Retired Australian Professional Surfer Taj Burrow and his beautiful wife Rebecca share details of their deeply sentimental and personal elopement…
After the gut-wrenching, life-changing news that Rebecca’s mother had fallen fatally ill, it was without hesitation Bec and Taj knew they wanted to celebrate their marriage with her before it was too late.
Just weeks before their wedding date, Bec and Taj planned an intimate ceremony so her mother could be a part of this important time in their lives. These emotional moments were captured on film, we feel touched and honored to share their story with you today.
Names / Rebecca & Taj
Wedding Date / 27 November, 2018
Guest Numbers / 30
How We Met
Through mutual friends. A typical friends turned lovers success story.
Our Engagement Story
Taj isn’t the typical romantic. He’s romantic in his own right, but as a couple, we’re not the type who would usually make a big deal over valentines day. Until Valentine’s day 2017…
He was being very sheepish and doing random things around the house all day (like cleaning the garage) after he had mentioned he wanted to take me out to lunch the week previous. I was so confused as to why he was avoiding me after making plans – which I was genuinely surprised about in the first place.
We ended up going to a lunch that he made me book at the last minute and we took our daughter Bella (who was two at the time) and was being a complete pest and taking any romantic vibes away from my Valentine’s day lunch. I started to get frustrated at this point because I felt like a demanding female that expected to be spoilt in lavish gifts on Valentine’s day when that was so not what I was usually like.
We ended up going to the beach later on in the afternoon and he suggested to order takeaway Indian food for dinner. I said “of course, why don’t we set up a picnic in the yard for something different” and he shrugged it off and said, “no its a bit windy”. At that point, I snapped and told him he was unromantic and that he should think outside the box for once. He told me to wait at the beach for 15 minutes and he was going to go home to do something special. I assumed he was just trying to scramble something together to make up for the guilt from my outburst. I came home with Bella, and he led us to the roof where he had set up a picnic blanket and some snacks. We sat on our roof and watched the sunset and it was bliss, then he went around the corner and pulled out an ice bucket with a bottle of my favorite champagne inside. I laughed and said “see, you can be romantic when you want to be!” and he said “oh yeah, there’s one more thing” and got down one knee and opened up a ring box with a burger ring inside.
I have never been more shocked and surprised in my life. I don’t even think I answered him straight away I was trying to figure out whether I had forced him to ask me or whether he genuinely wanted to ask me. I ended up coming back to reality and exclaimed “yes, yes, yes of course” and we embraced like we never have before. We popped the bottle and watched the rest of the sunset.
Turns out the whole day he was being sheepish, he was just nervous about popping the question and when he was cleaning the garage he was actually sitting in there going through the packet of burger rings and trying to find the most hollow one that would fit my finger best. It was the most low key incredible proposal. At our own home and in our own way.
“I really wanted it to be a beautiful, joyful experience for us and for mum, and I didn’t want the obvious sad emotions of the day to override the happiness and gratefulness that we are even able to have the day to remember.”
We can all sympathise with the stresses that can occur when organising a wedding. How to plan every detail to perfection and try to manage to not lose your marbles in the process. There was also such a long lead up in between getting engaged, planning and having our dream wedding and in the process of organising I came across an unimaginable situation that I never thought I’d be able to cope with.
After being in remission for 6 years, a couple of months out from my wedding date I received news that you never want to hear. She had been at the doctor and had found out that her cancer had returned. My optimistic self didn’t immediately panic, and I thought that if she recovered last time she would be able to kick it this time also. But heartbreakingly this was not the case. The news went from bad to worse, and we soon found out that not only was my mother ill, but her days were numbered and although they could not predict the exact timing, it was likely that she would not make it through to when we had planned to have the wedding. This news is heartbreaking at the best of times, but definitely devastating news to hear four months out from your wedding day.
We rushed over east to be by my mother’s side and although she was in good spirits she was clearly unwell. Her visible diminishing health status was something we knew that we were going to deal with and we knew our days were numbered.
My mother was an extremely religious woman. Growing up in the Philippines there is a big cultural emphasis on being a devoted catholic in a lot of the local communities. As far back as I can remember, my mother had been taking us to church service every Sunday and had dedicated a lot of her time to volunteering to the church. She spent time in the morning and night saying prayer, and we had religious figures all around the house. This had not really carried on down to me and my sister, and when I had been organising my big wedding, it was very non-traditional. She never enforced her religious views on us, but I know that she had always dreamed of me having a religious ceremony.
Marriage To Us Means…
An added reason to celebrate and cement our love. Having a child before marriage – we thought it was only fitting to have everyone in our family share the one name.
One Thing I Wish I Knew Before I Started My Wedding Plans
One day we were in the hospital and had just had a family meeting with her doctors, they confirmed the worst and said that even if she was to make it through to our arranged wedding day which was highly unlikely, there was no chance that she would be able to board a plane to come to our wedding. It was at this point we decided to make some new plans so no matter what happened we could have a ceremony that included my mum. We then managed to pull off organising something in the short space of two days, its funny how you prioritise things so differently in situations like this. The venue, the catering, the florals were not my biggest worry, only my mum. It was all for her. She had previously asked me for a Zimmerman gown to wear to the wedding and I joked with her about how her dress was going to cost more than my wedding dress so she wasn’t allowed, so for her special day we surprised her with the dress. We brought together a small group of our nearest and dearest friends and close by relatives and organised a local priest to conduct a “promise to be married” ceremony. There are some rules and regulations about what a priest can officially conduct, but it wasn’t really about the official in’s and outs at the end of the day.
If I could give other Brides-To-Be one Piece of Advice
The thing I was most nervous about was the day being overshadowed with too much emotion. I really wanted it to be a beautiful, joyful experience for us and for mum and I didn’t want the obvious sad emotions of the day to override the happiness and gratefulness that we are even able to have the day to remember. It ended up being everything we ever dreamed of, no stresses of the small things, full of the most incredible joyous energy and a day I will forever remember for the rest of my life.
A few months later, Bec and Taj celebrated their unwavering love again with a beautiful laid back, bohemian-luxe celebration set in the stunning Margaret River.
It was an emotion-filled affair shared under the warm afternoon sun, amongst the rows of illustrious vines. Rebecca stunned in a Rime Arodaky gown with sheer sleeves and delicate ruffle detail at the cuffs as she walked down the aisle with a classic bouquet of long-stemmed white roses towards a nervous and equally excited Taj.
A natural palette of white and green blooms mirrored the beauty of their surroundings on the day and into the night, where they continued to celebrate under an array of suspended foliage and chandeliers. Bec, an ethereal vision in her second dress, a low back, flirty Bowie Rae gown with delicate bows details on the shoulders.
Photography / Vargamurphy
Bride’s Dress / Rime Arodaky
Bride’s Shoes / Saint Laurent
Reception dress / Bowie Rae
Wedding Stylist / Empire Events
Florist / Amber Jasper Stylist
Wedding Venue / Caves Road Collective, Margaret River
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