Finally married after 9 months postponement and 2 years engaged last week! When people asked how we felt last week, we were just so happy and relieved the day could go ahead. This post will just be a 'behind the scenes' and some vendors insight into our wedding. Ironically, we don't have any photos on our phones, since that's the photographers job, and we didn't want to bother friends to send photos of us/they might not have any either. This post may be a long one...
I think we couldn't really feel or be excited for our own wedding, mainly because of the every-changing restrictions. It looked like things were improving in December, with dancing allowed beginning to mid Dec, then went to a harsh lockdown/mask mandate around Christmas, and weddings reduced from 350 to 100 people just 3 weeks before our wedding. There was even a period last year where indoor places of worship were 1person/2m2, but we knew that would never hold, and a week or so later, back to 1 person/4 sqm. The church venue we hired had max 77 for 4sqm rule, including workers. For the reception, it was max 150 with 4sqm not including workers, but had to cut 50 people 3 weeks before the day. So we didn't start to reorganise the guest list/make a new fb event until much closer to the day, since it'll be weird to uninvite people twice. It was so hard to reduce the guest list, but ultimately had to reduce a lot of the plus ones, and our parents' friends and some older members of our church to reduce to the 100 limit. I guess we were also a bit sad that all the effort Blair put into the wedding invite website wasn't used in the end...but fb events are the easiest way to update people last minute.
We were still planning even just the few days leading up to the wedding, like me writing my speech the night before, and Blair learning the wedding dance in 2 days since we were so busy with PhD work. Also, mostly, to avoid disappointment if a sudden hard lockdown like in Brisbane happened where everything was closed over a weekend. When I got my nails done the day before, and at COB and no surprise Gladys announcement, we were finally excited this was going ahead. First time getting my nails done ever, and it was so fun, but probs won't ever do it again because I feel the UV (?) light is not good for your hands/health...
We weren't sure if we could have food at the church, but Blair found our local Vietnamese shop could do individual noodles bowls, which were ordered 3 days before the wedding. They made an exception for us since normally they need a week's notice. They said they were ok to wake up at 3am to prepare all the food for pick up. Miscommunication meant I forgot to tell my parents to tell their guests that there would be lunch food, so their guests were full and parents took home lots of leftovers. My now in-laws also prepared some food which we both didn't know until we walked down the aisle we saw extra food, and only the day after we found out his parents prepared it lol. I was just in charge of the snacks (which results in a minor car accident 2 days before since I was stressed and rushing, first time I ever scratched the car...)
We had a low-key tea ceremony the day before since there wasn't anytime to do it during the actual wedding day. So much gold involved lol.
I didn't try on my dress since I picked it up in March 2020 after alterations. Only tried it back in Feb 2020 from the dress shop, purchased from Abbey Bridal, and even after ordering the petit size, the length still needed to be shortened. Luckily I still fit into the dress with no problems on the actual wedding day. Was also worried the dress would turn colour after being stored for so long, but also luckily it was still in pristine condition. Thank goodness for good quality shoes, since my feet were actually fine standing at the whole ceremony. My feet surprisingly didn't hurt the day after thanks to block heels, good quality leather, and preparing bandaids on feet pressure points. Also maybe the pedicure/massage the day before also helped. Thankful for friends' sisters lending the hairpiece and 2nd dress (because I'm never gonna wear a wedding dress again so didn't feel the need buying a 2nd dress I wouldn't wear again), something borrowed right?
We ended up hiring Ballyhoo Photography, based on friends recommendations. We were going to hire a friend of a friend, but since April 2020, he got engaged/ was in a long distance (interstate) relationship, so he wasn't sure if he was available in Jan 2021. We had a photographer from the company, and he was really efficient and on time. He told us how to pose (which we preferred) so it was really easy. We ended up paying for 14 hours of photography to cover the whole day. We swapped the engagement shoot for extra 1.5 hrs of a 2nd photographer during the ceremony. You really don't notice the photographers once you're up on the stage. We didn't get a videographer since we couldn't justify spending $5000 on a 10min highlight video. Lucky we had livestream which captures the actual footage (which I preferred anyway) and got friends to video the main parts of the reception. We also didn't want our wedding to turn into the next marketing campaign for the videographers (although the whole wedding is really a marketing campaign for all the vendors....)
Woke up at 6.30am, so not too early. I had my makeup done by Holly He from Faces Makeup and Hair. Last year the trial wasn't really good since my hair didn't hold, but so glad the makeup and hair lasted throughout the day. Didn't have the time or money to pay for a touch up which cost just as much as having another hair makeup done. She was reasonably priced, and this was more of a 'I hope she does a good job' since I didn't know friends who booked her. Other artists are too 'glam' for my liking, since I never wear makeup in the first place. Also, so many have increased their prices from 2019, like one person I follow charged $550 for bride only, and now around $900 for bride only...There was a 2nd makeup artist who did the bridesmaids' hmu. Ended up having 31 bobby pins in my hair lol. There was a slight miscommunication again since the order I had was different to their order of who did hmu at what time. It worked in the end, but my Mum was running late, since she was doing other house stuff instead of being attentive and ready to get her hmu done...Hence my fam arrived like 10mins before official start time. Flowers were from Lovely Bridal Bloom, who does all communications online even pre-Covid, but from my research, were reasonably priced and I could pick all the types of flowers and colours. One minor thing in my bouquet I did request no flower buds, and there were a few, but then I think they looked better in the end since it gave a bit more dimension to my traditional round style bouquet. Tbh, I don't understand why people need multiple consultations with their florist, I mean, everything is made 1-2 days beforehand, and if their farmers/suppliers can't grow the flowers in time, then your 'vision' would change. I wasn't fussed about reception table flowers (our venue only allowed flowers from their designated vendor, who don't even do bouquets).
Willoughby Uniting Church were very accommodating for us. We originally hired Willoughby because it could fit over 200 people and it was a modern church. Modern church meant better acoustics, so people in the back can actually hear stuff. It turned out to be amazing, as the church had around 4 different cameras set up, and allowed Blair to install OBS on the rehearsal day, and our church also uses an ATEM system, which meant we could livestream our wedding, mainly for interstate/overseas family/friends, and also people who we couldn't invite to come due to limited guest restrictions. This meant we had pretty good quality video and original sound fed directly into the sound mixer and into the computer system. If you hired a live streaming company which cost at least $2k, they only use one camera, and the audio would probably at best be an attachable mic into their camera, not the wireless mics with original sound that we were able to get. So glad we also paid for the church's sound engineer, since he helped made sure the sound was good for the songs. Loved the 2 extra songs our church did for us. Miscommunication from my part when walking in, since I told Blair that when the driver sits, we were ready to come in, but I forgot about this hence people for waiting a bit longer for us to walk in. Although I actually arrived super on time for a bride lol (most are normally 15-30min late, even up to an hour) We didn't request a recessional song, and I guess the pianist just used the traditional wedding march. We aren't big fans of it, but we didn't want her to change the music she already prepared. The church front is nice as it combines the old aesthetics with the new church, but it was too sunny outside in front of the church so we had group photos at the church parking lot lol. We didn't mind, since the photographers know what they're doing.
We were really lucky to have good weather. When we postponed, we were really not looking forward to the hot summer 40deg heat or summer rains, but the weather was around 30ish, and not too humid, so manageable. We took our photos around Lavender Bay and the gardens there. Bumped into 2 other couples taking photos lol, they were a really rowdy crowd. Also random people on party boats yelling congrats who were definitely drunk... You really need extra people to tag along to help with carrying bags and holding dress, since the bridal party also need rest or are tripping over their own dresses. It was fun doing silly poses, and the dress helped up well trekking through grass/dirt. So glad it wasn't rainy or muddy.
We arrived at the venue right on schedule at 5pm, for Blair to set up the computer. Overall the day had gone reeeeallly smoothly up until this point, the stuff I mentioned before were really minor things. I guess feedback from our guests they said they didn't really notice much of what I'm going to say for the 'behind the scenes.' Before I begin this part, we're still grateful that the venue only charged us the 100 guests attending, not the 150+ guests we signed off on. So the wedding overall was a bit cheaper, and with less guests, it was a bit more manageable. I can't imagine how we would visit every table if we had our original 200 guest list to take a photo. One thing I wished I did was chat more with the guests, but the night seemed to pass really quickly.
Our venue is sort of the like the 'Jetstar' of weddings. Good base price, but add ons are ridiculous. Like $900 if you want to host a tea ceremony there, or $900 for a curtain back drop (which we declined both). 1.5 weeks before we met up with the wedding coordinator (who is probably underpaid and overworked since they probably cut staff she always sound sleepy and sends email at 3-4am) and the guy who was supposed to be coordinator of the event. On the night, the guy never turned up and there was this other lady who didn't seem really friendly. She also had like the first revision of the April 2020 runsheet. By then, we've had like 7 revisions. Thank goodness I checked up with her, and so worth spending money on the MC who made sure things went in order. The MC had tons of energy which was great, more than our usual vibes, but I guess it's a wedding. She helped make sure things were in check.
The A/V things were a different matter. Blair tested a port which only had HDMI running through few days before at the back which was fine. On the night they offered a front table but he declined, as he asked specifically on the trial if there was another port and they said no. In tech, if something was tested and working, jsut stick with it. We weren't allowed to have a dance floor for guests anyway, so didn't get one. In hindsight, things would have been way easier with a DJ, since they use a separate XLR cable for their music. Blair managed to set up the Apple computer to run the slideshow, while the Windows computer was for the Spotify music (which required a lot of configuring since if you normally had one port, it'll just display the Spotify music with the usual Spotify screen). The music sound system on their end fluctuated a bit, but overall it was alright.
Around 30mins later, the staff came into the bridal suite, saying they lost 4 bonbonierres and place cards, 2 from bridal party and 2 of my friends. Like how do you even lose them? I separated them out so clearly into individual tables. Luckily Shirley L wrote the names, so she cut out a white piece of paper in similar shape and wrote the names. The bridesmaids also gave up their bonbonierres to my friends. So another tip, bring extra wedding favours. I did have some extra at home, but should have included it in the bag to them. But it doesn't end there. When I sat down, I noticed some of the tables didn't have the correct seating arrangement. Talked to my parents the following day, turns out their table placement was completely messed up with my parents sitting on opposite sides of the table. So the table arrangement must have stuffed up on other tables. I guess we were a bit annoyed since we spent so many hours making sure friends were sitting next to people they were comfortable talking to. Hope people didn't feel we separated besties apart, since the staff there stuff up the arrangements. Also spelling was a stuff up on their end. Like in our bridal party dietary requirement, David became Daniel, like how? I just hope friends were able to sort themselves out, since I couldn't check each table beforehand.
Games worked out which was good. Completely forgot the Frozen song words during the surprise song. It was also nice our MC could sing at the end for more entertainment. Another minor thing, my Mum forgot to take out the guest book, hence the weird awkward passing around to only about half the tables. Also, I forgot to ask a family member to check the wishing well to make sure it was empty. I guess we did say we didn't expect a gift on our invites, but friends who I expected a gift from didn't...so either they really didn't or it was left behind...I'm just gonna assume they didn't rather than a random card being left at the venue...
Now it's just become funny, watching videos of me catching the cake. Forgot to mention to people what flavour the cake was. From the top: lychee and rosewater, lemon and raspberry, then pandan and coconut. I got Shirley L's sister's friend to make it. It was a reasonable price for 3 tiers, and each tier was super tall, which Blair says our cake is like the Burj Khalifa of cakes. When we sat down during entree, the cake looked slightly tilted. When people walked past more, it looked like it was tilting more. While eating our mains, the cake was definitely tilting before our eyes. We both didn't finish our mains since we were too nervous. Blair said to let it go, and I mentally prepared for the cake to fall. At the end of the day, the important ceremony was over, and reception is just for fun, and Covid didn't cancel this wedding, so it's ok if things aren't going to plan. Phone calls to our MC and photographer and Blair dashing back and forth during dinner to make sure the cake cutting/toast go ahead before the speeches. Luckily our MC was super flexible. Thank goodness we did that since we didn't give a time limit for parents' speeches. Well we didn't have any entertainment and the speeches were sort of the entertainment, since COVID wedding meant no dancing, not allowed photobooth/cameras on tables/no bouquet toss. So, after the wedding cake was cut, we caught the cake in time :') I think if we didn't go through a COVID postponement, I would've been really sad, but once you've gone through having a wedding cancelled, you don't care anymore about things going wrong cause you've already been through 'wedding planning rock bottom.' Some guests afterwards the cake falling was also part of the entertainment, and us posing with a leaning cake lol, so it worked out. I did contact the cake person and she offered a 50% refund. Discussed with Blair, and we decided she can just keep the money, since her day job is in the bank, and we didn't want to feel our wedding to have connotations that it was crap and needed to be compensated for.
Overall, despite the behind the scenes shenanigans, we are both so happy and relieved to finally be married! Now we can focus on our PhDs. I'm supposed to be writing a paper, but I ended up spending tonight writing up this long post. If you're reading this, then thank you so much for attending. Wish we could've chatted more during our wedding day...Always happy to answer questions for any future brides or just people curious about wedding shenanigans. Thankful to everyone who helped make this day possible.
Thankful to God that all our family and friends are safe, and for blessing Blair and I with this wonderful day to mark the start of our marriage!