After about two years of dating, Katie planned a weekend away to Merry Beach in Kiola for the weekend with a couple of friends (who knew what was going on). It was whale migration season, and there are often sightings there. It is a place where we have gone a lot of times together and love. The hope was that at the time of the proposal, there would be whales around. 

We spent the morning on the beach, swimming and watching the water. A whale came in right near the rocks, which was amazing! We then went walking along the scenic track, atop the cliff we saw a boat with another whale following along and breaching. Katie then got the ring out and got down on one knee. At first, Amber wouldn’t stop talking, and Katie had to tell her to shut up for one second. Once she did and Katie could say what she needed to say, Amber said yes!

When we first got engaged, same-sex marriage was not legal in Australia yet, but the plebiscite had been organized. We waited until the vote came through on the 9th of December 2017 and then decided on a date in March, 2019. We were engaged for just under two years.

Tell us about the DIY projects that brought your wedding to life.

We had a lot of DIY projects on the go for the wedding. It was getting a bit stressful and frustrating towards the end, trying to get everything finished properly. Amber was making a sign for the ceremony that read, “Pick a seat, not a side. Either way, it’s for a bride”. She checked it about 100 times and began sticking letters on with hot glue. She was on the last word when I looked across and noticed she had stuck the letters on wrong, and the sign read, “Pick a seat, not a side. Either way, It’s a for bride”. After a lot of swearing, the letters were pulled from the board with minimal damage and re-stuck. In the end, we were able to have a good laugh about it. 

Did you undertake any DIY projects for the big day?

Our family created most of the decorations at our wedding. We spent around four months hand-making paper roses to create bouquets, arbor decorations, and table centerpieces. We created hanging terrariums with stones in our color theme and tea lights that hung and sat on tables. 

We weren’t allowed to have any kind of flame in the venue, so we created candles using toilet rolls, tea lights, and spray paint and also created all of the signage for the ceremony and reception. 

Amber’s mum made all of the tablecloths and runners for the reception, and her dad created outdoor tables using oil drums and pallets, he also fixed and re-stained the arbor. Katie’s mum also created the arbor decorations, helped Katie make the wishing-well, and made all of the canapes for the reception. 

We had a ton of people help us and we couldn’t be more grateful.

Finding wedding outfits wasn’t necessarily easy for either of you, can you describe that experience?

K: I wasn’t really sure what I was going to wear. I am not really a dress-wearing person, and I hate wearing white, so the idea of a wedding dress wasn’t super appealing. I did try on a few wedding dresses that I liked but wanted to go with something a bit different. I decided to go with a navy blue dress, purchased from Bella Notte Bridal in Tuggeranong. The ladies there were really supportive, made me feel comfortable and didn’t get frustrated at my 500 stupid questions. As I bought my dress first, I knew the store was good and recommended it to Amber, and we also looked for bridesmaid’s dresses there. The ladies at Bella Note were so helpful and supportive; we ended up buying all the dresses for the day from there. 

A: I had the idea of what the perfect wedding dress would look like and feel like. My mum came with me the first 100 times we went to find the perfect dress (sorry mum!). Belle Notte in Tuggeranong was the best shop we had been too in the weeks we had been looking. The staff there were so unbelievably helpful and honest, which I appreciated. I think we visited Belle Notte about seven weekends in a row, just trying on everything and making sure I had the perfect one. Thank you to the beautiful team, who knew my mum and me by name. I’m sure they were as excited as I was when we finally found the dress! It had everything I wanted and made me feel a million dollars.

Talk to us about the big day! 

We decided very early that we didn’t want to have our main lot of photos taken between the ceremony and the reception, so we organized a first look. We had the bridal party stay with us at a hotel the night before the wedding and the next day we got ready in separate rooms. 

Amber left the hotel around 12:30 and went with the entire bridal party, except Katie’s ‘Mate of Honor,’ Caitlin, and went to the National Arboretum to wait in the Cork Forrest. 

Katie left the hotel around 12:45. Katie and Caitlin walked through the Arboretum towards the meeting point. The bridal party had surrounded Amber so that she was out of sight, and with about 200 meters to go, Caitlin ran ahead to join them. When Katie got close, they parted and she got to see Amber for the first time. After some crying and a lot of excitement, we went around the Arboretum taking photos, including going on the climbing equipment at the acorn playground and setting off smoke flairs on the top of the hill overlooking Canberra. We then went to Scrivener Dam for some more photos and then went to the ceremony. We arrived at the Woolshed at 3 pm. We both walked down the aisle, accompanied by both of our parents. The ceremony was beautiful – our nephew was babbling away because his dad was in the bridal party and wouldn’t pay attention to him, which was hilarious. There were a lot of laughs, tears, and beautiful words said by friends and family. 

After the ceremony, we had group photos, lawn games, and Sangria and went inside for the reception. We had speeches, performances, beer pong, and of course a massive dancefloor.

What are your favorite moments?

Other than getting to marry one another, there were a few stand-out moments.

There were a few caterpillars in the area that we had the ceremony and one of them made its way on to Amber’s Bouquet. She handed it to her brother and Best Man, Callum when we were saying our vows and throughout a lot of the photos, you can see him staring at it in horror. 

One of Amber’s favorite moments was a surprise performance. Katie, Callum, and Amber’s Bridesmate Caitlyn performed a version of ‘Scar’ by Missy Higgins that Katie had re-written to reflect the story of their relationship. Amber loved sitting in the middle of the dancefloor watching her best friend, brother and wife jamming together.

One of Katie’s favorite moments was when the family created an impromptu dance circle and ‘performed’ ‘Bohemian Rhapsody.’ It would have sounded horrendous, but it was amazing at the time!

You incorporated some beautiful ways to acknoledge those who have passed, can you tell us about them?

We had a memories table with photos of loved ones who couldn’t be with us on the day. We also used tokens from grandparents who had passed throughout the day so that we felt they were there with us. 

A few years ago, a close friend of ours passed away suddenly, just before his 21st birthday. After he died, we got to know his family, and we all discovered that he had been donating a lot of his time and money to support our local Ronald McDonald House Charity. His mum has continued his legacy, creating the charity Tayler Made, which donates all profit to RMHC. Instead of bombonieres, we donated the money we would have spent to RMHC and left a note on each seat about Tayler and his legacy for each guest. 

Photographer Who Shot the Photographer 

Bridal Boutique Bella Notte Bridal
Cake Michelle Nixon
Catering Capital Roast Canberra, Queenshebar Canberra
Celebrant Fine Lines Celebrations
Ceremony & Reception Venue Yarralumla Woolshed
Engagement Rings Mazzucchelli’s Jewelers, Woden
Entertainment DJ Dave Mcmullin
DIY Paper Flowers
Garter Bella Notte Bridal, Homemade
H&MU Sarah Thomson Hair Dressing
Photo Booth In the Booth, Canberra
Prop/Furniture Hire
McHugh Hire Canberra
Everley Design Boutique
Signage Stickamama
Qcity transit
Veil Katherine Lemmin Design
Wedding Favors
Wedding Party Gifts Giftware Direct
Wedding Party Outfits Bella Notte Bridal, Tarrocash
Wedding Party Shoes FSW Shoes, City Beach
Wedding Rings Michael Hill Jewelers, Katie Kavalri Rings