Laura and Simon met whilst volunteering on board a Mardi Gras float that The Wayside Chapel had entered in the parade. It wasn’t until a year later when Laura was working permanently at Wayside that love flourished. They are both committed community minded folk dedicating their work lives to improving the lives of others. Their wedding was a representation of these values.
In the interests of social inclusion, the ceremony was by open invitation to their friends, family, colleagues and to all people who access Wayside Chapel’s services, an organisation well known for its grunt and authenticity in providing relief to those suffering from homelessness, addiction and social isolation. CEO, Rev. Graham Long married them in front of over 200 people including many people who were sleeping rough but had managed to rustle up a shower and nice outfit for the occasion. One man in his fifties told Laura that he had never been to a wedding – only funerals. He said their wedding was one of the best moments of his life.
Laura said, “Laying my eyes on the huge crowd for the first time and feeling an overwhelming sense of love and community was one of my special memories”.
They were not shy in inviting their community to be part of their wedding. From their stylists being girls from the Wayside Op Shop, to caterers being the cafe team and photographer Katherine Williams from Something Blue Photography who had worked on a recent exhibition held at Wayside Chapel, they all jumped at the opportunity. But the most beautiful thing for Laura and Simon were that these people all did their roles for free. They were very humbled by their giving because they did not expect this of them, but all parties wanted to help them as they give so much of their passion and energy to helping others in the community. Even the jeweller who resized Laura’s ring (Camelot Jewellers of Cammeray) and the printers (SnapNorwest) wouldn’t take payment when they found out they worked for The Wayside Chapel.
After the ceremony, instead of a traditional reception the couple shared mocktails and canapés in the Cafe at Wayside for an hour. Everyone had a wonderful time chatting and taking happy snaps before the couple left for an intimate dinner at a Greek restaurant with immediate family. Laura was happy with how this decision panned out as it gave them the opportunity to savour the moment rather than spreading themselves thinly.
Their motto was to embrace imperfection and keep things simple. One of the memorable moments was directly after the announcement of “husband and wife”, a Wayside regular from the mental health program jumped up on the microphone to present them with a card making for great laughter and an impromptu photo opportunity.
This selfless couple even devised a “Smile for a Smile” campaign in lieu of wedding gifts to get some new teeth for a Wayside cleaner who does an incredible job and has fought valiantly to turn his life around after years of battling mental health and drug use. As we can see, they are one big happy family and this couple definitely practice what they preach. Kudos.