Sam didn’t necessarily have a wedding on her mind when two years ago a friend encouraged her to give online dating a go. She had been divorced for four years, was a dedicated mother to her pre-teen daughter and ran her own business in finance broking. Naturally her calendar was pretty full. But when fate swooped in and presented her a ‘wildcard’ on a dating site, Adam – an Eastern suburbs accountant with three children –things took an interesting turn. Eighteen months later, just after her 49th birthday, he would take her to a private location in Fiji and ask her one of the most important questions of her life.
The following year, on November 24th 2018 the two would be married on the deck of Regatta Rose Bay, to the sounds of the ocean just beside, and in front of 80 of their nearest and dearest. The ceremony was one with a strong sense of ‘family’ lingering in the air, even long after all the guests departed. We caught up with Sam recently to ask a few questions about what made this day on the Rose Bay waterfront so special and why Regatta was the perfect venue for the celebration.
Where was your first date?
Adam sent me a message online and I couldn't believe how gorgeous he was. Our first date was for coffee in Woollahra and we both knew instantly we’d found 'the one'.
How did you start to organise your wedding? What aspects were the first to be ticked off the 'to do' list?
The wedding venue was the most important to tick off the list first. Gay marriage had just been legalised a month previous, so we knew venues would be booking out quickly. We knew we wanted a beachfront wedding venue but after searching there were very limited options in Sydney. Adam suggested Regatta after lunching with my father at the venue. We also locked in a celebrant early and I started the hunt for my wedding dress – I knew it wouldn't be easy to find the perfect dress.
What was left to the last minute?
The bridesmaids and groomsman's shoes! Our children were the bridal party and we only found the right shoes a week before the wedding. Adam's 10 year old daughter was adamant she wanted navy blue sandals with heels (like her 15 year old stepsister) and finding heels for girls that age proved to be difficult. We got them in the end, albeit a little oversized!
Why did you choose Regatta Rose Bay as your wedding venue?
The harbour front location, the nearby beach (where we had initially planned our ceremony but changed it to be safe with the weather), the great food, an extremely helpful sommelier – Luke Marosszeky – and the balcony off the bar area. We wanted a stand up function with food served throughout the evening to encourage people to mingle, rather than feel stuck at a table. Our initial meeting with the staff really impressed us. Even when we requested something that hadn't been done before, they made it happen!
How much did you contribute to the intricate details of the wedding and how much did you hand over to a planner?
I have a creative background so I put together mood boards to brief the venue, planner, photographer and florist to ensure everything was delivered to precision. However, our planner – Mauli Ryan from The Planners – also contributed some great additional suggestions and organised everything.
What do you think makes a truly memorable wedding?
What was most memorable about yours?
Our guests all commented on how much love they felt at the wedding – it had taken us 48 years to find each other and we had to blend 4 children together. Seeing our blended family so happy on the day had many guests in tears at the ceremony. Everyone loved that Adam and the groomsmen arrived in a hardwood Italian speedboat, and then we departed on it together at the end of the evening, waved off by guests with sparklers on the pier. It was a beautiful way to leave the party under the moonlight, cruising on the harbour to our hotel.
Did you have a traditional groomsman/bridal party and sit down meal or did you jazz up it up with something different?
Our four children were our bridal party - it was so beautiful to have our kids by our sides. The two girls, 10 and 15, were bridesmaids in gorgeous blue cocktail dresses, and the two boys, 7 and 8, were in navy suits with bow ties and suede slip ons. After the ring ceremony we gave Tiffany bracelets to our children as a symbol of family commitment and love. We wanted a stand up function so people would meet and chat, so we had a cocktail style dinner. We also served drinks on the downstairs marina deck following the ceremony and got special permission from the marina for the groom and his groomsmen to arrive on a boat.
Any notable moments from the speeches?
My 15 year old daughter stole the show with the most amazing speech, which she had written all on her own. Blending a family is never easy, however her words about her love for her new brothers and sister and her new stepfather brought most of the guests to tears. She spoke with such confidence and emotion that we were both blown away with pride.
How did what you had in mind measure up against how the day panned out?
We were absolutely thrilled with the venue, the food, the wine and the service!
Where have you decided to celebrate your honeymoon?
We went to Bangkok then onto Hoi An and Danang in Vietnam for two weeks. We both love Asian food, temples, statues and beautiful beaches, so it was the perfect choice!