love this girlThe offbeat bride: Essie – high school teacher and postgrad psychology student (and OBT member Essie!)

Her offbeat partner: Sara-Jane – cinema geek, learning programs officer, and baker extraordinary.

Location & date of wedding: Glen Harrow historic gardens. Belgrave, Victoria, Australia. 18th April, 2009

What made our wedding offbeat: Gay marriage isn't recognized here, so we got to make this up for ourselves. We each told each other how much we love each other, signed our state's relationship register, and asked our parents to offer words of support.

to the partyMy best friend's mother owns the venue we used, and runs weddings all the time. She organized food, accommodation, flowers etc. all in one go – so convenient, and personal too. The food was completely vegetarian and ‘high-tea' style.

Sara-Jane's best friend did our makeup, our dresses were made by a costumier (and came without the 400% ‘wedding dress' markup), I had bare feet, my auntie made the cake and we decorated it ourselves. The flowers came from a farm that provides herbs to chefs and naturopaths – our nieces helped us arrange them in antique bottles. Sara-Jane made an amazing playlist for the day – we only had songs that we loved. We were also really lucky to have several of our musical friends play songs for us, some of which were written especially for the occasion.

a guest book pageThe best idea we had was getting a bunch of blank album pages, and setting up a craft table with fabric, pencils, etc., and asking each guest to make a guest book page. It was a brilliant conversation starter, and we ended up with a genuinely unique record of the day. We had a wonderful time reading over it when the party was over.

Our biggest challenge: We thought it would be the food, because we have so many special requirements among our friends and family, and we wanted to be sure that everyone would have plenty to eat, but that was handled so smoothly that it wasn't a big deal.

the barn at glen harrowI think in the end, the biggest thing for us was actually conceptualizing exactly what we wanted the day to be, and then communicating that to our friends and family. We wanted to make it clear that while this looked a lot like a wedding, and was important to us as a wedding, we still weren't married. We don't have equal rights in our country, and we don't want anyone to be complacent about that. So we had to correct people a bit when they called us ‘brides' and referred to the day as a ‘wedding'.

In the end, when everything had been said and played out before them, people understood exactly what it was all about: telling each other how much we love each other, and celebrating that love with our most special people. That's the most important part of a wedding anyway.

favours for our guests

she loves me…My favorite moment: There were so many – spontaneous cuddles from our littlest guests, hearing the songs that our friends wrote for us, admiring all the beautiful pages that our friends made for our guest book, seeing tears of happiness in our parents eyes as they watched the ceremony…

But I think the best part was standing up and exchanging words of love in front of a room full of people who love and support us, and being aware of how huge and real that love and support was (is!).

My offbeat advice: If you can avoid using the word ‘wedding' with your vendors, do so. You really will save a fortune. Just say it's a ‘party', or an ‘event' instead.

Don't worry too much about how things will look to other people. Be really clear of what's important to you and your partner, and you'll create a day that everyone will remember as unique and meaningful.

Decide what's important to splurge on and what you can find ways to save on. Stationery and food were our most important things, and we splashed out a bit there, but we saved in so many other ways that it balanced out overall.

Vendors ‘n' stuff:

  • Our favours were jasmine lotus balls from The Tea Party. They were wrapped in quilting fabric, put in a little recycled box and tied with twine and a flower. They looked beautiful and the tea was amazing.
  • Our dresses were made by Jason Chalmers
  • Sara-Jane's kick-arse shoes were from Kmart!
  • Flowers were from Chamomile farm
  • Food, venue & accommodation, was coordinated by Marg & Cherry ay Glen Harrow. I cannot recommend them highly enough.
  • Our musical friends included J. ‘nix' Williams, and Jojo Smith
  • Our stationery was designed and hand printed by Poppy Letterpress. They consulted with us every step of the way and came up with something that really reflected both of our tastes and styles.

Enough talk — show me the wedding porn:

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Comments on Essie & Sara-Jane’s musical, crafty garden tea party o’love

  1. I LOVE the crafty, diy guestbook idea! What a fun and creative way to keep guests involved, and how special it must be to look back on!

  2. The whole celebration looks just gorgeous – and I love the dresses and shoes. What a lovely do!

  3. I added your advice about "If you can avoid using the word ‘wedding’ with your vendors, do so. You really will save a fortune. Just say it’s a ‘party’, or an ‘event’ instead." to my Offbeat tribe page.

  4. Go the Aussies! I remember this wedding from earlier in the year, it looks like there was a lot of love at this celebration 🙂 nice work guys

  5. This was a really lovely "wedding". These girls look so happy! And I love those shoes!

  6. i am so in love with this wedding! lol

    i absolutely ADORE the crafty guestbook idea and i hipe the ladies wont be upset when i steal this idea for my wedding next year 😀

  7. Just love your details, so beautiful! I hope your lives together remain this gorgeous! Thanks for some sweet ideas for a garden party. Blessings!

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