You would think that by default, everything that appears on one’s blog should be personal. But there are of course, varying degrees of personal.
I finally overcame my immense procrastination barrier and curated all the photos for this wedding wrap up post. In my defense, this was a very difficult one to create – not only was there so many photos (oh, just a lazy 700 photos to sift through), but the content was obviously highly personal, very private and took long deliberation of what to share in this post. The hardest decisions revolved around my camera shy family, friends and particularly the Co-Pilot who’d requested not to be “showcased”, so this is largely a fairly anonymous perspective of the day, with just a profile here or an obscured face there. The easiest were food related as we had a stunning and vast selection to choose from (most courtesy of our photographers Tealily Photography). We were warned many times by friends, family and even our caterers that we were overcatering – but we persisted with our planned menu. We weren’t prepared to compromise on quality or quantity as it was our wedding after all so we wanted to use the unique (we hope) opportunity to design the ultimate spread – and to fit all the desired elements in, what ensued was a mammoth feast timed to military precision.
A necessary prerequisite before you embark on this post is reading my previous post on the stress and meticulous planning that was required to create this wedding in 3 months. I promise that my emotional cathartic outburst was restrained to (but not exhausted in) that other post so this saccharine post will be largely a visual recollection of the day and appropriately themed as sunshine, happiness and a feasting extravaganza. No anger, no frothing madness, no shaking fist moments.
But before we could start the celebratory feast, first we had to survive the ceremony, and key to that, was getting there. The Co-Pilot’s cousin once removed provided the ride – an enviable and lovingly restored vintage blue Mercedes driven down from Noosa for the occasion.
My bridesmaids and I arrived discretely at the venue via a back entrance (on time) and waited patiently, hidden from view whilst guests continued to arrive and assemble under the tree where we were holding our ceremony. All was going to plan until the Co-Pilot suddenly came barrelling around the corner into me, then just as quickly screaming and shielding his eyes like he’d seen a horrific apparition and running in the other direction as quickly as he came. We were left standing there dumbstruck, his screams trailing off. It certainly wasn’t the reaction a bride wants from her groom on their wedding day.
My adorable niece and nephew acted as our flower girl and page boy, whilst the Co-pilot’s sisters were our flower maidens. The kids were given a final briefing and once all the guests finally present and assembled, the procession starts and they’re each led down the aisle, hand in hand with one of the Co-Pilot’s sisters. My bridesmaid, Jojo and my matron of honour, L-bean followed them, with me leading up the rear. As I am prone to tripping spectacularly in front of large crowds, my brother was well briefed on his duties to keep me upright and my arm was locked in an iron grip with his as he walked me down the aisle. A small army of professional bubble blowers worked incessantly to fill the air with floating iridescent bubbles to the tune of Holly Throsby’s “Here is my Co-Pilot”.
We had a reading of a Yuan dynasty Chinese love poem in Cantonese and English, and to personalise the ceremony and involve our guests, we included something we called the red string ceremony. According to traditional Chinese folklore, the old man in the moon is a matchmaker god who joins soulmates by tying them together using a piece of red string around their ankles. The magical string will ensure true soulmates will eventually find each other no matter how far they are from each other and how tangled the string gets. Hence, singles will often pray to the old man in the moon to help them find their soulmate. As I grew up with this story, we incorporated this into our ceremony and provided ample red string for our guests to symbolically share their love around. We were later told that some of our guests were still wearing their red strings for weeks – even months after our wedding!
As per tradition, our best man was tasked with ring bearer duties and although he had an untimely broken finger, he managed superbly. Surprisingly, despite being right handed and injuring that dominant hand, his signature as our witness still looked like intelligible scrawl and hopefully won’t raise any questions about whether a toddler was actually the witness to our wedding. Rings and personalised vows were exchanged and like that – we were married!
Retrospectively, I find it both surreal and amazing that a ceremony of such importance in our society is reliant on what is essentially, the integrity of a few spoken words. There was no trial by fire, I didn’t walk on hot coals to prove my love and commitment – it was quite pagan in nature really.
And a wedding doesn’t seem really complete without someone bringing on the waterworks and that responsibility was left to my pregnant and reliably emotional matron of honour, L-Bean. I turned beaming from the Co-Ppilot, to find her teary and overcome with emotion, dabbing away tears with the tissues she’d squirreled away in her bouquet – ostensibly for me in the event I burst into emotional tears.
On cue after our ceremony, the ARIA waitstaff appeared discreetly on the periphery of the lawn and came forward with a choice of Prosecco or a sparkling wine and canapes served to our guests under the tree mottled afternoon light. Having studied the canapes in great detail for the months leading up to the wedding, deliberating over this canape or that, ensuring the perfect mix of flavours whilst catering for our guests’ needs – I was absolutely determined to taste these canapes for myself. I had no intention of starving myself on my wedding day – particularly as I was cinched and trussed into my dress like a small ham – so I had the ultimate opportunity to feast indiscriminately. Yet, knowing that despite my best intentions, I was likely to be very busy and pre-occupied with guests so I’d pre-organised for the bridal party to have a selection of the canapes set aside so we could at least sample the menu.
And as I was clearly not going to be on “foodblogger duty”, our photographer was given the specific brief of being my pseudo-foodblogger for the day and the ARIA staff helped immensely by seeking him out for photos before our guests devoured the canapes. I think he clearly delivered on the brief! I recall thinking that all the canapes were delicious, but clear standouts for me were the molten tuna tataki morsels, the tender roasted beef on sourdough and the simply dressed crowd-pleasing oysters.
In addition to the blue colour theme, we had an Italian food fair theme for our wedding and once the light canapes were complete, we moved out guests through to another area for the “reception” piazza where we had stage two set up and of course, yet more food in store.
Whilst our guests were indulging in champagne and canapes on the lawn, an elaborate and impressive charcuterie station was set up; Rosso Pomodoro’s pizza station was fired up with fresh pizzas made and ready to serve to hungry guests; and we had a wine bar set up as well. These stations all came accompanied with tasting notes and pairing suggestions to really maximise our guests’ enjoyment.
It took just one bite of fresh, hot piping molten Rosso Pomodoro pizza and suddenly, the effort and rigmarole of separately organising their presence at our wedding and the delivery of their specialised equipment, including a one tonne 3 phase generator – it was all well worthwhile. Rosso Pomodoro’s owners, Ketty Laffi and Giancarlo Bazzocchi were there personally manning the pizza station in their familiar positions: Giancarlo behind the oven crafting mouth-watering pizzas and Ketty turning on her charm front of house – or front of queue as it were. We had 4 different pizzas being churned out and once one slice was tasted, it defied all willpower to resist going back and trying all the other flavours. There were some self-styled pizza connoisseurs at our wedding who were spotted in the pizza queue almost exclusively, sparing a moment between mouthfuls only to nod appreciatively and approvingly at our choice of pizza maker.
Many of our family and friends have already added little tykes to their family units, and we wanted everyone to enjoy our wedding and thus deliberately designed our wedding to be very child-friendly with picnic blankets, colouring in activities, games and bubbles aplenty. The pin wheels, crepe paper flowers and fans played a dual role of venue decoration and child-entertainment devices and were a great hit. Their enjoyment was palpable and the sounds of their joy, squeals of delight and laughter filled the air and became part of our festival background track.
A break in feasting was allowed for speeches and to encourage appetites for the post speech meal (of course there was more food to come!). The Co-Pilot ad-libbed because, he is a pretty talented lad and comfortable with that. Buoyed by confidence and peer pressure from the occasion, I bravely ignored my speech notes and also ad-libbed. At that instant, I acutely forgot that I’ve never been good at ad-libbing, and almost always end up babbling as my mind desperately goes into damage control and tries in vain to command the cogs that make my voice box shut down. I’m reminded that I may have unwittingly insulted the Co-Pilot more than I complimented him. I’m reminded that the word “infuriating” may have been uttered more than once. But – I’m sure I meant “infuriating” only in the most loving, complimentary and positive way…
Post speeches, our cheese wedding cake was brought out – an impressive stack of soft and hard cheeses, all accompanied by a cheese tasting menu of course. But clearly cheese wedding cakes are not the norm for weddings, and thus not recognised as genuine wedding cakes as immediately after assembling the cheese tower, it was immediately evident to our waitstaff that they’d have to stand vigil next to the cheeses and fend off hungry cheese fiends ready to disassemble our “wedding cake” before we got a chance to cut it! Clearly our pinwheel cake topper wasn’t a clear enough sign!
The second round of canapes were brought out at this stage – this time, four substantial canapes, because quite obviously, we’d expected our guests to come stark raving ravenous.
There were chicken burgers and pork belly rolls, kimchi braised beef cheeks and also sashimi plates as a lighter option. I’m not sure where I was when the sashimi plates were doing the rounds because I totally missed their appearance and only spotted them in the post wedding photo audit. Perhaps I was pre-occupied and busy chowing down on the pork belly sandwiches as they were just incredible! Cheek stuffingly tasty with a generous helping of crispy and satisfyingly noisy pork crackling. Even though I was full to bursting with my corset was failing me and threatening to explode in all directions, the food was delicious and I continued to devour everything presented to me.
Nightfall was the cue for the lanterns, twinkling fairy lights and candles to flicker to life and cast a warm glow over our guests. It also brought the final food station to life. The vibrant fresh produce heaped up at the risotto station had been teasing our guests all day and had them speculating on what the set up was for. The show was certainly worth the wait. With pomp and parade, one of the chefs brought out a large heavy pot and up-ended it spectacularly over the table, the creamy tidal wave pooling out in a perfect dense circle. The asparagus and wild French mushroom risotto was then deftly dressed and topped with more fresh julienned slivers of asparagus, generous scattered handfuls of wild mushrooms and a good dousing of truffle oil to finish.
I know I am likely to be more than a wee bit biased as it was our wedding, and I’m sure it wasn’t the wine colouring my memories, but we thought that this was the best risotto we’ve ever had. The rice was perfectly al dente; the asparagus, mushroom and truffle flavours vibrantly pungent and the texture hot, creamy but remarkably light. We were just both so sorry that we couldn’t eat more of it. And even more sorry that we hadn’t thought to doggy bag the remainders. It physically pains me to think something so delicious was potentially trashed at the end of the night and it is the dish that the Co-Pilot and I keep reminiscing about from time to time and wishing that we had the opportunity to have just another taste of.
The very final offering in our feast was a second dessert, as we understand that for some, a meal not matter how filling just isn’t complete without something sugary to satisfy that ever-demanding sweet tooth. To fulfil this requirement we had a large profiterole cake from Mezzapica, the Co-Pilot’s long favoured supplier of profiteroles. To our surprise, even though just moments earlier all our guests were groaningly full, suddenly room was created for profiteroles and the heaped mound of profiteroles filled with either chocolate, vanilla or chantilly custard and cemented together with chocolate mousse was attacked at with gusto.
We have such fond memories of our wedding day, the seemingly all-consuming planning and organisation anguish previously mentioned in the lead up to our wedding just quietly melted away like fragile cloud-light fairy floss and everything happened remarkably seamlessly. We were surrounded by a phenomenal variety of incredible food and wine, ate like gluttonous kings and had our friends and family with us to partake in the celebratory feast. And in a solid month of pelting rain, the sun made a special guest appearance and burst through the clouds to shine down like the hot summer’s day we’d planned for three months prior. It was a day that never fails to bring a smile to our faces and hopefully never ceases to for all the years to come.