Emily & Dan’s Engagement Party Surprise Wedding

by | Groom, Inspired Weddings, Inspired Weddings,

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Emily & Dan

We met about 12 years ago working at a pub in Wagga. We were a little flirty then, nevertheless nothing happened. I moved back home a few years back for work and we crossed paths at the pub I was working in and remember just looking at Em and thinking how stunning she was. Not long after that it was a peck on the dance floor… and here we are today.

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It was an engagement party – that turned into a wedding, though I think Em had told pretty much half the guests, and the other half knew it was coming anyway. Splitters Creek Vineyard was perfect, plenty of room for people to mingle and kids to play. We were big on just inviting as many people as possible and to have it feel like one big family party with kids everywhere. It was important that people felt comfortable bringing their kids – ours were there and they had a ball. We had plenty of laughs and looking back on it now –  the drinks, the food, the music, the people – it felt like a little garden festival.

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We both come from different big families from different areas, but after getting them all together it was surprising to see how many people knew each other and how well everyone just got to know each other. I remember looking at this massive Jenga my brother had made for the kids and there was as many adults playing with it as there were kids!

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Everything was setup by friends, family and us. From the festoon lights to putting the beer in the old cast iron bathtubs, there was no shortage of people looking to help. One thing that stands out in my mind from the day was that everyone was willing to help. I suppose like me, it gave everyone a little ownership of the afternoon. We hired a lot of stuff from local businesses Hens Teeth Trading, Gather Vintage Hire and Feast Of Love.

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A friend of ours runs Country Weddings Albury. We ran the idea by her early on just to bounce a few things off her and she came up with Splitters Creek Vineyard pretty quick. We headed out there and had a chat to Steve, great bloke, reminded me of Em’s old man a lot. We booked a date straight away. We loved the open space and the outdoor feel of the area so it was perfect for us to have the ceremony and reception out there. In the end we had rugs out and moved the hay bales up from the ceremony for people to sit on also; everyone was all mixed in together under the lights listening to music. It was awesome!

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We had so many special touches. Little things from our family – things that most people would have walked over and looked at but not thought twice about unless it clicked in the back of their mind. There was Em’s Nan’s brooch, old bench seats from Em’s parent’s house, the old front gates from my folk’s house and an old table we used for the ceremony from my Nan to name a few.

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The ceremony area wasn’t set up being that it was going to be a surprise! Em, her parents, her sister and our girls Hazel and Gertie took off up to Steve’s house to get ready. Em’s brother made the announcement – and then it was ‘go time’.

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I’d seen a photo of some hay bales and after some hard-line negotiating Em came around to the idea. I’d had them stacked up near where the ceremony happened between two peppercorn trees. Everyone, kids included, were grabbing hay bales, canvas covers, shepherd’s hooks, flowers, tables, chairs, you name it, they all got in and helped set up the ceremony.

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I loved the vibe of the afternoon, from an engagement party to a surprise wedding that needed a little help setting up. Such a big, beautiful space with as many friends and family we could fit in.

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There was a little delay in Em getting back for the ceremony. A little bird has told me that it wasn’t a delay in the bride to be getting ready, but the father of the bride wanting to make sure he looked a million dollars. He’s pretty staunch on this. He did scrub up pretty good though!

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Everyone who was involved was remarkable. We weren’t strict on what we wanted so allowed those helping to have creative freedom on what they were doing and how they were doing it. Carla from Rutherglen Florist was a perfect example. Em and I struggle to keep grass alive so Em gave her the brief and let her go for it – she is the expert after all.

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Most of the day was a blur. Em and I got into bed that night and I couldn’t remember where most of the day had gone. It wasn’t until we got the photos back from our photographer Georgie that I started to get bigger flashbacks. My favourite memory was our two girls, Hazel and Gertie walking down just before Em and Steve. I went to water and started to cry. I looked down at my family and they were all crying so I looked to another group of people and they were also crying. I turned to Ty, standing beside me looking for a little solace from the moment and he was crying more than me. I came well and truly unstuck.

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Em walked down the aisle to ‘Better Man’ by Paolo Nutini. I think Em was trying to tell me something here! One of our favourite artists and a great song. We had local band Lion Bear play live out there for the ceremony and into the evening. There is nothing better that a song being sung live and it made the ceremony even more special.

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A friend of mine, Ty is a celebrant in Noosa. It was big for me to have someone who we know marry us, so he came down disguised as a guest and got ready on the hop like us. It just made the ceremony feel calm, and the fact that he knows our family and spent time with everyone in the days leading up to the day meant our kids felt at ease with him during the ceremony too. We wanted the ceremony to be fun, with some laughter and lots of personality. Our eldest daughter Hazel gave a reading which made it just that little more special.

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Our girls Hazel and Gertie made me cry. I’m glad they were there to be part of the day. Hopefully they’ll remember it for a long time.

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To say Georgie was just a photographer would be an injustice to her. She got our vibe pretty quick and we got hers just as fast. From my first chat with her on the phone, her laughter was warm and infectious and she just seemed to really want to get to know us from the inside out. She has a pretty good network around her which helped us no end and we found that everyone associated with her had the same vibe.

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I’ll tell you what I know about Em’s dress – coming from the bloke. It was a Carla Zampatti dress. Em had gone around to a few wedding dress shops and wasn’t feeling the love. She stumbled across this one and fell in love with it straight away. The moment I saw her walking down towards me I could tell why she talked about the dress so much. Effortlessly beautiful and classic is how I’d describe it, pretty much like Em. The contrast between the dress, Em’s flowers and her Nan’s brooch made the dress pop even more.

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I don’t like wearing jackets – they make me feel like I’m getting into trouble! I liked the look of the Ben Sherman gear so I went into one of their shops and got everything from there, easy as!

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Great food and lots of it was a pretty big thing to us. There is nothing worse than going to a wedding and having to go to McDonalds after! El from Free Spirit Foods in Wagga made the most amazing antipasto and kept it coming all afternoon. Whenever we’d been at a local festival, I’d always remember smelling paella being cooked from a mile away. So we got them. Paul and Ordette from Smart Hospitality were amazing to deal with and people raved about the food. Steve from the Vineyard continued to go over and above. Nothing was a trouble and no idea too small, from hooking lights up to opening up his home so Em and the girls could get ready  – nothing was a hassle.

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For our first dance we chose ‘Sweet Thing’ by Van Morrison, a true classic. I can remember my parents getting the Best Of Van Morrison CD when I was maybe eight or ten years old and playing it all the time. I have loved all of the songs and this song in particular since then. Always gets a run on the juke box. We didn’t last long dancing alone – I’m shocking on the dance floor so we got our two girls Hazel and Gertie up with us pretty quick which is what our little family is all about, us four together. I’ve seen some photos of us all together and they make me tear up ever time. It was the most amazing day!

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Ms Chinoiserie Says: Congratulations Emily and Dan; what a wonderful day – and what a wonderful surprise! A celebration to remember always…

Photographer: Georgie James / Bride's Dress: Carla Zampatti / Bride's Shoes: Wittner / Bride's Jewellery: Mimco / Groom's Attire: Ben Sherman / Flowergirl Dresses: Bardot / Hairstylist: Lola Wigg Hair Cafe / Makeup Artist: Dusk Beauty Therapy / Flowers: Rutherglen Florist / Venue: Splitters Creek Vineyard / Ceremony Hire Items: Gather Vintage Hire / Ceremony Officiant: Ty Sutherland – TytheKnot Noosa / Ceremony Musicians: Lion Bear / Reception Hire Items: Hens Teeth Trading (Tocumwal) / Reception Hire Items: Gather Vintage Hire / Reception Hire Items: Feast Of Love / Band: Lion Bear / Catering: Smart Hospitality / Catering: Free Spirit Foods / Wedding Cake: Joan Spinelli / Wedding Rings: Mikola Jewellers

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