After a 4+ year engagement, Felicity and Renee decided that an elopement to Fitzroy Gardens in Melbourne was the perfect wedding for them.
Words by Renee
Fliss had planned the proposal for 17 months before the big day after all.
I thought we were going on a road trip to Monkey Mia when we were planning our holiday away in 2015. Little did I know, Fliss was planning a holiday to Fiji as a surprise to me where she would propose at dinner on a beachfront villa. However, things didn’t quite go to plan…
Our flight over went well, but the suitcase that held the RING didn’t come out on the luggage belt when everyone else’s did. I said to Fliss, “Don’t stress about the bag babe, it only has toiletries and shoes in it anyways, it’s all replaceable stuff.” Naturally, she was stressing because the ring was in THAT bag and I had no idea. Five minutes after the belt was completely empty, our bag finally comes out on the belt, and Fliss is relieved! That was a stressful moment, number one.
We stayed at a gorgeous resort on Denarau Island, and our first few days were spent hanging by the pool, going on day tours and making sure we made it back to the resort for happy hour every afternoon.
The 17th of August rolls around and we were booked to go out jet skiing and snorkel together for the first time ever. We woke up that day to a dark sky and thunderstorms in the forecast, which meant those booked activities were canceled. We hung out in the room for a bit, and Felicity’s phone rang with an unknown number, so I picked it up because she was on the loo. I answered and said, “Hello, Felicity speaking,” I mean, who are they to know, right? We sound very similar and it’s something she would’ve done too. However, the lady on the other end proceeds to tell me that our private villa dinner booked for the night had to be canceled due to the storms coming.
It was at this point that Fliss walked out of the bathroom and I come to realize that phone call wasn’t one I should’ve heard! Whoops! I knew we were going to dinner somewhere. I just didn’t think it was going to be a private beachfront villa dinner. I’m still clueless at this point that she’s planning anything like a proposal.
By around 11 am, the skies were a little clearer, and there were tour guides at the resort that were still happy to take us out on the water if we really wanted to. So we jumped onto the jet ski’s and headed out. Twenty minutes into the tour on the jet ski’s, the wind picks up, and it begins to POUR out there absolutely.
Imagine you’re out in the open ocean, going full speed on a jet ski that you’ve never driven before and the rain is hitting you as if it’s hailstones on a car down the freeway. It was stinging our eyes, the waters were super choppy, and my hands were quite literally glued to the handles– holding on for dear life. We laughed about it at the time, but when we look back, we laugh even harder because there is no way that we should’ve gone out at all with the storm that we were in! But it’s a great part of our story and what an experience it was.
We arrived back at the resort that afternoon pretty exhausted, soaking wet and starving. We showered, ate and napped until we both woke at about 4 pm. By now, Fliss was panicking about how and when she was going to propose. I woke up from my nap and said to her, “Babe, I don’t even want to go out anywhere for dinner. Can we just stay in and get room service or just go down to the buffet dinner they have? I really can’t be bothered with anything else”. And she says to me, “Let’s just get changed and we’ll go downstairs or something, but I’d like to go out and eat with you.” So I agreed, and we decided to go to the fine dining restaurant at the resort.
Fliss, at this stage has already been messaging her sister, Mel, freaking out about what to do now for the proposal. Mel becomes Felicity’s savior and they’ve put a plan in place before we’ve even left our room and by 5 pm we were on our way down to dinner. We get to the restaurant and we see that they don’t open until 6 pm, and we grab a drink at the bar until then.
6 pm and the doors opened to the restaurant. We walked up to the entrance and the waitress at the door told Felicity that she couldn’t wear shorts or anything that sits above her knees and asks her to change before we can enter. So we race back to our hotel room, and we can’t get in! We’d lost a key earlier that day (or so we thought), so they gave us a new card, but it seems we’d left our new card in the room and took our old card with us.
So I bolt down to reception so they can update our old card, and I bolt back to the room. I fling the door open and race to our bags to get pants out of the bag for Fliss. At this stage, the only thing I’m anxious about is not getting a table and not being able to eat dinner.. clearly hangry at this point.
Before I reached the bags, I had to double-take my view on the bed because there were pink petals laid out that read “WILL YOU MARRY ME?” and I turned around to Fliss, and she was knelt on one knee, holding the open box with a gorgeous ring inside! I said yes immediately, and we both kissed and cried, and then cried and kissed, and we just embraced each other. The feeling at that moment is something else. We were both incredibly happy at that moment, and I saw a massive relief come over Fliss that I didn’t even realize she was holding onto all this time.
We made it back to dinner, and she spilled all 17 months of tea. The most romantic tea to have ever been spilled in my life.
Our engagement was about four and a half years.
Please, tell us all the details of your wedding day.
Well, I for one slept like a baby and Fliss got about two hours sleep! The excitement and nerves we were feeling had me exhausted (so I was lights out in less than a minute), but it all kept Fliss awake most of the night. We woke up on the day and went to breakfast with Joanne, Barry, Mel and Tom, where they gave us our wedding gifts and we spoke about what our hopes would be for the day and what our final plan of attack was going to be. Barry and Tom were going to be picking up our flowers and dropping our wedding cake off to our dinner venue while us girls were going to be getting our hair done at Cream Melbourne, and then our make-up was going to be done at the hotel with Make-Up by Rula.
After breakfast and before getting our hair done, it was time to make some phone calls to some very important people in our lives who had no idea we were getting married just yet- our Dad’s and our siblings.
With both of our Mum’s here with us already, it was time to let the rest of our immediate family members know. Once those surprise bombs were dropped, we were off to the hair salon and then back to the hotel for our make-up. By the time our faces were glammed up, it was 2:30 pm and it was time to change into our outfits. Fliss and I got ready together in our room, helping pull up each other’s zippers and helping one another with shoes and final accessories. It was a brief thirty minutes for us that was just for us. We got to be in a little bubble together and chat alone about how excited we were that the day was finally here, we were getting into the outfits we had picked and just enjoying the moment together.
Once we dressed, it was time to grab our flowers and give our Mums their buttonhole pins to wear (which matched our bouquets) and headed to the gardens for our ceremony with our wedding party. Fliss and I were last to head down to the lobby, and as we walked out of the lift, Mel, Tom, Joanne, Barry, Mum, and Tui cheered and clapped, gave us hugs and kisses and there were happy tears from a few of them too!
Fliss and I jumped into our very own classic black Mercedes (white ribbon and all!!), and the rest of our wedding party followed in a matching Mercedes too. We hadn’t planned on having anything fancy take us to our ceremony or dinner as our hotel was pretty close to the gardens, but we were so thankful to Joanne and Barry, who surprised us with this fantastic touch to our special day.
When we arrived at Fitzroy Gardens it was about 3:30 pm and our ceremony wasn’t due to begin until 4 pm. We found our spot and waited a few minutes for the arrival of our Celebrant, Amanda and met her daughter Sarah, our photographer, for the first time too. By 3:50 pm we were ready to go and decided to get stuck into the ceremony– we just didn’t want to wait any longer!
Standing in a circle together with our guests and Celebrant, Fliss and I held each other through the ceremony. Our vows were said, rings were exchanged, tears were shed, Mel did a reading on behalf of her and Tom, paperwork was signed, we kissed (a fav moment obviously), and we were finally married! YAYYYYYYY! We passed around champagne and shared some early stories of when Fliss and I first met and first said I love you before taking some pictures with our group.
After that, we were taken away by Sarah for our “newlywed” pictures to be taken together. It’s an odd time! In all the right ways, of course, it was all feeling so surreal. This day you’ve planned for is here and your standing with your wife, taking pictures with her on your wedding day?!?! Such a crazy good feeling! We were so grateful that we’d found these fantastic humans to be a part of our day, and they just made everything feel perfect.
We got back into our cars and headed to our dinner venue, Bluetrain, where a few select friends were waiting to celebrate with us.
Seeing our friends for the first time as wives was such a thrill! Lots of food, drinks, cake, laughs, and photos were such a treasured time for us both. We finished up at Bluetrain by 8 pm as the hummer limo we’d booked was waiting for us outside. We all got in and buckled up for a 2-hour drive around Melbourne– starting with a stop off in St Kilda to take a snap with the group. Then it was party time in the limo! We played our limo game with everyone, and that was a massive hit! So much fun was had, and it was such a great ice breaker for everyone who hadn’t met yet. After plenty of drinks and lots of singing, our time in the limo was over, we were dropped in the city to dance the night away.
Getting ready together was the best! We’ve never really spent time apart for any other occasion and didn’t want to change that just because we were getting married that day. Doing it together only made it even more exciting and special.
Do you have any stand out vendors that went above and beyond?
Our Celebrant and Photographer (Lets Elope Melbourne) had to be our stand out vendors. We were honestly super comfortable with Amanda from our first meeting with her, and she was so sweet and efficient throughout the entire process. Meeting her daughter Sarah on the day as our photographer was just the best too. They both have such a passion and a love for what they do in creating the perfect ceremonies and capturing special moments throughout the day. We would highly recommend this awesome duo to anyone that wants to elope in Melbourne.
They are worth their weight in gold.
And now that you’re married, what does the commitment mean to you?
Marriage to us is teamwork, commitment, compassion, compromise, and a whole lot of love!
When we talked about getting married, there was never a thought of “well once we get married, I’m going to feel more committed or more like we are part of a team” because we already had it all. Being together for ten years before getting married is a long time to get to know each other, so the only new thing for us after getting married has been the title and the bling to go with it.
In our ceremony, our Celebrant read out the below paragraph, which perfectly sums up what marriage means to us:
“Your decision to publicly exchange vows confirms your commitment to a marriage that has already taken place in your hearts and minds. It also says to the world, ‘We are together, we are a team, and we have something extraordinary that we would like to acknowledge’.”
Photographer Sarah Matler Photography from Lets Elope Melbourne
Cake & Topper Sinfully Delicious Cakes
Celebrant Amanda Matler from Lets Elope Melbourne
Ceremony Venue Fitzroy Gardens
Getting Ready Pajamas Midnight Mischief
H&MU Crème Melbourne, MU by Rula
Outfits Cue, Forever New, Sheike
Reception Venue Bluetrain Southbank
Shoes Jo Mercer, Frankie4
Transport Hummer Limousines Pty Ltd
Wedding Rings Angus and Coote, Michael Hill Jewelers