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Gifts of love

She saw what she thought was a great proposal idea. As she pointed it out, suddenly, she realised it was for her.

Matthew Kearney and Lauren Payne
St Augustines Church and the Newcastle Club, Newcastle

She might describe herself as 'subtle as a sledgehammer,' while he is so subtle he  orchestrated an impressive proposal right under her nose. But Matt and Lauren balance each other beautifully.

The two, who are both in real estate, met through work, although it was a year before the sparks flew.

When they did, it became a union on all fronts. They now work together, as well as living and loving together. And they manage to do it "successfully," Lauren says, with relief. "It could have been a disaster."

Along the way Lauren discovered Matt does "the best impersonations of people" while he discovered Lauren likes to keep life clean.

She "hates clutter and basically sells anything that stays still for too long," Matt says. "You name it, she'll sell it. I wouldn't be surprised if I find myself on eBay if I sit still for too long."


The proposal

In Sydney "for a bit of 'down time' prior to the usual craziness of Christmas" Lauren noticed her favourite jewellery shop had opened a boutique at the hotel they were staying at.

The next morning while they were getting ready, Beyonce's Single Ladies came on the radio. Lauren began singing If you liked it then you should have put a ring on it. "As subtle as a sledgehammer," she jokes. Little did she know he was about to.

They went out for lunch and when they returned, Lauren made a beeline to the jewellery store window to show Matt a necklace she liked.

"So, there I am pointing it out saying, 'See babe, that's the necklace I was talking about.'" Next to the necklace was a stunning ring that she also pointed out.

"And then I noticed a little sign underneath it that said 'Will You Marry Me Lauren?' I started saying to Matt that it was such a cool idea [and] looked up at him and he had tears in his eyes... it was only then that I realised the 'Lauren' on the sign was actually me."

Matt had spent months designing the ring and setting up the proposal. All the while, Lauren says, "he had me convinced that it was still a year or two off till we got engaged."

The wedding

Two major incidents managed to shake this normally unshakeable bride-to-be.

The first was minor, in retrospect, she says. Super-organised, everything for the day was in place. She had bought the first dress she tried on, so "I wouldn't have to endure hours and hours of wedding dress shopping that people talk about." Her two bridesmaids had chosen their outfits and she had booked the church and reception venue a year in advance.

But, one week before the wedding her mum mentioned the church was having some restoration work done. She went to take a look.

"Nothing could have prepared me for the three storey high scaffolding that greeted me at the altar. Furthermore, the scaffolding was partly covered in a bright blue tarp complete with pigeon droppings."

It was to be her first "bridezilla" moment complete with a flood of tears. The situation was salvaged when she managed to relocate the wedding to a church near by. The incident paled in comparison to what happened next.

On the day before the wedding, she received the results of a blood test. It showed 'precancerous' cells. "What should have been one of the happiest days of my life was quickly turning into literally something from a movie," she says. "My test results quickly brought everything into perspective. The drama of the church seemed like the world was crashing down just a day prior, and now it was so laughably insignificant."

Thankfully, the actual day was "awesome." Her "romantic husband-to-be" had organised a surprise gift; he had commissioned an artist to paint a picture of her beloved puppy that had passed away several years earlier. "When I woke up the morning of the wedding at my parent's house, the painting was hanging on the wall outside my room," she says. "Needless to say, the morning started amongst a flood of tears also."

Happy ones this time though.

They went with a classic, vintage style complete with a pastel theme and had a ball celebrating with their 80 guests. "The food was fantastic, the room looked amazing and the dessert buffet was a huge hit," Lauren says. But, the greatest moment was simply "looking around the room and seeing all the huge smiles."

The details

The dress

A strapless A-line with custom made sweetheart neckline and lace overlay.

The cake

A dessert buffet by Sugar Rush which included a cupcake tower, caramel slice, coconut slice, sugar cookies and lemon curd tartlets.

The honeymoon

They spent two weeks in Hawaii

The photography

Photographs were taken by Impact Images Newcastle