I had no idea that when country people say they're going to do it themselves, they really mean it. They hired a marquee and dance floor and caterers, but they did just about everything else from scratch.
OK, so I know that many handy people can sew dresses (we didn't) and even maybe make the cake (Zack's mum, Ros, did that) and most people are involved with decorating the venue to some extent, but did Zack and his father Kym know what they were in for when they had the bright idea of making all the furniture themselves? Kym used all the boards he had pulled up from the floor of the woolshed and combined it with found timber from the property to make rustic and truly original tables and chairs for all the guests. This took them a couple of months, and they were made and stored in the woolshed. Then, a week before the wedding, there was a huge dust storm. I don't know whether you've ever been in a woolshed, but the floor is raised so that the sheep can be penned underneath, and the boards well-spaced for ventilation. The dust blew right through the shed and up through the floor, covering everything. Guess who got the job of cleaning the furniture? Well, handy farm skill learned, how to use an air compressor to blow off the dirt.
Zack's Uncle Chris is a carpenter and he made all the special pieces of furniture, such as the amazing bridal chairs. Separately, they are halves, together a whole. Chris made all of the outdoor furniture, including a rocking chair.
One week before the event, this was a bare paddock covered with dust from the storm. Kym had lovingly tended the patch of grass for months right through a typically dry Australian summer in a drier country region. Two tanker loads of water and lots more from the mains went into this grass. It was the only patch of grass for twenty kilometres (some of the locals said 200!) Keeping the rabbits and the kangaroos off it was a challenge.
A couple of days before the wedding, friends and neighbours of Kym and Ros arrived for the makeover. One day before, in a military style operation, holes were sunk, plants in pots were dropped in and mulched around with sand, temporary fencing erected, a "dunny" built and plumbed for the male guests (the ladies' were getting a Porta Loo), a kitchen built and plumbed in the marquee and all the furniture moved in. According to my partner, Geoff, he and I failed the efficacy test and we were put on manual labour.
Kym and Zack had also built a pavilion for the wedding ceremony in the middle of the olive grove. Three hours before the ceremony, this was trimmed with tulle and plants were sunk around. Of course, they built all the pews for the guest seating as well.
Kym acquired a windmill. As he says, when people visit a farm in Australia, they expect to see a windmill, so they had to get one. Besides, he needed something to mount the lighting on. He also borrowed a third wheat silo from a neighbour to hide the car park from view. (As you do).
Inside the marquee, things were coming together on the Friday. I washed down the tables and we set them up. Evie wanted a sweet stand full of lolly jars, so of course the boys had built one. It was a hit with the adults as well as with the children. My favourite piece of indoor décor were the concrete sheep troughs filled with ice to chill the drinks. Zack and Kym manoeuvred them the ancient way, on rollers.
Evie had spent a lot of time creating beautiful invitations, and she also applied her calligraphy talents to the place settings. She used paper cake doilies for place mats and penned each persons name on them. Many guests took them home as souvenirs. Evie had also spent months hunting in vintage bazaars for old pieces of crystal and silverware, which featured on every table. She also found an eight branch candelabra for the bridal table and longingly wished for a chandelier. Much to her surprise, one appeared overhead on the wedding day. (Thanks Al).
One of Kym's former careers before farming was a florist, and he did all the flowers, with a little help from his mother, Pat. He built the amazing floral stands, then filled them. Of course, he did all the bridal flowers too.
A close up of the flowers, and of Ros' cake. Let me tell you, it tasted every bit as good as it looked.
Zack's mum, Ros, had her army of friends and relations baking for weeks to provide afternoon tea for the guests while the bridal couple were off having photos taken. Afternoon tea was served from the back of Uncle Chris' 1929 Chevrolet ute.
My one small contribution on the creative side was the doiley lanterns. I also collected and supplied 110 vintage white table napkins. The bride and her sister made bunting. Warning! Doiley lanterns are fragile. We had intended to put LED tea lights in the lanterns but forgot to buy them. They looked beautiful anyway.
Evie wanted something more interesting than a chalkboard to display to guests what table they were seated on, and had the idea of writing on an old window. Uncle Chris drove 400 kilometres to get one.
Geoff and I had gone up to the country a few days early with the intention of helping to set things up. We thought this would be a 9-5 job. Kym and Zack worked from dawn to midnight the week before the wedding to get everything ready, on top of months of other work. Ros held the fort in the background and dealt with various crises, including the florist not having received the flower order!!! We city slickers couldn't handle the pace and fell into an exhausted heap by (a late) dinner time. I went "home" to iron bridesmaid's dresses and various assorted glad rags.
The end product was truly amazing and unique. The bridal couple have beautiful photos taken on the family property and at the neighbouring winery. The weather was perfect.
What a very special wedding