Six wedding surprises from author, Alex Miles

There were more than sixty highlights from our wedding nearly two years ago, but I’ve plucked out a comfortable six, in no particular order.

Weddings are a hoot. In the lead up to our ‘big day’, I knew there’d be a tonne of memories made and moments shared. Some were obvious (like the thrill of marrying your dream-boat of a partner), but looking back, there were others that I wouldn’t have imagined at the time would be as important as they turned out to be.


#1 – Involving friends and family

My brother Cam singing at the ceremonyThere’s a saying that it takes a village to raise a child. I’m a big believer that the same can be said for a happy relationship. You can’t rely on just one person to make you happy – you need to call on your village. And because of this, I felt like such a lucky duck to be able to involve so many of our favourite people in our wedding.

From our friend Matt Cutler being our minister, to our bridal party speaking in the ceremony (speeches we hadn’t heard prior to the day), my friend Anny Apostolidis from Mavro Jewellery designing and making the rings, another friend Joan Perryman doing the makeup, Best Man Anthony Phillips designing the stationary, brother Cam Lee arranging a song and singing at the ceremony, Kyha Simpson from One Day Bridal recreating my mum’s 1973 polkadot wedding dress, Paul’s mum Elaine ‘baking’ a piñata wedding cake (amazing!!), family friends who drove the wedding car and did flower arrangements, the girls who helped made the table settings on our Crafternoon and everyone who turned out on the day to share it with us.

It’s very easy to get lost in a jungle of small stuff when planning a wedding, but at the end of the day, it’s the people you share it with that’s most important (and the people you share the preparation with too).

#2 – Leaving myself a few surprises

For better or worse, I’m a worrier. I was the type of bride who needed a minute-by-minute running-sheet of how the day would unfold. So that’s what I did, and then jobs were assigned and I could hand that sheet over to the trusted people who smashed it out of the park on the day. Looking back, it really worked for me. I couldn’t believe how relaxed I was on the day and was able to enjoy the whole experience rather than worrying about what time the mini-burgers should be circling.

The biggest secret though, was leaving a few surprises up my sleeve. Remember you might have experienced all the details in your head for months, but everyone else has the joy of experiencing it for the first time. Treat yourself, and make sure you don’t miss out of that joy either.

We did this in a couple of ways, one of which was in the ceremony. We wanted to acknowledge the role that friends and family play in our lives, so we asked our bridal party to make a commitment to us as a married couple, on behalf of all the guests. They spoke in pairs and completed the sentence “On behalf of Paul and Alex’s family/friends here today we promise to…”. We had no idea what they were going to say and there were some great laughs and beautiful sentiments made.


Similarly, we had written our own vows – four sentences each so that we knew the structure of what we’d say but not the specifics. Hearing those words for the first time on the day is up there as one of the best moments of my life. Just the best.

And to make sure everyone feels comfortable with surprises like this, simply get a third-party (like your celebrant) to check over them prior. They’ll be able to make sure there’s no repetition etc.

More on this secret

Check out Secret #3 There’s more flexibility than you think, to help you make a start on planning your ceremony.

#3 – Taking all guests on the wedding bus

Originally I’d wanted an out-of-town wedding because I was nervous that the whole day would fly by so quickly and that I’d feel I hadn’t spent time with everyone. We decided against it for a bunch of reasons, and instead looked at ways to extend the celebrations in the time we had at home.

A surprising winner was arranging a bus through Dee Decker Tours to take all the guests from the ceremony in Kings Domain to our reception at the Fitzroy Town Hall. It meant that there was no faffing around for the guests in between. We were all able to stay together and continue to raise a glass. For Paul and I, it gave us some downtime to be able to sit and chat to friends and family. Oh and it was a fun way to show off some beautiful Melbourne sights for the international guests.


As all of our amazing photos by Nick Rieve from The White Tree illustrate, even though the bridal party travelled with guests on the bus, we didn’t have to sacrifice having great snaps. Paul and I grabbed a few photos in the gardens as guests were making their way to the bus. Then the bridal party were first off the bus at the Town Hall. Guests tucked into some canapés and drinks on the stairs while we were only away from the action for about 3o minutes getting the rest of our incredible photos.

#4 – ‘Cutting’ the cake

SixtySecrets_Pinata cake2Best on ground in the craft department went to Paul’s mum Elaine for making a scrumptious piñata cake. Made over a five month period with paper mache and hand cut petals, then filled with 5kg of Cadbury Favourites.

All of her hard work was definitely worth it when we took to the stage to ‘cut’ the cake with a golf club. On the second whack the golf club snapped in half – that was certainly not in my running-sheet, but like the other mishaps on the day, ended up being one of the funniest moments.

The cake was a surprising treat for a few reasons. Firstly, we weren’t into traditional wedding cakes, so this allowed us to have a ‘cutting the cake’ moment, and still have a sticky date pudding and icecream bar for the actual dessert (how good is sticky date pudding!). It was a super thoughtful way for Elaine to be part of the festivities. Plus, it doubled as an economical form of bonbonniere when we put the choccies out for guests to make lolly bags at the end of the night.

SixtySecrets_Pinata cake1

#5 – Grazing on delicious food all night

As Secret #12 will tell you – eating is not cheating. Good food is such a treat and it serves a practical purpose at weddings too. If people are hungry they might lack the staying power to kick on into the night or, annoyingly, be more likely to make a drunken muppet of themselves. And writing this as a pregnant gal right now, I can tell you that having food on call is a godsend, particularly in those first few months when you’re trying to look like you’re still having a wild time.

SixtySecrets_hamWe had a grazing table set up by our wonderful caterers Ed Dixon Food Design, with cheeses, breads, other goodies and the best glazed ham that ever you’ve tasted. It’s main purpose was for people to have a nibble after arriving on the bus and before we sat down for the reception, but it surprisingly came into its own later in the night too. At one point I looked over from the dancefloor and there were just as many people huddled around the grazing table gobbling up the ham.

In fact the ham was such a success that the evening wrapped up with the mystery of the stolen ham. Again – not on the running-sheet. You wouldn’t read about it! Actually you will one day, but the hamburgular is a story for another time.

#6 – Enjoying life beyond the ‘big day’

Remember this. Never forget it. You’re planning for a marriage, not just a wedding.

SixtySecrets_Recovery sessionYou’ll hear people talk about getting the post wedding blues, and it’s understandable given the preparation and expectations that go into planning the event. But you can do a few things to minimise it.

Firstly, don’t think of your ‘wedding’ as the eight hour package you book from ceremony to reception (Secret #8 will tell you more on this). Enjoy the lead up, the week of the wedding, the event itself and the aftermath. One small way we extended the celebrations was to have a casual recovery lunch at the local pub the next day. It was a hoot seeing those who could make it, reminiscing about the wedding and feeling like you could have decent chats with people.

Secondly, give yourself things to look forward to after the wedding. The small things, like a Saturday afternoon where you can have a bath or read a book instead of stringing paper bunting together, are just as important as the big ones like holidays.

Thanks for the snaps

Thanks to The White Tree for the beautiful wedding snaps in this story.