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A rustic-themed wedding at the University of Sydney

A rustic-themed wedding at the University of Sydney

Written by Katie Byrne

Mariam and Serkan filled their elegant celebration with rustic, vibrant twists


Mariam Chaalan and Serkan Honeine married in front of 480 guests on the lawn of the University of Sydney, followed by a reception held at the University's Great Hall.

Photography: Wedding Soul Story

We met at a Poetry Slam – we both love to write and perform. Serkan had seen me performpieces on my career as a doctor. He felt that I would only be interested in other doctors so he never approached me. Then one day, I saw Serkan perform a piece that wasn’t so great. I felt bad for him, so I gave him a nudge on Facebook, and the rest is history...

I believe he attempted to propose many times but something always came up. I think, one day, he just wanted it done! We had breakfast and went for a stroll on the golf course. He whisked me away to a beautiful set up area surrounded by flowers. He got down on a knee and recited on of my favourite love poems and then asked the question. Randomly, whilst this was happening, two ducks were mating and I was very distracted... So the rest is a blur!

I think the most important advice I can offer is to always remember you are your own person. It’s so important to maintain your independence – you will continue to grow alongside your partner in love and all that jazz.

I also can’t reiterate the importance of communication. I know sometimes we can feel like a broken record, but if something is bothering you, don’t sleep on it. Talk it out. I can guarantee that more than half the time the significant other was on a completely different page to you. Travel together – grow in memories and experiences. Always show your love and never get lazy! Keep the humour alive. Serkan and I still write love poems for one another! And we still laugh from the pits of our stomach when we are together.

My wedding gown is by far is most prized and loved possession at home (following my husband of course). I can’t imagine ever parting ways with it. I came across Mary Ioannidis Couture on Instagram and thought her dresses were amazing. When I made an appointment to see her, it wasn’t just the dress I fell in love with.

Mary is such a beautiful soul and will bend over backwards to make sure you look amazing on your special day. The dress, the sequins, the lace – sigh, I am falling in love all over again just thinking about it!

I wanted a really rustic but vibrant and lavish theme. I studied at the University of Sydney and it has always held great value to me. I remember my dad came to visit me when I was a student there and I told him I would get married on the lawns. Who would have thought ten years later that would happen! There is just something about Sydney University – the lawns, the architecture, the bells. It’s just such a fabulous spot.

Having my reception in the Great Hall was risky – as it meant I had to organize everything including catering, lighting, tables etc. etc. Finding the George Khouzame Group was literally my saving moment. Not only did they deliver the best five-star food you could possibly imagine (I am still getting rave reviews from guests), but they took care of everything.

Then came the hands of my Fairy Godmother – Anna Wang! The Cleopatra wrapped in purples, pink and whites made a beautiful backdrop for the ceremony. She turned that hall into magic. The enchanted starlight pieces just took my breath away. It just couldn’t have looked better.

My favourite moment was walking down the aisle with my dad. Unfortunately, he had self-discharged himself from hospital following an accident and still required surgery on his hand. He really wanted to be there for my special day.

Exchanging of the vows was also so emotional. But the funniest part was the bridal room which was really a lecture room. The bridal party managed to get karaoke up on the PowerPoint. Champagne, karaoke and a bridal party are the best combination!

Being a doctor, you can imagine how little time I had to get this day together. I did want the bonbonnieres to be special and not just your typical chocolate or candle. I wanted it to signify something. I had the idea of giving small plants (herbs) with the tag 'Let love grow'. I found Charbel at Simply Different Florists who found a farmer and made it happen. He was able to make the plants look rustic with an embedded wrap and ribbon. They looked amazing.

Don’t sweat the small stuff! Nobody remembers what the table numbers looked like or what your shoes looked like. Just remember it’s your day – a celebration of your relationship. It’s so easy to get distracted with all these magnificent and over the top weddings. Keep it simple and intimate and about you both. Serkan and I knew the day would go by so quick. So, we had a plan that we would step aside for five minutes without distraction and just watch everyone celebrate our day. We did that and it was so overwhelming. Take it all in!

Steal their style!

Venue: University of Sydney Dress: Mary Ioannidis Couture Accessories: Swarovski Bridesmaids: Sheike Cake: Cake Me Pretty Flowers: Anna Wang


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