Karishma and Tracey have loved and lived together for more than a decade. However, the time was finally right to celebrate their love in a quirky by simple wedding surrounded by their family.
Trigger Warning: Domestic Violence & Suicide
Tell us a little about who you are, and how you came to be together.
Tracey is 39 years old, an adorably geeky extrovert. She is a customer service whiz in her warehouse-retail job. A strong work-ethic she carries across from her time as a cotton farmer. Myself, I am also 39 years old and an awkward introvert. Shortly after our wedding, I exited customer service (administration) after nearly twenty years. I chose to reskill, enrolling as a first-time university student. Tracey has been an absolute legend in these stressful times. I hope to land an excellent job and shower Tracey with all the good things in the world!
We settled down in a little old three-bedroom house in our adopted home of the Illawarra region in New South Wales nearly thirteen years ago. We are furmummas to Jaffa, a thirteen-year-old cranky, toothless, calico kitty. Winter, an eleven-year-old dribbling, toothless, tuxedo kitty. And Sasha Fierce, a five-year-old sooky Great Dane X.
T: In 2005, I was working up to sixty hours a week and had no time to do anything else. I lived with my older sister and her two kids, her then partner and his two kids. I was staying in the ensuite room downstairs. We lived in a small northern Sydney village where any lesbian was either much older and partnered or fresh out of school.
I didn’t have much luck when meeting people as I would either be too interested or not interested enough. Either way, meeting people was tough and awkward. I just needed to go out and simply have a great night.
I asked my straight best friend Doug if he could come down (from Taree), and we could go out someplace. We had arranged a weekend where I took work off, and my mate was free to drive down. That weekend it was my turn to mow the lawn, which I hadn’t done yet, so I did before going out. However, I somehow got my finger stuck in-between the blade and the catcher, and we spent the evening at the hospital. That weekend was a bust!
My mate couldn’t come back to visit for another month, and we planned to take another weekend off to head out to the city. Before heading out, I told Doug that I couldn’t agree to going out that night, intending to meet someone. I had always attracted the wrong females. Getting swept up by lovely compliments and free drinks, but I didn’t want to do that anymore. I eventually wanted to find someone to date with the possibility of a relationship, and not just hang out with.
But that night, I just needed fun. A good night out with drinks and then come home. However, the night took a turn when this gorgeous female asked if she could sit with us. Karishma was not the usual type that talked to me. And I was so determined just to enjoy the night that when she joined us, I thought it was a joke.
K: In November 2005, I was eight months out of an abusive queer relationship. Recovering from physical injuries, relearning social skills, and re-establishing healthy relationships with family and a revised set of friends. My closest work friend, who had supported me throughout the nightmare, had committed suicide in April. I was facing a world that had moved forward without me. However, aiming for positivity in Amy’s memory and with the support of mum Vina and my Aunty Annette.
Tracey and I have been together for fifteen years as of November 2020. On the 25th November 2005, an old school friend talked me into meeting up with them at a pub to shoot some pool. I could then head home while they moved on to clubbing in the city. I was staying over at my mum’s place and didn’t have anything other than low-key clothing. Roughly I wrapped my big messy hair in a scarf, borrowed an old pair of my sister’s closed-toe shoes, which started to separate from the sole and headed out in my black velour tracksuit.
My friend was running a little late, and I usually would have turned around and headed home. However, I took a risk and went inside. I spotted Tracey and her friend Doug sitting near the bar and decided they were a safe duo to sit with to pass the time. After a quick introduction, Tracey ignoring me and Doug encouraging me to stay, I headed to the bar to order a round of drinks. When I returned, I noticed that Doug had rearranged Tracey’s outfit. The chord around her neckline was now around his wrist. Giggling to myself, I settled in for what was a great conversation with Doug and the magazine Tracey hid her face behind.
I stayed longer than I’d intended to. Tracey was finally conversing without the magazine, the whole pub was moving on to go clubbing, and I still did not have her number. So, with my friend’s thumbs-up, as she bolted, I agreed to tag along with Doug and Tracey to the city.
At the club, things turned a bit ‘Kath & Kim.’ Amongst the sea of ‘stylishly clad’ people, I was dancing away in my velour tracksuit, talking-shoes, and unkempt hair. Liquid-courage Tracey then declared that if I wanted to date her, I had to know that “these aren’t real!” Whipping out her ‘chicken-fillet’ boob enhancers, Tracey and always-jolly Doug began bopping around like coneheads with their newly acquired forehead enhancers. She was so incredibly dorky at that moment, my heart melted!
Doug drove me home, and I finally got Tracey’s number just before getting out of the car.
Two days later, Tracey and I arranged to meet up for coffee. We had walked past each other, unrecognizable from the messes we were when we’d met and we broke out laughing at the same time, our icebreaker!
We lived and worked on opposite sides of Sydney, Tracey worked six days a week, and I relied on public transport. Seeing each other every second weekend in Tracey’s hometown and every other Sunday in my hometown.
We moved in together two months after we were engaged, choosing a rental close to halfway between our workplaces.
You found yourselves engaged the next year, tell us about the engagement.
Our commitment was tested early on. I had minor surgery in early 2006 while my mum and sister were overseas at my cousin’s funeral. Even though Tracey lived and worked on the opposite side of Sydney, she chose to be by my side for every ugly minute until my Aunty Annette was able to drive up from Wollongong.
In May 2006, I asked my mum and youngest sister if marrying Tracey was a good idea. With their blessing, we went ring shopping and layby a simple band with a small square stone. I had planned a winter picnic on the beach In July 2006 to coincide with a Friday dance night in Sydney as a decoy to bring Tracey over to my place for the weekend. I had arranged with Tracey’s boss to cover her Saturday shift. So she was super excited to be going out dancing. That night, my friends knew the actual plan and helped me shuffle Tracey out the door at a reasonable hour.
In the morning, Tracey made a panicked call to her parents on my Motorola. Thankfully, Tracey’s mum and dad knew about the planned proposal and convinced Tracey to hold off fixing her phone that weekend. After I had accidentally chucked it in the washing machine with a Saturday morning’s load.
We caught the train two stops to my mum’s house, where she “lent Tracey her car” to incorporate a driving lesson for me, on our way to our picnic. We drove south to Stanwell Park; going downhill bends on an L-plate was a questionable choice – poor Tracey’s nerves were already rattled! Our picnic lunch was the perfect restart button I needed to ask her to grab something out of the picnic basket for me where I’d written a letter to Tracey, asking her to marry me. I presented the ring after I watched her reread the letter. Tracey gave me the quietest nod, “yes,” followed by lots of tears and happier phone calls on my Motorola.
We love that you wore outfits that were you, and not traditional. Tell us about finding your perfect outfits.
We weren’t exactly sure what we were looking for other than color. I researched previous bridal inquiries and came across a gown designer who had responded to a bride with an informative post on colored gowns. After checking in with Tracey, I contacted Louise Alvarez for advice on how to search for our own colored wedding dresses with a limited budget. Louise was more than happy to help, which led to us booking a face to face meeting where we discussed silhouettes, budget, and our color palette.
Louise was sensitive, open-minded, and wonderfully creative. Though not intentional, Tracey’s burnt orange silk gown was a nod to her Indigenous (Koori) roots, and my cerise silk gown was a nod to my North-Indian background. Louise and her team also took on alterations of my mum’s dress! Our appointments involved road trips to Sydney’s North, but the catchups were always nurturing, genuine, and worthwhile.
We want to know all the details of your incredible wedding day.
Tracey and I woke up together in The Dairy accommodation at Mali Brae Farm. Tracey’s parents were staying in the second cottage, The Hatch. Tracey and I weren’t quite awake as it had taken so long to get to sleep when Ardina from Beaux Cheveaux and her niece started on our hair and make-up at 7 am.
Tracey’s mum Maureen, and my mum Vina, came down to our cottage beautifully dressed. Ready for their hair and make-up, and then we kicked them out again, until the first look!
Tracey and I helped each other into our dresses and shoes, gloriously ungracefully. Despite having done this exercise nearly every day, this moment was emotional.
Our guests starting arriving at 11 am, peeking through our window. It was amazing to see everyone in their neutrals. And it was a risky move requesting they do so, but they all looked stunning.
Our celebrant, Ben, helped our mums back to the cottage, where they had their First Look at our finished selves. Words cannot explain how magical this was, a bonding moment between the four of us.
After Ben’s pep talk, Mali Brae’s Greg drove our mums down to The Willows to wait with all our guests. Greg came back for Tracey and me, as well as, our photographers of course! We were met at the top of our walk by the Fiesta Viva trio. Hector and his Mariachi group walked down the aisle playing the opening riff to ‘Final Countdown.’ Blending into a Spanish version of our 2008 Bridal March ‘Happy Together’ at 11:30 am. Then Tracey walked down the aisle, followed by me.
Tracey and I held our ceremony under the willow tree. In front of guests that were casually gathered around in a semicircle. Our youngest nieces, Amelia three and Sia four, held onto our rings until Ben called them forward for Tracey and I to exchange vows.
Almost everyone was family, so we took a few family and group photos before they headed back up the path to The Ruins for picnic hour and lawn games between 12:30 pm and 1:30 pm. Our guests snacked on a light picnic to keep them going until lunch while enjoying Fiesta Viva serenade them with Spanish love songs. During this time, Erin and Erica took some freshly married photos of two very awkward brides around the beautiful Mali Brae Farm gardens.
After our guests were ushered into the Hay Shed, the beloved Mariachi farewelled, and Adam, The Vintage Stylus, welcomed Tracey and I walking into our reception and straight into our first dance. When I was going through the run sheet, I was conscious of Tracey being able to enjoy the reception without worrying about steps. I scheduled the first dance at the beginning so that she could celebrate the rest of the day.
We didn’t make things easy for ourselves when we picked ‘There Will Be Time.’ However, it was the only song that fits our life’s journey together so far. The right first dance song presented a challenge. As we weren’t a new couple bravely heading into the future with hearts full of hope. We had already been doing the whole reality of life thing for well over a decade. I turned to the only person I knew who could capture the essence of what this dance meant to us and hopefully help Tracey and I dance it like swans. Virgina Keft’s Contemporary choreography had everyone in tears, so I guess we did the story justice?!
We settled into an afternoon of gasbagging, long lunching, and listening to Adam spin some wicked retro tunes. My sister Kellie was the Reception Master of Ceremonies, and speeches were bravely delivered by Tracey’s parents, my mum, Kellie, and Tracey.
Grace of Mali Brae Farm then served up some amazing food for lunch.
Our three-tier semi-naked wedding cake was lovingly gifted by Tracey’s work-family Ainsley, Kelsey and Rhiannon, made by Ainsley. Unfortunately, a combination of nerves and my hearing impairment had me goofing around on the dancefloor with the kiddos, leaving a very jubilant Tracey to do the mingling.
We wrapped everything up at 6:00 pm. Erin and Erica making the most of the golden hour just after a rain burst to grab some end of day photos.
After a decade together, it sounds like it was the perfect way to celebrate your love. Do you have some favorite moments from the day?
T: There are so many moments! One of my favorites was helping Karishma get ready and realizing we were finally putting on THE dresses after waiting so long. Another favorite was standing in front of our celebrant Ben together and knowing that we could finally have our moment, our happy day just like everyone else. When we did our dance, I knew Karishma had me. If I stuffed up, she was there, and she would pick it up and not let me fail. Watching Karishma that day, I got to see raw emotions. That blew me away the most.
K: Our mums’ first look, saying our vows, our mums as our witnesses, watching Tracey beautifully dance our first dance, and being amongst everyone’s happy love.
How did you honor your Sikh background, how did you bring that to life?
I wanted to honor my Sikh background in a small way, marigolds which feature heavily in Indian weddings, symbolise creativity, passion, brightness, positivity and happiness bestowed on the newlyweds. We’d requested a marigold garland hung over the sweetheart table, and the Mali Brae styling team sourced a marigold toran, which was only revealed to me the day before the big day. I had no idea how big a part of my identity this was until that moment!
And now that you’re married, how has it changed your relationship.
Marriage is the ultimate recognition of commitment to your partner, that you both will work through the good, the bad, the ugly, and the OMG. Most importantly, never compare your partner’s resilience to your own. Support her through her scary traumatic cockroach moments and roll out the red carpet for even the smallest of wins. Marriage is catching yourselves goggling each other, no matter our bodies softening over the years or our sudden ability to grow a beard. It is looking forward to holding her hand. It’s accepting that you’re not always right and growing from it.
And lastly, do you have some parting advice for other couples planning their wedding day?
Two things – simplify and quirkify. There is always something in your wedding that can be paired back. Either because you were swept up in the moment or out of assumed obligation. Schedule in time to go over everything, including the guest list. Do this as early as possible to avoid headaches and heartaches.
Secondly, the easiest way to individualize your wedding is through an essential element. Loud folk music features in Indian weddings, and Tracey and I are known for embracing themed events. So, our Bridal March and Picnic Hour were performed by a live Mariachi band.
BONUS TIP: Keep a wedding planning journal of all your vendors. Writing as you go will help when reviewing vendors in a testimonial!
Dancing With Her Preferred Vendor
Photography by Margan Photography
Accessories Occulture, Tribe by Amrapali
Cake Ainsley Larosa of Mali Brae Farm
Catering Grace Buttigieg of Mali Brae Farm
Celebrant Ben Ager Uber Celebrant Sydney
Entertainment The Vintage Stylus, Hector Patricio and Fiesta Viva
Florist Liz Kidd
Gown Designer Louise Alvarez Couture
H&MU Beaux Cheveux by Ardina
Printer Vista Print
Shoes Dr. Martens, Court Couture
Venue Mali Brae Farm
Wedding Favours Love Dem Apples
Wedding Rings Michael Hill