It was supposed to be one of the happiest days of Amberlee Hatcher's life.
Her lifelong best friend and cousin Ellie Wellington was getting married on Nov. 9 and she'd chosen Hatcher, 28, to be one of her bridesmaids.
Hatcher had already missed her friend's engagement party because of her university exams. So her heart sank when Wellington told her the date of the wedding — it was again going to fall during Hatcher's exam period.
Hatcher attends James Cook University in Townsville on Australia's northeast coast, more than 2,600km from the wedding venue near Geelong in Victoria.
Because JCU's exam timetable wasn't released, she wouldn't know until just over a month before the wedding whether she was going to make it.
The day before the hen's party, Hatcher discovered by phone that she had an exam exactly when she was supposed to be her best friend's bridesmaid.
"I found out in the shopping centre while I was shopping. I was with my mother and sister. I started crying. And then my sister started crying. Everyone was crying," Hatcher said.
"I told [Wellington]. We had a bit of a cry together, and just celebrated the hens."
There was a glimmer of hope that she could arrange to sit the exam at another time. But after she convinced her lecturer to sign off on the plan, then found an alternative university-approved venue and a supervisor, she said the lecturer changed his mind as, per university policy, a wedding wasn't enough of a justification to change an exam.
So she came up with a plan.
"I was like, 'I'm still wearing this bloody dress'," Hatcher told BuzzFeed News. "So on the morning of the exam while I was trying to cram, I was also doing my makeup and hair myself. I went all out, and put the heels on as well.
"I wore the entire get up to the exam. As I walked in, everyone was like staring. They were like 'what is she doing?' So I told them."
Hatcher rocked up to the exam in her full bridesmaid outfit. She was sent photographs by the other bridesmaids that she tried to emulate at home.
She even brought her bridesmaid's glass to drink out of during the exam. "I remember pouring water into the glass, looking at my lecturer being like 'Fuck you'," Hatcher said.
The wedding started straight after the exam. Hatcher was able to take part via FaceTime, crying from the moment she saw her friend arrive at the venue in her dress.
"When she was walking down the aisle I was crying a lot and my mum who was holding the phone was crying, my cousins looked over and it made them cry too," Hatcher laughed.
At one point, Hatcher's sister brought a phone to the bride and groom so Hatcher could say congratulations to the couple.
She even delivered her speech at the reception via another bridesmaid holding up a phone to the microphone.
By the end of the night, an exhausted Hatcher was sitting on the couch in her dress with her housemates. It's not how she imagined she'd experience her best friend's wedding — but Hatcher was glad she was able to be there for Wellington, one way or another.
"Obviously it was way better to be there in some form than not at all," Hatcher said. "It was awful to get my hopes up that I might be able to go, and then get them knocked back down. Still, I think made it a difference. It made a difference to me."