New Year’s Eve was the perfect date for Anne & Somerset to host their colorful outdoor wedding amongst the beautiful forest floor in Uki, Australia.
Who are Anne & Somerset?
We’re a pair of coffee-loving, gin-drinking, sport-obsessed ladies. Anne is from Canberra, Somerset is from the UK, but we live together in Sydney. Anne loves dogs, basketball, Neighbours, and Somerset. Somerset loves coffee, traveling, playing sport, and Anne. We pretty much do everything together, so we’re not very efficient, but it makes us happy! We are similar in many ways (so planning a wedding together was incredibly easy because we agreed on almost everything), but we’re different enough for it to work. Friends are a hugely important part of our lives – neither of us lives near our families, so friends have become our adopted family. We’re fortunate to be in such a strong, loving relationship and be surrounded by incredible friends.
We met in late 2015 at a basketball court – very apt! We had some mutual friends and met a couple more times in late 2015 in a group. Fast-forward to early 2016, and we ended up spending much more time together with friends and then gradually became friends in our own right. Finally, Somerset was temporarily in need of a place to stay, and Anne’s housemate was away for a couple of weeks. We spent about 18 hours a day together and never once got bored or frustrated with one another. It finally dawned on Somerset why (Anne was way ahead of her!), and we’ve pretty much been joined at the hip ever since.
For different reasons, we were both at a point of thinking that our ‘person’ didn’t exist, but then we met, and everything changed. For Anne, it was finding someone who she felt able to trust and who would make her feel safe. And, for Somerset, it was finding someone who made her feel like being herself and was a pretty awesome person to be. Neither of us realized what we had been missing until we found each other.
What a beautiful love tale. Tell us a little snippet of the proposal.
Anne whisked Somerset away for her birthday, but there was a sneaky surprise proposal the day afterward. It happened at the fantastic bubble tents in Caper Tee Valley, in an outdoor bath, as a storm approached. It was very romantic and completely unexpected.
We heard there were a few hiccups in the wedding planning – what happened?
Anne’s suit arrived, with the wrong date embroidered on the inside!! Luckily there was plenty of time for it to be fixed!
Our celebrant also wasn’t qualified until about a month before the ceremony, and there was a time when we thought we would have to find an emergency stand-in.
Working out the amount of stuff we had to drive up with wouldn’t fit in the hire car the night before we left for the wedding wasn’t ideal, but our awesome friends saved the day!
We were getting married on new years eve, so all of November and December were pretty stressful, given the horrendous bushfires the area was experiencing. We got as far as working out we would get married on the beach at Byron Bay (despite not being at all beachy people) if we needed to, but luckily it never came to that. Seeing all the devastation on the drive up from Sydney was gut-wrenching, though.
I (Somerset) made our wedding cakes – I bake a lot and love it, and didn’t see the point in getting someone else to do something I knew I could do myself. However, choosing to make four cakes, which had to be made in a small kitchen in a cabin without all my usual kitchen tools, probably wasn’t the smartest idea. Along with Anne’s calmness, a friend on hand to go and buy emergency doughnuts if required, and my Mum giving me a well-timed glass of rosé all kept things on track. One cake didn’t live up to my standards, so didn’t make the cut, but we ate it at the recovery brunch the next day! The cakes were: an enormous chocolate cake; a coconut, lemon curd and raspberry one; and a vegan vanilla and passion fruit number.
Mavis’s Kitchen is a stunning venue. What led you to it?
A friend mentioned her brother was getting married at Mavis’s, so we checked it out online. We’d done so much research but couldn’t find somewhere that was quite right – everything was either too formal, too expensive, had too much accommodation, had too little accommodation, etc. but Mavis’s seemed to tick all the boxes when we looked at the website and was in budget. We planned a trip up to see the venue and were instantly sold (the free bottle of champagne they gave us pre-viewing was a good marketing ploy). It was perfect for us – outdoors but with a beautiful indoor option, accommodation on site for a few friends and us with plenty of other accommodation in the area, delicious food, and friendly staff. And, of course, jaw-droppingly gorgeous surrounds.
Did you undertake any DIY projects for the big day?
Yep, we were super handy! Other than the flowers, we were decorating everything ourselves, so there was a lot to do. We designed our stationery, we dripped wax down gin bottles, wrapped tins and jars in a pretty botanical paper, and tied them with twine. We used ridiculously difficult cursive handwriting for our invitations and place cards, and we wrote the beautiful signs and seating charts telling people where to go. And, we were lucky that our lovely friends helped us set up a photo booth on the morning of the wedding. Also, if that wasn’t enough to take on Somerset made our wedding cakes!
Talk to us about the big day! Give us all the details.
We asked everyone to travel a long way up to northern New South Wales, over the New Year’s Eve period, so we wanted to make sure we entertained our guests over a few days. We also wanted everyone to get to know each other. Everyone has been at those weddings where no one talks to anyone they didn’t already know, and it seems such a shame. We wanted friends from Canberra, for example, to meet our basketball friends and spend time with them, rather than just sitting making polite small talk.
The day before the wedding, we had a pizza party in the garden in the afternoon, which was an excellent opportunity to introduce everyone and relax.
The day itself was THE BEST. After we had coffee just the two of us, we popped to the barn where our brilliant friends were already sorting out the photo booth and sound-checking, and the florists had arrived and were getting the gorgeous hanging greenery underway.
Anne got ready in a cabin at the venue with her oldest friend Cathy, and Somerset got ready over the road with her family (her two closest friends live in the UK and sadly couldn’t make it over).
We had a first look over where I (Somerset) had been getting ready. I pretty much knew what Anne was wearing, but she looked so beautiful it bowled me over. Anne didn’t know what I was wearing but had a good old cry, hopefully for good reasons! We used the first look mostly as a way to calm the nerves – we’re each other’s best friend as well as (now) wife, so we needed to keep each other grounded.
The ceremony was in the creek, and it was a gorgeous place – we’re so happy that we chose to have the ceremony down there because the light was perfect, it was quiet, and it was a little shady. We kept the decoration to a minimum because it just didn’t need it – we finally found a carpet after looking forever, we had a couple of lanterns, and we used some wine barrels in place of an arbor.
Our guests started cheering as each of us walked down the perfect aisle – it helped settle Anne’s nerves but also set the tone for a relaxed, happy day. Anthea, our celebrant, had worked very closely with us on the script, so it captured us exactly – a bit smooshy and a lot of humor. We wrote our vows – seven each – three funny, three serious, and then the last was a joint one: ‘I promise that nothing will ever be too hard for us to conquer together.’
After the ceremony, there were some group photos, and then we all headed up to the kitchen garden for drinks and canapes. The food at Mavis’s is fantastic – one of our selections was fresh oysters, perfect in the blazing sun. After about an hour of chatting, we hurried up the massive hill for photos with Nic (and a bottle of champagne). We know everyone says this, but we HATE having our picture taken, and Nic made it so easy. She captured our emotions and personalities perfectly. She was entertaining to hang out with, and she got the best out of us. And, she also knew when to give us some moments to be by ourselves in the busy-ness of the day.
The evening was spent in the barn, which looked magical with all the festoons and fairy lights. We had two long trestle tables because we had wanted large long tables from the very start, where everyone could mingle and chat, rather than sectioning people off into groups. It seemed to work well, and the atmosphere was lovely.
The only speeches were given by the two of us. We’re entirely ‘self-sufficient’ as a couple and didn’t feel like anyone else could speak on our behalf. (Also, f**k the patriarchy and tradition.) The speeches were pretty short but said a lot – it was essential for us to thank people who played a part in the day and our friends who are a massive part of our lives. It was an opportunity to talk about what we love about each other and how we feel for the future. Thrilled to point out that there wasn’t a dry eye in the house!
After a speedy cutting of the cakes, it was onto the dance floor and having fun with the photo booth until about 11 PM, at which point we decamped onto the deck of one of the farmhouses to ring in the new year.
We were pretty clear-headed the day after, having made a pact that we would be kind of sensible with our drinking on the day (to remember it!). And so, we organized a recovery brunch with bloody marys, sausage sandwiches, and other deliciousness to get everyone through the pain.
When we arrived, some of our friends had already made the bloody marys, and others had already cooked all the food – the most beautiful people indeed surround us. It was a really lovely couple of hours, spending more time with our favorite people and seeing people chatting with others they had met over the last few days. It also allowed us to prolong the ‘wedding-y feeling,’ which was such a treat!
The best parts of the day were: spontaneously breaking into (nerdy) dance every time Nic came near us with a camera; taking a bottle of champagne up the hill with us for photos; how delicious the food was; saying ‘my wife’ repeatedly at every given opportunity (that bit still hasn’t changed); how happy everyone looked throughout the whole day; being completed doused in confetti… we had too much confetti and too little space!; most of all, having our closest people celebrating our love, given our initial plan was to elope. Also, our flowers were just gorgeous. I (Somerset) got a bit teary about having to leave them behind!
What are your favorite moments?
A: Early on the morning of the wedding, we had some time to ourselves – we drank coffee in bed and had toast on the deck, just the two of us, and it was a fantastic opportunity to reflect on the day and our relationship. Also, our first look – Somerset looked so beautiful – and walking hand in hand to the ceremony, both feeling a bit nervous but excited.
S: I loved our ceremony – it looked stunning at the creek in the afternoon sunlight, Anne looked hot as hell, and it was emotional for me – well, for both of us. To get to stand up there and marry the woman I adore, we’ve been through a lot to get to stand up there, and it just floored me. Our friends and family were all so happy, and there was so much joy on everyone’s faces – I couldn’t get enough of it.
I also loved our speeches. I come from a family who perhaps isn’t the best at talking about our feelings (British!), but for a few minutes, no-one could stop me, so I got the chance to not only talk about Anne and my admiration of and love for her but also to thank my family for their support.
Advice for other couples planning a wedding?
A: Write a list early on everything that needs to be done because you’ll always be adding to it, and it’s fun to tick things off – you feel very accomplished! Enjoy the build-up to the day itself, because that’s when you can start to have fun.
S: Do what you want to do – don’t get stuck with traditions or other people’s expectations. We did things precisely how we wanted to, and it felt beautiful.
There’s nothing we wish we didn’t do. We’re glad we kept the day small (53 in total), did the things we wanted, and ditched the things we didn’t. Most of all, we’re glad our celebrant was a good friend of ours – it made the ceremony very personal and meaningful – a perfect mix of emotional and funny and happy.
What does marriage mean to you?
We talked about this during our ceremony. We were at a straight wedding the day the marriage equality vote results were announced, and we both remember thinking how dreadful the rest of that day would have been if the results had gone the other way.
To us, it’s just about being equal in society. We wanted to stand up and commit to each other, in front of our family and friends, and promise that we would always be there for each other, no matter how tough things get; we’ll still be each other’s best friend and biggest cheerleader.
Photography by Fox & Kin
Bow Tie Jake’s Jammin’ Bow Ties
Cake The Cake Institute by Somerset (bride)
Ceremony & Reception Venue Mavis’s Kitchen & Cabins
Celebrant Anthea Cohen
Engagement Rings Alexandra Dodds, Katie Rose
Florist Pollen Weddings
Gown Designer Camilla & Marc
H&MU Anita Bauer, Marley Hammond
Suit Designer Shane Ave
Wedding Rings Alexandra Dodds