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HerCanberra Wedding Series: Laura’s Big Day

Laura Peppas

In the last of this series, Laura Peppas shares her wedding experience, with some big-day advice…

After six months of planning every minute detail of our wedding day – every last rose petal, seating plan and stationary order – the countdown was over. The big day was finally here.

The afternoon before our wedding, I was admittedly a ball of nerves. After saying goodbye to Pete, I packed my bags and headed across the road to our reception venue, QT Canberra, with my bridesmaids. Thankfully, the girls put me at ease with a lot of laughs and a good gossip session.

After getting our nails done at Soma Day Spa next door to the hotel, we spent the night in the gorgeous bridal suite at QT watching Magic Mike and ordering room service, before retreating to bed early for some beauty sleep. I would recommend spending the night before the wedding somewhere away from your own home if possible, as it adds to the excitement and makes it that little bit more special.

Laura getting ready with her bridesmaids and mum.

Getting ready with the bridesmaids and mum. Photo: Heartstory Photography

The next morning, I woke up early as I was too excited to sleep in – I was pretty much a kid at Christmas again. We were lucky as the weather turned out well considering it was a winter’s day, with plenty of sunshine. The girls and I got ready in the bridal suite, mum and grandma popped in, there was music going, a bit of champagne – so much fun.

A behind the scenes snap by my beautiful maid of honour, Chloe.

A behind the scenes snap of the dress by my beautiful maid of honour, Chloe.

Despite being a control freak, I ended up giving my phone to my maid of honour on the day after she insisted, so she could field any calls and I could concentrate on trying to get ready. Even though I was nervous about parting with my phone at first, it really helped. I was actually incredibly calm, which surprised everyone since I’m known to get a bit anxious about being the centre of attention.

Once we were all made up and in our dresses, it was time to make our way to the church. My bridesmaids were kind enough to pack a little goodie bag with snacks and drinks to last us throughout the day, that we were able to keep in the car. Highly recommended!

Ready to go to the church.

One final (and nervous) snap before heading off to the church. Photo: Heartstory Photography

I arrived at the church right on time, which I’ve been told is pretty rare for Greek wedding standards – but to be honest, I couldn’t wait to walk down the aisle!

Because it was winter, we all brought coats with us to wear after the ceremony. The girls managed to find coats that were all a similar colour and I brought along a white wool coat I hadn’t actually tried on with my dress yet – I figured I’d wing it.

Peter and his groomsmen outside the church.

Peter and his groomsmen outside the church. Photo: Heartstory Photography

The Greek Orthodox Church of St Nicholas is an absolutely stunning church, and our Priest, Father Petros, has the ability to make you feel completely at ease.

The Orthodox marriage ceremony is the most ancient of Christian wedding rites, and is steeped in ritual and symbolism. The rite is performed by a Priest, who stands before an appropriately covered ceremonial table. The ceremony has two parts:  The Betrothal Service, with the official Blessing of the Rings, and The Marriage Service, with the Crowning of the Bride and Groom.

The ceremony

The ceremony. Photo: Heartstory Photography

After the ceremony was over we had time for a few hugs with relatives before signing our marriage certificates.

Leaving the church was a gorgeous moment: everyone crowded around to throw rice in the winter sunshine. Having rice and rose petals to signal the end of the wedding ceremony added a nice touch and came out brilliantly in the photos.

Leaving the church to a scattering of rice.

Leaving the church to winter sunshine and a scattering of rice. Photo: Heartstory Photography

Once we left the church our photographers took us across the road to Telopea Park for family shots and then to ANU. With gorgeous tall trees, hidden away gardens and beautiful backdrops, Pete and I love the grounds of ANU and liked that people may not necessarily know where we were just from glancing at the photos.

laura and bridesmaids2

Best. Day. Ever. Photo: Heartstory Photography

After our photo session was over, we headed upstairs for some much-needed canapés and drinks. Most guests went straight to QT after the ceremony, which has a fantastic cocktail lounge with fireplaces.

When it was time for us to enter the reception room, we were all pretty nervous. But as we walked in we could sense the festive atmosphere – guests seemed relaxed and in the mood to party, which was exactly what we had wanted.

At the reception.

At the reception. Photo: Heartstory Photography

As soon as we entered we danced a “kalamatinos”, a greek circle dance, and invited everyone to join in. I’d definitely recommend having a boogie once entering – it lightens the mood and sets off the evening in the right way. You’re there to have fun and let your hair down, after all!

We made sure there was food on the tables from the get go, with some antipasti, as we didn’t want to keep guests hungry. (Well, it was a Greek wedding). Since Pete has such a big family, he’s been to loads of weddings so we started to do our research on what works and what doesn’t. Service was a big one for us, so we asked for extra waiters just to make sure nobody was waiting too long for their meals.

Cutting the cake at the reception.

Cutting the cake. Photo: Heartstory Photography

Music was also a huge one – I spent weeks obsessing over the playlist. Though we had a DJ, I still wanted to contribute.  The DJ ended up playing some songs that were on the list and some that weren’t, but I was happy with his choices as the dance floor was packed for most of the night. A general rule for weddings: don’t be afraid to have fun with your music – play some Whitney, whip on some Stayin’ Alive – it doesn’t have to be all the latest hits. Most weddings have a varied crowd with a mix of grandmothers, work colleagues, teens and friends, so it’s important to cater for that. I honestly believe music can make or break a wedding!

Greek dancing at the reception.

Guests get stuck into the greek dancing. Photo: Heartstory Photography

For our first dance, we had about four lessons with Greg from Civic studio Dance Generation to practice. It wasn’t a complicated dance, but it made us feel more relaxed having a mini-routine to think about while everyone’s eyes were on us, rather than swaying back and forth awkwardly.

Along with a DJ, we also had a greek band, Stavros and Stratos, who played during the mains and later on in the night. I found having live music really added to the atmosphere. If you’re having both a DJ and band like us, just make sure you communicate clearly who will play at what time.

We asked the venue whether we could have the room until about 12.30am, as we didn’t want the night to end suddenly. QT were great with managing this (our contact was Victoria) and we’d highly recommend them. At the end of the night we were exhausted, and stayed again in the bridal suite, which the bridesmaids had set up beautifully with rose petals and candles. The next morning we were up in time for breakfast downstairs – we had a few relatives who travelled interstate for the big day, so it was a chance to catch up with them and chat about the wedding. It was a beautiful way to top off an unforgettable weekend!

Some final words of advice: Manage your budget. With all the excitement of the wedding, it’s easy to lose track of how much you’re spending on what. Draw up a spreadsheet of everything you’ve spent so far and what’s left.

It’s also important to stay true to what you want. There can be lots of opinions as the wedding draws closer, but at the end of the day it’s your big moment so try not to let others influence you too much; go with what you feel is right. Each wedding should be unique to that particular couple.

Last of all, make sure you take a moment between the two of you to take it all in, as the day goes so fast. It’s a beautiful feeling to know everyone is there just for you! And as long as you two are having fun, that will translate to the crowd and add to the atmosphere of the day.

DETAILS

Ceremony venue: Greek Orthodox Church of St Nicholas 

Reception venue: QT Canberra

Photography: Heartstory Photography

Videography: Seasons 

Dress: Annabel’s Bridal Studio

Bridesmaids’ dresses: Review 

Groom and groomsmen’s suits: John Hanna 

Bride’s hair: Roji

Bridesmaids’ hair: Infinite Hairstyling 

Makeup: Ali Price 

Reception stylist: Show Pony Events

Flowers: Blooming Mad Flowers

Lighting: Elite Sound and Lighting

Cars: Vintage Car Rentals 

Cake: The Cake Lady Canberra

DJ: Sydney Wedding DJs

Band: Stavros and Stratos

For tips for choosing wedding vendors, click here

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Laura Peppas

Laura Peppas is HerCanberra's senior journalist and communications manager and is the Editor of Unveiled, HerCanberra's wedding magazine. She is enjoying uncovering all that Canberra has to offer, meeting some intriguing locals and working with a pretty awesome bunch of women. Laura has lived in Canberra for most of her life and when she's not writing fervently she enjoys pursuing her passion for travel, reading, online shopping and chai tea. More about the Author

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