It's another installment of our new series, Weddings Around the World! Today, we are so excited to chat with friend, Melissa Cameron, a fabulous jewelry designer. Originally from Perth in Australia, Melissa has agreed to share with us some of the fun and interesting tidbits about weddings down under. Don't forget to click over to Melissa's site to see some of the amazing pieces she is working on lately. Thank you, Melissa!
Tell us a bit about yourself!
I’m a jewelry artist. I trained in Australia as an interior architect and worked in that industry for a few years before heading back to school. I did a postgraduate diploma in jewelry production in my hometown, Perth, and then moved to Melbourne in 2007 with my new husband, Bruce. There, I got my MFA in jewelry and metals in 2009. I moved to Seattle in 2012, when Bruce started a new job here, and I’ve set up my practice in the basement of our house. I have exhibited in many countries and stock my works in galleries in Australia, the USA and Europe, and I have traveled to the UK, Europe and USA for residencies and around Australia and America to lecture and critique at conferences and to students at colleges and universities.
Are there any interesting differences between American and Australian weddings
That’s tough to answer as I’ve yet to go to a wedding in America! If I go by what’s in the movies and on TV, I’d have to say that there are a lot of similarities, though I have a feeling that the weddings of my friends here were probably a lot less formal and costly than a lot of what I’ve seen across different media. And the same goes for my Aussie family and friends. In my experience it’s a big occasion for family and friends to get together and celebrate and I’m going to make a guess and say that holds true here too. I’m not sure if this is similar, but it seems as though the grooms have equal say in what’s happening, and that is probably a function of the fact that they now tend to share the cost of the wedding. Back home outdoor weddings with celebrants are in the majority - if the whole celebration isn’t outdoors, at least the ceremony will be, so there are fewer weddings happening in churches.
Well I’m not sure if this is the same here, but often times mum and dad walk their daughter down the aisle. And occasionally their son, too.
What is Australian wedding jewelry like? Do couples have engagement rings? Matching sets?
Gold and diamonds still rule, I think, though for men stainless steel and titanium are definitely becoming more popular options. Women still get engagement rings, or if the man is a little reticent about choosing the ring, perhaps a stone is the engagement gift, or a symbolic but temporary ring. My husband knew he was marrying a jeweler, so he forsook all gifts but my best friend worked in a gift shop so by the end of the day of our engagement I had a tacky plastic sea-urchin shaped beaded ring to impress all my friends and work colleagues with! But back to the real deal, platinum has had a comeback of late, and it’s fairly common for white gold to be rhodium plated. The solitaire diamond engagement ring for a woman has been in the ascendency for some time now, though I have a friend who went for Tanzanite in an unusual cut which was a really beautiful alternative.
Which hand do Australians wear their ring on?
Generally in hetero relationships the woman has an engagement ring and the man does not. They both have wedding bands and sometimes these are matching, but in many cases the man still wears a plan half-round band in gold or platinum, while the woman will have something a little more tailored to her engagement ring. Some couples will have matched rings but that’s less common, and in those cases the man and woman will both have a single wedding ring. I like that idea a lot though. Oh, and we’re generally left-hand ring wearers.
What are the marriage equality laws in Australia?
This is a contentious issue at the moment as we have a conservative government who is not looking to change the current laws, which do not allow for same-sex marriage. This is despite the fact that I believe that it’s now over 60% of the population who think that it should be changed. A really high-profile gay couple has recently become engaged, and they have said that they will be traveling to New Zealand to marry. I have told my cousin on numerous occasions that I will welcome her to Seattle when she wants to marry her partner, but she’s hopeful that the laws will shift before she finds ‘the one!'
What do Australians traditionally eat at the wedding? Do they like to sing? Dance?
Well, food is dependent on your culture in Australia, though that said a lot of the weddings I have been to have been cocktail party style - so couples have forsaken the sit-down meal for canapés and plenty of champagne! But I have been to a Vietnamese wedding where there was course after course of extravagant dishes, a breakfast wedding where it was champagne and eggs at 9am as well as the odd backyard wedding where the good old mini-meat pie and sausage roll was a part of the menu. But it seems that having a drink in one hand and the other free for a quick nibble, or a chat or a handshake is the most popular. People love to dance at weddings! The dance floor is very popular after those champagnes and the music is usually a reflection of the bride and groom’s musical tastes. And for the weddings I’ve been to, the singing has been reserved for the very end of the night ;)
Australian Mini Meat Pie, courtesy Home Life
Any fun facts or observations that you might like to share?
There’s a growing trend for quirky places and destination weddings; from having your reception in an old prison, disused quarry or mountaintop, to jetting off with family and friends to Bali or Thailand, or taking everyone down south to the beach or into the middle to be married on the red-earth. There’s been many weddings where there’s ‘theme music’ to introduce the bridal party, and for individual members of it when they make speeches. That has varied from the Star Wars death march in one humorous case, to songs that name-check the speaker. The other common thing in the digital age is to have a photo booth. I guess it’s the equivalent of the disposable cameras that were passed around or added to table center-pieces at the start of the 2000’s. Now they set up a photo booth with a few hats, sunglasses and fake moustaches so that the wedding guests will come and have their photo taken with their friends and family, and the smiles they capture are great, generous and more natural.