“It was important to both of us that Irish, Sri Lankan and Australian customs were incorporated and celebrated.“
In October of 2022 Ashani and Damian were married at Mosman Village Church and then celebrated their love surrounded by family and friends from across the globe at Q station in Manly.
For those unfamiliar with the couples chosen reception venue, Q Station Manly is nestled amidst the rugged beauty of Sydney’s North Head National Park. As you approach the location you can’t help but feel a sense of anticipation, perhaps it’s the salty sea air, the waves crashing against the shore, or the historic charm of the former quarantine station, but this unique site has been transformed into one of Sydney’s favourite wedding venues.
Q Station Manly was established in the 1830s to prevent the spread of infectious diseases among immigrants arriving in Sydney. For over 150 years, the station served as a quarantine facility for passengers and crew members of ships. In 1984, the station was decommissioned and left abandoned until it was restored and transformed into the unique and historic accommodation and event venue that we know today. This is the perfect location for couples in search of a truly special wedding venue in Sydney. It offers a range of beautiful indoor and outdoor spaces for your ceremony and reception. From the intimate Quarantine Beach to the grandeur of the Governor Bourke Ballroom. And when it comes to floral arrangements, the possibilities are endless.
When I met with Ashani and Damian to discuss their wedding plans and their floral wish list, it became quickly apparent how relaxed and easy going this couple were about their big day. They allowed me free reign with design, only specifying that the colour palette should be overwhelmingly white and green, so I was very excited to see where my creativity would take us.
We went with a modern luxe feel, lots of crisp white Australian grown roses, complimented with seasonal blooms of interesting textures, such as Irish bells and Queen Annes lace. Ashani and Damian were incorporating three cultures within their day, Sri Lankan, Irish and Australian so it was important we were sensitive to this and added touches that were meaningful and sophisticated in design. The silk saree’s, the colour green, the Irish postal box shaped wishing well, the stunningly special porcelain cake topper hand made in Ireland, and of course the Irish whiskey, all elements that helped paint the couple’s picture.
Guest table centres were designed in 3 different styles, the first in large white compote vases, utilising flower frogs to hold stems in a ikebana style. The second style was a cluster of bud vases with additional tealight candles, and the third style showcased large white Monaco stands from Oak Lab design.
The head table was adorned with long and low flower arrangements, interspersed with bud vases and tea light candles, we also added swathes of the teal silk that the bridesmaids and groomsmen wore, to bring cohesiveness to the styling and the wedding party wear. In addition to the flowers used across the other arrangements, for the head table we added several beautiful big burgundy tree peonies, an excellent way to add a point of difference to this part of the reception.
The highlight was the “floating” floral branch behind the head table. This was an exciting piece to create as it tied all of the elements of the overall theme and style together, while providing a stunning backdrop to the reception. The large, moss and woodland fungi covered branch was a star in it’s own right. As a floral designer I love to bring the natural world back into as many designs as possible. Using this branch as the base for the “floating” install made a lot of sense to me, it helped create a feeling of a secret garden, foliage and flowers growing organically from the branch.
Ashani and Damian opted not to have any florals for the wedding party, Ashani walked down the aisle with both of her parents in a stunning white and gold silk lace saree and felt a bouquet was not needed. Damian and his groomsmen wore teal silk touches to their outfits, and the bridesmaids wore silk saree’s of the same teal silk. They opted to ditch the tradition of bouquets and buttonholes, and I praised them for doing things their own way.
After the excitment of the big day had settled down I ask them a few questions about their wedding planning experience.
Tell me about your engagement? How did it happen? Was it a surprise?
To me, yes; to Damian, no – it was well planned like everything he does! Damian and I had spent the weekend with some friends at Lake Macquarie. We arrived back home quite late, and Damian suggested going for a late night walk. As we approached our front door on the way back from the walk, Damian dropped his keys in front of me so I picked them up and turned around to give them to him – only to find that he was on bended knee, gorgeous sapphire ring in hand, asking me to marry him. His timing, as always, was impeccable – it was our 5 year anniversary!
What was your biggest inspiration in the early stages of planning your wedding celebrations?
Our objective was to have a fun, party-like atmosphere where our friends and family from different circles of our lives could mingle, relax and enjoy themselves. We also wanted to combine aspects of both of our cultures into the ceremony and reception.
How did you incorporate both of your cultural backgrounds into the day? Were there specific personal touches you included that we unique to you both?
It was important to both of us that Irish, Sri Lankan and Australian customs were incorporated and celebrated. The most obvious cultural touchpoint was that the bridesmaids wore teal sarees. Kris incorporated the excess saree material into her beautiful flower arrangements, which was a lovely and unique way of introducing pops of teal into our otherwise clean, white and green colour palette. It created a visual theme that started with the floral arrangements at the church and extended to the stunning floral backdrop behind the bridal table at the reception, the arrangements at the bar and on each of the guest tables.
What did you enjoy most about the floral planning process?
Whilst we had a broad idea of the look that we were going for, we were not prescriptive which meant that Kris had the flexibility to create distinct floral looks that fit within the broad brief we had given her. She provided us with several options for table arrangements, bridal bouquets and other types of arrangements, and took on board our feedback in terms of style preferences and budget. Kris was very practical and transparent in letting us know what would work within our budget, and offered creative solutions as alternatives to help us manage costs.
What we loved about working with Kris was that she thought of ideas about styling our wedding that was not limited to just the floral arrangements. Our wedding was definitely shaped by Kris’s creative freedom and holistic consideration of what ideas would work!
Did you have any specific requests for the florals?
We wanted our flowers to be seasonal and simple. We wanted a clean look in terms of colours and style, which is why we settled on a green and white palette using flowers that were in season at the time. We also wanted the other items used in our floral arrangements to be sustainable. Kris worked her magic to prepare arrangements that fit our brief perfectly.
Apart from marrying the LOVE of your life, what was the next best part of the day?
That was definitely the highlight! The next best thing was being able to celebrate our marriage with all our loved ones. We had postponed our wedding for a few months to allow family from overseas to fly to Australia, so it was extra special having so many family members and friends sharing in our joy.
Do you have any advice for others about planning a wedding?
1. It’s never too early to start planning 2. Start with a run sheet (be thinking about how it comes together from the start) 3. Be militant about sticking to a budget 4. Hire Kris for beautiful, unique floral styling!
Any tips or tricks you learnt during the whole wedding planning process?
Relax and enjoy the process. Your day will be beautiful and meaningful even if there are small hiccups along the way.All images are copyright
Photography provided by Yasmina Nadine Photography and Kris McKee Floral Design
If you’d like to reach out and chat about how we can make your wedding floral dreams a breeze click here.