Who is Emily & Hayley?
E & H: Emily is a stage and production manager, working on everything from children’s theatre to freak show circus. She also does design for film and events, which is a definite bonus when planning a backyard wedding!
Hayley is a training facilitator, currently working with a federal government department. We have two cats Jane Lane and Stanley, and a rescue greyhound Max, who was the star of the wedding. We love board games, true crime stories, Dolly Parton, and are recent AFLW super fans.
We met working at Lush Cosmetics. Emily was an assistant store manager & Hayley came to work for us in 2015. It was a near-instant connection, with one of those intense friendships that you later realize was not a friendship at all. We kissed one night at a co-workers party [thanks, Gen], and the rest was truly history. Hayley moved in with Emily on the day they officially started dating, and we haven’t been apart since.
Tell us your engagement story.
H: We were pretty classic pragmatic lesbians about it, and sat down to have a conversation about what we both wanted and then decided together that getting married was the next step. We bought our rings together, found in the same cabinet at an antique shop, not a set but somehow perfectly matched. We packed a picnic and took the dog to Hyde Park, where we exchanged rings. I also made Emily a word search using all wedding related words, with ‘Will You Marry Me’ as the words that were revealed in the center of the word search.
We were engaged for 18 months.
What theme did you have in mind when planning your wedding?
H: It was very eclectic. I describe Em’s design style as either outrageously expensive or something you’d find on the side of the road, and our wedding was a pretty big combination of the two. The whole place was lit with fairy lights for the reception, with mismatched thrifted chairs and tables scattered around. Second-hand sheets were used as tablecloths and wall coverings, and we, of course, had to add a little camp with rainbow tinsel curtain lining the fence. We also gave a nod to Em’s Indian heritage by decorating with strings of marigolds, so it was a massive mix of influences that added up to be perfectly us.
It was a massive DIY project.
Honestly, we took on so many DIY projects, maybe too many! We were very lucky to have excellent help from our families and best friends.
Thankfully Emily is an event manager, so she was able to organize lots of ‘busy bee’ days and schedule every moment from months in advance, but it was still a huge undertaking. With some great help we hand-poured 100 scented candles for wedding favors, we made all the signage, we arranged the bouquets and installed so much lighting.
And, the venue, it was a little unique – how did you come about hosting your wedding reception in your own backyard?!
E & H: Shortly after we got engaged, the house three doors down from Emily’s family was put on the market. We had a look at it online and joked that the big backyard would be a great venue for a wedding reception, and we could get married in the park. Several stressful months of financial drama later, we had the keys and the most expensive wedding venue possible!
It was perfect because we had months leading into the wedding to make adjustments to the backyard so that it would be perfect.
And your outfits, was shopping easy?
H: It was a struggle, honestly.
Em had a really set idea in her head of what kind of dress she wanted, but couldn’t find it anywhere, and I was constantly back and forth about what style I wanted. In the end, Em got an email invite to a sale at a bridal boutique, attended to try on a completely different dress, and was convinced by the owner to try another dress that ended up being absolutely perfect.
My struggle came from not knowing how masculine or feminine I wanted to go on the day. I’m non-binary and have a very androgynous style, but unfortunately, weddings [and broader society] still tend to be quite heteronormative in expectations that I did not want to conform to.
In the end, the perfect suit fell into my lap.
It was from Zara and happened to perfectly color match with the pink blush lining of Em’s dress, and it fit like a dream. The magnificent seamstress who altered Em’s wedding dress also made me a top with some of the lace from Emily’s train, so there was some subtle matching.
Tell us the details of the wedding day!
E & H: It was an absolute whirlwind. Everyone says there will be that one big thing that goes wrong, but honestly, nothing did. It was such a relaxed day, very chill and fun. The people around us helped it go off without a hitch, and we are so grateful!
The speeches were pretty great. You don’t often get a chance to hear what the people around you have to say about your relationship. There are people in our lives who have had to do a lot of growing in terms of queer acceptance, and it was really important to hear that. It was very affirming to hear all the reasons people think that you’re perfect together.
We wanted to go pretty non-traditional, to be honest. I said from the beginning that I didn’t want our wedding to look like a ‘wedding.’ We wanted it to be a big party to celebrate us, which I know is what a wedding is, but people can definitely get bogged down in what they’re ‘supposed’ to do.
I think the most notable family tradition was getting Em’s mum to read the poem ‘Desiderata’ during the ceremony. It’s been a text with longtime importance in Emily’s family, then sharing it with me. The specific line ‘the universe is unfolding as it should’ is actually tattooed on Em’s arm and has carried us both through a lot.
Do you have a standout wedding vendor?
E & H: Oh, boy, we got really lucky with our vendors. Most were super easy to work with and incredibly lovely.
I think the standout has to go to out Photographer Sara Hannagan though.
Sara was the very first supplier we contacted. We’d seen her work and knew we wanted to work with her from the beginning. We actually changed our wedding date so we could book Sara! She was so invested from the very beginning, super easy to work with, really lovely & hardworking & most importantly super talented at what she does. We’d never really been in front of a camera before & Sara made us so comfortable & we had heaps of fun.
And lastly, what does marriage mean to you?
H: I’m a person that likes to be pretty contrary, to be honest. After going through the turmoil of a public vote on whether or not we should be allowed to get married, marriage was very much a big middle-finger to all the people who thought we shouldn’t be allowed to experience that equality. But then, of course, it was also an opportunity to express our commitment to one another publicly, and a symbol of security and growth.
E & H: We had long ago made the decision to support each other through everything, and grow together, so getting married was the next step in demonstrating that. Plus, who doesn’t love an excuse for a party with all the people that are important to you?
Bridal Boutique Blue Cherry Bridal
Cake The Vegan Baker
Cake Topper Little Dance
Catering Latina WA
Ceremony Venue Shadwell Reserve, Morley
Celebrant Marry Me Josh
Decorative Elements Emily Stokoe
Desserts The Vegan Baker
Engagement Rings Vintage from Churchill Antiques
Entertainment Riverside Ensemble, Paul Rowe MC.
Event Planner Emily Stokoe, Stage Production & Event Management
Hair & Makeup Beauty by Bobbi Jo
Lawn Games Hire Lace & Rose Wedding & Event Hire
Prop & Furniture Hire Swan Valley Outback Wedding Hire
Reception Venue The couples own backyard
Shirt Nicole Marrington
Shoes Dr Marten
Signage Emily Stokoe & Etain Boscato
Socks Happy Socks
Wedding Rings Amy Beckford & Sinclairs Jewellers