Real Wedding – Lauren & Sam, Fitzroy VIC
Real Wedding – Lauren & Sam, Fitzroy VIC
Real Wedding – Lauren & Sam, Fitzroy VIC
Real Wedding – Lauren & Sam, Fitzroy VIC

Real Wedding – Lauren & Sam, Fitzroy VIC

For a couple who have grown up together, Lauren and Sam’s wedding was bound to be an epic celebration of their relationship filled with genuine, feel-good moments and fabulously laid-back fun. Choosing to forgo traditional elements and create their own stunning moments made for a dream day maxed out on feels and minus the fuss.

Wanting to pay homage to their hometown of Melbourne, this darling duo chose urban oasis Panama Dining Room to host their celebrations, with the quintenssional Collingwood laneways and streetscapes as a backdrop to their photo montage. In the hands of artist extraordinaire Nikki McCrone, every image is a beautifully balanced capture of the fun and emotion of the day.

Inside, florals in summer hues of vibrant tangerine, vivid vermillion and soft neon pink set the scene for the party to come. Led by music masters Paper Hearts, the dance floor heated up as the night cooled off, while our newlyweds ducked off for a sneaky espresso martini, looking every bit radiant, loved-up glamours.


The meeting.

We first met in high school (year 11) when Sam transferred to Lauren’s school, so about 13 years ago now! We first started dating at the end of our first year of university, though, after a year of “party pashes” as our celebrant, Nat, would put it!


The one.

There wasn’t a distinct moment for either of us, but certainly a few moments along the way that reaffirmed that we worked well together. When we first started dating, we were polar opposites, with Lauren being more straight edge while Sam was always the class clown, but we grew together and learned that our personalities really complemented each other. Sam made Lauren a bit more fun and relaxed and Lauren made Sam take things a bit more seriously and want to apply himself.


The proposal.

The proposal was very low-key, as Lauren had always said that she wasn’t keen on anything public or over-the-top, but Sam feels like he may have gone a bit too low-key! Sam had the ring for months and was intending on proposing in Melbourne over Christmas in 2020 so we could share it with family and friends, but border closures left us stuck in Sydney, so Sam postponed and stashed the ring in a secret location (that he still won’t give up!) in our small Sydney apartment.

The big moment finally came after a ten-hour drive down from Melbourne to Sydney with our very energetic six-month-old Groodle, Charlie, to visit our families. Sam took Lauren to the park where we had our first date under the cover of walking Charlie, took her to the spot where we had sat (eating ice creams and getting sunburnt more than eight years prior), got down on one knee and pulled out the ring box.

Sam: I said to Loz that she was my best friend, I loved her, and that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her, and I asked her to marry me! I had completely forgotten to open the ring box, but Loz said ‘yes’ anyway and then asked me if I was going to open it or if she was. I replied, “I don’t know, I haven’t done this before”.

Lauren: It was very funny and such a Sam moment!


Style inspiration.

We just wanted to throw a bit party, so cocktail was a no-brainer for us! We both really love industrial styling, and given that we’d spent the last three years away from our hometown, we were craving something that felt very Melbourne! Fun and vibrant, but relaxed as well, so we wanted to pare back on some of the more traditional elements of a wedding and keep the extras to a minimum (no cake, no wedding favours, small bridal party).

Real weddings really inspired us. We wanted a wedding that felt like us and at least had elements that set it apart from weddings of family and friends that we had attended, and seeing the diversity in real weddings gave us so many fun ideas. It really reiterates that weddings are all personal and don’t have to fit the conventional mould.


The ceremony.

We wanted a ceremony that was fun, unique, and really reflected us. Our celebrant Nat has a really relaxed approach to her ceremonies and had some fun elements that we’d never seen in other ceremonies. The ninja vows, where we wrote four vows for each other that were a complete surprise on the day, were a real hit and really took the edge off before we jumped into our personal vows. We had been together for almost ten years when we got married, so we had a long history, and our guests knew us and our relationship well, and we had so many of our guests say to us that the ceremony was so us.


The outfits.

Lauren: I’d never really looked at wedding dresses before we got engaged, so I didn’t have a strong idea of what I wanted but knew I wanted something simple and timeless. We live in Sydney, so as soon as I started doing a bit of research into dresses, Prea James just floated to the top of the pile; I loved so many of her designs! I visited Prea James’ flagship store in Paddington and tried on five dresses. I honestly would have been happy with all of them, but in the end, I went with a style that I felt most comfortable in and felt like me.

Sam: My suit was by InStitchu in Sydney, traditional black with a less traditional black velvet jacket. The target was a classic appearance, but with a bit of something to make it more fun. The team at InStitchu were very helpful, offering good suggestions and feedback during the tailoring process, and delivered suits that were comfortable and fit perfectly. They made the interstate planning very easy to coordinate by working with one of the Melbourne showrooms to look after the groomsmen’s suits.


Favourite moment.

Lauren: So many moments it is so hard to pick; I loved everything from getting ready with my girls to the last few songs on the dance floor (which was pumping, by the way!), I really loved our ceremony. It was a dream to be surrounded by our family and friends and getting to relive our relationship and see how far we’d come. There was a lot of love and a lot of laughs!

Sam: The whole day was amazing; I enjoyed every moment! The first look was such a special moment; the ceremony was brilliant, our first dance that evolved into a packed dance floor, and just being with so many loved ones in such a happy time.


Meaning of marriage.

Lauren: Marriage is a lifelong commitment – it is you choosing to love and stay with a person for the rest of your life and a vow to tackle any challenges that you may face, together.

Sam: Choosing someone you want to spend your life with and committing to them as family and putting them above all others.


Wedding soundtrack.

Aisle: Simply the Best (acoustic version, very much Schitts Creek inspired!)

Recessional: (as we did photos beforehand so partied right into the reception): You Make My Dreams Come True by Hall & Oates

First dance: Everything by Michael Buble, which was then followed by I Wanna Dance With Somebody by Whitney Houston (this is Lauren’s favourite song).


Funny stories (or near disasters).

Sam: Yes, on the day myself and the groomsmen were ready and about to leave for the first look and bridal party photos but ran into trouble getting the buttonholes to sit correctly. This led to what felt like some serious time pressure, and in the ensuing rush, we forgot to grab the rings! The discovery was made a short while later by groomsmen Tim’s partner Laura. She kindly sent a message to Tim with a photo of the ring’s box, asking if we might be needing it with an appropriate balance of humour and concern.


Planning surprises.

The planning process comes in waves of activity; we planned lots of components so far out that there were extended periods of time where there was little to be done. Though when there is a wave of organising to be done, the sheer amount of time that is required to perform research and make decisions was greater than we had anticipated.


Words of wisdom.

Try to enjoy the planning process and not put too much pressure on making the right or best decisions, just make the right decisions for you! Your wedding should reflect you as a couple and doesn’t have to look a certain way.

Do your research and invest in good suppliers! We cannot emphasise this point enough. If you invest in the right people, they will get you through the day, they are the professionals. We are so thankful for our team, a group of absolute pros!


Mostly Instagram. So we started with blogs/magazines (where Ivory Tribe was of course a go to!) and once we found real weddings that we liked, we just “stalked their suppliers”. We honestly fell in love with Panama the moment we saw it (those windows!) so we also wanted to make sure that we selected suppliers that had experience in that venue before we booked them as well. We planned our wedding from interstate as well so we had to do most meetings over Zoom, which when working with the right people was not a problem at all.





Expenses vs budget, vision vs reality – fitting your dream day wishes into your budget spreadsheet can be a stresser like no other. So, we’ve come up with some sweetly simple tips to help you have the wedding you want without breaking the bank. Check it out here, on the blog.




Ceremony and Reception venue: Panama Dining Room. The team at Panama are just pros. From our first enquiry to the big day, they were incredibly easy to communicate with and just made us feel at ease. The venue itself is obviously gorgeous, the food is divine and the cocktails are delicious, but I think it is the management and staff that really make Panama stand out. 10/10

Celebrant: Nat Sproal Celebrant. Where to even start with Nat; she’s marrying Lauren’s brother/groomsman and our sister-in-law next year, so that probably says it all. Nat has absolutely nailed the balance between a funny and heartfelt ceremony, and what she delivered for us was so far beyond what we ever expected.

Photography: Nikki McCrone Photography. Nikki’s work truly speaks for itself. We feel like Nikki truly captured us in these gorgeous photos, and we think a lot of that is a testament to, aside from her phenomenal talent, her ability to make you feel comfortable in front of the camera. She’s also just fun to hang out with for a day in Fitzroy. We cannot recommend Nikki enough; she is just the best!

Florist: Pomp and Splendor. What a talented group of ladies! We didn’t give Petra and Asha from Pomp and Splendour much more than “warm colours and party vibe” for a brief, and they absolutely delivered. We were not at all in our comfort zone when styling our wedding, but I think the best decision we made was to leave this one with the experts because Pomp and Splendour know their stuff!

Hair: Friend and long-time family hairdresser, Danielle Roberts. Dani had been my hairdresser for as long as I can remember before I moved to Sydney, so I was absolutely thrilled when she said yes to doing my hair for our wedding. Dani is incredibly experienced, easygoing, and delivered exactly the look I was after!

Make-up: Makeup by Stephanie Jane. Stephanie was an absolute delight, so friendly, and so talented. I was after a natural look which Stephanie absolutely nailed. My bridesmaids and mum were also very happy customers!

The dress: Prea James Bridal. The team at Prea James were a dream to work with. I felt instantly comfortable from the moment I walked into their Paddington store, and they worked with me to mesh two designs to get exactly the dress I was after. Highly recommended for brides wanting a minimalist and modern gown.

Shoes (bride and groom): Bared Footwear. Comfort and glam. Need we say more!

Rings: Armans Fine Jewellery.The team at Armans take immense pride in what they do, and it shows in the quality of the product. Lauren’s engagement ring and our wedding bands were all from Armans, and they were great to work with on both occasions. They will work with you to ensure you can stay within your budget, and they engage in more than just the purchase of the rings and take an active interest in you and your wedding plans, making you feel very comfortable. Highly recommended!

Bridesmaid’s dresses: Shona Joy. Shona Joy has a colour and style to suit every wedding and every bridesmaid. I wanted something a little bit different to more common pastel colours and absolutely adored the olive-green dresses we landed on. I also let my bridesmaids choose their own style.

Suits and bow ties: InSitchu. The team at InStitchu offered constructive advice and feedback regarding style, and as their suits are tailor-made, they offer repeated fittings as required to achieve the perfect fit. Their multiple showrooms in various states made it easy for us to coordinate fittings with Sam based in Sydney and the groomsmen based in Melbourne. We also felt that the price point was incredibly reasonable for a custom suit.

Stationery / Signage: Our beautiful friend and bridesmaids sister, Darcie Jongerius from Faire Creative. Darcie is an incredibly talented graphic designer based in Adelaide. She did our invites and signage, and we were thrilled with what she came up with. She created unique designs that matched our wedding style perfectly!

Entertainment: Paper Hearts – Emma and Simon music duo. We couldn’t recommend the team at Paper Hearts more. Ryan and Amelia are incredibly responsive to emails and made the planning process incredibly simple for us. We went for an acoustic and DJ package, and the artists coordinated the transition incredibly well. Emma and Simon performed beautifully on the day and were an absolute hit with our guests. DJ Yunus had our dance floor pumping!

Honeymoon: Lily Beach Resort & Spa, Maldives. We jetted off to the Maldives two days after our wedding, and we would highly recommend a honeymoon straight after the wedding for those that can manage it. The Maldives, and Lily Beach Resort specifically, is like heaven on earth. We enjoyed seven days in an overwater villa indulging in delicious food, cocktails, snorkelling (with tropical fish, a manta ray, and a whale shark), massages, and a bit of tennis to justify the previously mentioned food and cocktails. What more could you want?!

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