A small wedding in the outback – part one

We arrived in Venn, 25kms south of Katherine on Sunday afternoon, five days before the marriage was to take place. Initially the only people that were going to be in attendance was to be Kelvin & Dara, Paul and myself, and the celebrant. I think Kelvin was concerned that if he started inviting friends to a wedding, then a wedding was going to be expected, and a wedding means money, an expense not wanted at this point of time in the newly-weds lives.

We left Busselton with the attentions of hoping we’d be allowed to help to make the day special, no matter the size of the wedding. Crystal glasses, white serving plates and china, silverware, colourful table clothes, and artificial flowers were loaded under the bed in the caravan. If they didn’t come out, that would be OK, but what I didn’t want to happen was to be searching for things to use in the dusty outback town Katherine.

By the time we arrived on the Sunday an additional six guests had been informally invited.

Kelvin went to work on the Monday, and we showed Dara what we had brought up with us. Being a farm that accommodates a hoard of pickers during the mango season, there’s no shortage of plastic tables and cheap fold up black chairs. The tables are badly stained, and the chairs are torn in places, but they do for the pickers who are flown in from Vanuatu. They’d do for us too!

We lugged them from the shed over to the under house carport and scrubbed them as best we could. Paul used black tape to repair the torn vinyl on the chairs. Then we went through the table clothes I’d packed, choosing what would look best. We laid out some crystal and china on the tables, and had a look at a chair with a bit of draping covering the black back. We tried this out with big scarf to start with, just to get an idea. Dara looked thrilled, “It’s starting to look like a wedding” she said. And me – well I can’t tell you how pleased I was I’d insisted on loading up what I could from home.

That day, and every day that week we made the 50km return trip to Katherine searching for whatever we could find that might be useful. The only thing that could possibly be used for draping the chairs was some cheap cream brocade curtains at Katherine’s  equivalent of the Reject Shop (a shop that sells cheap bits and pieces of all sorts of things). The curtains would do! We found bags of big plastic diamonds, about 30 in each bag. Three of those went into our shopping basket. A few strands of artificial roses, yes, we were sure we’d find something to use them for, and several different reels of gift wrapping ribbon. Satin ribbon was nowhere to be found.

The next few days we cut and hand stitched chair drapes, and attached a couple of plastic diamonds on ribbons to hang down the back of each chair. We threaded clumps of diamonds onto clear fishing line to hang at varying lengths from the rafters above the table, and we did our best to remove the cobwebs from the big car port ceiling (the underneath of the house floor above). We raked leaves out of the garden beds, and Kelvin mowed and watered the lawn to get it looking as good as possible.

We searched high and low in Katherine for a Bride and Groom to decorate the cake. There was none to be found, but we managed to find a small cake ornament of two intertwined hearts. 

Thursday came, the day before the wedding. First up another visit to town for fresh flowers. We bought almost all the flowers Woolworths had. Dara was to take the best of them to make her bouquet, and the rest would be used as colourful table decorations.

We bought steaks  from the butchers,  and any other last minute things we could think of.

The salads were all prepared ready for the next day, and I made the cake in the afternoon, a Tres Leche (three milks cake) in two sponge tins. If you haven’t tried a Tres Leche cake, look it up. You can’t go wrong with it. It tastes pretty good, and gets better after a few days, so can be made in advance. I had cream and strawberries to decorate it with, along with the intertwined hearts, and I’d brought a cake stand from home with me to place it on. Meanwhile Nikki was continuing with chair drapes and threading the diamonds for our ceiling decorations. Paul made another trip into Katherine for the booze (the bottle shops in Katherine don’t open until 2pm).

We had a lovely night the evening before the wedding, the four of us sitting outside, having a barbecue, dinner, drinking beer, chatting,  and watching the sun set over the horizon.

The morning of the wedding dawned. It was windy, as Katherine often is in the mornings which made it difficult to get started on any of the decorating. And if the wind wasn’t bad enough, I think I had one beer to many (I only had three, but I’m a bit of a cheap drunk). I was feeling those three beers. In fact between us on the eve of the wedding we’d depleted the beer supplies for the wedding which meant Paul had to make another trip into Katherine the following afternoon at 2pm. The wedding was scheduled for 4pm.

I prepared some prawn, and chicken finger sandwiches to serve with champagne immediately after the service, and decorated the cake.

Dara made here wedding posy, wrapping it in silver gift wrapping ribbon.

We placed the remainder to the flowers in vases, and set about defying the wind as we held table clothes in place with whatever we could, weighting them down with china, glasses and silverware. The strands of flowers were hung down some of the side posts of the car port and the diamond clusters were hung at varying lengths above the guest table and the buffet table. 

Then we went inside to get ready. It was all quite rushed really at the last minute – mainly due to the wind.

I’m pleased to say wind dropped, the celebrant arrived, the music came on, and Kelvin walked Dara, his bride to be down the stairs to the garden for the service. She looked simply beautiful.

 It all went very well, with the celebrations continuing long after the sun set. 

Next up – photos of the happy couple…..

12 thoughts on “A small wedding in the outback – part one

    1. I saw the recipe for a tres leche cake on a blog, and tried it. It’s been my go to recipe ever since. It’s very easy, and keeps for days, just getting better all the time. The three milks poured over the cake sounds like a lot of liquid, but it soaks it all up. I’m sure if you look up a recipe for it and try it, you’ll love it Diane. I hope one day to see your version of this on your blog.


  1. You just showed how to do a wedding the right way, simple and meaningful with lots of ingenuity, love it and well done to you all


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