Real Wedding – Emily & Aidan, Port Douglas QLD
Destinations don’t get much better than Port Douglas when it comes to celebrating a wedding, which is why Emily and Aidan knew there was no other place they wanted to be wed.
While Emily admits she was a bundle of nerves prior to their ceremony, once she lay eyes on Aidan, the nerves slipped away, as they exchanged heartfelt vows in the ever-impressive St Mary’s by the Sea chapel.
This perfect pair are lovers of the ocean, so a beautiful, tropical-inspired vibe underpinned their gorgeous celebration. Enlisting the talent of Port Douglas Wedding and Hire, every darling detail of this dream day was brought to life – from engraved coconuts for guests sipping on cocktails, to the incredible tropical flowers and greenery that adorned their reception spaces.
Katie Purling captured every magical moment of fun, laughter and love and if you’re looking to celebrate your day in Port Douglas we highly suggest getting to know Port Douglas Weddings, who can support your very own dream destination wedding planning adventure.
Aidan and I first met each other in 2016 at James Cook University in Townsville. I was on my abroad semester from America and Aidan was in his 4th year of vet school. We were both living on college together at University Hall. Halfway into my abroad semester, I decided that I wanted to transfer to JCU and finish my whole degree of Marine Science in Australia!
The first time we really connected was playing communal ‘muck-around’ soccer as means of a study break. Aidan caught my attention that day because some of the spikes were missing from his soccer boot and every time he would kick the ball or pass to me he would fall backwards! He likes to say he was quite literally falling for me!
That soccer game was the beginning of our friendship and when I went back to America to see my family at the end of semester, Aidan would check in occasionally to see how ‘Seppo’ land was treating me. When I returned to Townsville he made me feel so welcome, especially given that I extended from my one semester abroad to finishing studies in Oz, and many of my friends that had been there for that program had left for home. Our friendship bloomed and we spent more and more time together. Aidan would pick me up from work and we would go skating at the Strand and get ice-cream. From there it was a love of the ocean, camping and finding an adventure which saw our relationship grow. For our first official date Aidan invited me to go camping on Magnetic Island. There was hiking, snorkeling and lots of laughter under the stars…shortly after we were officially dating and never looked back.
I knew Aidan was my person when I first got to meet his family in Bundaberg for Australia Day. I think in that point in time it truly hit me how we were just two people from completely different parts of the world (cold snowy upstate New York and a small little town in Bundaberg) that somehow were lucky enough to find each other and had so much in common. Aidan’s family reminded me of my own and had many of the same values and morals that my parents taught me. After that weekend with his family, I had to pinch myself because I couldn’t believe that I would ever find someone quite so perfect for me as Aidan is.
After graduating, we moved to Cairns where I landed my dream job working as a marine biologist in the tourism industry. After only a few short months of working, I suddenly had to pivot when I was stood down during COVID and then in a last minute perfect twist I received the job as Minke Whale Field Trip Coordinator in Cairns. I was all set to go out on the first minke whale trip of the 2020 Field season on a five-night trip with Mike Ball Dive Expeditions. Aidan was so excited for my new role and wanted to join in on the fun. He ended up booking a last-minute spot on the first trip out of Cairn, little did I know he was plotting his own wonderful surprise to bring to the party.
It turned into a minke adventure of uncanny proportions with us at one point swimming with 17+ dwarf minke whales! I knew I could finally relax knowing that the tour had definitely delivered the goods and that was when Aidan found me on the top deck recording my observations from all the whale action. We were chatting away in our usual fashion, I looked out at the pretty sunset, checking if any of the whales followed us to the new reef site. When I turned around to look at Aidan, he took off his raincoat and was in a white button up shirt. He was down on one knee and said “Thanks for the trip of a lifetime, now let’s make it a life of a lifetime. Emily Daley, WHALE you marry me?” I then asked, “did you say whale?” before saying “Yes!” Aidan loves his puns (which is another thing that I absolutely love about him and made that moment even more perfect)! We went for a night dive that night and the crew so beautifully decorated our room with fairy lights and candles, and a bottle of champagne and a note saying, “congratulations on your whaley magic day”. So thoughtful and the perfect end to our most perfect of days.
Both Aidan and I value our family and friends more than anything and wanted to celebrate our love with everyone. Being from two different countries with two very big families, it made it incredibly difficult to find the perfect location to have all of our family and friends in one place, especially with all the uncertainty with COVID and travel restrictions.
We came to the conclusion that the only way we could celebrate with everyone we love was having two separate weddings in both countries as travel restrictions were not going to change any time soon. Once that decision was made, we knew exactly where we wanted to get married in Australia. Living in Cairns, we were not far from Port Douglas and loved visiting there every chance we got. Years ago, we did a sunset sail in Port Douglas and went past a wedding happening at the Sugar Wharf and thought it looked so dreamy.
We contacted Port Douglas Wedding and Hire and got the last Saturday available in 2021. Once we got our date, everything came together so quickly. We came up with our budget, made excel spread sheets and worked out what we valued most on our wedding day. This was very helpful in keeping us organised and on the same page!
As we both share a great passion and love for the ocean, we were looking for a very tropical beachy vibe. So, what better place to get married then St. Mary’s by the Sea and the Sugar Wharf! Some of my favourite details were the engraved coconuts for ‘whale tail cocktails,’ coral and clam shell centerpieces, a fishing station where guests could fish right off the Sugar Wharf, and the beautiful tropical flowers and greenery both inside and outside the Wharf to make this dream come to life!
We decided to take care of all of the legal bits beforehand to get the ball rolling with green cards and visas. Our ceremony was truly focused on celebrating our love for each other and our celebrant Anna so beautifully put together a wonderful ceremony telling our love story. We also had Aidan’s Pa do a lovely reading which was also very special to us and will be a moment we will cherish forever.
I really struggled to find the perfect wedding dress. As I was having two weddings, one in hot sunny Queensland that was very laid back and beachy in contrast to our American wedding that was very formal and in cold snowy New York, I found it incredibly difficult to find a dress to suit both occasions. After trying on dress after dress I finally came across the most lovely human, Sally from Gladstone Bridal Boutique. She pulled out “River” by Made With Love. Once I put it on, I knew it was the one! We added custom flutter sleeves which made me feel fabulous and knew it would be the perfect dress for both occasions.
I was so beyond nervous to go up in front of everyone at the chapel to say my vows. I was losing sleep over it in the weeks leading up to the big day. I was so close to contacting our celebrant and scrapping the whole idea! However, once I walked down the aisle and saw Aidan’s smiling face, I suddenly felt at ease and confident. It felt like he was the only one in the room and it was such a special moment we had in professing our love for each other and I am so glad to have done that.
Meaning of marriage.
To the both of us, marriage is the commitment to stand by each other’s side through all of life’s great adventures. Including all the highs, the lows, the good times and bad times. Marriage is loving someone so much that you always want to do what’s best for each other and you are always there to support one another through it all.
Aisle: Can’t Help Falling In Love – Kina Grannis
Signing: Hand I Can Hold – Ziggy Alberts and Better Together – Jack Johnson
Recession: Send Me On My Way – Rusted Root
Entry: You Make My Dreams – Daryl Hall & John Oates
First Dance: Truly Madly Deeply – Yoke Lore
Group Dance: Home Among the Gumtrees – John Williamson
Last Song: Shooting Stars – Bad Raiders
Funny stories (or near disasters).
On the day, everything ran very smoothly without any issues! Leading up to the day, the biggest stress was COVID. With restrictions changing every week it was so hard to know if we would be lucky enough to even go ahead with our special day. Unfortunately, at the time of our wedding, any guests from Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and of course overseas were unable to attend. So, our wedding was much smaller than originally anticipated. We were also missing one groomsmen and one bridesmaid that weren’t from Queensland and were unable to attend.
However, COVID also put things into perspective for us. We stopped worrying about if it would rain on the day, or if we would get a big pimple on our face, or other minimal things couples often stress about on their wedding day. It helped us realise what was important – which was celebrating our love for each other.
Words of wisdom.
Try not to sweat the small things and make the process as fun as possible. In the end it’s all about marrying the love of your life, it’s truly magical and worth celebrating. Also, the day goes so fast! Take it all in and enjoy every little moment.
Port Douglas is such a magical location to be wed. If you’re searching for incredible suppliers to bring your dream Port Douglas wedding to life, along with venues and information about planning your destination wedding, be sure to check out Port Douglas Weddings.
EMILY AND AIDAN’S SUPPLIERS
Ceremony location: St. Mary’s by the Sea, Port Douglas
Reception venue / location: The Sugar Wharf, Port Douglas
Celebrant/Officiant: Anna Soltwedel
Photography: Katie Purling Photography
Videography: Mathew Currie
Styling: Port Douglas Weddings and Hire
Florist: Floral Edge
Hair: Inner Goddess Hair
Make Up: Makeup by Carly
The Dress: Made with Love bridal “River” with custom flutter sleeves made in house at Gladstone Bridal Boutique
Veil / headwear: Gladstone Bridal Boutique
Shoes: Purchased on Etsy from PelinoSandals
Rings: Jules Collins Jewellery
Bridesmaid’s dresses: Jenny Yoo Collection ‘Kat’ dress in wild rose
Suits: Tux from Politix
Bow ties/ties: Politix
Catering: Platinum Cuisine
Favors: Bamboo Engraved Reusable Straws & Travel Pouch from QA Bamboo Wholesale
Entertainment: Cam Kettle
Transport: Exemplar Coaches and Limousines
Décor: Port Douglas Weddings and Hire
Hire: Port Douglas Weddings and Hire, Uptown Hire
Coconuts for pina colada welcome drinks – Beach Harvest Coconuts Port Douglas
Choreographed first dance – Just Dance Cairns