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Real Wedding | Kimberley + Lizzie

Kimberley is originally from New Zealand and moved to Melbourne in 2007. Lizzie is originally from regional Victoria and moved to Melbourne for university and work in 2000. "We both met through work where we were working as physiotherapists in critical care and not long after that fell in love! We have both since completed PhDs and Lizzie has more recently re-trained to be a medical doctor. Supporting each other to chase our dreams has been foundational to our relationship. We are so lucky to have a beautiful home together in Melbourne where we live with our adorable British Shorthair cat - Percy. When we are not working or playing with Percy, we love socialising with our friends, family and enjoying the fantastic Melbourne food and wine scene. We also love traveling and prior to the pandemic were grateful to have spent a month exploring Africa, Madagascar and Mauritius and hope to travel again together in the future!" Getting to the point of being able to get married was extremely monumental to the couple. "It felt like there were many hard mountains to climb to reach that day - not being legally able to be married, Australia’s (unnecessary) national plebiscite which was conducted as a prelude to legalise same-sex marriage, lack of some family support, and then the global COVID-19 pandemic. But we got there eventually, and were so grateful to have had such a dream day!"

"Melbourne was an important part of our love story where we had shared so many special moments together across our entire relationship - including picnics at the Fitzroy Gardens and dinners at Cumulus! So we thought that having a city wedding really represented our relationship. We also wanted our wedding to be accessible for our guests - the majority of whom are Melbourne-based, and many of who have small children. Unfortunately, due to COVID travel restrictions, our international and interstate guests could not attend our postponed date. This meant that Kimberley’s original plan to have her best friend from New Zealand as maid of honour could not go ahead, and informed our decision not to have a bridal party in the end. It also meant our close friends who were international and interstate could only join the ceremony via live-streaming - which was still a fantastic option to have, but we definitely missed them incredibly in person!"

"Over what ended up being 2 years of wedding planning - we explored a whole range of options including the simplicity of elopement (interstate (pre and during COVID) or in Melbourne), but decided we wanted to hold off until we could have as many guests as possible join us as we wanted our wedding, to also be an opportunity to thank our friends and family for their love and support for us. However, we also knew we had to be pragmatic too, because in a time such as the global pandemic, decision-making with such uncertainty was really hard. While we wanted to postpone as long as possible to maximise our guest numbers, we also knew (both working in health) that there was unlikely to be a COVID ‘end-point’ any time soon, and with Lizzie’s parents both being close to their 80s, we knew it was important to us to get married, with the ability to try to hold another celebration with everyone present when possible in the future. In the end, we knew we couldn’t really plan around this with the uncertainty, so we just had to set a date and hope for the best. This worked out both well and badly for us on the day - Melbourne COVID restrictions lifted the night before our wedding meaning that we could get married mask-free, and have dancing at our ceremony, but the NSW outbreak interstate just a few weeks before our actual wedding date meant quite a few of our very special guests couldn’t attend in person." The couple chose the Old Bandstand at the Fitzroy Gardens as they wanted an outdoor ceremony with a Parisian garden vibe captured by Stewart Leishman. "It’s a beautiful part of Melbourne with the view over the gardens and over to the city. We also chose to extend the outdoors part of the wedding by adding the cutting and eating of the cake at the Gardens and adding in some canapés and drinks here, which was a deliberate decision in the event that COVID restrictions meant we had to cancel the reception last minute - we would still have been able to celebrate a stand-alone event outdoors."

"It was also really important to us to have beautiful food and drink and Cumulus Inc.., an iconic Melbourne restaurant (and one of our favourites), was definitely the place for that! Andrew McConnell has long been one of our favourite chefs and we have long-visited most of his Melbourne venues. The Cumulus Inc. event space is the ARC One Gallery, on Flinders St - so we were surrounded by beautiful art!

Kimberley and Lizzie had around 40 to the ceremony and around 30 at the reception. "Initially even pre-COVID, we knew we wanted to keep our numbers small and focus on the special people in our lives who had supported us and been there through our ups and downs. This became even more important in the context of the global pandemic, because we both work in health, we didn’t want our wedding to be a super-spreader event! Unfortunately we had around 15-20 of our special friends who could not attend due to COVID travel restrictions from both interstate/overseas, but as mentioned, we were so lucky with the COVID era that at least live-streaming was an option so our friends and family could still participate in the day." Both Kimberley and Lizzie really wanted to be able to wear our outfits after the wedding, so this really informed their choices. For the ceremony, Kimberley found wedding dress shopping challenging. "The wedding industry in Melbourne still has a long way to go to being more size-inclusive and carrying a range of sizes available to try on rather than the majority of stock that caters towards small-sized bodies (which do not represent the average Australian-sized woman). I wanted something minimal and modern and a dress that I had not commonly seen, but also something at a good price point. I kept imagining how I would feel post-wedding if I had thousands tied up in a gown that got stashed away in a box, never to be seen or worn again! I found everything I was looking for in my Australian-designed Rachel Gilbert gown which had some clean strong lines. It was an ivory sheath dress made from scuba fabric, and had an asymmetric halter neck line and a small peplum detail at the right hip. The seam work was also amazing and I may shorten it to a midi dress for future events. As it had no train and was quite minimal, I added a Harriette Gordon raw edge, single sheath cathedral veil that added some drama! My amazing bouquet also really added to my look. I got my minimal and modern pearl earrings from A.B Elie who were so fantastic at providing a free email consult on best way to accessorise. My shoes were Jimmy Choo mules which I loved and hoped to be able to wear again, but sadly the soles wore quite poorly with very little wear (in hind sight I wish I had gotten them re-soled before wearing them for my ceremony!). For the reception I changed into a Rebecca Vallance one shoulder, midi gown which I loved and was super fun to be able to wear to the reception and dance. I changed into gold sequin Mimco pumps for the reception and changed into my Anton Heunis earrings. For dancing, I changed into Axel Arigato white sneakers which were a life saver!" Lizzie was keen to get a suit tailor-made and the team at P Johnson were incredible at listening to the couple's wedding vibe, and helping Lizzie design an outfit to match. "The blue suit was incredible - cropped pants, single-button long-line blazer with mother of pearl buttons. The blue and white striped shirt was also an inspired choice! Our initial tailor, Tom, at P Johnson suggested just the right shade of blue that would stand up well against the green of the gardens. Lizzie tried brogues but we could not find the right colour or style that worked well enough with the suit. She found Axel Arigato white sneakers with embroidered pale blue and pink birds, and it kept the look really fresh! Lizzie is all about comfort and it was really important to her to feel great and comfortable while looking her sharpest. It was also really important to her to look and feel like herself on the day, and being able to match the Axel Arigato sneakers with the suit was a great win. The best part of all was that the Axel Arigato sneakers Lizzie wore featured the bee-eater bird, of which we had been lucky enough to see a few of in Madagascar on our trip in 2019, which gave the sneakers a special personal touch for us too. Lizze also wore cufflinks engraved with a line from EE Cummings poem read at ceremony."

The most important aspect for the couple in planning their wedding was the atmosphere. "We thought about the vibe we wanted to ultimately achieve, and then built from there - a beautiful summer wedding with a laid-back vibe, awesome food, wine, music, and florals - and to be surrounded by love! It definitely felt like we achieved that. It was critical to us to have the special people in our life there with us, which is ultimately why we chose not to elope, because our friends and family are very important to us and we knew it would be special for all of us to share this day together."

The couple (well, Kimberley mostly!) decided to invest in florals as they felt this would really help create an atmosphere for the day - at both the ceremony and reception, and for the photos. "This was a decision that really paid off, as the work of Asha and team from Pomp & Splendour was phenomenal and really created the ‘visual memory’ of our day." With regard to planning, Kimberley and Lizzie first focused on securing their major vendors. "We chose high quality vendors and trusted them to ‘do their thing’. As we booked so far out – we got our first choice of vendors. Our original date was 10.10.2020 (again carefully chosen!). But then COVID19 happened, and due to Melbourne’s 6 month lock-down, we could not have any form of wedding on this date. As we both were frontline healthcare workers, 2020 was an incredibly stressful year -mentally, physically, and emotionally. So many people experienced trauma, and we were firsthand witnesses to this trauma over the course of 2020. This definitely impacted our ability to plan our wedding and we even discussed calling the whole thing off at a few points in time! For us our postponed wedding to January 2021 represented a new beginning, starting over, and a chance to celebrate love and life." Once Kimberley and Lizzie had to postpone, it seemed overwhelming to try and plan it again. "But then things quickly fell into place. As we had carefully selected our vendors, we really wanted to be able to give them our business as they all had been incredibly supportive and flexible. We sent them all a group email to find a new date - and we landed on 18 January 2021 which was a Monday! But after 2020, things like having a Monday wedding did not matter to us like it previously might have!" So event planning-wise the couple focused on vendors, logistics, and aesthetic first. "We then focused on how we wanted to feel, and how we wanted to make others feel. I thought of it as creating different aspects of memories - sensory aspects (visual, audio, taste) and emotional aspects (that focused on a celebration of love). Neither of us are particularly traditional or felt bound by traditions. We have also been together for 10+ years so doing things like a ‘first look’ was not really something we wanted to do, and we had a lot of fun getting ready together just the two of us, with champagne and laughter!" "It was interesting for us to navigate getting married in a predominantly heteronormative society where people have certain expectations about how a wedding should look and what the key elements of a wedding are… to help navigate this we just kept coming back to what we felt were the right things to do for us and what was fun for us! We weren’t entirely sure how to approach the aisle situation but decided on Kimberley walking by herself down the aisle while Lizzie stood at the front. We wanted to recognise Lizzie’s parents, Lyn and Peter, strong support of us and our relationship during the wedding, and so Lyn and Peter stood up the front with Lizzie just prior to the ceremony commencing, with Peter witnessing the marriage certificate signing at the ceremony and Lyn giving the family speech at the reception." It was also very important for Kimberley to include Shannon in the day, her best friend and planned maid of honour, after she disappointingly couldn’t attend due to international travel restrictions. Kimberley’s good friend Liz, who was present at the wedding, did a beautiful job of reading out a pre-prepared speech from Shannon at the reception, while Shannon was able to Face-Time into the reception to listen to the speech and be part of the speeches. Lizzie’s best friend, Karen, gave a reading at the ceremony, I carry your heart, by E.E.Cummings. "Other aspects that were important for us to incorporate, included a Welcome to Country at our ceremony to recognise the traditional owners of the land where our ceremony took place. We tried to organise a local elder to do this well in advance, but nobody was available on the day, and instead our awesome celebrant Megan opened our ceremony with a Welcome to Country." The couple also included a family heirloom on the wedding cake - a ceramic angel from Lizzie’s paternal grandmother’s wedding in the UK in the 1930s. Jemima from Zephyr & Bloom did a beautiful job of incorporating it as part of her cake design. "We also needed amazing music and Eddy from One More Song Dj's put a huge amount of effort into working with us and selecting the tunes that matched our favs and personalities. He went over and above for us on the day, which really helped us out as a couple, to ensure the smooth running of the day. We also appreciated his focus on social justice in his song choices and making sure we only played songs from artists we support." "It was also important to us to incorporate just the right kind of celebrant. Our celebrant, Megan Thompson was amazing and put a huge amount of time into helping us with our love homework, vows and writing the perfect ceremony. She sent it to Lizzie before the wedding and there was not one thing we would have changed about it. How Megan was able to get to know us in and perfectly encapsulate our relationship on the day was very special to us both (as well as being an amazing person!)." "Weddings are big business and so we wanted to circulate some of the money flow beyond ourselves and our guests – recognising our individual and collective privilege. For example, we looked up the average total cost of wedding favours and decided to allocate half of that spend to two charities that we each chose. Lizzie chose Sisters Inside (that supports criminalised women, girls, children, and families) and Kimberley chose the RSPCA. As a wedding gift option for our guests we also suggested donations to and Sisters Inside and we were thrilled when some of our guests chose this option."

The couple's tips for getting married during the pandemic? "Don’t let perfectionism stand in the way of enjoying your wedding. Everywhere we look, there are pressures to achieve a ‘perfect wedding’ - but it’s in between all those beautiful imperfections that life is happening. This can be lost when planning a wedding and on the actual wedding day! After months and months of planning and making adjustments related to COVID-19, we got to the point a few days before the wedding where we just had to let everything go, and sail through the day! We were incredibly fortunate that our wedding day was smooth sailing. There are also huge cultural and societal pressures related to weddings and getting married. Although most people recognise that the wedding is ‘all about the couple’, sometimes this is not always entirely the case, which is why everyone commonly advises to follow your ideas/visions/plans for your special day and keep coming back to that together as a partnership. Our criterion early on in our planning was to only invite people to our wedding who had supported us across the course of our relationship. As a result, it was a really intimate and special wedding as everyone who was meant to be there was (notwithstanding international and local state travel restrictions)." "In terms of the COVID planning we thought it was helpful to have a flexible event that you could flex up or down depending on restrictions. We had a contingency so that if we could have had outdoors only, we could have a standalone gardens wedding; if our numbers were restricted to 10 or 20 we could have cancelled the reception a week or two out and just had the gardens etc. We actually had rebooked a different venue when we postponed due to COVID restrictions, then changed back to our original venue once numbers were able to increase (a real upside of planning a Monday wedding). Sticking with vendors and venues that were flexible with deposits and who needed final numbers only a week or two in advance also helped." "I think the key message from COVID is that your wedding probably won’t look exactly the way you had thought about it in your life before COVID (like nothing does in the COVID era) - and learning to be okay with that. We tried very hard to put it in context of how lucky we are to be in a country that, thanks largely to our state-based premiers, has been evidence-based in our approach to the pandemic (vaccine roll-out notwithstanding), and that our case numbers and deaths are far lower than many other countries - for which we can be very grateful. Having a wedding that looks different but still has all or most of your loved ones there is vastly preferable to the alternatives."

Photographer : Stewart Leishman @stewartleishmanphotography | Videographer : Ceremony live-streamed by Westward Films @westwardfilms | Ceremony Location : The Old Bandstand, Fitzroy Gardens, Melbourne @cityofmelbourne | Reception Location : The Cumulus Inc, ARC One Gallery, Melbourne @cumulusinc | Celebrant : Megan Thompson @meganthompsoncelebrant | Entertainment : One More Song DJ Eddy @onemoresongdjs @eddymacd | Styling + Planning : By Kimberley, the Bride | Hire : Memphis Hire @memphis_hire | Flora : Pomp & Splendour @pompandsplendour | Makeup : Make-Up by Dani @makeupby.dani | Hair : Madeline Frawley Earth to Betty Catering + Beverages : Essential Catering @essentialcatering_events | Cake : Zephyr & Bloom @zephyr.and.bloom.cakes | Stationery : Paperless Post @paperlesspost | Veil : Harriette Gordon (Kimberley) @harriettegordon | Suit : P Johnson (Lizzie)@pjohnsontailors @pjohnsonweddings | Ceremony Dress : Rachel Gilbert (Kimberely) @rachelgilbertbridal | Reception Dress : Rebecca Vallance @rebeccavallance | Rings : Georg Jensen @georgjensen (Lizzie) + Janai @janaijewellery and Tiffany’s @tiffanyandco (Kimberley) | Shoes : Axel Arigato @axelarigato, Jimmy Choo @jimmychoo (Ceremony) + Mimco @_mimco (Reception) | Earrings (Kimberely) : A.B Elie @a.b.ellie (Ceremony), Anton Heunis @antonheunis(Reception) | Pearl Clutch : Cult Gaia @cultagaiabridal


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