’90s, and I would pore over it even at age five or six. Having said that, I never was really clear on what I wanted, I just loved seeing all the possibilities. When Dan and I met, at 24, we both knew quickly that this was it. I would have secret obsessive daydreaming sessions with my mom (all at my instigation, not hers, I have to add!), and she quickly found what became my favorite site – Snippet & Ink, of course! So there was much furtive wedding website searching even before we got engaged. Once we did get engaged and planning became real, it was a whole other ball game. We found settling on a venue really hard, because it meant committing to one type of wedding and putting a pin in all of the other dream versions, even if they were utterly impossible! So when it came time to really be clear for our planners on what we wanted, I started to wade through all of the old links I had bookmarked and pictures I had screenshotted, and sort through it all. I cannot even begin to tell you how long this took (mainly because it would be mortifying) – but it really was worth it. It’s interesting how even among all the different ideas you begin to see similarities start to come out. My mom was so great at helping me narrow things down to one streamlined aesthetic, and her taste itself was inspiring – she is the most stylish person I know! Dan and I both knew we wanted it to be black tie and formal, but to be fun and not at all stiff or intimidating. We loved the idea of having everyone at one long table. And then once you have those bigger things pinned down, it was easy to pick the other details because we both prefer simple – white linen napkins, pared back white and green florals, candles everywhere.
What advice do you have for other couples in the midst of planning a wedding? Haha, I have SO MUCH ADVICE. I’m tempted to put my phone number up here to become an informal Agony Aunt, I love wedding problem solving so much! On a personal, family dynamics kind of note, my advice is to let people surprise you. My mom and I are very close but not always particularly calm on a day like this – and there she was, totally chilled out all day. My super patient, calm dad morphed into the slightly stressed manager of us all while we were getting ready, and then relaxed totally (our planner Danielle said she had never seen a happier Father of the Bride). My all-grown-up baby brother got teary seeing me in my dress for the first time. And his beautiful girlfriend Laura, my bridesmaid, was as wonderful as I ever thought she would be but went totally above and beyond ‘bridesmaid duties’ that we had never even discussed. It was like having a great friend and personal servant all day, haha. What a gem. Dan’s parents said such genuine, honest words, and they were the talk of the reception. Oh, weddings! I know they can bring out the worst in some but wow, the day itself brought out the absolute best in our families and we couldn’t be more grateful.
Ultimately I think wedding advice is kind of life advice: respect each other’s feelings. Work really hard if the reward (in this case, a wonderful, happy day) is something you really want. Trust your instincts. And re-apply your lipstick more often than you think you need to!
What was your wedding menu? We’re both totally obsessed with food, so it was a real deal breaker for us that so many venues insisted on certain caterers, or restaurants wouldn’t be flexibile with what they offered. When we ‘found’ Al’FreshCo (I say ‘found’ like that because the man behind it, Alastair McLeod, is a world-renowned chef) we knew we’d come to the right people. We decided on three tray-passed appetizers for cocktail hour, and then a five course sit down dinner. The appetizers even included a tiny, fancy version of the fresh-seafood-and-buttered-white-bread we make together every Christmas Eve. Then after dinner we had a station with a whole roasted ham, fresh baguettes, mustard and pickles. Once people realized it was there they went crazy for it!
Passed appetisers: Ocean trout brandade, Yarra Valley caviar, sourdough crostini, bronze fennel / Free rage pork and fennel sausage roll, Al’FreshCo BBQ sauce / Moreton Bay bug wheaten bread sandwich, pickled red onion. Plated dinner courses: Streaky Bay Pacific oysters, saltwater vinaigrette / Golden spiced Mooloolaba King prawns, preserved lemon aioli // Free range chicken tonnato, nasturtium pesto, Gatton rocket / Warm sourdough served to the table with butter // Marinated eye fillet of beef, organic Dutch cream mash, new season asparagus, Lockyer Valley tomato dressing // Malted milk chocolate parfait, caramel cream, Kingaroy peanuts, toasted handmade marshmallow // Farmhouse cheeses, fennel lavosh, spiced apple chutney
What type of cake or dessert did you serve? Neither of us particularly even like cake so it was never on the agenda to serve one. Instead, we talked to Alastair about serving a deconstructed Snickers bar for dessert – are chocolate and peanuts not the best combination ever? – and he nailed it. Normally after a long dinner with plenty of wine I am not that into sweets but I literally ate every bite.
If you had it to do over again, is there anything you would do differently? It really was the most relaxed, happy day. It was wonderful. So in terms of the big picture, I couldn’t imagine doing anything differently. In terms of any small practicalities and details we might have done differently, as a Real Weddings Editor and a perfectionist, I’m sure I could write a blog post…
What was your favorite moment or part of the reception? I don’t think I can go past the dance floor. We had always known we wanted to have a live band, even though with just forty of us that might seem a little silly, or as thought it would go to waste! But honestly, thanks to our incredible band Savvy, never has a fear so easily been put to rest! They started with some background music during dinner and people could barely contain themselves even then. A wonderful couple of our friends – in their 50s, I might add – came up to us towards the end of dinner and asked if we’d mind if they started the dance floor! (The answer was of course that they should go for it, and they killed it!) We knew then it was time to move the timeline up a bit and get the dancing going. Dan and I danced together, and then my dad and I did a little turn, and then we had the band play Wake Me Up Before You Go Go and everyone just RAN to the dance floor, and really barely left. It was so fantastic. What happy memories!
“We actually picked all the songs we wanted the band to play for the night, rather than give the band leeway. Partly because we’re both obsessive about our cheesy taste in music, and because we had half our guests in their 30s and half in their 60s, so we wanted to be sure each song would work for everyone and not make half the guests go and sit down because they didn’t know it. (Well, we picked every song except one… but you know a band is amazing when your guests start an impromptu limbo contest using a nearby tablecloth and the band oh so appropriately rolls with it!) Our final song before Dan and I left was Paul Simon’s You Can Call Me Al, for which some of our friends have their own little dance inspired by the 80s film clip, and they rock it at every party they go to. This time, everyone joined in! After we left the dancing continued, and then the last song for the night was New York New York – even all the way down here in Australia, you can never go wrong ending the night with that, and we’re reliably told every guest gave it their all, high kicks included!”
Did you have a signature cocktail? Once the dance floor started we served espresso martinis. About ten years ago my dad and I took an amazing trip to New York and (in)famously overdid it on espresso martinis at the rooftop bar of the Gansevoort Hotel in the Meatpacking District. Ever since, they’ve been what my family somehow end up having on special occasions, and this was no exception. Plus we knew it would ensure nonstop dancing… and we weren’t wrong!
Please tell us about any other special details or moments from your reception. Just before we left, every guest was with us on the dance floor. We got to give huge sweaty hugs to every single person – it was so wonderful. To quote one of the fantastically cheesy songs we love so much the band even played it twice for us, “oh, what a night!”