Lawyers Jessica and Peter and met while they we were working for a small law firm in Melbourne's CBD. Their engagement came at a local park in Malvern around the corner from where Jessica grew up.
"Peter and I have a black cocker spaniel named Loli, who we both adore. She is very difficult to photograph because she barely sits still! Knowing this, I was not too surprised when Peter decided to organise professional photos to be taken of Loli. After the photoshoot Peter dropped down to one knee and asked me to marry him. It was a very special moment, under a weeping willow at the park where we often walk Loli. It was so sweet to have Loli there with us too."
"Peter and I both have big families. Peter is Italian, (so the definition of a big actually means gigantic!) because of this we knew there would be a large number of guests we needed to accommodate at our wedding. Choosing the venue was one of the easiest decisions we had to make. I had always wanted to get married at the Heritage Gardens of Abbotsford Convent and when we visited, it was perfect. Once we had decided on the venue, our biggest hurdle was to keep our guest list to a number that could fit! We had about 18 months to plan and things just fell into place."
"I can be like a bull at a gate when it comes to planning and honestly believe that if I could have dedicated all my time to planning the wedding, I may have been able to have it all organised in about a month! Peter thought this was a terrible idea, and for the first 12 months of our engagement we only discussed the wedding on a Tuesday night! It did however allow us to relax and enjoy our engagement."
"One of the most difficult things throughout the planning was managing the expectations of everyone around us and how best to blend our two cultures without losing the sense of who Peter and I are as a couple. We wanted to make sure everyone had fun but that Peter and I enjoyed everything we had so carefully planned too."
"My most prominent first memory from our ceremony was walking into the Good Shepherd Chapel and being overwhelmed by the amount of smiling faces looking back at me. I was stunned that not only did I know so many people, but they had all turned up because we were getting married. It’s a pretty heady feeling."
"Our ceremony was light and funny, Father Paul put everyone at ease with his quick wit and relaxing personality. At the commencement of the ceremony he announced that he hadn't done a wedding in nearly a decade and had had a touch of whisky to steady his nerves. Everyone was in stitches and Father Paul also asked me for a quick kiss after Peter and I had shared our first kiss! He was a hit with everyone. I’ve had some of our non-Catholic friends tell me that if they ever get married they’ll drag him out of retirement!"
The moment Peter asked Jessica to marry him, she knew she wanted to get married at the Abbotsford Convent. "I have memories of attending a wedding there when I was younger and thinking it felt just like a fairy tale. Oddly no-one I know, my parents included, actually believes this fairy tale wedding took place. So whether it was in my imagination, or it really did happen, I still had my heart set on Abbotsford Convent."
Thankfully Peter was also wooed by the venue's charm and character and the couple felt that no other venue offered them the same atmosphere.
Jessica and Peter described their reception as, "One huge party. It was a celebration with all our favourite people. We ate fantastic food, drank delicious wine and danced the night away. Sitting beside my new husband with a latte in hand and watching our guests enjoy themselves was a highlight of the evening."
Jessica wore a strapless gown with sweetheart neckline made from ivory Italian brocade silk with lace detailing. "It fit me like a second skin, and it was pure perfection when finished. The team at Bonita were absolutely lovely and the assistant who looked after me was so patient and encouraging. As I was explaining to her what I thought I wanted, she pulled a gown off the rack and asked me to try it on, I told her I wasn’t really interested in it but she persisted and she was right. It was gorgeous and it hugged all my curves. I felt sexy and gorgeous. I went back twice that same day."
"Although it wasn’t the exact dress I ended up wearing, it was the starting point because I could not find a fabric I loved more than the ivory brocade. Bonita helped me with the rest of the design so I would end up with my dream dress. I also had a cathedral length veil that needed to be shortened at the last minute as I was worried it would be too long for the church!"
Peter and his groomsmen wore navy suits from MJ Bale. "MJ Bale were very accommodating and so accessible. The idea was that Peter would wear a navy tuxedo with a modern twist. It was made to measure and he had a matching waistcoat and velvet bow tie. We were after a classic look with a modern take that Peter would be comfortable in. The groomsmen's suit fabric was slightly different to Peter’s tuxedo to create a point of difference (albeit small) and complemented the bridesmaids’ dresses wonderfully."
Jessica's bridesmaids wore blush strapless gowns from Swish Clothing. "These dresses were my little secret as I managed to purchase them for a ridiculously low amount and then had them altered by my dressmaker to fit the girls perfectly. I wanted the dresses to be soft and romantic but also comfortable. I didn’t want the girls to be worried about kicking off their heels at any point during the night or stuffing themselves full of cake!"
Jessica and Peter's wedding didn't have a specific theme, "Everything was selected because we loved it. There was definitely a soft, romantic feel to everything that came together." Decorations were kept to a minimum and flowers and arrangements including an installation above the bridal table was the main focus.
"I love peonies so with a wedding in November, I could not pass up the opportunity to use them in the bouquets and floral decorations. We had a neutral colour scheme with honeymoon roses, white/ivory garden roses and lots of greenery decorating the space."
Requiring a gluten free cake, Jessica and Peter turned to Mad About Cakes who specialise in desserts and custom cakes for particular dietary requirements. "Our wedding cake had four tiers. Two layers were raspberry white chocolate with raspberry coulis and the other two layers were zesty citrus white chocolate with homemade lemon curd. It was absolutely delicious!"
"As Peter is Italian, we wanted to pay tribute to his background by making our own Limoncello for guests to take home as wedding favours. My dad grew the lemons and we spent a number of months in the lead up to the wedding infusing vodka."
"My dad was incredibly emotional throughout the day. He cried when he saw me in my dress for the first time. He cried at stages during the ceremony. He teared up during his speech and during our father daughter dance to 'Little Ray of Sunshine'. It was so special to see how happy he was and to be reminded of how much he loves me. The speeches made by our parents, Best Man and Matron of Honour were also beautiful and reminded us how lucky we are to be surrounded by the people we have in our lives."
"For my 18th birthday my dad had one of his mother’s rings remodelled for me. It has a beautiful pale blue Ceylon sapphire as the centre gemstone so I wore this as my 'something blue'. I also tucked one of my grandfather's handkerchiefs into my dress. It is embroidered with the words 'To my darling'. My grandfather had served in the British Army as a young man and when WWII was over had handkerchiefs made out of his parachute silk with messages for my grandmother. As all my grandparents have passed away it was special to me to carry something that they had shared as a couple."
"It took me a little while to realise that there was no possible way I could keep my dress clean. People stood on it, it got dragged around. It doesn’t matter how much planning you do, or how much you stress over the details, things will simply happen and you will cope with them. You cannot possibly plan for every scenario. Relax, have fun and remember the only part that really matters is getting to share everything that does happen with that person standing at the other end of the aisle."
gown & veil: Bonita Couture, bonitacouture.com
flowers & floral decorations: Flair Flowers & Design, flairdesign.net.au
cake: Mad About Cakes, madaboutscakes.com.au
bridesmaids: Swish Clothing, swishclothing.com.au