Last Saturday, Cheryl Low and Kane Hamilton said “I do” at Carlton Gardens in Melbourne, Australia. It wasn’t the venue they had booked and Low had to make do with a dress from her wardrobe. In fact, the evening wedding was about three weeks ahead of schedule.
Low and Kane were supposed to get married on April 18 at a winery on the Bellarine Peninsula, in south-west Melbourne in Victoria, Australia. Low, who has been in Melbourne for close to 17 years, was looking forward to having her family and friends from Malaysia with her and Kane in Melbourne.
But with the strict restrictions on travel and social gatherings during the pandemic – no exemptions for weddings, no matter how romantic – the couple decided to be spontaneous and bring their wedding forward.
“About four weeks ago, when internationals flights into Australia were starting to be restricted and mandatory self-isolation was being practised, we realised that we couldn’t go ahead with our wedding as planned. Most of our guests (from abroad) were not going to (be able to) meet the 14-day self isolation criteria. Most of my friends and family were travelling from Kuala Lumpur and they made up about half of our total guests, ” shares Low.
She was resigned to postponing their nuptials till next year. But Kane had other ideas.
“I had it in my head to postpone everything to next year but my husband decided, on Thursday (March 26), that we should get married on Saturday, with our friends and family ‘attending’ via Zoom.
So I did a test run with my family straight away.
“Our plan B (venue) was meant to be at Brighton Dog Beach which was where Kane proposed almost a year ago. However, on Friday, the (Australian) government imposed a ban on any gathering at beaches so we had to go for plan C which was Carlton Gardens, where we spent our second date and where Kane first introduced me to McLovin – our fur baby – and the true love of my life, ” shares Low.
The couple had literally two days to re-plan their wedding. Thankfully, their celebrant (the person performing the wedding ceremony) could get their paperwork done in time.
“She was amazing and so flexible even though she had to change the paperwork multiple times. But she made it happen for us, ” says Low.
Naturally, their wedding day wasn’t like anything Low and Kane had envisaged. After all, they’d been planning their wedding for almost a year.
“It was easy for Kane as he went to get a haircut and managed to get his suit fitted. I, on the other hand, didn’t have my wedding dress ready as it hasn’t been altered, so I had to find an alternative dress and DIY-ed everything. I did my own nails, a girlfriend Malini Johnson (who’s also Malaysian) and lives in the same apartment building did my hair and makeup. I went to the local florist to get a hand bouquet and some button holes and corsages for the wedding party and McLovin (the bestman and ring bearer).
“Kane even had a Zoom whisky session with his mates in the afternoon, ” shares Low, an accountant by training who works in the public service in Melbourne. Her husband is a personal trainer who operates his own personal training studio in Melbourne.
Because the Australian government had imposed a strict rule forbidding more than five people at weddings – bride, groom, two witnesses and the celebrant – the couple couldn’t have many of their friends and family with them. Well, physically that is. But there was an excited party of about 50 or so family and friends watching and cheering, with “frogs” in some of their throats, as the couple exchanged their vows.
“I forgot my own hand bouquet and we were running late so we had to pick some flowers from the gardens to improvise! Some of our friends and family even dressed up at home and had a glass of champagne with each other as they were watching. It was hilarious. We’re pretty simple people and all we wanted was our friends and family to witness our special day and that’s what we had. It was more than enough! It was a beautiful sunny Melbourne day, it was perfect, ” shares Low, a day after the wedding. Unsurprisingly, the couple aren’t able to go on their honeymoon anytime soon.
After the ceremony, the newlyweds had dinner back at their home: nothing fancy, just a meal delivered to them by food delivery service, Uber Eats.
“There are no restaurants open here in Australia, only takeaway services. This will definitely be our ‘war story’ to tell our kids and grandkids, ” Low says, good-naturedly.
On his Facebook page, the happy groom wrote: “Words can’t describe how much I love this girl. Although not under the most ideal of circumstances, I wasn’t going to wait another year to call her my wife. I only decided on Thursday to go ahead with this, so a big thank you to Sharon Crofts (the celebrant) and Enrico Miolo from V&J menswear for putting this all together on such short notice. #coronawedding.”
Their wedding reception has been scheduled for next March at the original venue (with the same vendors). Things did not go as planned but the couple – who are expecting their first child – aren’t at all beat up about it.
“I was more relieved than stressed as the health of our friends and family is the most important thing for us. What we’re most disappointed about is that our friends and family, who have been planning their trip, which has now been turned upside-down. We were really looking forward to spending time with them, ” says Low.
In Malaysia, Low’s family admits to being a little emotional as they watched the ceremony via Zoom.
“It was new to us, especially my in-laws but it was beautiful and I felt the love throughout the 45-minute ceremony, ” says Natalie Yip, who is married to Low’s brother, Elton. Their children, Ethan Giovanni and Zoey Giovanna, even got dressed up for the wedding.
"The kids were excited as they prepared for the wedding. My daughter even put on her best shiny shoes and put on make up for the wedding," says Yip.
Low hopes for a “bigger celebration” next year where “we get to renew our vows and introduce our little one who will, no doubt, steal the show”. “And I will get to wear my dress!” says Low.
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