Real Wedding – Philippa & Chris, Abbotsford VIC
Real Wedding – Philippa & Chris, Abbotsford VIC

Real Wedding – Philippa & Chris, Abbotsford VIC


What was supposed to be a sun-soaked Spring day, turned into a wintry washout for Philippa and Chris on their wedding day.

Their outdoor celebration moved indoors, however the pair didn’t let it phase them, it was only important for them to become husband and wife in front of their much loved family and friends.

Celebrating well into the night their guests loved the Scottish traditions they incorporated including a whiskey bar that was drunk dry.

Behind the lens was Dan O’Day who captured all the magic moments.

In Philippa’s words…

The meeting.

Chris and I met in the Greek Islands in 2007.  We were both working (and I use that term loosely) in bars for the Summer on the island of Ios.  Being a small party island there are a lot of short term Summer flings that happen there, so we’re pretty chuffed that we’re one of the few true love stories if you will and that we’ve lasted the distance.

The ‘one’.

When we had to leave Ios at the end of Summer in 2007 and go our separate ways I think we realized not long after that. Although separated by distance for close to 9 months, we both knew that was it.  I don’t think it was ever not an option that we were going to be together.

The proposal.

We were living in Dublin at the time and were heading to the Caribbean on holiday.  We stopped in New York to visit friends, where Chris had arranged a dinner at Budakhan for the first night with all our mates.  Not long after we had sat down, Chris got on one knee!  I didn’t know then that it might have been a ring-less proposal

Planning process.

We kept the planning process fun and as straightforward as we could, we also followed a mantra of not overwhelming ourselves with options.  All decisions were made of two or three options at most, basically to streamline the process and because we couldn’t be bothered dilly dallying or agonizing over decisions – we didn’t have time!  Although we were living in Dublin at the time for work we knew that we would get married in Melbourne.  We used one of our trips home to look at two wedding venues only before settling on the convent.  Once the venue and catering was booked in the other element that we secured early was our photographer Dan O’Day.  I had my heart set on having Dan capture our day, so along with the venue he was booked in early about 18 months in advance.  By securing the date early it made it a lot easier to notify the large number of family and friends who would be travelling from Scotland, London, the US, Norway and Nigeria so they could forward plan their travel.

About 9 months before the day we moved back to Melbourne and that’s when we really started planning all the other elements.  In the same 9 month period we moved back to Melbourne, both started new jobs, bought a house, moved into the house, planned a wedding and got married, so we didn’t really have the luxury of time to ponder on a lot of decisions.

A week or so before the wedding our family arrived from Scotland and friends from various parts of the world and that’s when the fun really started and it all suddenly felt very real that they were here to us.

Style inspiration.

I’m Scottish, having only moved to Australia as a child so it was extremely important to me that we reflected my Scottish heritage and roots throughout the day.  There were a number of ways we wove this in, from touches of MacKenzie tartan across the invitations, signage and stationery, wrapped through the floral bouquets, the hanging florals and the arbour.  This was complemented by my dad, uncle, cousins and family friend wearing their kilts. During our ceremony we included some unique Scottish traditions and toasts during the reception.

At our reception we also had a standalone whiskey bar where we invited guests to enjoy ‘a wee dram’ of whiskey to toast the celebration.  It would be bad luck in Scotland not to! We handpicked 5 different Scotch whiskeys to be served from the different regions within Scotland including Skye, Islay, Dalwhinnie, and the Highlands.  We also encouraged the guests to enjoy their dram from a ‘quaich’ which is a traditional silver vessel to drink whiskey from in Scotland.  Is resembles a shallow two handed dish.  By all accounts the whiskey bar was a highlight, as it was drunk dry by the end of the night!

Most of all we just wanted the day to be a big party, the perfect celebration.   We wanted people to look back and say ‘that was really fun.’

The dress.

My dress was from Karen Willis Holmes. I felt like my dress was the perfect mix of clean and simple, whilst fun and making a statement.  After doing a bit of research online I spent one day dress shopping on High Street Armadale.  The team at Karen Willis Holmes was amazing, the customer service was second to none, and they were really genuine and super accommodating.  For the majority of the day I was trying on quite form fitting styles and it was only at the end of the day I tried on one big skirt.  As soon as I put it on, I loved it which totally took me by surprise.  And best of all it had pockets!  I tried it on with a number of different tops before settling on a simple thin strapped deep v-neck style.  They were designed as separates but I asked the team if they could custom make it into a dress for me.  I wanted things as unfussy as possible, so I knew a dress over separates was the right thing for me.  It was very simple in that there was no overt detailing or embellishment and the fabric was beautiful crisp and clean giving it an overall simplicity, but the shape and cut really gave it some impact.  I absolutely loved my dress, it turned out beautifully, was so much fun to wear and was so comfortable to wear.

Favourite moment.

Can I say all of it? Getting ready with my nearest and dearest, the ceremony, the speeches, the dancing and the photos with Dan. Then going back to our beautiful hotel with my husband!


As part of our ceremony we performed the drinking of the quaichs. This is a Scottish ritual unique to Scotland.  Part of the tradition of Celtic hospitality was that of welcoming guests with a drink from the quiach. In the days of the Highland clans, sharing a cup was also seen as a sign of trust between the people drinking from it – because it is offered and taken with both hands, neither party could hold a weapon at the same time, and the sharing of the drink was also a guarantee that it hadn’t been poisoned. Very important in a marriage that part, at least at the start.  King James VI of Scotland presented a quaich to Anne of Denmark on the day of their marriage in 1589 and drinking from the same cup now is a symbol of the love and trust between a couple.

Meaning of marriage.

It’s funny when people asked us about marriage and how we thought it would change things; our honest answer was we don’t think it will.  Having been together for 10 years we already knew what our commitment was and meant to each other.  The difference with marriage is that we made that commitment publicly in front of our nearest and dearest.

Wedding soundtrack.

I walked down the aisle to a piano version of Only You by Yazoo and we walked out to Gimme Shelter by the Rolling Stones. We signed our registry to Ryan Adams and my bridesmaids walked in to an acoustic guitar version of Umbrella by Rihanna.  When we entered into the reception it was to Coldplay’s Sky Full of Stars.

Funny stories (or near disasters).

Well I’m not sure if it was a disaster, but just before the ceremony the bakery next door to the venue went on fire so the street was full of fire trucks.  Plus, we had torrential rain and it was really cold, which turned our beautiful spring wedding with garden ceremony and cocktails on the lawn into a totally indoor affair.  It also wreaked havoc with our photography session with Dan, as we had to really improvise with umbrellas, mud, soggy grass and winter temperatures. But is all turned out ok in the end – I wouldn’t have changed a thing!

Planning surprises.

As there is a plethora of amazing Australian suppliers and vendors out there to help you I really found it easier than I thought. There’s a reason they do this for a living, so no matter what you’re after or what your vision is, there is someone there who can help bring it to life. The bits that we did ourselves probably surprised us the most, like our wedding favours.  They took ages to prepare!

Words of wisdom.

I really feel that the wedding planning process is as stressful as you want to make it.  Keep things in perspective, think logically about what your big-ticket items are, those things that you don’t want to compromise on and get them secured first.  You’ll soon realise that all of the other details are going to be a lot easier to sort out.  Remember on the day, no one is thinking about those little details at all, they’re all too focused on you!

Bianca our event manager at Bursaria gave us some sage advice in one of our first meetings.  After having been a part of hundreds of weddings, she said the thing she’s learnt is that guests remember only a few things: good food, good wine, good crowd, good music.  I can see how easy it is to get carried away with all the optional embellishments, so it was such valuable advice to keep it mind throughout the planning process.

Also make sure you stick to what you want to do and not what you feel you ‘should’ do or what other people think you should do.  There were certain things Chris and I knew were just not right for us, like doing a first dance or cutting the cake in front of everyone.  We knew we just wouldn’t be able to take things like that seriously and would dissolve into laughter.  I also knew that it was very important for me to give a speech and then for us to speak together.  None of this ‘the bride doesn’t give a speech’ nonsense.

Plus it really is true what they say; don’t sweat the small stuff or the things you can’t control – like the weather.  It was torrential rain and cold on what was meant to be our beautiful spring wedding, but looking back I wouldn’t have changed a thing.



Andrew and Erin didn’t let a little torrential rain ruin their day, instead they danced in it all night long. Check it out here!




Ceremony venue:  Abbotsford Convent by Bursaria.  We were meant to have our ceremony in the beautiful heritage gardens, however the torrential downpour meant we had to move the ceremony inside on the morning of the day! The team did a fantastic job and it all worked out beautifully, you wouldn’t have known it was a last minute back up plan.

Reception venue:  Courtyard and Rosina Room at Abbotsford convent. We knew from the get go that we wanted to have our ceremony and reception in one location so that we didn’t have to ask our guests to move.

Celebrant: Jason McCheyne

Photography: Dan O’Day – what can I say about Dan?  One of our good friends who happens to be a photographer as well introduced me to Dan’s work and I knew that his style was exactly how we wanted to capture the day.  The outcome far surpassed anything we could have imagined.  How he managed to capture the essence, spirit and emotion of the day so beautifully I’ll never know.  I had numerous friends tell me they were the best wedding pictures they’d ever seen.  I love looking at them.  Every time I do I’m filled with awe and fall in love with them even more.  Dan really is a storyteller.  I don’t know how he does it.   Plus he’s so much fun to work with and just an all-round great guy.

Styling: Us!

Florist: Revered Flowers –  working with Revered was an absolutely delightful experience.  I think we had more comments about the florals, than any other part of the wedding!  Her creations surpassed anything we could have imagined. The amount of comments we had on the hanging garlands, the arbour, the bouquets and table florals is testament to her amazing creative vision. The smell when you walked into the reception room was exceptional, it smelt like the most beautiful country garden. Revered took the time to understand what we might be after, the styles and colours we liked and was there to make suggestions and offer ideas when we had no idea what we wanted!

Hair and Make Up:  Hair – Ainslie Forrest.  Make up:  Ashleigh Gaitz – Ash’s makeup was spot on, gorgeous, dewy, glowy skin.  I still felt like me, just better.

The Dress: Karen Willis Holmes

Jewellery:  Peter Lang earrings

Shoes:  ASOS – although I had already bought wedding shoes, about 4 weeks out from the day I suddenly decided that I would be so much more comfortable in flats.  I made a snap decision and it was by far one of the best decisions I made.  I doubt I would have made it the whole day and night in heels, so my embellished flats did just the trick. Plus, they came in super handy when we were trekking through soggy gardens getting photos!

Rings:  77 Diamonds. The team here is fantastic.  Chris had obviously dealt with them in purchasing and designing my engagement ring, so we didn’t even think about going anywhere else.

Bridesmaids dresses:  They all chose their own. I had one bridesmaid in New York, one in Edinburgh and three in Melbourne so I knew from the get go that it would be logistically easier for them to all choose their own dresses within a single colour palette of nude.  It allowed them to show off their individual personalities and style.  I think it turned out beautifully, the colours worked wonderfully together.

Grooms suit:  P. Johnson

Grooms Shoes:  Herring

Groomsmen suits:  ASOS – even more geographically challenging than the bridesmaids, we had one groomsmen from New York, one from Edinburgh, two in Canberra and one in Adelaide.  So again, there was no group shopping trips and it was easier for the boys to all order a similar style and shade of blue from Asos.

Catering:  Bursaria – the team here were amazing and so accommodating.  The food was absolutely delicious, there were numerous compliments.  We went with a sharing style menu with roaming desserts as it was super important to us to have an atmosphere of collectiveness and inclusion, plus an urgency to get everyone up afterwards to get the party started. Chris and I love our food, so the menu was super important to us as was the wine list which we worked with the Bursaria team on to have a premium drinks package and cocktails after the ceremony and during the reception, with a full bar opening after dinner.

Favors:  I loved our favors!  Although they were quite labour intensive for something so small. As another nod to my Scottish heritage we had miniature scotch whiskeys for each guest.  We ordered 1400 50ml glass bottles off Ebay, which we painstakingly filled with 40 ml of scotch using a funnel.  We had the wonderful Rachel Lee of Peep Designs create a gold sticker to go on the front that said: Truth serum / Love potion / Pain killer / Thank you / C & P / 21.10.16. We then topped them off with a black watch tartan bow, all of which were tied by Chris and I.   They proved extremely popular!

Stationery:  Rachel from Peep Designs created all of our lovely stationery. We also had a beautiful LED feature sign from The Super Styler  that read “Love is all you need” which added an amazing feature point to the room.

Entertainment:  Rutherford Entertainment – such a great team to work with.  Super professional yet personable. We worked with them to create a cocktail/dinner list and then a super up beat party list.

Honeymoon:  Vietnam.

Crop The Image

Actual Size

Recommended Size

Cropped Size