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The best weddings are those that are alive with emotion and meaning–and a good dose of spontaneity, and it’s fair to say that with their surprise garden wedding, newlyweds Tam and Steve had all of these in spades. Today Tammy chats to us about her relationship with Steve, and the journey the two have shared since meeting online.

Online chit-chat turns deep and meaningful

Steve and Tammy met on a social networking site (“not a dating one!” says Tam) but it wasn’t until six months later that they decided to meet in person.

“I was very upfront with Steve, letting him know I wasn’t in it for a boyfriend or husband,” says Tam. “I just wanted to make friends and that was it.” But after the two had been chatting online for around six months, things escalated. “One night Steve said, ‘I’m about to sit down with a Jim Beam’ and I commented, ‘Where’s mine?’” Steve suggested that he bring one over–and promptly did.

Tam was instantly smitten, and admits to telephoning a friend to exclaim, “I think I’m in trouble. He is amazing.”

First came the ring, and then came the proposal

Another milestone was crossed when Tam and Steve introduced their daughters to each other and family bonds began to form. But it was while the couple was returning from a destination wedding in Fiji that things took a turn towards marriage. As they made their way through the Duty Free section of the Fiji airport, Steve paused and suggested that Tam take a look at something that had caught his eye.

“That something turned out to be the jewellery sectio,” says Tam. “We looked at the rings until Steve pointed out one that he really liked, and which I loved as well.”

They bought the ring, which Steve then hid away, promising that he would give it to Tammy when she least expected it. Three months passed and just when Tammy had almost given up on ever seeing the ring again, Steve came through with the goods.

“One Tuesday after a very long and horrible day at work, I drove home. I parked my car in the garage and saw that on the door to the house there was a note saying, ‘Hi sexy babe, I have something I really need to ask you.’ I stood there for a second and opened the door to find my gorgeous man on one knee with the ring in his hand. He said, ‘Do you still want it? And will you marry me?’”

Planning a surprise wedding

“Both of us had been married before, so we both we wanted something fun and easy for our wedding,” says Tam of the couple’s approach to wedding planning. They decided that a surprise wedding was the perfect option, as it allowed for something small and simple.

“We wanted only a small group of close friends and family, so roughly 40 or so people were invited. They were people that have made an special impact on our lives at some time.”

The couple picked Steve’s parents’ place to hold the event, and organised a catering service. Next came selecting a celebrant who was close to their age and demographic. “We wanted out friends to be none the wiser when they came in,” says Tam.

After running a Google search, Tam and Steve came across Jo Lincolne’s Big Love web page. “I thought she sounded great, so I contacted her and arranged a meeting. We loved Jo as soon as we met her,” says Tam. “Both Steve and I thought, yes, she’s perfect!”

Tam found the hunt for a dress a snap as well. She knew that she wanted something fun and simple, so armed with knowledge and her eBay prowess, she began trawling the listings. “I quickly came across the dress I fell in love with. Then I decided I needed some equally cute shoes, and was lucky enough to find these on eBay as well.”

Surprises all around

On their wedding day, Tam and Steve faced a surprise of their own: five minutes before the ceremony, thick clouds rolled in and thunder clapped through the sky before turning into a full-blown hail storm.

“I shot a look at Steve that said, ‘well, this is going to be interesting.’” As Tam peeked out from the front door, she saw Jo pulling up in her car. “Jo ran in, shouting, ‘don’t worry, the sun’s right behind me!’ and she was right. After five minutes the rain passed and out came the sun. We stood up, thanked all our friends and family for coming and apologise for any hail damage.”

At this point, the couple broke the news that their guests were actually attending a wedding.

“There were lots of ‘oh my god’s and ‘I so knew it’s from the group!”

Vows and bracelets

Including their daughters and keeping things fun and light-hearted were important when it came to planning the ceremony.

To involve their children in the wedding, Jo suggested a promise ceremony. “We loved the idea so we decided to buy the girls a bracelet each as part of our promise to love them and care for them as our own. It was a beautiful part of the ceremony,” says Tam.

This affection also met with humour during the vows: as part of her vows, Tam promised to keep Steve’s goodie cupboard filled with chocolates and alcohol, and to keep from commenting on a TV show until the ad breaks.

And Steve? “To wash my car and to keep the toilet seat down.”


The meaning over the must-haves

Looking back, Tam says their wedding turned out to be exactly how they wanted it to be, rather than something expected by others.

“I honestly think that too many people put too much stress on themselves when it comes to planning a wedding,” she says. “Our wedding was all about Steve and I showing people we love that we are committed to each other and love each other very much–not what colour chair covers should be.”

For those planning on getting married, Tam has this advice: “Take a deep breath, relax, and have fun with the day. Whether you chose a formal or informal wedding, it’s about your love for each other, not the amount you spend.”


Celebrant: Jo of Big Love Weddings & Celebrations (see our feature with Jo)

Photos by Little Jo Photography


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