Love conquers lockdown in Torquay
KAYLA Houlihan and Alex White were determined not to let lockdown get in the way of true love a second time.
The Torquay couple, who had already cancelled their wedding plans in 2020, found themselves just hours away from saying “I do” when the circuit-breaker lockdown came into force on the eve of their big day.
The stage had been set for them to marry on Friday night at The Warehouse in Geelong with 110 guests and all the trimmings including photobooths and a range of food vendors.
Alex’s brother, Michael, had flown in from New Zealand and Kayla’s best friend and celebrant, Stacey Phair, had arrived from Perth.
There was a decision to be made and, rather than cancel and hold out for a third time lucky, the determined duo decided to organise their wedding in just two hours with help from new Torquay brewery Sou’West and loved ones who all pitched in to make it happen.
“That was a big motivation for us – we thought while we have all the important people here, we have just got to get it done,” Kayla said.
“Literally every person who was able to come on the Thursday night offered to help and it was one of those things where we actually had to take people up on their offers.
“Instead of being like ‘oh no, we’re fine, we’ve got this’ we were like ‘oh no, we don’t have this at all and we definitely need help’.
“All of our friends and family just got together and got it all done.”
Meanwhile, Birregurra Wildflowers offered to supply the flowers at half-price, Sweet Coast Cupcakes baked 72 sweet treats in one afternoon and Sou’West accepted the last-minute challenge to provide a venue and impressive spread of delicious food.
The couple’s friend Keelly Rae volunteered to take photos, Sila Salon in Geelong made room for a last-minute makeup appointment and, importantly, Kayla finally got to wear her gorgeous Karen Willis Holmes gown.
Sixty guests joined in the celebration and watched on as a relieved Kayla and Alex – who met on Tinder four-and-a-half years ago – said their vows.
“We were feeling very sorry for ourselves when the lockdown was announced and, instead, we went out and had a big party,” said Kayla, who owns successful Surf Coast business Tribe Skincare.
“It was also very emotional for everyone because we were about to go into a lockdown.
“People were feeling like the wedding was going to be cancelled and feeling so sorry for us and then it was all exciting to find out it was actually still happening.
“So there were lots of tears during the ceremony from all of our guests.
“I hadn’t been to the venue because I was busy dealing with everything else during the day and when I walked in it looked like a really amazing wedding venue with flowers and candles.”
The guests got to take home mementos including a bunch of flowers, custom lollies and a “hangover kit” for those who over-indulged.
As for the happy couple, they were feeling grateful to finally be wed, even if the honeymoon to Port Douglas had to be put on hold.
“We had every little thing booked – every restaurant booking, every airport transfer, accommodation everything – I shouldn’t be so organised because it’s to my detriment now,” Kayla laughed.
However, the newlyweds have no regrets about the last-minute change of plans.
“We figured that was the purpose of the wedding – to be husband and wife so we thought whether we do it with 10 people or 110 people there, it doesn’t really matter,” Kayla said.
“When we woke up the next morning we thought ‘we have no regrets, we had the best night and we are finally married and we don’t have to think about it for another six months – it’s done’.
“Now we can’t really imagine it being any other way.”