Our wedding on Stradbroke island, Australia literally turned our World upside down…which is funny as we are down under…bu-bum!
The entire wedding was flipped on its head! We had our wedding party the night before the planned Sunrise ceremony, instead of trashing the dress we trashed the cake and we had a picnic for our wedding breakfast…actually AT breakfast time! Also, this all took part on a little island off Brisbane, just an hour south of the Sunshine Coast…the rest of that pun will become apparent as the blog goes on.
After spending 2 weeks with Alex’s Mum in and around chilled out Noosa we were relaxed and refreshed until the day before the wedding…the nightmare of which is completely explained here…but it meant that on our actual Aussie wedding day we hit the ground running with adrenalin pumping through our veins along with the excess wine and food we have been indulging in during our ‘holiday’.
The three of us, Alex, Janet and I, made a quick stop off at URBBANA to collect Alex an incredible suit (and to gawp at the rainbow of dickie bow ties and shoes in there) and suddenly we were on our way to wedding 68…on a ferry from Brisbane to Stradbroke Island. On the ferry we met with rad celebrant Lindsay who had kindly invited us all to stay over at her families home for the night and Khesanh, who would be in charge of my make-up and had also been charged with taking care of delivering all of the delicious edibles, including amazing cookie sandwiches and macaroons which had been packed especially for the ferry crossing. We all scoffed cookies and melon handed out by Khesanh’s daughter Lola who had come along for the adventure too. In-between bites and crumbs we nattered weddings and enjoyed the scenery sailing by us and Brisbane disappearing behind us.
Once we arrived at Lindsays we chose a bed (Janet on the top bunk) and went exploring. We didn’t have to go far, just across the street in fact to the waters edge. There, we watched dolphins frolic at our feet as the sun set over the horizon. The parrots flocked in squawking multi-coloured clouds to their nests for the night and koalas grunted above our heads. Stradbroke Island already felt like a magical place.
Soon, all the animals fell quiet and one by one more of the wedding team arrived for the wedding party camp out. Courtney and her son, Shane and Michael came with the stars and not long after…but probably a few beers too many in…Jeannie and Bruce arrived. We all sat around the table on the deck talking, laughing, eating, sharing stories and enjoying each others company. We joked about staying up all night but thankfully someone more sensible than me suggested we sleep a few hours. We had an early start at 5am to set up.
Poor Janet got hardly any sleep with Alex and I in the bunk underneath. Both so nervous for the next morning and too excited to really rest we tossed and turned most of the night. Of course, like all early mornings it was soon upon us. The wake up call came in the form of a huntsman spider in the shower which Alex fought with a broom loudly for a good 10 minutes.
That was just the beginning.
As Alex and Courtney poured much needed coffee’s in the dark among all the sleeping bodies scattered on every surface, the heavens opened and the rain pounded on the tin roof of the house like a stampede of a thousand horses.
The rain did nothing to put Courtney off and by 5.30 she and Alex had gone, Lindsay had gone to collect Begitta who, bless her got on a ferry at 4.30am to bring me gorgeous custom made dresses, and Khesanh and I moved around like we were wading in treacle trying to look alive and get make up ready.
Bodies were still scattered willy-nilly all around. Shane and Michael slept through what could be classed as battleground noise with the rain, the kids TV, the kettle boiling, doors slamming and a minor tantrum or two (not from me) but just before sunrise we were all wedding ready.
Begitta and Lindsay had fought the rain and lost but still had giggles and grins a plenty even soaked to the bones, Khesanh had me looking awake and beautiful in no time and Janet had fed me, watered me and kept everyone under 10 as entertained as possible with her Ipad and soothing tones. The boys were armed with their cameras and had devoured every possible angle of dawn light from Lindsays quaint, Aussie home and were ready for pastures a new…but the rain wouldn’t abate.
We called Courtney, Alex, Jeannie and Bruce and they confirmed that the rain was there too but they were ready and waiting for us and were also soaked to the bones! We had no choice but to brave it. We piled into cars and made our way to the lake and as we pulled up the clouds parted and a golden ray of morning light burst across the sky. Shane and Michael ran away with my dress to take some shots of the stunning dress in the trees. The bronze sequin and lace detail on the short dress danced in the light and layer upon layer of shimmering soft silk chiffon flowed delicately in the breeze just over the rippling brown lake…a visual artists dream of course!
I took the opportunity as the boys snapped away to meet with our incredibly special guest, Aunty Evelyn who was there to welcome us to the lake. Aunty Evelyn, an elder from the Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation, had agreed to come and offer us her blessing to be the first people to ever hold a ceremony (with permission) at the lake. This was a privilege in itself but she also offered to tell us about the sacredness of the lake to the Quandamooka people who have been coming to the brown lake for centuries.
Quick introductions and thanks made I was called back to the car when Begitta had finally grappled the dress back from the boys. This was when we noticed another big burly bouncer of a cloud heading back over the lake. I was quickly transformed and handed an enormous bouquet by Jeannie. It was STUNNING! Deep burgundies with splashes of copper and autumn packed with fresh Natives, Celosia, Orchids, Amaranth, even a little ‘Roadsidia and a few feathers, all tied with vintage ribbons and lots and lots of love. Jeannie had stayed up half the night finishing up the blooms still not having seen the dress but she absolutely nailed it. It was perfect. I hid behind a tree and had about a minute to gather myself and my thoughts. To take stock of where I was and what was happening.
I stepped out from behind the tree and made my way through enormous eucalyptus roots that peeped through the sand, over their seeds and leaves that spoke of autumn and crisp mornings, and walked through everyone that had come together to create this special moment just for us. My face hurt with smiles before I had even reached his side.
We walked together towards the beautiful arch that Courtney had made and hand-painted especially for us which stood at the edge of the lake, its warm golden waters lapping its feet. The lake’s colour comes from the eucalyptus trees that line its banks and more of Jeannie’s beautiful flowers floated on its surface. The soft warm water is known for its healing properties by many and as we stood hand in hand on its shores listening to Aunty Evelyns welcome we felt an inextricable connection.
Evelyns’ words reverberated around us. I have to let you read them yourself to understand.
“We, (the Quandamooka People and the Spirit of our Country) welcome you here to Lake Bummiera also known as Brown Lake. It is especially significant to be welcomed to our sacred place in order that the Spirit of the Lake will recognize you. It makes us happy that you have come for our blessing to be incorporated into your marriage ceremony. Our people have come here for centuries to communicate with the Spirit of the Lake. And, now you are here participating in a marriage ceremony. We welcome you, Lisa and Alex.
I invite you to look around you and take in the beautiful surrounding area. Look at the water, the trees, the reeds that are growing at the edge of the lake and now we have the rain. All these elements of Mother Earth are not only a blessing but they are your witnesses as well. May you learn to know and feel the sacredness of the Lake as it encompasses you with the blessings of peace, harmony and unity”
The feeling can’t be explained but as Evelyn spoke and welcomed us to connect to our surroundings the rain started its gentle pitter-patter and as silly as it may sound to some, we genuinely felt welcomed by the spirit of the lake!
Evelyn finished her welcome and Courtney, ever organised, distributed umbrellas as the rains gentle pitter-patter turned into a definite stomp. Lindsay stayed strong in-spite of the rain. She didn’t miss a beat and the ceremony was honestly the most thoughtful and considerate we have ever had..the shame is that no-one but us could hear as the rain suddenly became a torrential downpour.
Here are a few lines from Lindsay.
“This island on which we gather is known to the Quandamooka people as Minjerribah and the Quandamooka peoples have been the custodians of this land and its surrounding sea for over 25,000 years. We give our profound thanks to them for sharing this sacred land with us today for this celebration.”
“The word ‘Yakka’ comes from the word yaga meaning ‘work’ in the Yagara indigenous language of the Brisbane region. Yakka found its way into nineteenth-century Australian pidgin, and then passed into Australian English. Every day of this adventure for you both has been hard yakka – facing the usual and unusual challenges of travel abroad and foreign cultures, and living out of a suitcase for years on end!
But despite many continents, many good days and some bad, there has been a common element. Sunrise. Sunrise heralds a new beginning, the start of a new day. It brings hope that every period of darkness and trouble is followed by a sunrise, which will bring a solution and a time to celebrate.”
Everyone’s squeals of laughter and the sound of big cold drops of rain running down backs filled the air. We couldn’t do anything but laugh as the enormous drops rolled down our faces and off our noses as we kissed. Our first wet wedding and in sunny Australia…who would have thought it!
Clutching an umbrella we said our thanks and farewells to Evelyn and her husband Alan so they could go and get dry as everyone hurried to try to rescue the cake and food laid out ready for our wedding breakfast. The rain was SO hard and we were already soaked to the skin so we decided to go for a dip in the lake! Why not…afterall, is there anything more romantic than being caught in a rainstorm with the man you love to keep you (marginally) warm?
Anyway, the amazing images speak for themselves! Thank goodness we had Shane and Michael from Goldbear wedding films with us and we’re so happy that they grabbed umbrellas and carried on regardless. The gear they work with is heavy and expensive and between carrying brolly’s and balancing cameras on their little fingers and trying to stay dry and not remove eyeballs with umbrella spokes, they did a stella job!
Once my knees and lips had gone blue there was more fun to be had. Jeannie bless her had come prepared for anything and emerged with a hypothermia blanket and a cotton bed sheet which she promptly wrapped me in to try to stop the uncontrollable shivers and Courtney, knowing me and realising not a drop of champers had yet passed my lips, promptly passed me the bottle and I staggered back to the car where the heating was being blasted for me to dry out.
Of course, the rain cleared minutes after we had finished but everyone was SO wet and SO cold that we all piled back to Lindsays to dry out and to devour an amazing wedding picnic breakfast made with love by Love my food. Oh my word it was amazing to be dry, warm and fed. The food looked too good to eat but we got over that quickly and dug into the huge jar of handmade Labneh in delicious garlic olive oil, we pushed miniature fresh herb tarts into our faces and devoured the chicken, mushroom, sage and Parmesan roll wrapped in crispy prosciutto…lovingly named by Alex, ‘the meat cake’. We washed it all down with sugary tea administered by Mum, and then we turned to the cake and gasped.
Megan had made the most beautiful wedding cake with intricate burgundy laser cut icing wrapped around the perfect crisp white cylinder. The burgundy icing had gotten wet in the downpour and had run all over the place! It was ruined. I felt so bad but almost cried with happiness when Shane told me he had shot it before the rain! We decided (with much deliberation I might add) to trash the cake. We definitely weren’t not eating it!!!
We had great fun and I have to tell you it tasted like heaven! We ate far too much of the thick gooey chocolate brownie-esque cake but it was just so good. We even let Shane and Michael have ONE bite each…before we threw it into the air,,,and then scooped out more of the amazing insides!
Such a unique day. There was never a dull moment and if you ask me, that is what a wedding day is. It is everyone coming together and making it as special as they can regardless of what happens. We all laughed ALL night and all day, even when soaked to the skin and blue in the face we all laughed. Even when the bread sticks and the cake got slimy and runny, we laughed. I especially laughed at the beautiful little succulents all gorgeously individually potted by Danielle as favours as they sat happily in the rain, faces up towards the grey skies, having the watering of their lives!
It was a beautiful wedding on stradbroke island and we were blessed to have been surrounded by beautiful people who exuded kindness and welcome. The Quandamooka people welcomed us into their sacred land, Lindsay welcomed us into her family home and we welcomed everyone into our hearts in return for their amazing, warmth and kindness.
Like a good friend of ours said, Australia gave us lemons and we all made sweet, sweet lemonade!
Photography – Shane Shepherd Photography | Videography – Goldbear Wedding films | Planning and Arch – Burnt Orange Events | Planning and ceremony – Lindsay Carroll | Welcome – Aunt Evelyn | Couture dresses – Begitta – Bridal and Couture | Suit – URBBANA | Florals and bouquet – Stradbroke Weddings | Hair and make-up – The Beauty Case | Wedding Picnic – Love My Food | Cake and sweet treats – Hansel and Gretel | Succulent favours – Fair Light Blessed |
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