Advice from the Bride -

"You hear that weddings are always stressful. You hear that something always goes wrong. We were certainly hit with a number of challenges, and when I say number, literally everything that could have gone wrong, did. If this happens to you, try to just focus on the good things. Try to just focus on the fact that today, you're marrying the love of your life. Try to focus on the people who showed up. Focus on the smiles, the laughter, the connections. Enjoy every moment because it genuinely flies by in a heartbeat.

Considering the number of things that went wrong on my wedding day, I really lucked out with booking Kate. Kate was more than just our photographer and videographer, she was also like a wedding planner, a maid-of-honour and a best friend all wrapped into one. Kate helped me to speak my mind when I didn't feel comfortable - like when the hairstylist didn't do my hair properly (it wasn't ANYTHING remotely similar to the picture I had given her), or by helping the makeup artist stick to the timeline. She planned a beautiful first look, helped us with poses, met the driver who would take us from the hotel to the church, helped the bridesmaids set up the flowers, showed my guests how to do the rapid antigen tests, checked in with me while I was waiting in the car, she made sure I was calm when things were going wrong and even straightened my beautiful train which the bridesmaids forgot! She also quarantined before the wedding to ensure she could honour her commitment to us which was AMAZING as my make up artist, hairstylist and tan technician all cancelled on me last minute because of Covid. Luckily, I was able to replace them all, but I don't know what I would have done if I'd had to replace Kate too. She even wore double masks on the day, ensuring that she was safe for the next wedding on her books.

Kate, you were the calm in our storm of a day. You kept us on time (as much as humanly possible), helped me to focus on the positives and ensured that we enjoyed our day no matter what life (or I should say Covid) threw our way. You are the one thing I'm so glad I invested in. Your beautiful images and film will last forever and I'm truly grateful we asked you to capture our day."

An International Love Story

Hillsong Chapel Sydney

The stars truly aligned to bring Miriam and Cassiano together. They both moved to Australia, Cassiano originally from Brazil and Miriam from Canada, in 2010 - neither imagining that they'd meet the love of their life on the other side of the world. They met in 2012 at a fitness conference and went on a few dates but with Miriam residing in Canberra and Cass in Sydney, neither wanted the difficulties of a long-distance relationship. Miriam and Cass went their separate ways but reconnected in 2016 when Miriam visited Hillsong Chapel in Sydney for Christmas. Cass, by chance, caught Miriam's Hillsong Chapel's post on Instagram and reached out, as this was his regular place of worship. Although they intended to catch up as friends, sparks flew, and their connection was palpable. Their breakfast date turned into hiking, which turned into snorkelling, lunch by the beach, ice cream dates, walks under the stars… it really was meant to be, and this time, they both knew it! They continued their long-distance relationship for three and a half years until Miriam was finally able to move to Sydney. Shortly after the move, Cass proposed to Miriam on the rocky ocean shores of Wollongong, where they celebrated their one year anniversary.

Miriam and Cass had initially dreamt of tying the knot in Rio de Janeiro, Cassiano's homeland, but unfortunately, Covid had other ideas. Simply getting married under the eyes of God, and celebrating their love was more important than the day itself, so they envisioned another more intimate wedding, one which focused on their love and what was meaningful to them in Australia: the date - their five year anniversary, the venue - Hillsong Chapel, the church that connected them and supported them as a couple, the guests - the friends who, as the Best Man said, "are the family you choose".

Planning the wedding was very challenging during Covid. Booking reception venues was nearly impossible as most were booked out from the previous backlog of Covid-postponed weddings, and planning during the lockdown meant that most vendors weren't even taking bookings. However, with the help of some friends and a lot of time on Facebook Marketplace, they managed to pull a meaningful, intimate wedding together.

"As long as people have good food, ample drinks and great company, we're happy", the couple said.

About three weeks before the wedding, Miriam's brother heard that the international borders were reopening for parents of Australian permanent residents and did everything he could to ensure Miriam's Mum could attend the wedding. With tight timelines, rising Covid cases, and increasing restrictions, no one thought it would happen, but against all odds, she arrived in Sydney on January 3rd.

"With the Omicron outbreak worsening every day, both my Mum and I were acting like it wouldn't happen. Neither of us wanted to be disappointed so I planned the wedding as if she wouldn't be here. It was so surreal to see her in the airport. It felt like a dream! My father passed away a couple of years ago, and I know he would have wanted to see me get married. As my Mom is older, I was worried about not having that moment with her too. Her presence at our wedding was truly the greatest gift", said Miriam.

Although the stars aligned to bring Miriam's mother over, luck wasn't entirely on their side. The small wedding of 67, ended up being 35 on the day due to Omicron, with the couple finding out as late as the morning of the wedding that Miriam's Maid of Honour and a number of the couple's closest friends couldn't attend. The couple also spent over a thousand dollars on rapid antigen tests and although they ordered them months before the wedding, on the day of, they were informed that they wouldn't arrive until the next day - what good would $1000 worth of rapid antigen tests be then?!

"What an experience!" the bride said. "I asked my friend's teenage daughter to stand in place of my Maid of Honour, holding my Maid of Honor on FaceTime on her phone. As I walked into Hillsong Chapel, I was taken aback by the mostly empty pews, with the few people that had made it all staggered throughout the aisles and their facial expressions covered by their masks. It was very different from the vision I originally had for my wedding, with beautiful ideals borrowed from movies and wedding blogs. But, I just focused on my future husband and once the ceremony started and I was looking into his eyes, I swear it was just the two of us in the chapel, feeling the presence of God blessing our relationship."

After the ceremony, they headed to the couple's house which was decorated with fairy lights, wine barrels and peonies. Everyone loved the Brazilian Barbecue catering and people went home with containers full of food. The cake was incredible, made by a local, at-home baker. The couple also surprised their guests with an incredible first dance, including spins, dips, splits and lifts. To top it all off, after a tiny bit of rain, they were blessed with a half rainbow to add to the magic of the day.
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