THAT WAS FEBRUARY 2017

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February couldn’t come around quickly enough in our house! With friends and family arriving in Sydney and wedding prep kicking up a notch, I felt like we had spent January resting up and counting down the days.

Dress fittings, pre-wedding hair appointment and final meetings with vendors were planned for the beginning of the month, so we could enjoy every minute when the flights started rolling in.

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We decided to write our own marriage vows and although I had had the best intentions of finding some quiet time over the Christmas break to write mine, I ended up writing them over the course of a few evenings in early February. It was not an easy exercise for me, to squeeze all my thanks, hopes and promises to my husband-to-be into a few lines. I had been collecting words and sentences that had come to mind over the course of a couple of months, but it felt huge editing it down. Like I needed to capture everything from the day we met the present day, and then the future that stretched ahead of us on a page. As soon as I realised that was not the case, it came together easily and I now just had to worry about memorising them for our wedding day.

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I was so spoilt with surprise flower deliveries from friends – so lucky and loved.

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Our first visitors, my dad and sisters flew in from Los Angeles. Lil had recently had knee surgery following a soccer injury so came complete with wheels! Poor Emme would get stuck being designated driver for the rest of their trip.

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We barely let them unpack before we took them to Deus Ex Machina in Camperdown for lunch. Like Oliver, my dad has a Harley so we had long planned to show him the cafe style bikes, clothing and accessories. Due to the drinking age being lower here in Australia than at home, eighteen year old Lil took the opportunity to order her first cocktail – a very Sydney Aperol spritz.

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Since this was their first visit, it was awesome to have the weekend to show dad and the girls some of our favourite parts of Sydney before more guests arrived. Of course this included Sunday brunch at The Grounds! As Southern Californians used to Starbucks drips and Frappuccinos, we had to reeducate them on coffee. The deconstructed iced coffee converted Emme into a Aussie coffee drinker the minute the tray was placed in front of her in The Grounds farmhouse kitchen.

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I, on the other hand, ordered my usual almond flat white and the caramelised French toast with poached pear and a side of streaky maple bacon.

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Californians know a thing or two about a good beach, but you can’t come all the way to Sydney without visiting the world famous Bondi Beach.

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Gelato Messina, another Sydney institution, has it’s headquarters and factory not far from our home, so it is fast becoming a tradition to take visitors there for an after-dinner, or even instead of dinner, treat. On this particular Sunday evening, the sky was an incredible purple, which I now know means a storm is coming! As we sat on crates eating our scoops, fat drops of rain began to fall slowly and quickly picked up as we raced home getting absolutely drenched. Luckily everybody agreed the gelato was worth it!

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I lost count of our trips to the airport, straining to catch the first glimpse of arrivals. One of our favourite places, you just can’t beat that moment when you finally spot your loved ones coming down the ramp. This time it was my mum and Roy, my brother and nephew, who greeted Oliver with a well rehearsed “G’day mate!”

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These two spent the next couple of weeks thick as thieves. Seeing them laughing together, creating in-jokes that Aunty Jamie was often the butt of, made my heart melt. I realised that our wedding was not just about me gaining a husband, but about Tyler gaining an uncle, Oliver a nephew and our families becoming each other’s.

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We snuck out of the apartment on the morning of my birthday for breakfast just us two. Throughout our engagement, countless people had the same advice – make sure you find a moment together to take it all in. They were talking about the wedding day itself, but I’m so glad we scheduled some us time in the run-up, to appreciate every moment and cement the memories. And of course to remember the reason everybody had travelled so far, to celebrate the beginning of the rest of our life with us.

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The last family members arrived and we finished up work for a few weeks, it was all starting to feel very real now!

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Another trip to The Grounds, at the request of Mum + Roy who fell in love with the place on their first visit last year. I think Mum was slightly disappointed the Healthy Plate of granola, mango and a green smoothie is no longer on the menu, but I couldn’t have been happier to have everybody together.

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The first time my siblings had all been together in nine years.

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On the morning of my hen party, my mum and I met for breakfast at Indigo, Double Bay. Having so many friends and family around was so special, but I worried that I was doing a bad job of spending one on one time with people, so tried to squeeze in what I could.

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My wonderful bridesmaids surprised me with a boat party around Sydney Harbour. Unfortunately the weather was miserable, raining heavily all afternoon, but that didn’t ruin anything. I had the best day and was given a great send off into married life by my best girlfriends and family, old and new.

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The following day, Oliver’s parents threw a barbecue to cure the hangovers with sausages and tennis!

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A must-do for visitors to Sydney is a ferry across the harbour to Taronga Zoo. We took the kids, big and little, and spent the day meandering down the trails overlooking the water, before yet another almighty storm sent us running for the ferry home!

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I was more than a little excited about feeding the giraffes!

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