Real weddings: Geri and James

HerCanberra Team

Geri and James had a big wedding planned but decided to hold a “pop up” ceremony in secret two days earlier at the National Arboretum’s Cork Forest. The lovely bride takes us through the big surprise…

Getting ready

On the day, we checked into the Design Icon Apartments managed by Hotel Hotel to get ready.


We woke up together and got a few final things ready before parting ways so I could get into my wedding dress with the help of my sister. James headed off with his sister to finalise the last bits and pieces and set up in the Cork Forest.


The dress

I was spoilt to have my dress designed and made by my sister Melanie of Designs by Melanie Ford. She has so many great ideas and made me feel part of the design and making process the whole way. I took a few ideas I liked along to our first appointment and she designed me a 1950s inspired, silk and tulle gown with 3D lace flower.


I wouldn’t normally choose lace, but with her creativity I was sold and absolutely loved the lace. She beautifully made the dress to fit my fun and relaxed personality and even did an extra fitting the day before the wedding to make sure it was perfectly crafted around my 20 week pregnant belly.


The ceremony

One of our very first thoughts when it came to getting married was an intimate and special ceremony just between us and our parents. And with the help and excitement of Steven and Michael from Canberra Small Weddings, we were able to realise this in the perfect way.


Our parents had no idea it was happening. We invited them to the National Arboretum for picnic drinks, where they were greeted by James in a suit with Steven and Michael helping to maintain the facade. After a brief chat I came over the horizon and the secret was out!


It was a beautiful ceremony and tailored perfectly for James and I by Steven.We love the outdoors and knew all we needed for our wedding was a beautiful setting and the seclusion of the Cork Forest to pull off our plan!



The reception

Amazingly our parents managed to keep the secret for the two days before the “celebration” reception on the 19th (what our guests thought was our wedding.)


When it came to the “celebration” reception location, we stumbled across the Griffith shops one day when we were looking for lunch and were inspired by the cute architecture, and Canberra Commons bricks of the Griffith Community Hall. It had great indoor/outdoor facilities and it was located next to the Griffins Pub who were so generous in supplying their services to us.


We greeted people at the entrance to the wedding with our wedding rings off and once everyone had a drink in their hand we invited them into the main reception area to watch a short photo montage of the actual wedding.


Some people caught on quicker than others, but immediately the pressure was off and the party began! It was fun watching the realisation on our guests’ faces of what had already happened and of course made for a good laugh afterwards.


We got great value by choosing the community hall, and we kept the menu and drinks list – supplied by Griffins Pub – simple but delicious. We engaged our friends and families to help out with audio, reception photography, the cake (thanks Kate!), set up and pack down of the venue, and we worked as hard as we could ourselves to bring everything together including doing invitations all online.


The little details

Ceremony venue: Cork Forest, National Arboretum
Reception venue: Griffith Community Hall (two days later)
Photographer: Michael from Canberra Small Weddings
Celebrant: Steven from Canberra Small Weddings
Dress: Designs by Melanie Ford
Groom and groomsmen’s suits: Hugo Boss
Bride’s hair: Scissor and Roc, Kingston Foreshore
Makeup: DIY
Reception stylist: DIY
Flowers: DIY origami flowers made over five months
Lighting: DIY festoon lighting
Cake: Friend
DJ: Playlist of ours and guests’ favourites, they had to add their favourite song on the RSVP
Stationary: Paperless Post, online invitations
First dance song: Fooled around and fell in love – Elvin Bishop


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