On a Saturday night in Brisbane’s West End six years ago, Viv became distracted by a free spirit on the dancefloor. Viv couldn’t focus on the conversation with her friends, and they prompted her to go and speak to her. She approached Cien and said, ‘hi, I’m Viv,’ and it was all it took. They can both remember exactly what that moment felt like.
Tell us about the engagement.
C: The proposal was in one of the most spectacular of locations, Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe. It was extremely appropriate considering Viv proposed with an antique emerald ring that my Grandfather had commissioned for my Nan in the 1950s. There wasn’t a soul in sight, and Viv took me entirely by surprise when she got down on one knee at the end of the jetty and asked me to be her wife.
V: We were engaged for twelve months. We had intended to wait for marriage equality in Australia, but at the time just didn’t know how long away that would be. Cien’s parents sat us down over a coffee on Sunday morning and said, ‘let’s not wait, let’s celebrate now,’ and so we went for it!
How did you go about pulling together the inspiration for your wedding day?
C & V: We decided that we wanted the wedding to be in our hometown of Brisbane so that all of our closest family and friends could attend. It took a lot of research and reading reviews before we stumbled upon Vieille Branche!
We knew that day had to be five things; inclusive, joyous, genuine, relaxed and environmentally conscious. These were reflected in the little touches. For example, we discovered our musicians at a local market, and our dress code was to wear whatever makes you happy. We used seeded paper for invitations and had a vegan menu with locally sourced produce and vendors.
And, your outfits. How did you find the perfect attire for you?
C: I gave myself two weekends to find my dress. As it turned out, the dress I fell for was unavailable in my size, anywhere in Australia. Consequently, I contacted one UK bridal store, then another, until I ultimately received a direct email from the designer. There were no words in this email, just the image of another dress. It turns out every store I had contacted had desperately tried to help me and had ultimately contacted the designer directly. Apparently, my dress was unavailable anywhere. So, rather than face another day of bridal shopping, I bought the size down and cut back on cheese toasties for a few weeks. Problem solved.
V: It took me a long time to find someone in Brisbane who would tailor suits for women. I am so grateful for Germanicos. They not only were willing to do it, but they made me feel so comfortable, so able to be me in the process, and then produced an absolutely gorgeous outfit.
Did you undertake any DIY projects for the day?
C & V: Sure did. Coconut ice and rumballs, bouquets and table decorations, dessert tableware and accessories, and the gift table decorations included our grandparent’s and parents’ wedding photos and our invitations. We only did DIY with tasks we knew we could successfully achieve and knew we would enjoy doing ourselves. We also chose tasks where we felt it would help with making the venue and the evenings ours.
Do you have a favorite memory from the wedding day?
V: There are so many, but our favorite would have to be the ceremony. After all, it is why we and all of our family and friends were there. But more than that, we wrote the script together. We had personal vows, chose the music and the acoustic duo (Hailey Calvert Music) who played our selected songs so beautifully, and Cien’s Aunt, Cherie, was our celebrant. It just felt totally and completely us and set the evening’s tone – love and happiness.
C: My favorite detail was our dessert smorgasbord. After gathering and op-shopping unique (some borderline hideous) serving platters and plates, the result was something from a childhood dream. Beautiful cakes from Wild Canary, homemade treats, and the incredible styling skills from Jen at Gathering Events resulted in perfection.
V: For me, my favorite detail was our invites. Our good friend Scott designed them with us, and we printed them on seeded paper. They felt, and still feel, so personal and we now get to see them growing in the gardens of our family and friends when we visit.
Did you incorporate any religious or family traditions into the wedding day?
V: We did incorporate some traditional components to the day, out of choice rather than due to religious beliefs or family traditions. We did get ready separately, and Cien’s Dad walked her down the aisle and gave her away. The walk down the aisle was the first time I saw Cien’s chosen dress. We also had speeches and a first dance. Our day was also about breaking traditions and setting some of our own.
I wore a three-piece suit rather than a dress and did not get walked down the aisle and given away – because that’s just not me. We wrote the ceremony script ourselves with input from our celebrant. We had our MC do his run-down of the evening before the ceremony even started. Also, we signed personal letters to each other, which we will open and read when we get legally married. We chose what fits for us and left the rest, which resulted in a day that really reflected our relationship perfectly.
Reading those letters must have been emotional. Do you have any funny stories from the day?
C & V: Peita (Cien’s sister) did a speech entirely in rhyming verse, which was hilarious, heartfelt and brilliant and our send-off at the end was terrific.
We chose Joe Crocker’s ‘With a Little Help’ for our goodbye walk out to our Uber home. Our friends and family formed a circle and put the two of us in the middle. They then held hands and like a wave, moved in towards us and back out over and over again. The funny thing was that that song is so long, it went on forever! No one knows who started this weird celebratory dance, and we all agree it was fun but utterly bizarre. We’re going to start it at the next wedding we go to later this year!
We might need to steal the idea! Lastly, now that you’re married, what does it all mean to you?
C & V: Marriage to us is about acknowledging that we’ve built a strong foundation for our relationship based on trust, respect and gratitude. We have found joy in each other’s company, becoming more fulfilled because of our connection.
Marriage is not one moment but every moment. It’s the big moments, like saying I love you, buying a house together, and our engagement. And it’s the million little moments – making dinner together, drinking coffee, reading books and watching movies together.
It’s Viv supporting Cien through eight failed attempts at growing her own vegetable garden, and it’s Cien covering for Viv at book club when she knows she hasn’t read the book.
It’s caring for each other, standing up for one another, and finding happiness and connection in the other in the little and big moments together. That’s what marriage is for us.
Photography Amanda from Peppermint Photography
Cake Wild Canary
Catering The Canape Project
Celebrant Cheryl Ann Steele
Coordination Gathering Events
Entertainment Hailey Calvert Music, Anna Sonnenberg DJ
Florist Wild at Heart
Gown Catherine Deane, Babushka
H&MU Verve, Elizabeth Crossley
Shoes Joanne Mercer, Crockett and Jones
Stationery Scott McGowen, Paper-Go-Round
Suit Bespoke Tailors
Venue Vieille Branche
Tie Country Road
Wedding Bands Artisan’s Gems and Jewels