No-fuss nup­tials are just my cup of tea

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - INSIDER - AN­GELA MOL­LARD [email protected] TWIT­TER.COM/ANGELAMOLLARD

“Sub­stance over in­dis­crim­i­nate spend­ing leaves you with sto­ries to tell

This is the story of a wed­ding. In some ways it’s the story of every wed­ding in so much as there were brides­maids, speeches, vows, flow­ers and a cou­ple who love each other very much.

Yet in an era when the be­trothed rou­tinely blow their budgets, in­sist fam­ily and friends spend thou­sands pay­ing to travel to ex­otic lo­ca­tions and hire event plan­ners to en­sure every as­pect is In­sta­gram­wor­thy, Alice and Leon’s wed­ding is an anom­aly. In short, it was crafted less from cash and ego and more from history and heart.

I’ve worked with Alice for a few years now. She has a smile that would stop ter­ror­ists, a wardrobe cob­bled to­gether from Kmart and op shops, and an at­ti­tude that blends Gen Y “can do” with that sort of easy kind­ness that tends to come from good par­ent­ing. There was never any doubt hers would be a wed­ding with mean­ing.

Iron­i­cally, the two of us spent the first half of this year fo­cused on the royal wed­ding — she as the Chan­nel 7 pro­ducer who pre­pared scripts and con­ver­sa­tion points and me as the on-screen talk­ing head of­fer­ing con­text and com­men­tary. Each week af­ter we’d got Harry and Meghan’s dra­mas out of the way she’d tell me how her wed­ding plans were com­ing along. There was never any stress, only joy.

Leon had pro­posed the pre­vi­ous year with a thin sil­ver band en­graved with “per sem­pre”— Ital­ian for “for­ever”. They’d met at work and one day, walk­ing past her in the hall­way, Leon had slipped Alice a Post-it note on which was writ­ten that sin­gle word. For­ever. Alice still has the note, sit­ting in the pocket of the blue and white polka dot shirt she wore that day.

They both wanted a small wed­ding. As Alice says: “No fuss, no drama, no overex­tended Master­cards.” They’d re­cently sold their apart­ment and bought a house, proof that not every young per­son is fore­go­ing home own­er­ship for smashed av­o­cado on toast.

“Our men­tal­ity was it’s just eight hours of our lives,” Alice ex­plains. “Why spend money we don’t have, es­pe­cially now we have a gi­gan­tic mort­gage we’ll be pay­ing off till we’re old and grey.”

But there was a chal­lenge: Leon comes from a large Ital­ian fam­ily. Rather than cut guests (84), they brain­stormed how to cut costs. Alice wanted to marry in the stone church her par­ents had mar­ried in 36 years ear­lier. It was down the road from her grand­par­ents’ old prop­erty where she re­mem­bers chas­ing cows and singing songs from The Sound Of Mu­sic. They wanted to in­volve the lo­cal com­mu­nity so asked the Coun­try Women’s As­so­ci­a­tion, which had been a sav­ing grace for Alice’s grandma when she moved to the sticks as a young city bride, to bake scones for af­ter­noon tea fol­low­ing the cer­e­mony. They served tea, rather than al­co­hol, pre­fer­ring the fo­cus to be on con­ver­sa­tion. Plus, there was a three-course din­ner with plenty of bub­bles to come.

Pru­dence rather than pre­ten­tious­ness drove their de­ci­sions. Alice found a dress she loved on sale for $800, bor­rowed her sis­ter’s wed­ding shawl, used an old suit­case from the Salvos as a “wish­ing well” and bought in­vi­ta­tions from the on­line craft site Etsy.

She wore $14 ear­rings and bought $10 “danc­ing sneak­ers” from Kmart along with “some­thing blue” knick­ers which, she laughs, “were so un­com­fort­able I’ll never wear them again.” The three-tier cake was made by her mum us­ing her un­cle’s famed fam­ily recipe and friends re­turned favours by sup­ply­ing stun­ning dis­counted flow­ers and play­ing the bag­pipes af­ter the cer­e­mony.

Sub­stance over in­dis­crim­i­nate spend­ing leaves you with sto­ries to tell. Alice re­veals her mum bought her dress, shoes, jacket and bag from Vin­nies with the en­tire out­fit cost­ing less than her dad’s tie. Like­wise, in­stead of giv­ing ex­pen­sive party favours (Tif­fany photo frame any­one?) Alice and Leon spent the months be­fore their wed­ding col­lect­ing old tea cups and saucers from op shops. “We set a $4 price limit,” she laughs, “but we got most of them for 50c”. At the end of the night guests were given the tea cups they’d sipped from at the CWA tea along­side a jar of An­zac bis­cuits baked by the bride, her mum and her new mother-in-law. Both women had used the same recipe for years but had put their own spin on it. “Mama T prefers crunchy: Mrs Mitchell likes them chewy and adds sul­tanas,” re­veals Alice.

Years ago Alice, her sis­ter Sarah and her cousins Phoebe and Har­riet made a pact that they’d be each other’s brides­maids. They’ve kept to their word and with all four now mar­ried, aisle du­ties are now com­plete.

As for the wed­ding, Alice loved it but, with good sense, can’t yet pro­claim it was the best day of her life.

“Bot­tom line, I just wanted to marry my best friend,” she says. “It was as sim­ple and easy as that.”

Oh, that it al­ways was. In a fort­night where one bride con­fessed to hav­ing five sep­a­rate wed­ding cer­e­monies, 13 wed­ding dresses and ban­ning pho­tographs of guests who flouted the blue and sil­ver colour scheme, an­other foot­stomped on Face­book about her friends’ re­luc­tance to spent $3K trav­el­ling to her wed­ding and fin­ re­vealed 41 per cent of new­ly­weds go into debt to pay for their wed­ding, Alice and Leon’s ap­proach is a re­minder that love is al­ways more mem­o­rable than largesse.

Alice and Leon (also pic­tured at top of page) toasted their wed­ding with a cuppa.

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