Sammi + Alex
How did you two meet?
We met in the pool back in 2002. Alex was at university but still swam with his old swimming coach, who now coached my high school swimming team. All the girls had secret crushes on him back then, but of course he didn’t know who I was. I thought he was a bit too cool for school (ie. He terrified me J).
We reconnected years later through a mutual friend on the Northern beaches, shared a drunken kiss and then both moved overseas for a few years (Alex to London and me to New York). Alex came to New York in 2011 for Christmas with his parents. We caught up for a drink on Christmas Eve and ended up spending the week together. We then met in Buenos Aires a few months later for a fun quick South American adventure and decided we’d have to meet somewhere in the world every 6 months – at that point in time neither of us was moving home to Australia. Alex returned to Australia later that year and we quickly realised there was more to this than just a 6 month fling so I planned to move home the following year. I asked him out officially over Skype after deciding to move home to Australia and the rest was history J
Tell us a little bit about the proposal?
We were in New York for a great friends wedding and i thought it was a great opportunity to get my NY friends and some of Alex’s friends who’d recently moved to NY together at one of my favourite bars in the East Village. I’d messaged everyone I know pretty much and literally every single one said they had something on, had to work late or couldn’t make it for whatever reason. I felt like a giant loser and didn’t want to go out at all that night, but Alex convinced me so we still went ahead with the plan with a few of Alex’s friends and met for drinks that night, before heading to the favourite bar I’d picked out. We ordered a beer when we arrived and Alex convinced me to get into the photo booth for a quick photo (even though it was way too early and I was way too sober at this stage). He held the ring up in the second photo and I burst into tears. When we came out of the photo booth it was filled my all of my sneaky friends, who he’d organize to be waiting around the corner for the signal to enter. They had balloons and a big cake with ‘YES’ on it and literally everyone I loved was there! We then just had a massive party to celebrate!!! It was the best night J
How long was your engagement?
What led you to decide on your venue? Did you see many beforehand?
My amazing and extremely generous aunt had recently purchased a beautiful little house in the Kangaroo Valley with a gorgeous view and the house next door was often rented for small weddings. It was perfect for what we wanted – backyard, casual and a venue we could add our own touch to.
What was the inspiration behind your wedding theme? And if no theme, the vibe?
We picked NYE because we just wanted to throw an awesome party and figured this was the perfect time of year to capture everyone in party mode. We wanted it to be super relaxed, fun and full of dancing.
Tell us about your photographer and why you chose them?
Jimmy Raper is actually a friend of my cousins and she suggested I contact him. He was the first and only photographer we considered – his images on Instagram are just stunning. He did an incredible job of capturing all elements of the day in a really natural, beautiful way. The photos are honestly so much more amazing than we could have imagined!! We don’t look awkward at all!
Tell us about the food and drink situation? Was there a highlight/lowlight?
We used a local caterer from Berry, John from Mezzadellas for style canapes, dinner and late night snacks.
- Guacamole & Chips
- Chicken & veggie skewers
- Pizzas (6 types)
Late night snacks:
- Pulled Pork rolls and Gozleme
- Cinnamon donuts
- Ice cream sandwiches
Again we just wanted it to be a help yourself, backyard style casual dining situation where people could picnic at the tables or sit on rugs and cushions to eat when they wanted. We then had cinnamon donuts from the Kangaroo Valley bakery and Pat & Stick ice cream sandwiches for dessert.
What do you think was the most unique thing about your wedding?
I think the fact that it didn’t feel like a wedding, it truly was just a huge party for all of our family and friends. There was very little formality. We’d even gotten married at the registry office in Melbourne the week before so the ceremony was totally casual and completely us, one of Alex’s mentors ‘officiated’. It was the quickest wedding ceremony anyone had ever seen.
Did you undertake any DIY projects? If yes what?
Yes! Our families were a HUGE help in getting ready for the big day, everyone pitched in and got involved – that was the best part about the lead up.
- My Aunts, cousin and sister picked all the flowers themselves from a plantation just outside of the Kangaroo valley and then my sister made all the arrangements and the bouquets. They looked beautiful!
- My beautiful friend from New York helped hand paint all the signs and the menu
- I sewed together a whole bunch of beautiful Indian Kantha Quilts for floor cushions
- My aunt literally GREW GRASS and built a ceremony platform for us to get married on (that was spectactular)
- My cousins, aunts, sister in law and future brother in law all helped to set everything up on the day and would come and report to the bridesmaids and myself.
- I also made my veil/cape and earrings
Talk to us about your dress? Where was it from? How long did it take to find and how did you find the over all experience?
While I love clothes and fashion, I loathe shopping (unless it’s online). I stumbled on Still White one day – an amazing second hand wedding dress website for when you are starting to look for a dress - all the major brands are on there and you can get a feel for prices and what the dresses actually look like on the day instead of on a mannequin or model. I randomly saw a dress I’d seen before on Instagram and it was my size, super simple and a good price. The girl sent it from Brisbane and it fit like a glove. I loved it!
I knew I wanted to spice it up a bit with my own touch in some way so I did a bit of research and decided on a veil/cape thing. I bought the fabric from Cabramatta and spent a few months painstakingly hand stitching the beading together. I wasn’t sure if I’d wear it in the end but I’m so glad I did – it added a bit of something different to the simple dress.
Where did you find your key vendors? (Which specific blogs, magazines, fairs etc if any)
Hello May, Nouba and Wedshed were a huge help when it came to inspo and ideas, but we ended up using a lot of local suppliers that we either stumbled upon when in Berry/Kangaroo Valley or knew of prior to the day.
Favourite moment / memory from the day? (Walking down the aisle, getting ready, a funny moment during speeches etc etc). Please elaborate.
Sammi: Alex’s speech – he ‘slow jammed’ what he loved about me and the band backed him up. It was a really hilarious, personal touch that sums him up completely. Other than that just having all of our friends and family in one place and throwing an epic party. That is such a special and rare occasion. The band and dance floor was pretty amazing too.
Alex: I think when Sammi walked down the aisle, when she came out the door, and threw her hands up in victory! She was doing anything she could to try and feel less awkward, hahaha it was very ‘her’ and she looked amazing. Also the first dance song ‘Into you – by Tamia’ – reworked by Mike Champion (he killed it). Just seeing our friends and family having a ripping good time on the dance floor, smiling, laughing and partying…
Did you write your own vows? If yes, what was the hardest part of the process?
We did… Fitting it all on one page!! Ha I don’t think there was anything hard, we both came up with really individual words to promise ourselves to eachother.
What does marriage mean to you? (Feel free to be a bit cheeky and have a bit of fun with this one).
Sharing the rest of our days laughing, loving, communicating and exploring
Any funny stories from the day?
Lots.. A few tears shed by people over not getting a new years kiss, lots of dance floor tumbles, running out of toilet paper (seriously, how does that happen!), dancing on peoples shoulders to Horses at the end of the night…..
Advice for other couples planning a wedding?
Oh gosh. Just have fun with it. I actually found it really hard to be a bit different and non-traditional, everywhere you look there are people, blogs and vendors telling you how it should be done because it’s a ‘wedding’ but if you want something different and totally you, work that little bit harder to get there – it’s worth it.
We still can’t believe nothing went wrong!!
Anything you are really glad you did? Or wish you didn’t do?
Like I said above, we honestly can’t believe how well it all came together. There’s always a nervous feeling when you do these events yourself that it just may not be possible. There’s no examples or benchmarks to follow, no guarantee that you can actually pull everything off, no one else has had their wedding there, on that day, using the same vendors. It just existed in our heads So it’s amazing to us that it all came together so well.
Any stand out vendors from your wedding? Who did you connect with? Who went above and beyond?
All of them were amazing!! The caterer was awesome, toilet team went above and beyond, the house was just gorgeous and South Coast Party Hire team were so helpful. They all put up with my millions of questions and worries and it came together beautifully on the day.
What does life look like for the two of you now?
Relaxing! We’ve just moved into a new place in Melbourne so enjoying some down time with each other before hopefully doing some awesome travelling later this year.
Photographer Jimmy Raper Photography//Florist Little Market Bunch//Reception Venue Hampden House, Kangaroo Valley, NSW//Catering Mezzadellas//Dessert Pat & Sticks and Kangaroo Valley Bakery//Prop and Furniture Hire South Coast Party Hire//Marquee South Coast Party Hire//Entertainment Mike Champion and the Cool//Rings QALO and Natalie Marie Jewellery//Transport Kennedy Bus Tours// Wedding Dress Johanna Johnson (second hand from Still White)//Bridesmaid Dresses Lover//Hair Pure Hair and Beauty Berry//Make Up Make Up by IVD//Groom and Groomsmen Shirts TCSS// Groom and Groomsmen Pants H&M//Groom and Groomsmen Shoes Shubar