No-fuss nuptials are just my cup of tea
“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 finder.com.au 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.