These two lovers have laughed together for ten years. They decided to go about wedding planning with the attitude of creating something low stress, but something that felt like ‘them’. Their Collingwood Children’s Farm wedding that wasn’t filled with the usual expectations and traditions. Instead, it was a day that was uniquely and unapologetically them.
THE LOVE STORY
We are a couple of introverts who’ve been dating for ten years. Together we live in the beautiful seaside town of Portarlington, a few hours outside of Melbourne, with our cat Boots, and Insta-famous dog, Huckleberry.
Early in our relationship, Heidi would bring Cayla her favorite cupcakes and replace her biros with joke electric shock pens. Cayla would travel hours to spend time with Heidi. We have always had fun together and are an exceptional team. Heidi’s creativity, playfulness, and wit undermine Cayla’s tendency to be a workaholic. Cayla’s tenacity, organization, and nous helps turn Heidi’s creative vision into plans.
Also, Cayla knows how to make Heidi’s favorite pie (cooking it on demand was part of our vows).
Our proposal, well, it wasn’t a proposal per se!
Before marriage equality become law, we felt it was important for everyone to have the ability to marry the person they love. We were actively involved in the marriage equality campaign, publishing a book of photos and stories from the LGBTQIA+ community discussing why equality is important (and raising much-needed funds for Minus18).
At the time, for us personally, as a couple, getting married ourselves didn’t feel like a priority. We were campaigning for our community’s right, but it didn’t feel like something we wanted for ourselves.
After marriage equality was achieved, the word ‘wife’ felt more important to us. One day, we both gave each other the side-eye and asked each other if we would be interested in getting married. And, the answer was yes!
PLANNING THE WEDDING
We were keen to make our engagement and wedding preparation as low-stress as possible.
Cayla made ridiculously long checklists and roughly 1000 trips to Kmart in the lead-up and had a ball. We had a totally joyous time sampling beer, wine, champagne, and creating mocktails for our friends and family. Naturally, we had to do quite an extensive tasting to find the best for our friends and family. It was a dreadful chore, but someone had to do it.
We were probably a bit naïve heading into the wedding planning. We honestly believed we could have a chilled party with our close friends and party without the cost and hoopla of a Wedding. Wrong.
Partly because we never thought we would get married, and partly because we just wanted a chilled party. It was easy to get caught up in others’ expectations – do we need to spend $7000 on flowers? Do we have to give boutonnieres? What jacket goes with those shoes in the opinion of your 15 closest family and friends? Ultimately, we resisted most of the pressure.
One thing we were clear on from the very outset was that we wanted to shuck all of the traditions common in the weddings we had attended before. Our delightful wedding planner Cat was completely and gloriously unruffled by our rejection of tradition and ceremony– although we did get some outraged cries when we questioned if champagne was necessary. She was right; it was.
We ignored, abandoned, and resisted the things that didn’t feel like ‘us.’ Like no being ‘given away’ (we’re independent fucking women), no ‘entrance’ (how about we arrive, you arrive and we party), no first dance (we can’t dance), no wedding cake (who eats it anyway?) and no speeches (we’ve watched many a wine-soaked toast in our time).
When we started planning, Cayla tried on a bunch of ‘bridal’ dresses, but nothing felt right. She wanted to feel special and beautiful but not bridal.
With her enormously talented friend of 20+ years, Tara Brennan, and her mother’s friend of 30+ years Cheryl Small, Cayla created her own dress that was more meaningful and special than anything she could have ever brought off the rack.
Tara and Cayla spent hours and hours trying on styles, making practice skirts, and shopping for fabric. Cayla drove three hours from Portarlington to Brunswick for dress fittings before work and on the weekend. They experimented, adjusted, and laughed together. Tara designed and made the skirt and top, the first wedding dress she has ever made.
Cheryl Small is an artist living in regional Victoria and has been a close friend of Cayla’s mother for more than thirty years. Working closely with Tara and Cayla, Cheryl hand-painted the silk panels in the dress. Cheryl painted more than fifteen versions to make sure there were plenty of options for the dress. The dress felt beautiful to wear. It was light and swishy and fun to twirl in. Love and friendship were woven into the fabric of the dress, and it was enormously humbling to have such talented friends contribute their creativity so generously and beautifully. Cayla cannot thank them enough.
Heidi ummed and ahhed about her outfit, finding bits and pieces on her travels in the months before the wedding and changing her mind a thousand times (including the day of the wedding, when she took two identical pairs of black jeans in case she couldn’t decide which pair to wear).
Heidi decided to get (another) tattoo instead of wearing a wedding ring. We got tattoos together a month before the wedding. Heidi got an anchor on her ring finger, symbolic of our relationship and commitment to each other. Cayla got a tattoo of six birds in flight on her shoulder, symbolic of the family we created together.
THE WEDDING DAY
Our big day was beautiful– we had no real expectations of a ‘perfect’ day. Not much phased us when things didn’t go as ‘planned.’
We spent the night before in Melbourne at the Blackman Hotel, who treated us wonderfully. The day of our wedding, we enjoyed an afternoon of fruit, champagne, and friends. We were having such a wonderful time with our friends that we totally lost track of time. We were late arriving at the venue – oops.
Unfortunately, while we had originally hoped to get married under a big oak tree at the venue. The weather worked against us, and it rained solidly in Melbourne the whole day. Thankfully, our spectacular wedding planner Cat had a no-stress wet-weather plan, and our venue was swapped for a delightful house on the property at Collingwood Children’s Farm. It was the first time the house had been used for a wedding, and it was phenomenal.
At the time of our ceremony, we filled every stereotype and ended up running late to our wedding when we had some last-minute dress adjustments and were caught in traffic.
When we arrived at the venue (only half an hour behind schedule!), Cat led us into the room with our friends and family. We had told the team we didn’t care what song was playing when we walked into the room. By coincidence, the track switched to Same Love, and Cayla cried. Our wedding planner, Ned, kicked off our ceremony with jokes about the change of venue and made the entire ceremony wonderfully light-hearted.
It was important for us to do an acknowledgment to the country at the beginning of the ceremony. In addition to our gratitude to the traditional custodians for allowing us to celebrate on the land, we also sought a blessing from the spirit creator, from the river and the land to keep us safe and inspire us on our next adventure.
Before we knew it– we were married. We all moved over to the Farm Café (still at Collingwood Children’s Farm), who cranked the music and served us delicious food we’d be hearing about from the guests for months afterward. We partied with our loved ones until close to midnight and returned back to the Blackman feeling light and- married!
In the end, our wedding was very ‘us,’ relaxed and fun, with lots of gorgeous food, fabulous booze, un-choreographed dancing, and raucous laughter.
Photographer Eerik Sandstrom
Catering & Reception Venue Farm Cafe, Collingwood Children’s Farm
Celebrant Ned Hoskin
Ceremony Venue Collingwood Children’s Farm
Custom Hair Piece Sandy Forester
Event Planner Cat from Collingwood Children’s Farm
Guitarist Troy Barrett
Gown Artwork Cheryl Small
Gown Designer Tara Brennan
H&MU Make Up By Inez
Hat Will and Bear
Jackets Levis, Bershka
Printer Vista Print
Stationery & Signage Heidi Fin
Tattooist Hidee Tattoos