Nature Inspired Vineyard Wedding
July 31, 2014
RomanticWeddings in WineriesReligious Institution
This, my friends, is what we like to call pure perfection.  A breathtaking nature inspired wedding that seamlessly mixes rustic romance and classic elegance, from the stunning Reem Acra gown to the gorgeous chapel to the wooden crates housing the lush florals from Petal And Pod.  It's basically everything.  See it all captured by Jac And Heath Photography in the full gallery.
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From the Bride... We met nine years ago in my parent's kitchen. Andrew and two of his mates were (welcome) freeloaders at a lunch I prepared for some old school friends. I remember him being very shy and we barely spoke, but his sincere "thank you" and "you're a great cook" on the way out was very sweet and memorable. We kept bumping into each other through mutual friends and a few weeks later I accidentally asked him out on our first date.

We moved to Sydney a few years into our relationship and started frequenting a little eco-retreat in Wollombi (Hunter Valley) surrounded by bushland and perched overlooking a peaceful valley. Over a number of years it became our place to revive, reconnect and escape the hustle of city life. After finishing my degree in late 2012, I booked Wollombi for us to go and relax for a long weekend. We had just been for a long bike ride and were reclining on the deck being silly and laughing when Andrew went inside for water and came out with a small black box. He sat on the side of my lounge chair and opened the box. I was speechless for quite a while, I mumbled something about wearing daggy shorts and a t-shirt, and of course I said yes. It was a beautiful spontaneous moment, in a place very special to us, it was perfect. There were tears of gratitude.

Andrew had asked my parents' permission to propose five months prior and with a clear vision he set about to design the perfect ring. The jeweller's showroom was less than a block from my work right in the middle of Sydney. He spent months sneaking around the city in his carpenter's clothes attending diamond selection and design meetings; I had no clue.

About six months before we were engaged, I noticed a dress worn to the Golden Globes and for the first (and only) time in my life I could actually imagine wearing a wedding dress. I didn’t think for a second that I would be able to find that dress in Australia, so I searched around Sydney for months trying on everything, and still couldn’t find 'the one.'  In my desperation, I turned to Google and discovered that my dream gown was available in Australia after all (and in Sydney). It gave me goose bumps to see the stunning Reem Acra gown in person, the beaded cap sleeves were even more breathtaking in person, it was love at first sight.

We broke with tradition and spent the wedding morning together before getting ready separately. We enjoyed a beautiful breakfast in our hotel room and (I'm not going to lie) Andrew watched some of the Bathurst 1000 race over brekkie. We took time to appreciate what was about to happen, it was special to be able to be still and focus on each other. I wouldn't have had it any other way.

The ceremony took place in a sweet sandstone chapel overlooking vineyards. The open sides of the chapel made the most of the beautiful vineyard estate and the warm weather. The short service was followed by a passage of encouragement read by Andrew's mother and our vows. We promised to love each other in good times and in bad, when our love is simple and when it's not. The emotion at end of the ceremony was quite unexpected - feeling and seeing the joy and excitement of the people we love, it was quite overwhelming and we weren't prepared for that!

The ceremony was followed by a cocktail hour with canapés and lawn games, then a formal three-course dinner at Twine Restaurant. At the last minute, I decided to hire a two piece band to play for the first few hours of the reception; it really enhanced the relaxed vibe we were trying to achieve.  The Aubrey Band were perfection.

My bouquet was made with delicate white ranunculus, pale peach David Austen, garden roses, rosemary, olive foliage, wax flower, berry and gum leaves tied together with linen ribbon. My younger cousin and flower girl had a wax flower crown and her bouquet was a simple bunch of pale peach David Austen roses.

For the reception I wanted to bring the fragrance of the Australian bush indoors, so the focal point on each of the five; communal tables was a rustic flower box filled with free form eucalyptus leaves, roses, ranunculus and rosemary. The tables were also dotted with bottled arrangements that held green button chrysanthemums, daises, baby's breath and gum leaves. The bridal table was adorned with a lush eucalyptus leaf table garland with pockets of rosemary, ranunculus, garden roses, berries and wax flower. The room smelled incredible!

We wanted the wedding to be a reflection of us both, so first and foremost set out to create a relaxed and fun atmosphere. We both love being outdoors, so we chose a nature inspired wedding theme set in the beautiful wineries and bushland surrounds of Pokolbin in the Hunter Valley. I guess you could describe the style as romantic, classic and country.

It was also important for us to incorporate elements of our families and heritage into the details - from the gum leaves in my bouquet which were a nod to Andrew's upbringing in rural Victoria, to the flower boxes handmade by the carpenters (Andrew, his brother, and me – the foreman!), to the banana cake with passionfruit icing because this Queenslander loves her tropical fruit, and the twine art 'guest book' which symbolized our families being linked together.

With the help of our families we did all the planning, styling and decorating ourselves. Andrew, his brother and I made a lot of the decorations together – the noughts and crosses lawn game, the wooden flower boxes, two gift tables, table numbers, the love heart string art 'guest book' and the gum tree candle holders on the reception tables. My mum arranged the flowers outside the chapel and on the pews as well as the bottled arrangements on the reception tables. We also co-designed, printed and assembled the wedding invitations, menus, place cards and seating plans ourselves. Because we had a quite a few children at the wedding, we made little party packs to make them feel special. In a chevron-patterned white and brown paper bag they each had: a handmade felt finger puppet, a personalized activity book, crayons, popcorn, lollies, a towelette, bubble blowers and cute animal stickers.

There was a lot of sentiment in our wedding day details, we surrounded ourselves with the special people and pieces that tell our story. The pastor we chose to take the ceremony was Andrew's cousin, he and his wife are such an inspiration for our marriage. The pen we signed our marriage certificate with was handmade by dear a friend and neighbor of Andrew's family in rural Victoria. Our antique cake knife originally belonged to Andrew's great great grandmother and has been cherished by each generation. My 'something blue' was a hair pin given to me when I was a girl by my beloved aunt who passed away just a few months before the wedding - she was such a special lady and I wore it to remember her. One of my favourite details was a large frame holding eight photos of our grandparents, parents and siblings' wedding days - it was our tribute to the important marriages in our lives that have shaped who we are.

We honeymooned in California, Nevada, New York and Mexico for three weeks, it was packed with hiking, people-watching, sight-seeing, yoga, cross fit, cooking classes, markets, bike riding, fabulous restaurants, luxurious hotels, Halloween and Día de Muertos festivals in Mexico, beach, coconuts, releasing newborn turtles into the ocean and meeting new people along the way. It was a blast!