We are polar opposites but in a good way and totally complement each other.
We are parents to 3 beautiful children. Amanda is home full time with our children and has just finished earning her youth work qualification. She is looking forward to working in this field once our youngest starts school. Sonya works for the government as an Environmental Health Officer, and we move every few years due to her job.
We are a beachy family and love spending our spare time on outdoor adventures. And we especially love having afternoon drinks at the beach, watching the sunset in our new home town.
We have been together for eight years and met through a dating app called Brenda. The first date was a lunch at a local Brisbane venue that lasted five hours. It was raw and honest, and we soon realised we had an immediate deep connection. Not long after our first date, Sonya had a few work trips away, the most significant one being overseas for five months. Our relationship and connection grew stronger over this time apart. We spoke almost daily via Skype, and we moved in together when she returned.
Aside from your wedding, what is your favourite memory together?
Sonya– Over eight years of being together, there are so many. Apart from raising our family, mine would be one particular day on our Fiji holiday. We caught a boat out to an uninhabited island and spent the day just relaxing in each other’s company. No life responsibilities (kids were with grandparents), nowhere to be and having drinks together on the beach in this beautiful part of the world. I often think of how perfect this day was, and it always brings a smile to my face.
Amanda– We’ve had loads of amazing experiences and holidays together, but for me, it has to be one time we were walking through Southbank in Brisbane, and I held Sonya’s hand. I felt an electric energy run through my hand and all over my body. It was an aura and vibration of happiness. It was wild!! It’s something I have never felt before, and holding her hand is one of the best feelings in this world for me.
Tell us about the proposal.
We had designed the rings we wanted together using Australian boulder Opals as the stone as each stone is unique. Sonya organised to pick up Amanda’s ring without her knowing so she could surprise her. With a date in mind, she knew exactly when she wanted to do it. Unbeknownst to Amanda, Sonya set up candles all over their back deck and then had to try and put their young kids to bed without anyone seeing. This did not play out as she had hoped, and the kids saw the set-up out the back. In order to keep the secret, she had to try and quickly curb their excitement for the candles and told them to watch what was about to happen quietly. Sonya asked Amanda to come outside, got down on one knee, and asked her to marry her. Once she said yes, and we managed a quick, intimate moment to ourselves, the kids came racing out full of excitement for the candles.
Talk us through the decision to elope.
Originally this was not our plan. We always said we would get married in 2022 and wanted a small, low-key, backyard wedding. However, life threw a few challenges at us. The major one being that we didn’t have a home as we were in the middle of a move and securing a home was extremely challenging due to the impacts of the pandemic.
We started looking at venues we could hire, but everything was expensive and did not meet the vision of what we actually wanted. It was causing us a lot of stress on top of the stress we already had associated with the move, Sonya starting a new job, and our kids starting a new school. At this point, about three weeks out from the actual date, we decided to pivot to an elopement, and just like that, the stress from the wedding was lifted. In the end, we had our three kids, our celebrant (who was a friend), our photographer/videographer, and we both had a close friend present as our witness.
We are both thrilled with how it all panned out and do not regret our decision one little bit.
Talk us through the actual elopement.
We booked a beautiful holiday house on the water in Port Stephens at the very last minute. We had some last-minute excitement searching for an outfit for Sonya and our children as theirs were packed away in storage in Canberra, inaccessible as we had not secured our new home. And we also decided to go barefoot due to the same reason. Amanda was the only clever one who kept her dress out during the move as it needed alterations.
It was raining leading up to the day and was overcast and moody when we woke. Our friends (one of which was the celebrant) took our kids out on a secret adventure to collect flowers in the morning. We used the morning to get hair and makeup done before heading to the holiday house to get dressed. By this stage, it had started raining. We both got ready, separately in the house with our kids to help. We did a first look privately upstairs before going downstairs to finalise the ceremony plans.
Our photographer had grand plans to do the ceremony on the local cliffs; however, it was raining way too hard when we got there. So we made a last-minute decision to do the ceremony on the balcony of the holiday house overlooking the bay as this would keep our kids and us dry. When we got back to the holiday house and to our surprise, our celebrant and our kids had decorated outside with the flowers they had collected in the morning. It was perfect, Amanda cried the whole way through, and it is a moment we will never forget.
After the ceremony, we had a celebratory drink and then ventured out to take some amazing photos. The rain cleared, the weather remained moody, and we have the most beautiful pictures from this day.
After the photos, we went back to the holiday house for some grazing-style food that our friends set up and celebrated together for the rest of the night on the deck under fairy lights. It was perfect.
What does the future hold for you both?
Sonya finally changing her name to our hybrid surname, which we made up consisting of letters from both of our maiden names (the one traditional thing she held onto).
As we have done everything in reverse, we are looking forward to finally dating once our kids grow up and leave home. We are searching for our forever home and can’t wait to continue our crazy life adventure together.
Photography by James White Photography