Amanda & Emily: An intimate, less traditional wedding beaming with beauty
"We wanted a wedding that felt like ‘us’, which meant a big focus on food and drinks, less traditional, an intimate setting and room for a lot of dancing."
Location Canberra, ACT | Photographer Kelly Tunney
Tell us when and how you met?
We met on Tinder, four years ago when it had just launched, and then in person at a brewery halfway between both of our houses.
Can you give us a little insight into the early days of your relationship regarding acceptance from peers and family?
Living in Canberra we’re pretty lucky that people are generally open-minded and accepting of same-sex relationships. Amanda’s friends, in particular, were very excited that she had found someone relatively normal! Amanda’s family were very welcoming and happy for us, and while Emily’s took a while to get on board, they were supportive of the wedding.
And then there was the proposal, how did that happen?
Amanda proposed to Emily in 2016 at Charlotte Pass, a small snowbound village in New South Wales. It was a favourite place from Emily’s childhood and the first time she had taken anyone there. Amanda purchased two rings while working overseas a few months earlier and went to great lengths to hide them from Emily. Given there is no precedent of which bride buys a ring/proposes/gets a ring, Amanda ended up buying two rings so that if all went well, Emily could choose her favourite and Amanda would wear the other. We actually both like these rings so much that we didn’t find wedding rings before the wedding to replace them, so we exchanged these on the day.
Now for the wedding, when did this happen?
21st April 2018
Amanda and Emily's story continues below >
Was there any sort of theme to your wedding?
We didn’t have a particular theme starting out, but we both agreed that we wanted a wedding that felt like ‘us’, which meant a big focus on food and drinks, less traditional, an intimate setting, and room for a lot of dancing. We also decided we wanted the wedding not to be wasteful and use as many recycled products as possible. This meant not buying 100m of lace for table runners but using paper doilies that could be recycled. Instead of buying vases we collected jam jars to house candles and small posies on the tables. We then recycled these afterwards.
What was the main influence behind your wedding day?
We wanted our guests to feel like they were coming to our wedding, like we were hosting a big party that reflected us and our style. We already felt married in many ways, so formalising our relationship via a wedding was important, but the thought of hosting a standard wedding didn’t feel like us.
Where did you find the bulk of your inspiration?
Dare I say it – Pinterest! Amanda was reluctant to join up at first, but it was such a great help in seeing what colour dresses went well with what coloured flowers etc. It was also a great inspiration for wedding craft – invitations, table settings, place cards etc. Once we agreed on the themes we liked, Amanda made most of these herself from Officeworks supplies. Our favourite creation was long table runners Amanda made from paper doilies ordered online.
How did you choose your suppliers?
We wanted to use as many Canberra suppliers as possible to support local small businesses. We also knew it would be more convenient with our timeframe to meet with suppliers locally rather than travelling to Sydney or its surrounds. This ended up being a brilliant decision, we’ve met so many lovely people doing amazing things in Canberra.
Tell us a little about your overall wedding planning experience in regards to being a same-sex couple in a predominantly ‘Bride & Groom’ saturated industry?
When we first started wedding planning we looked at Canberra venues offering all-in-one packages. Most were welcoming of same-sex couples and had pictures of previously wedded same-sex couples on their social media accounts. However, when it came to making enquires, most assumed we were heterosexual and forwarded their standardised ‘cut and paste’ brochures. For some suppliers this material was highly gendered eg: ‘the groomsmen can have photos here’ ... ‘the bride and her bridesmaids can get ready here’. After a few of the same responses, it became a bit disheartening, to the point where we felt like we didn’t fit these cookie cutter venues because they were set up for straight couples. We decided to correct people where this happened. For most their excuse was that they were having new promotional brochures designed, or hadn’t yet corrected their information to allow for the new legislation. Given same-sex couples have been getting ‘married’ for decades, we felt this was a poor excuse, however, this isn’t something that has just suddenly become a thing. In the end this pushed us to do a DIY wedding, which suited our needs much better. The blank venue we chose even ended up agreeing to take on our event purely because we were a same-sex wedding.
Did you face any challenges from wedding suppliers?
Our biggest challenge, that led to a few tears, was wedding dress shopping. Possibly because wearing a white dress is a very traditional element of a wedding, and wedding dress suppliers are typically traditional businesses. Most bridal stores had trouble arranging bookings for us both, either to try on dresses at the same time or in separate appointments. We even completely ruled out going to one bridal store after they clarified out loud that it would be different if we were ‘marrying two blokes’. The thought of entering the store after that experience over the phone put us into a dark space for a week or so. We decided not to see each other’s dresses before the wedding and ended up taking a few friends for support each time we visited dress stores, which helped us decide if the dresses complemented each other– and not choose the same ones!
Did you find it challenging to translate more common traditions into a ‘same-sex’ wedding? i.e Walking down the aisle, choosing a wedding party…
Yes and yes! In a way having no precedence of what we must include was quite freeing, we could pick the elements we liked and opt out of those we didn’t. We chose to walk down the aisle one at a time with our bridesmaids between us, creating the challenge of finding a really long processional song that wasn’t gendered (turns out that is a difficult task!). We had an all-female bridal party and decided to break up the line of ladies with a male celebrant. We kept some traditions like the first dance, cake cutting and speeches and added modern twists to each. We nixed the garter removal/bouquet toss/grand entrance at the reception/fathers walking us down the aisle. We both agreed that these were things that made us uncomfortable and we didn’t want regardless of who we were marrying.
What was the most difficult thing about planning your wedding?
The timeframe we set ourselves. After a year of looking at standard venues in Canberra and Adelaide, we felt disheartened that none felt like ‘us’. This pushed us to find blank canvas venues that we could make our own, but unfortunately Canberra doesn’t have a lot of these. In January 2018 we found a disused café in New Acton where we lived. We were told that it was only available for a weekend in April, which gave us 12 weeks to get the wedding off the ground. Amanda took on the enormous task of finding all of the providers and making it happen. It ended up being exactly what we wanted but quite stressful. There are a lot of amazing websites and blogs around to assist with wedding planning which we looked up every time we got stuck. Amanda especially found some wedding podcasts quite useful to feel less alone, with others encountering the same issues.
Where did you spend your honeymoon?
Tasmania. We couldn’t fathom getting on a long-haul flight after organising the wedding so we chose to do a foodie road trip throughout the East and South Coast of Tassie. Our favourite stop was Pumphouse Point, a really romantic old pumphouse that has been renovated into boutique accommodation. The pumphouse sits over Australia’s deepest lake in the middle of Tasmania. So remote and untouched. They were the only provider on the honeymoon to not be slightly confused when we said it was our honeymoon and had a lovely gift of local honey waiting in our room on arrival.
Any advice for other same-sex couples planning their day?
Include whatever makes you happy and ditch the stuff that makes you uncomfortable or doesn’t feel like you. We learnt early on that the wedding needed to represent us and not other people’s expectations. The worst advice we received was that a wedding is for your guests to enjoy and not yourselves. This is bollocks. Your wedding should represent both of you and that’s exactly why your guests will enjoy it. Spend money to minimise stress if you can, and be thrifty in other areas. Read and learn from all of the amazing advice online and from friends. Give yourself plenty time- it’s never too early to lock in a supplier. Lastly, if you can, pull up providers on gendered behaviour. We didn’t do this for all providers as it would’ve been exhausting but did where we had the energy in the hope that the next same-sex couple to enquire wouldn’t feel as disheartened as we did.
Photographer Kelly Tunney
Venue Nishi Precinct
Flowers Moxom and Whitney
Bridal Party Attire Toni Maticevski, Watters, JJ’s House online
Cake Forty-Two Cakes
Stationery DIY from Officeworks, Vistaprint and Etsy
Celebrant Steven Murray
Furniture Hired from YesEvents
Wedding Website Squarespace
Hair Steven Lloyd Hairstylist
Mrs and Mrs Balloons Balloon Brilliance
Makeup Kathryn Molloy