Chapel of Love

Andy & Gemma Clarke

Married Saturday, 22 March 2003

Wedding Stories

Wedding Stories

Wedding Stories

Wedding Stories

Wedding Stories

I first met Andy at a basketball game and then later at his parents place where he had me hooked with the way he interacted with his baby sister, who was only two and half years old at the time. He showed so much love and sensitivity and yet he still was a strong man.

After being engaged for two years we still could not find the right place to get married, everything we looked at seemed mediocre. We were looking for somewhere that felt special for both of us, just that little bit unique. We did not want the usual 'nice old church' and 'reception venue' routine. So who would have thought when I was dragged along to a small Sydney fishing trip we would find the perfect place to get married! It was a small chapel in Little Bay (in between Maroubra and Botany) that belongs to Prince Henry Hospital.

We had to get approval to use the chapel, which was not an easy task and took us 3 months. Early February 2002 we knew that we could use the chapel, so this gave us 4 months to plan the wedding. Mind you, I had spent two years researching so I knew what I was doing.

We wanted to get married June 22, 2002 for many reasons. Firstly, June days in Sydney have the best chance of clear sunny skies without rain. Secondly, it was the closest Saturday to my parent's wedding anniversary (June 19). Thirdly, it is International day of the VW Beetle (we both love the old beetles) and lastly, it was the shortest day of the year - hence we could have the longest night!

Andy and I both wanted our minister to marry us, as we had been very close to him (he baptised me when I was 21). We had approval for him to perform the ceremony in the chapel, which holds only 70 people. We decorated the chapel with rose pew bows, vases of ivory roses and large floral arrangements which complimented the massive stain glass window that is seen in the photos here.

We invited four international visitors from Singapore and they were to go whale watching with us at Port Stephens after the wedding. But they didn't need to wait! During the ceremony my Matron of Honour and other guests were pointing out the whales going past in Little Bay (they could see them through the stain glass window!)

A few other things made our wedding just that little bit different. My sister was a grooms' attendant. My husband, my sister and I are all close and call each other 'dude' all the time, so she was named "Best Dude" - she also organised the bucks night!

Even with the best-laid plans, things sometimes do not turn out as you want them - but this didn't seem to matter for us. My friend had made our cake and she was still painting the flower on the day of the wedding! When they were transporting it one of the letters of my name fell off. My dad was rushing around trying to hide this catastrophe from me! The letter was made again and the cake made it safely to the restaurant (I hadn't seen the cake until I walked into the restaurant on the day! It was perfect). In the rush to get the cake transported my dad had grabbed the wrong colour grey pants to match his darker grey suit coat! In the end he looked like he was wearing a morning suit (which is what I had originally asked him to wear). So I did end up getting what I wanted as he didn't realise that his pants didn't match until we were standing outside the chapel together - quite funny!

Our reception was at Yarra Bay Sailing Club at the Seashores Restaurant. We dressed the room up to look like a reception venue with chair covers and candelabras. The Restaurant is situated on an isolated beach and it overlooks Yarra Bay - its beautiful. Christene from the restaurant was very flexible and a pleasure to deal with - her service before and on the day was superb. The food was high quality with a superb chef! On the tables we placed lolly love hearts with "I love you", "Email me" and "U R Cute" on them.

My mother had been collecting wishbones from chickens for years and sanded them down, painted them gold and tied a red bow on them - they were a very nice touch to the day. The waitresses pinned them on their blouses, which was nice. We also had chocolate hearts and I was told the kids were trying to steal them all! After they had exhausted their lolly stealing tactics they started colouring in a picture of my husband and I that we had taken from a cartoon drawing of us. It is a sweet thing to put in our photo album.

My husband deejays in his spare time and he didn't want to deejay at his own wedding and didn't want anyone else to do it. We set up a laptop with pre-recorded mixes my husband had done for the wedding. All our music was done through our laptop that was hooked up to some pretty funky speakers. We also had a PowerPoint presentation running on the laptop of pictures of us growing up and when we met, climbing the harbour bridge etc. It kept our guests busy until we arrived at the restaurant. Our minister was also our MC and he was absolutely wonderful - noone could have done better!

The day was perfect, absolutely clear sky and the sun was shining. Exactly what I had hoped for from a June day. However, my Singaporean Matron of Honour was freezing despite her large velvet wrap! It was a little windy at La Perouse for our pictures but it just added to the character of the day (just like the scuba divers walking along the bridge with us offering their congrats!)

There was a heart shaped puddle at La Perouse, which I didn't even know about until I got the photos back. My friend Edward took the photo, he is a genius and he does this for fun not professionally! The most memorable part of the day was probably the best man's speech - very honest, humorous and very touching. "I hope you know I Will always be there for both of you."

If I could have my time again I would ring the video guy a million times on the Friday and the Saturday morning to ensure he knew what day/date it was! I rang him at 8am on the Saturday and he was on his way to a wedding expo - he was supposed to be with the boys getting ready at 7.30am!! He thought it was the next day. I will not mention what I said after that. Everything was spelt out on our spec sheet and I had even visited him that week to drop in least he made it to my place. The video turned out OK...but I was still concerned re their lack of attention to detail - spelling my name with a "J"!

The hardest thing to arrange was my husband to do a speech for the wedding. He was really nervous about the wedding and really didn't want to do a speech. The day before the wedding my parents said not to worry, he didn't need to make a speech! He was very relieved and this proved to be the answer for a very happy wedding day! It was amazing to see him so relaxed and so in love with me, when we were driving home after the reception he couldn't stop saying how much he loved me and how beautiful I looked. That was probably my favourite part of the day - seeing his dreamy eyes.

The simplest things to organise were the Bridesmaid outfits. We saw them at 'Events', and after my maid of honour tried on the dress and had it adjusted, we got measurements for my Matron of Honour (in Singapore) and sent her the dress over with her father who was in Sydney at the time. She had the length adjusted and it was perfect, which was a load off my mind!

I had the reins for the whole wedding (it seemed). My parents gave us a budget and said, "You work with that and make it what you want." Having a budget is very important because then it is easier to make decisions as you set yourself guidelines and compare quality and value for money.

Our Flower girl's dress was unique and was sourced via I bid for it and it came from New York in mint condition, freshly dry cleaned and it cost way less than in the shops. It matched beautifully with my unusual Ivory and Champagne dress.

Cupid Wedding Cars who provided the VW Beetles on our wedding day were absolutely delightful, premium customer service with no premium cost. Emma from Floradiction who provided the flowers did a fantastic job and got me the flowers I wanted from the English Wedding Magazines. She ordered them especially from Tasmania at no extra cost to me! She is a very helpful and passionate person to deal with.

Unfortunately our honeymoon was really only one day. We went to Port Stephens, went Quad biking and then I became very ill with the flu. We had to go home early. This is why we have entered the Bride of The Year competition so we can have a "real" honeymoon, perhaps at the Cook Islands where we have always dreamed of going.


Photography by: Adam at, "Summit Photography", West Pennant Hills NSW


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