Top: Alien Abduction tee by Pastel Pixie
Skirt: Lavender PVC skater skirt by Black Milk Clothing
Stockings: Microfiber Footless Tights in Pastel Mint by We Love Colors
Necklaces: Pastel Pixie and Kmart
Hair Bow: Ruby Kawaii
Top: Alien Abduction tee by Pastel Pixie
Skirt: Lavender PVC skater skirt by Black Milk Clothing
Stockings: Microfiber Footless Tights in Pastel Mint by We Love Colors
Necklaces: Pastel Pixie and Kmart
Hair Bow: Ruby Kawaii
I haven’t ever really suffered from feminist fatigue before, but this week I definitely felt it. I actually love getting into online arguments with people about sexism, whether it’s convincing someone their way of thinking is harmful or just smashing misogynists with my witty insults (because proper debate with those kinds of turds just ain’t gonna happen). Sometimes I feel frustrated with all of the crap news I read about how shit the world is to women, whether it’s about another woman being killed by a man in Australia or a new statistic proving how broad the wage gap is or whatever… but usually my frustration feeds my passion to continue to help sort the world out.
But dang, when you have a bunch of arguments with people you actually know and who you think are on your side, it becomes a lot harder to turn that frustration into empowerment because it seems like everything you’ve tried to do has fallen on deaf ears or has made others resent you. I’ve recently been told I’m too aggressive, that I’m just a keyboard warrior who does nothing in the real world, that it’s pointless and besides we have it’s good enough now, don’t we? Not just by randoms, this came from family members and people I thought were friends. One person who was kind of a friend and an occasional client of mine had a big rant on facebook about how the new wave of feminism is about hating men, being too aggressive, turning people off and has actually pushed feminism back decades. I couldn’t help but feel like I was one of her targets in this post (maybe I wasn’t, but I’d be shocked if that were the case). So I told her I absolutely disagreed and that being calm and pandering to male ego’s by quietly explaining why feminism matters and how it benefits men too isn’t working any more and being loud, assertive and sometimes aggressive, is the new way forward. She was an arsehole about it, told me I was embarrassing myself so I deleted her as a friend and am quite OK without her in my life.
But it still bummed me out. How many other friends think this way about me but just don’t say anything? Why do people react so badly to women standing up for themselves and yet don’t seem to mind the abuse women face every damn day, particularly online? How the hell are we meant to be polite and calm in the face of dudebro’s telling us that feminism is ruining the world, that we have the right to vote and own property now, what else do we need? That we literally exist for their pleasure and that it’d be better if we just shut up, spread our legs and make them dinner afterwards? That we provoked our own rapes for wearing the wrong outfit, for being out late at night, for enjoying a few drinks? That domestic violence is either deserved or affects men more or is just a myth perpetuated my angry lesbian feminists? Or just having everything undermined from some privileged manchild who loves playing devil’s advocate, insists you’re overreacting, that men experience the same thing or acts like your lived experience isn’t actually real because he’s never experienced it himself.
Look, I know the sort of feminism I’m into can be confrontational to those who’ve not seen it before. I fully acknowledge and accept that it’s not for everyone. In fact I started off thinking kindly explaining it to people, being patient and kind in my discussions was the best course of action in my pursuit of women’s right. After all, you get more flies with honey than vinegar, right? But it’s been proven time and time again that this isn’t working for me. Being polite and considerate of men’s feelings can so often be taken as weakness. So one of these “discussions” would go on forever with me not making any progress and ol’ mate thinking he won because he out-debated me. And if ever I snapped and yelled at them my entire argument would be thrown out because I suddenly became irrational, too emotional and swore which GOD FORBID women ever do!
So now I start off angry when I encounter this misogynistic trolls. We live in an age where Google exists, the internet is literally everywhere around us. Men who ask pedantic questions about why feminism is still needed are being wilfully ignorant, they just want to piss you off with their ceaseless questioning, so that we’ll get bored or annoyed and give up. Men who deny such things about the epidemic of male violence against women, the wage gap, workplace sexism and harassment, cat calling, death/rape threats online and everything else that feminists are fighting against are purposely ignoring actual evidence from women and proven research (y’know, science) because acknowledging it means they have to admit world kinda sucks for women and they need to give up some of their privileges in order to help make things better. If anyone is able to argue with these kinds of people without getting angry and becoming aggressive and swearing, then you rock! Keep it up! This movement needs all different types of fighters involved and that absolutely includes those who keep calm and measured in their discussions. But that no longer works for me and I refuse to be silenced or feel shame because I am a loud, shouty woman who wants to rid the world of harmful sexism!
I’ve been called a Social Justice Warrior times than I care to recall, and I love it. Damn straight I am! I will never, ever stop fighting against social injustices. Not just against women either. I am passionate about injustices against people of colour, LGBTI+ people, the poor, people with disabilities and the poor souls stuck in detention centres around Australia. I admit, a lot of my activism happens online, but that’s where I find myself a lot. If and when opportunities arise where my activism is needs out in the “real” world, well I’ll be there too! I will not stop being a passionate, angry person. It’s who I am and I know my message is being received by some people. Just this morning I got the most wonderful text from a friend who said she’d been listening to what I’ve been saying (both online and in face-to-face conversations) and confronted a man for being a rude pig to her while at work. If she didn’t know me, she probably would have just ignored him and felt awful about it later, but I helped her stand up for herself and give her a shot of confidence against entitled men who think they’re allowed to say whatever they like to women. It may be a small drop in the ocean in the grand scheme, but it meant the world to me and I know I’ve helped other people too. So no, I will not stop being the kind of feminist I am. It may not be for you, and that’s fine, but I don’t want to hear your opinions about it. If it pisses you off so much you’re free to stop engaging with me, to delete me off facebook, avoid spending time with me or whatever makes your life easier. But if you like/love me and want to be in my life, then you have to accept this part of me. And I’m not sorry about it.
On Saturday 26th March we at the Pastel Palace hosted a Harry Potter themed market called Evening at Hogwarts. When we originally discussed it, it was just going to be about four stalls in the front yard of our shop running past our usual closing time. So a facebook event was created and we probably shared it to the usual amount of people we share any of our other events to (there are monthly artist and crafters markets as well as the occasional fundraiser event or art show). But somehow, without us ever understanding how or why, the event went viral and the numbers of potential attendees starting moving up to the hundreds. There was a venue change when it started getting into the thousands and by the time we had the event, there were over 7800 people who had clicked “going” and 18,000 who said they were interested in the event.
In the end we had thirteen vendors (you can see the list of vendors here) in a hall which has a maximum capacity of maybe 300 or so people and a rough guess of maybe 6000 people turning up to attend. People lined up for upwards for two hours, some people event claimed they waited for over four, in the hot sun for a chance to look at our little market. So say we were unprepared for this much interest in a massive understatement. But how do you actually prepare for something like this? How seriously can you take the attending list from a facebook event? How many times can you post reminders that this is a small, free market a few Harry Potter fans are putting on for fun? It was bizarre and I’m still shocked by it all. We had people lining up for blocks consistently from about 11am until 6.45pm when I realised the line was still there and just let everyone in so we could close at 7pm.
The good news is that all of the vendors did well, sold heaps and made some money. Our Ruby Kawaii stall did better in one day that we usually make at a whole weekend at Supanova! I only ended up doing eight sets of nails because I felt like I could be of more use elsewhere, thought eight sets of nails at one event is still pretty good! Ben spent a good four hours on our facebook event fielding complaints and keeping people updated when he had only come along to help us set up and take a few photos! My friends Chris and Bizzy who were only meant to come for a couple of hours to serve/set up were there the whole day without rest. Thanks again, guys!
Needless to say we’re looking into having a 2nd event but will be planning it very differently to ensure things run more smoothly and people don’t have to line up for hours in the sun. We’re also going to be careful about expecting that kind of turn out again, as there’s a very good chance it was a weird, once-off freak occurrence. I mean, I had my Harry Potter fan club in the early-mid 2000s and we had maybe 100 or so members at its peak, so we had NO idea a Hogwarts themed market would get so much attention when the last movie and book came out years ago! So needless to say you’ll probably see me post about this in the near future!
Here are a few photos Ben took before things got too hectic and he became our social media manager:
Cara Westworth aka @kawaiiklaws is using fingernails on men and women as canvases to help people express themselves through small pieces of art. Most recently she’s been helping people pay tribute to the likes of David Bowie and Alan Rickman. Cara’s been visiting local craft beer bars hoping men might get on board the popular trend. 📷: ABC’s Jessica Hinchliffe #Brisbane #nails #art #popculture #kawaii #kawaiinails #kawaiinailart #queensland @abcnews_au #abcopen
A photo posted by 612 ABC Brisbane (@612abcbrisbane) on
Last week I was interviewed by ABC Brisbane for my nail business Kawaii Klaws. Apparently an ABC employee who is a regular at Ben’s bar saw me doing nail art at their Star Wars event which he thought was really cool so he suggested his colleague Jessica Hinchcliffe contact me to do a piece. She sent me a message and we arranged a time for her to have a chat with me and take some photos. I actually just assumed she was just scouting for possible stories but we did a proper interview and the next day I was on their website and even on the radio! I was obviously super stoked by it because it was a really nice piece and obviously I want to spread the nail art love in Brisbane!
A day later, Ben noticed that the article had been reposted by the national ABC Facebook page! It was one thing for the people of Brisbane to be aware of my work, but all of Australia? How cool is that? After some cheering, I then asked “so… what do they have to say in the comments?” which I know I should avoid at all costs but I was curious and have a pretty thick skin when it comes to people trying to be mean to me on the internet. I was expecting couple of douchebags clogging up the comments section with useless drivel but I was almost impressed by how random some of it was!
Here are a few examples:
Like, what do you even say to some of these people? Oh I’m terribly sorry that every single article that the ABC posts on their Facebook page isn’t tailored to your interests? Just because you’re not interested in something, doesn’t mean it’s not newsworthy to others, dickhead! Also, how do you look at my ail art and say it’s crap? I’m not implying I’m the best out there (far from it) but I do some really good work! Don’t even get my on the Jamberry spam consultant either…
Brett Freeman made me laugh with his fury at fuel prices. I’m going to guess that he goes onto just about every news article he sees that isn’t about fuel prices and complain that they’re not focusing on the REAL issues, like how much it costs to fill a car with petrol! A few people replied to him, telling him that we’re all capable of thinking about more than one thing at a time (and that many of us DO car about how expensive petrol in Australia is) but he wouldn’t have a bar of it because clearly nails are just a DISTRACTION from the great fuel conspiracy! Haha ok mate!
But the real reason why I’m posting about these dingbats is because of this thread. While it wasn’t unexpected, seeing complete strangers discuss my looks was a real bummer. This article was about my nail art, and yet a bunch of men and even some women ignored all of that to talk about my boobs and whether or not my tattoos ruin my looks. Ol’ mate Christopher Marx even had something to say in another thread:
Whenever some dropkick says “we don’t need feminism” any more, I want to smear their face in comments like these. Why the fuck can’t women just exist without men feeling entitled to critique their looks and their fuckability? It was a piece about NAIL ART for crying out loud? What if I wasn’t conventionally attractive, would they have discussed how ugly I am, how undeserving of a new article I was? What if I was more conventionally beautiful, as in I had a natural hair colour and no tattoos, how gross could the comments have gotten then? Some friends jumped on with their feelings about these arseholes and eventually I decided to have a bit of a say:
When men (and women) do this sort of thing, they are perpetuating a culture of sexism where women are only valued for their looks, not what they do or their smarts or anything else. It turns women into objects which can be discussed as though they aren’t actual human beings with feelings or any other uses but to be looked at and maybe fucked, if they’re lucky. Sure, maybe they didn’t mean to offend, except you were offensive and rude so your intentions mean precisely nothing (though I’d argue that calling someone’s tattoos ugly actually did mean to be offensive, Ruby Moon). It may seem like a stretch to some, but this is why we live in a world where women are continually attacked and harmed by men because our worth is reduced down to our looks and not much else. The culture of toxic masculinity feels justified in treating women as mere objects, so that when we say no to them or try to leave them, we get beaten and/or killed because we’re just things to be possessed to these types of men.
All in all I was delighted to have Kawaii Klaws featured on the ABC. I think I fared OK with the comments as the ABC facebook can be a seething cesspool of awful opinions and shouted nonsense. But then again I have a very thick skin because I love engaging with douchebags on the internet, so little of what they can say really hurts my feelings (oh I’m fat and ugly, yeah ok m8, whatever you reckon). Imagine if I never fought trolls online so I wasn’t used to mean comments from jerks with nothing better to do with their time except to harass women? That would be sad, scary and possibly make me want to avoid any future media coverage, which is totally unfair.
Next time you contemplate writing a comment on a facebook status or news article or blog post that discusses how a woman looks, STOP. Have a think about why you’re doing it and whether it has any relevance to the post at all. Are you missing the point of the post to compliment/insult her looks, her body type or her sense of style? How would you feel if someone ignored what you had to say to make commentary on your looks? As a general rule, it’s always safer to just keep those opinions to yourself. No one cares what you find attractive, if you like tattoos, if you think women look better with “meat on them” or not. It doesn’t matter if you’re a woman also, because you’re still perpetuating the same harm, which other men see and think “well a woman said it about her, so it must be true/ok!”.
Now you know about how the biggest day of my life went, I thought I’d wrap things up by sharing the details of what we all wore. I’ll provide links wherever possible in case you need recommendations for your wedding!
I had no intention whatsoever to wear white, it just seemed so unlike me, so it was pretty surprising when I saw this dress and immediately though “yes, this is it”. It’s actually a Disney dress, specifically Belle from Beauty and the Beast so it also came in a pale gold colour (like from the movie) but white was where it was at. I put it on and it fit like a dream and mum could immediately see how she could adjust it to make it look like the Stella de Libero (SdL) dress and that was that, we had the toughest part of my dress sorted!
To customise it and capture the look of the SdL dress, we took the original white satin flowers off and replaced them with colourful fake roses and flowers we collected. One of the things that endeared mum and I to this dress was the fact it already had pick-up’s (that is, parts of the skirt were tacked up to create puffy sections) which we filled with more flowers which were wrapped in sparkly tulle to mute the colours and add some sparkle! We’d had plans to add some Halloweeny stuff into the skirt but we really just didn’t have time to track the right items down, though in retrospect I think the flowers were perfect on their own. The top of the dress was absolutely perfect as it was so we didn’t have to adjust it (the bodice had a flattering dropped waist that was encrusted with gems, sequins and silver thread). Mum added a white satin bow to the back of the bodice which was meant to allow the train to be tucked up for dancing, though we didn’t actually remember to do that on the night!
Figuring out what jewellery to wear was really tough! I searched the internet relentlessly for classy, silver Halloween jewellery but nothing really existed that was going to go well with my dress (that wasn’t cheap and nasty or very expensive, anyway). Mum eventually came up with the idea of using a piece of lace encrusted with pretty items as a statement piece. She had the lace and the bits and bobs which I pieced together like a pretty game of tetris. If you look closely there’s a pewter jack-o-lantern, a fairy riding a unicorn and a pink cameo which I’ve had for years, which made the necklace totally “me”. My good friend Danella made the pearl chain for it as we didn’t have the right pearls on hand and she’s a pro at beading!
My shoes were by Easy Steps which is just about the daggiest brand of shoes I can think of BUT they’re made to be super comfy which was the only reason why I was able to wear heels for more than an hour (remember how I broke my foot in March 2014?).
There were two potential hurdles that could have ruined these dresses but we managed to work through. The first one was when I attempted to iron the tulle on one skirt, I was holding the iron, which had a protective cover on it, a good 15cm above the tulle and yet somehow burned two holes in it! Unless mum just gave up on sleep, there was no time to replace the tulle but luckily the holes didn’t really show as the gathering kind of hid them. Phew! Then there was the fact Sarah lives a good hour out of Brisbane which means we only managed a couple of fittings and after the last one mum took her bodice in a little too far and it almost didn’t fit on the day! Fortunately we got through that by getting the girls to ditch their bras and removing the panels behind the laces. Yay!
The girls wore black shoes of their choices because they weren’t really going to be seen anyway, and I wanted them to be comfortable. Especially Sarah who badly hurt her foot a month or so earlier and technically should have been wearing a moon boot! God we’re all so clumsy!
Ben’s ring was a family heirloom, it was originally his great grandfathers wedding ring which is engraved with his initials CN. Ben is not a jewellery wearer so we had no idea what to do about his ring so when his parents offered him this ring, we were stoked! Luckily it also happened to fit him perfectly, so it was clearly meant to be!
I’d like to thank the following people for their help with out outfits:
This is post number five in the series. To read the previous four posts, click here.
We returned from taking the location photos, a little bit later (and sweatier) than planned thanks to the excitement of the big animal party we’d just had as it was getting dark. We quickly got some drinks, told mum about the photos and went into the hall, ready to start speeches.
Kieran was up first and gave a lovely speech about how damn great everyone there was. You always hear about weddings being stressful with there being drama between relatives or strained friendships, but I’m proud to say everyone there was just awesome. There were people from such varied friendship circles and they all got on like they’d been pals for years. I saw friends of mine who had never met hanging out and laughing like they went way back and even now I see they’re friends on facebook and it makes me heart swell with joy! So Kieran articulated something very special and important and I am so glad it happened at our wedding.
Sarah was up next and was as hilarious as expected. It did get pretty bittersweet when she said she knew we were meant to be because she kind of lost her best friend when we got together. The fact is, Sarah was a rock for me when I was going through a hellish relationship with my abusive ex, she provided endless support and reprieve for me when I needed to get away from him and got me through the nightmare that was the breakup, which I can never thank her enough for. She then let everyone know just how much work my mum out into he wedding, detailing all of the things she handmade to pointing out just how much of her own furniture filled the hall. Of course, mum cried, and found herself inundated after the speeches by people congratulating her on all her amazing work.
Ben was the last to give a speech (I’m not a particularly good public speaker and knew Ben would do an excellent job, also speeches get boring so three people was more than enough) where he thanked everyone for coming, embarrassed me by reminding everyone my new business was kicking off the following Saturday and letting everyone know dinner was up!
One of the things that worried me the most about organising was the food. We know a lot of vegetarians, vegans and coeliacs who we absolutely wanted to cater for, but there weren’t many catering companies who specialised in specific dietary requirements, plus the hall didn’t have a kitchen so everything would have to be prepared offsite. I looked into a few places for buffet-style food as I was keen to have a semi-sit down meal to go with the Haunted Mansion theme but the quotes I got were completely out of our budget. After some thought we remembered how our friends Ben and Anna had a food truck at their wedding which was such an easy, fun and affordable option. Luckily Ben’s bar shares a warehouse with the guys from Juan More Taco who were more than happy to serve their delicious tacos which catered to all of our friends perfectly! It wasn’t quite on-theme but it worked perfectly for us and everyone loved it so it was a win, win!
After people had stuffed themselves with tacos and were starting to move to the dance floor, we did the cutting of the cake and then our first dance. I absolutely loved how someone passed Ben the fake axe someone brought along as a prop so we got some excellent photos of us brandishing weapons at one another (though I realise in retrospect if it’d been anything but a Halloween themed wedding this would have been out of place, kind of tacky and bordering on joking about domestic violence which is not ok). Once the cake was cut and moved away, we had our first dance to “I Put A Spell On You” by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins which we kind of shuffled around to for a minute before we invited everyone up to dance with us. Both Ben and I love a good dance but we didn’t have any time to practice, in fact we only decided on the song about a week or two before the wedding!
I think it goes without saying that our dance floor was pretty hectic, but in the most wonderful way possible! We had our mate Nick (aka El Norto) DJ for us and he was freaking amazing! He only plays with vinyl and his collection is just amazing and he knows how to make everyone get up and dance! One f the best memories I have was talking to some friends and stopping mid-way through a sentence and saying “I’m sorry, but my mum appears to be carving up the dance floor, I need to go”. My mum was having the BEST time, dancing with anyone and everyone!
After a bunch of dancing I was getting sore feet since I’m not used to high heels any more, plus the train of my dress was getting stepped on and wasn’t particularly breathable, so I snuck off to the toilets to change into a more comfortable outfit including my favourite converse to keep dancing all night!
After a bunch more socialising with our friends, things started getting pretty crazy on the dance floor…
So back when we were in New Zealand earlier in the year, Ben heard someone playing “Dream On” by Aerosmith which became the song of the trip, culminating in him doing a very drunken dance to it for us all, which was really just him stumbling around. It was hilarious and no one who was there has let him forget it. So much so one of the beers made for the wedding was called the Jungles Stumble Dance and the decal included a clear space so that a phone playing a gif of Ben “dancing” could play on loop. So obviously this song was played for Ben to dance to, he was lifted up on shoulders to be seen by everyone, but somehow it was decided I should be lifted up too!
The dancing only got more intense from there, with a mosh pit, more unexpected lifting and then a big group hug for another of Ben’s favourite party songs by Aerosmith, “Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing“, inbetween everyone dancing up an absolute storm. All I can say is thank goodness we didn’t have a repeat of the previous October where temperatures got up to 40°C because that would have severely impacted everyone’s exuberance!
The last song of the night was “Feels Good” by Tony! Toni! Toné! for a few different reasons. Firstly, it is one of my all time favourite new jack swing songs, in fact it’s probably in my top 10 favourite songs of all times. It’s boppy and fun and about love and wanting to get married and I could dance to it forever! But the main reason we played it is because it featured in an episode of our current favourite TV show Rick & Morty (note: this clip is gorey). So yeah, we got to include one extra little bit of nerdy obnoxiousness into our wedding, which thankfully was a massive hit with everyone. Ben and I danced on the stage above everyone, before leaping off to join everyone for the last half of the song. It was absolutely the best and most perfect way for my wedding to end and I get kind of teary thinking about it still!
My last memory of the evening was stuffing my face with leftover baba ghanoush while being convinced that I was probably better off not going out to keep partying and should probably get to bed. It was the most amazing night which I will never, ever forget and I am really glad I got to share it with you all!
I would like to thank the following people for all their help:
Kristina, once again, for her amazing photos and for partying with us until late to get the most ridiculous photos of us dancing our butts off
Marjana and Jodie for getting to the hall early to finish setting up and staying on to party with us all until late
Gav, Vanessa and Ash for looking after the bar and helping us keep things orderly while also have a great time with us
Nick, for being a fan-fucking-tastic DJ and knowing all the right songs to play (and being cool with us playing a couple of our own songs that weren’t in your collection)
Juan More Taco and Alphabet cafe for providing delicious eats to sustain everyone for the dance floor
All of our friends for coming and having the best flipping time, so that all of the stress and anxiety leading up to the wedding was 110% worthwhile
The friends and family who pushed through their hangovers to help us empty and clean the hall and return all of the furniture to their rightful owners
I was almost going to do separate posts the group photos and the decorations but then I figured that was getting a tad bit ridiculous since I’m probably going to wind up doing six wedding posts and not four as I originally planned. Plus I don’t need to say a lot about the group shots per say (click on the pic if you’d like to see more info about who’s in the photo).
We had approximately 130 people at our wedding which we were able to accommodate because of the size of Brookfield Hall and because we found a cheap way to feed everyone aaand Ben works in the booze industry so we were able to sort the alcohol side of things up cheaper than most people can for weddings. If I have just one tip for organising a wedding, utilise any and all of the resources available to you!
This is the best group shot ever! Kristina asked us to put on undead, zombie faces and this was the result. Hilarious! This is definitely one photo I recommend zooming in on!
Ben’s extended family including his pop Frank on the far right dressed as a vampire. We actually requested people not dress up in costume (well, at least not in cheesy costumes) and gave some guidelines in how to dress, but Frank is his own man and looked wonderful so no one minded at all :D
Ben’s immediate family.
My immediate family! I’m not close with my extended family and my dad didn’t get an invite for personal reasons so it was just the three of us representing the Westworth’s!
Hahaha classic Cara and Erin :D
With everyone from The Scratch!
With Ben’s nan Rae, the only person who guessed I’d be in white because black would be too obvious and no one would expect me to wear white. She’s a sharp lady!
Now on to the decorations! We had a soft Haunted Mansion theme to coincide with the fact it was Halloween and because it’s our favourite Disney attraction. We could have gone full theme but we didn’t want to alienate the guests who haven’t been to as Disney park and therefore don’t know what it is (and as Australians, that’d be the majority of our guests). So we chose our favourite elements and generally made the hall we hired to look like a grand old haunted house with some (mostly) tasteful Halloween decorations thrown in for good measure.
The front of the hall was kept fairly simple, we had a giant spider over the doorway with webs, plant boxes and jack-o-lanterns. At night the tops of the two towers also lit up green and purple! After the groups photos were all done, we ushered people to the font door which had been firmly closed and had Kieran and Ash knock loudly to get everyone’s attention and then dramatically throw the doors open so that smoke billowed out. It was perfect! We really wanted this to be dramatic and it came together better than we could have hoped!
Now, remember the hall was completely empty when we hired it, so we had to find as much appropriate furniture as possible to fill it and make it look like a beautiful mansion. Luckily we already owned or were able to borrow pretty much everything for no cost. The chandeliers were probably the only thing we hired and they were dirt cheap and belonged to the hall anyway!
We covered all of the windows with dark fabric to block out the sunlight, which would have potentially ruined the effect as the guests entered the hall as it was still light when we opened it up. The curtains were made from cheesecloth we bought in bulk, cut into size then slashed and stained to look like rotting net curtains.
Fun fact: That baby grand piano is actually mine. I saved it from the 2011 Brisbane floods and have been keeping it at mum’s as I don’t have any space for it. Super glad I did because it was such a great addition to the decor!
In the middle of the hall we had a massive dining table. The original intention was to have a long one like the one in the ballroom of the Haunted Mansion but we only had trestle tables and we couldn’t get them to look any good as a long table. Plus we needed lots of table space for all of the snacks we had! We got the girls from Alphabet Cafe to make some wonderfully spooky treats for us, including bloody eyeball cake balls, meringue bones, mini pumpkin pies, caramel apple poptarts, pumpkin spice whoopie pies and cupcakes featuring gravestones and vampire bites.
Our wedding cake was actually gifted to us by a bunch of our friends because it was something we kept kind of forgetting about and actually forgot to budget for! I was planning to get a plain cake made up and have mum help me decorate it but I am soooo thankful our friends got this cake for us instead because there was absolutely no way we would have had time to decorate a freaking wedding cake on top of everything else! The cake was made by Contemporary Cakes and was cemetery themed with gravestones, pumpkins, roses, flying bats, ghosts and Ben and I in a Doom Buggy!
We decorated the raised stage area to look like an old attic, another reference to the Haunted Mansion. We used a combination of empty boxes and tables we didn’t need draped in white sheets to give the illusion of large pieces of furniture covered by drop sheets, as well as a range of cool objects one might expect to see store in an attic, including an old pram, gramophone, suitcases and even a dress form with an old wedding dress. We’d planned to make our own “bride” like from the Haunted Mansion but unfortunately ran out of time to set it all up so this was our subtle nod to her.
We set up a few areas for guest entertainment, such as the oddities table which was kindly provided to us by our friend Luke. Ben built a Tunnel of
Love Terror which was a mini-maze filled with creepy stuff and all of the photos of Ben and I from when we first started dating til now. He even built our photobooth wall! We were hoping to make it Haunted mansion themed too with the famous purple wallpaper but time escaped us yet again so we went with some lovely embossed black wallpaper instead.
Some other details included a Halloween guestbook handmade by mum’s friend Jodie, themed beer decals to go with the craft beers and cider we had on tap (some of which were brewed especially for the wedding), a candy buffet full of American candy and a caramel apple station complete with caramel my sister made from scratch, including a most delicious vegan option. There were probably a thousand other little details that added to the whole effect but I won’t bore you, but it was pretty epic (for lack of a better word) and thankfully was worth all of the effort!
I’d like to thank the following people for their help:
After taking the group and family photos (next post!) we rushed off to get the location shots done. We only had a certain amount of time as it was late afternoon and the sun was already getting low. Our first stop was just across the road for some shots with the Chevy and in the nearby cemetery which s my favourite one in Brisbane. To avoid causing any offence we opted to only have a few photos taken by the oldest graves which were from the late 1800s.
The next location was in Upper Brookfield, at someone’s property. There’s a long story behind why wanted photos here which help give context as to why the next lot of photos exist and why it ended up being one the best times I’ve ever had in my life.
Back when I was a teenager (I think I was maybe 16 or 17) mum took me to visit a customer of ours to see his animals. Derek collected interesting animals which might have been a bit iffy except he clearly loved them dearly and looked after them wonderfully. To this day one of my fondest memories growing up was of him calling his camels over and having them bound over to us and nudge me for pats and cuddles. A couple of months before the wedding, mum and I were driving around Upper Brookfield scouting locations for wedding photos and we inadvertently came across Derek’s place again because I spotted a giant stag in a paddock and climbed through stinging nettle and rocky terrain to see it more closely. As it turns out he was one of approx 80 deer and Derek saw me scrambling around and came out to say hello. We chatted for a bit and as we were leaving he offered to let us come take some of our wedding photos on his property with his deer.
Cut to my wedding day with us all climbing a steep, rocky hill (in heels, might I add) to get photos near the deer, only to be greeted by his last remaining camel (who’s 1.5 tonnes and named Mitchell) who was quite happy to pose for photos with us. We were soon joined by two fat pigs who wanted in on the action, as well as a tiny black horse who cantered up to us with gusto!
And then, without us doing a thing to persuade them, they all lined up perfectly for this amazing photo which I will absolutely treasure forever:
Kristina screeched at us to quickly pose so she could get the shot and it turned out like absolute magic. But the fun wasn’t quite over yet because Mitchell the camel took quite a liking to Kieran and kept nudging him and nibbling his hair until all of a sudden he opened his mouth and gently bit most of Kieran’s head! It’s apparently a sign of affection and Kieran insists it didn’t hurt, but it was the most shocking and hilarious thing any of us have ever seen.
We ended up running well over time because of our adventures and because walking down a super steep, rocky hill in heels with sweaty feet is very hard, slow work. But it was so much fun and absolutely exceeded my expectations beyond anything I could have possibly hoped for. Our main reason for going there was to get some creepy shots with the deer and dead trees in the background, but instead we got some ridiculous, unique photos with a range of awesome animals. Sure, they weren’t particularly on theme but they were 110% perfect to me!
I’d like to thank the following people for helping us out during this part of the day:
This is a continuation of my previous post which you can read here.
We were taken to Brookfield Hall in a beautiful 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air that mum arranged for us, which I actually only just fit into because my dress had so much tulle! We made our leisurely way to the hall, giving Ben text updates on our progress along the way. We were having a laugh and enjoying ourselves up until the hall came into view and we saw all those people! It seemed like there were a thousand people waiting for us and Erin and I immediately started to panic! Not in a bad way, it was just overwhelming to see so many people in one place waiting for us!
I tumbled out of the car and the girls straightened my dress while mum made sure everything was sitting OK and then we heard the song we’d chosen for me to walk up the aisle (Grim Grinning Ghosts from the Haunted Mansion) and we knew it was time! Erin and I couldn’t stop muttering “holy shit, oh fuck” as we saw everyone staring down at us… so many eager faces! Erin set off first, followed by Sarah, with mum and I holding hands at the back. It was a bit of a walk over uneven ground while we were all wearing heels but we made it up without any twisted ankles. I actually don’t recall all of the details of this part but I’m told people gasped when they saw what I was wearing (no one was expecting me to wear white, mwahaha) and when Ben finally saw me he said “holy shit” which was about the reaction I was hoping for!
Our ceremony was short and very personalised. There’s a lot about marriage that makes me uneasy, so we took out all the bits we hated and made it fun and unique to suit us. Which means yes, we weren’t legally married that day but we covered that by getting legally married two days beforehand so we could do our wedding our way on Halloween. We swapped “I do” with “Cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needly in my eye” and our wonderful friend and “celebrant” Billie said many lovely words about us. We both had our own vows which were just us talking about why we love each other, which I’m pleased to say made everyone laugh and cry a lot, then we kissed and we were done! To complete the effect we signed a special marriage certificate Billie created for us which I’ll forever treasure over the boring legal one :)
If you were wondering, no I didn’t cry. But I’m a bit of an emotional wasteland, so unless I’m watching a movie where an animal dies, I rarely cry. I think it’s a coping mechanism I developed to avoid wrecking my makeup, haha. I was still pretty damn nervous though, I won’t lie. Not because I’m scared of commitment or was apprehensive about marrying Ben, but because I had to speak in front of so many people! the fact I knew almost everyone there only made it scarier too. But once I got going and made people laugh with my feminist remarks about the patriarchy, I felt pretty calm. Also, seeing Ben tear up made me swell with so much love!
It was exactly the kind of ceremony I wanted. Over the top but not in a typical wedding way. Unique to Ben and I with it’s combination of creepy and pretty decorations. It was short and sweet and quite casual, plus our guests got to unwind with a beer or cider which is something Ben and I were passionate about providing. I also LOVED how many people got into the spirit with their outfits! Everyone looked classy and a bit creepy and there weren’t any tacky costumes at all (well except for Ben’s pop who came as Dracula, but he pulled it off perfectly).
I’d like to thank the following people for their help in this part of the day:
I have been trying to write a post about our wedding for ages, but it’s been hard to dedicate the time because I started a small business a week after and then it was the silly season and I am exhausted! I was also trying to do one big post because I am notoriously hopeless at doing multiple posts about the one subject, but it just wasn’t working out. So I am going to attempt four blog posts about our big day: getting ready, the ceremony, the location photos and the reception. I’m also going to cut way back on the word count because that’s where I tend to struggle. So without further ado, here’s the Getting Ready post!
While our wedding wasn’t going to be anything close to “traditional”, I still wanted to get ready with my mum and bridesmaids (my sister Erin and best friend Sarah) while Ben got ready elsewhere with his best man/friend Kieran. Mum and I had gone to great lengths to make my dress a well as every other details (bridesmaid dresses, bouquet’s, headwear etc) as unique and amazing as possible and I wanted Ben to get the full blast of it with the of the guests at the ceremony. We both stayed together at home the night before, thoroughly exhausted from setting up the hall all day and continuing preparations until late, and went our separate ways mid-morning.
I went to a friends house in Taringa to take advantage of their lovely big, bright home that was relatively close to where the wedding was going to be. We still had a bunch of stuff to do including finishing touches on dresses, making caramel for the caramel apple station, having our nails done etc so we got to work right away. I got my good friend Mel from Excuse My French to do our nails as I figured we’d have wrecked them in the days leading up to the day with preparations or while setting up the day before. Plus I’d barely had the time to do our acrylic refills so I was very glad Mel could help us out!
Our hair and makeup were done by Sue McLaurin who a friend recommended to me. She was absolutely awesome and made us look fantastic. I especially admired her patience with curling my many hair extension pieces which stained her hands dark purple! I went for some dark, almost gothic makeup with lots of purples while my bridesmaids went a bit more natural and just had their natural hair styled.
The bridesmaid dresses were made painstakingly by mum using shot silk dupion and a variety of patterns and a whole lotta winging it because American patterns are very different to Australian ones and my bridesmaids have very different body shapes. We had a slight hiccup where Sarah’s top wasn’t fitting properly as we hadn’t had time to do a final fitting and mum had taken it in a bit too much. But we worked out a way to fix it before the panic completely set in! I’ll go into more detail in a later post about the other details of our outfits, such as the magnificent headpieces we wore!
Getting me into my dress was scary as we’d already attached the headpiece and I could only put the dress on over my head! Luckily a quick thinking Kristina (our magnificent photographer) suggested we drape my dressing gown over my head so that the dress could easily slip down! I can’t get over how a store-bought dress, particularly one that was both Disney-inspired and reasonably priced, fitted me so perfectly. I’ll go into more detail about the dress in another post.
Once we were all dressed, we only had a few minutes to spare for photos as we were running behind so Kristina snapped a few lovely photos of us in the library and the hallway before dashing off to the ceremony. We’d hoped to get some photos out in the beautiful gardens but we are Westworth’s after all which means we are forever running late. Fortunately we were able to leave the house right on the planned time, as I was dreading being super late (as is my usual style) and running out of time after the ceremony for photos! Go team!
We had Shiro and Midwich with us as they were going to be present for the ceremony. I reckon they helped keep me calm as the day went on, I’m not a particularly stressy person but tight deadlines can make me kind of angry and panicky so it was nice having my fur children around to distract me a bit. I wish I’d had time to get Shiro a little outfit to wear, though he probably would have hated it. At least Midwich looked cute in her little jack-o-lantern dress!
BONUS PICS! Ben and Kieran got to muck around a bit with some beers while getting ready which I’m sure was a welcome reprieve from the stress of trying to get everything done at the hall before guests started to arrive. Such a handsome husband-to-be!
I would like to thank the following people for helping us out while we were getting ready. Without you we would have been up shit creek for sure: