A honeymoon in the picturesque Blue Mountains is a perfect way to enjoy each other’s company, without paying top dollar for travel insurance or overseas flights. Just being in the Blue Mountains is enough activity for many, with ethereal backdrops and the stunning flora and fauna Australia is known for. Of course one of the best things about the Blue Mountains is the ability to feel away from it all, just a one and half to two hour drive from Sydney.
Where should you stay? The Carrington Hotel is a wonderfully friendly and well-priced place to stay for your honeymoon. A long, curving driveway leads up the theatrical front, with the gardens sprawling before the hotel reminiscent of times long past. The staff are lovely, with recommendations on hand if you’d like to know where to eat or what to do. Of course if you just want to stay in your room, the spa is certainly an encouragement. Charlie’s, the in-house bar, has an age-old glamour with smartly dressed bartenders and heritage features. A great place to grab a drink before heading out, or back in.
For an even more luxurious experience, try Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley. Though it offers a less central location than The Carrington, it’s hard to fault the grounds of this location. The 7,000 acre wildlife reserve is home to plenty of stunning Australian flora and fauna and wildlife; historic tours organised by the resort make planning easy. This stunning retreat offers you luxury, right within the heart of Australian bush and whether you want to relax in the pool or do something a bit more adventurous, One&Only has it all on offer. Horse-riding, treks and 4WD adventures are all offered exclusively to One&Only guests, so if you want to do something exciting just ask the staff for their picks!
For an even more private experience, though one that requires a bit more self-sufficiency, AirBnb is a great option and the Blue Mountains is home to some of the most spectacular holiday escapes in the country.
In terms of things to do, that will of course depend on you. For those who want a time to indulge and relax, there are vineyards and restaurants, as well as sprawling landscapes and bushland to explore. One great vineyard is the Dryridge Estate. Nestled in the beautiful Megalong valley, this boutique vineyard is near Blackheath and offers amazing wines coupled with breathtaking scenery. Like it so much you don’t want to leave? You can even stay there.
There are art galleries, heritage centres and markets that will give plenty of time to those wanting a relaxing, wandering type of stay. Begin at the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre to enjoy the art gallery and library, and whilst you’re there, find out about weekend music events, markets and other cultural events.
Want to pick up the pace? If you’re the kind of couple that loves action there’s plenty for you too, with 4-wheel driving tracks, horse riding and rock climbing. A go to source of action should be the Blue Mountain Adventure Company. You can climb, abseil and canyon, and everything is organised for you.
I love a beautiful destination wedding, but contrary to popular belief, one needn’t go far. The incredible back drop of Lord Howe Island set the scene for the destination wedding of Paula & Brendan. The island’s mountains behind them as they said their I do’s, the towering pines just one of the many natural elements that contributed to the magic of the day all captured by Sarah Christensen.
Of how they met, Paula tells the story. “We meet 10 years ago when we worked in a bar together. We only worked one night a week together and started off as flirty friends then had a sneaky pash at a party a few months later. We started hanging out for a while without anyone at work knowing (which was tricky but fun) then let the cat out of the bag when we started getting serious (as in he called me his girlfriend one day and we were like, oh yeah I guess we are boyfriend and girlfriend).
Our relationship has naturally progressed slowly, we never pushed any aspect and let it evolve organically into whatever it would turn out to be. We are so grateful for this because we have developed a deep spiritual connection and respect for one another, we rarely fight and we’re best friends.”
The thoughtfulness of the day began with gifts for the wedding guests, Paula explaining, “We wanted to keep the details as simple, thoughtful and locally made as possible. We wanted to give our guests something they could keep and remind them of our day without it ending up in the back of the cupboard, in the bin or eaten. We really appreciated everyone taking the time, effort and money to be with us so wanted to give them something they would treasure.
We decided on giving every couple/family a small palm from the local nursery (The Kentia Palm Nursery) so they had a memento from the island and they could “let the love grow”. We also found out that one of our favourite Aussie retailers The Beach People stock their beach totes in one of the stores on the island. We thought this would also be a perfect gift as our guests would be able to use them when they were on the island and we could get them delivered there instead of us having to take them in our luggage.”
Paula and Brendan kicked off their day together at The Treehouse, Paula telling, “Our wedding day started with a big breakfast together at our accommodation, the amazing Treehouse, run by the equally amazing Katie and Jay. It is one bedroom house with a killer view to watch the sunset every evening that feels like your sleeping in an actual tree house. Sarah, our photographer, came over and snapped a few photos of our usual morning routine chaos, which naturally comes with having a toddler.”
With not being able to find a hair and makeup artist who would be on the island during the wedding, Paula and her bridesmaids booked Leigh of Zada Hair to teach them to do it themselves! The bride remembers, “Leigh, spent half a day teaching us how to create amazing beachy hairstyles and how to apply makeup like the professionals do. Leigh made sure we all felt confident in being able to recreate each other’s hair and makeup for the day, even though we bombarded her with our crazy energy and less than appropriate sense of humour. It was a super fun day and Leigh was super fun to work with. Hopefully we made her proud!”
“My honourary bridesmaid and dear friend Kate created the most gorgeous handmade bouquets. One of the locals from Blue Lagoon lodge was very kind and popped over to drop off a huge box of freshly picked flowers. As there is no florist on the island we were prepared to pick one or two ourselves before the ceremony, so were very surprised that Betty had gone to a big effort to pick a whole box full of hibiscus, frangipanis and ivy (and just so in the perfect colours to match the bridal party) for us to create some bouquets for myself and the girls, for Brendan to pin one on his shirt as well as plenty left over to decorate the ceremony location.”
The groom departed to leave the bride and bridesmaids to get ready, and the bride to spend some one on one time with her baby girl.
“Being on an island the weather can change at any given moment so after checking the forecast we also had to make a few phone calls to other lodges so our guests knew what time they would be picked up and taken to a surprise ceremony location. It was fun to keep the time and location a surprise because it kept the day a bit of mystery and our guests guessing on possible locations as they explored the island in the lead up to the day.”
“The weather was perfectly beautiful and everyone was happy and healthy, which is all we cared about. There was one minor issue though (it wouldn’t be a wedding day without at least one!) one skirt and two tops missing for my bridesmaids. The girls arrived the day before and due to an electrical storm in Sydney the baggage staff decided last minute to take a couple of bags off the plane to comply with safety regulations being only a small Qantaslink plane.
One of those bags just happened to belong to one of my girls. I told Katie and without a blink she said she would take care of it. She was on the phone to the airline all morning to make sure her bag was on the one flight for the day and to find out exactly when it was due to land. Of course the plane arrived an hour late, about 20 minutes before we were supposed to start the ceremony.
Katie was amazing and drove to the airport to pick up the bag to race it back to us, then rolled it straight into the lounge room where Pip was waiting with the iron to get the skirt wrinkle free minutes before we left. A little stressful as there was no guarantee the bag would actually be on the flight but thank goodness it was as the girls looked stunning in their custom made Nizeti skirts that Melinda worked so hard on creating for us before we left for the island.”
Kate, Brendan and the groomsmen decorated the ceremony area with shells collected in the days leading up to the wedding. The couple chose Lovers Bay for their ceremony. Paula remembers, “We arrived fashionably late to the ceremony, however Lord Howe runs on island time so no one minded in the least. The guests barely noticed either as the location, Lover’s Bay, is a magical spot and Brendan organized for Brad our drinks waiter to start serving the champagne and beers early. We also hired local musicians, Tia and Lossi, to play. Their acoustic renditions of some of our favourite songs matched the atmosphere perfectly and created a relaxed, island vibe for everyone to kick back and enjoy the scenery.”
For her walk down the aisle, Paula remembers, “Tia & Lossi played an acoustic version of Islands by The XX.”
Bill Monks officiated the ceremony, the bride noting, “Our ceremony was short, a record maybe at about 7 minutes long, but perfectly us. We pretty much had what was necessary (no readings) with our own little twist on the vows including both Brendan and I messing up the words in fits of laughter at one point. Our mischievous little one stole the show of course with her cuteness and demanding our attention as she deconstructed the beautifully designed aisle of shells and flowers Brendan, Kate and the groomsmen created.”
Paula chose Swish Bridal to make her wedding gown, telling “With a little lady demanding my attention pretty much every minute of every day, I found it really difficult to find time to organize dress fittings. I had a certain design in mind and didn’t have the time to go out and find if it actually existed in Sydney. Also after having a baby my body was changing shape all the time and I didn’t want to buy a dress only to spend more money on alterations.
So I contacted a local dress maker, Angela at Swish Bridal designs, to see if she could create my dream dress to fit me with whatever shape my body decided to end up as. Angela worked her magic and was able to create an even more amazing dress than I had envisioned. She consulted me on every detail and never pressured me to settle for anything I wasn’t completely happy with. The dress fittings with Angela were so much fun! She happily welcomed my daughter (also one of my bridesmaids has a little mini that would come along too) as well as the fits of silliness, laughter and totally inappropriate behaviour from my bridesmaids and me.
Somehow through all the crazy carnage we created for Angela at each fitting, she created a dress so beautiful and so comfortable I want to wear it every single day. But to my surprise the 2 weeks between me picking up my perfectly fitting dress and our wedding day I actually lost a little more weight so it was a little lose but still looked amazing. The gift in this was that it actually meant I could easily breastfeed my daughter without getting completely out of my dress – a big win in my book!”
“After the ceremony Sarah took Brendan, Harper and I to the side to take a few photos while the guests had a celebratory drink. As we walked up the hill I remember looking up and thinking wow looks like it could rain. At that very moment, yep, it started to rain. All I could do was laugh as I started running and Sarah snapped away yelling “these photos are awesome!” We were never in fear that the rain would hang around as it usually passes through quickly. We took it as a sign of good luck and Mother Nature telling us to wrap up the ceremony and head to the reception.”
Paula tells, “Our favourite part of planning was definitely our research trip! In 2013 we decided to spend a week on the island to plan our wedding for the following year. We pretty much organized the whole wedding (in between some relaxation of course) while we were there and emailed our family and close friends to confirm the date.
A week after we arrived home we found that we had brought a little unexpected souvenir with us. Our first baby was now on its way and the expected due date was only 8 weeks before our wedding date. We quickly sent out the word that we had a scheduling conflict with our wedding date and will set a new date soon. 10 long weeks later we could finally tell everyone the real reason we had to postpone the wedding and that it was all totally worth it. Even though we already had our hearts set on getting married on 1.4.14, moving the wedding date to the following year worked perfectly as we could have our gorgeous daughter Harper a part of our day as well as it being our 10 year anniversary.”
Of their photographer, Paula remembers “Sarah is a dear friend of mine. We met a about 7 years ago when we worked together as photographers. Whenever we were assigned shoots together we always knew it would be super fun and full of laughs. I’ve always adored Sarah’s style and knew she would be the perfect photographer for our wedding. She had photographed us before, when I was pregnant and when our daughter was 3 months old, so we were already comfortable with her taking our photo.
We felt totally relaxed knowing she would create photographic magic for us and knew her warm and bubbly personality would blend perfectly with our besties in our bridal party. She was everywhere without being seen and did whatever she had to do to get the most incredible photographs. We are so grateful she was able to be there for us.”
The bridesmaids wore Kookai white tops paired with pale yellow skirts byMelinda of Nizeti . Paula remarking, “She custom created the look I was trying to find for my bridesmaids. Melinda was so patient as I tried to make up my indecisive mind and went back and forth over ideas. I had an idea of what I wanted but also wanted the girls to be happy too especially seeing as one would be 20 weeks and another 13 weeks pregnant for the wedding. I wanted them to have an outfit they would happily wear again and not sit in the back of the wardrobe wasting away. In the end, the skirts turned out even more perfect than what I was imagining, even so that I had one made for me too!”
Anchorage Restaurant hosted the reception, Paula telling, “Our reception was held at Anchorage restaurant run by Kathy and John who were absolutely amazing organizing everything from transport for all our guests, setting up for the ceremony, decorating their restaurant with local native palms and making sure we had thought of everything we could need.
Their head chef, David, was more than happy to create a menu we loved and his creations were as beautiful as they were delicious. We also got to design our own signature cocktail with the help of their cocktail guru Brad, to compliment the evening. We opted for a stand up cocktail style event instead of a sit down dinner to fit with the relaxed vibe we wanted to create.”
“Apart from speeches, we didn’t do any of the traditional wedding reception things like the first dance, cutting of the cake, throwing the bouquet etc. We wanted the reception to feel more like a party than a formal wedding reception.
We asked the bridal party and both of our dads to make a short speech and everyone delivered. Brendan rounded up the speeches with special thank you shout outs to all the amazing people who helped us create the wedding of our dreams. He also thanked our daughter who when she heard her daddy say her name couldn’t help but run over and join in. This included her taking his shoe off just as he said he would do anything for her, ad libbing “I’ll even give you my shoe”. Brendan ended his speech with a few words about his blushing bride, and how I looked “so dam hot right now”, with Harper adding a perfectly timed “whoa” while moving her tiny hands outwards to indicate a big whoa. Comedic timing is definitely one of her gifts. All in all, the reception was the perfect ending to our special day.”
Congratulations on your marriage Paula and Brendan! Thank you for sharing your day with us! Thank you also to Sarah Christensen for sharing today’s photographs and Swish Bridal for sending this wedding our way!
Affectionately known as ‘The City of Love’ and ‘The City of Lights’, you can’t go past Paris as a honeymoon destination if Europe is on the cards for you and your loved one. With an indescribable and seductive allure, Paris certainly is the place to start your romantic lives together!
When experiencing Paris, it’s hard not to get swept up in the enticing Je ne sais quoi (an essential, although unnameable characteristic) that encompasses each and every one of the intricate cobblestone streets and monuments.
Here is our guide to the must-see sites of Parisian chic!
Live like a Parisian
Whilst opulent Parisian hotels are plentiful, they are also quite highly priced, especially if you’re honeymooning throughout Summer or Christmas. To experience life as a Parisian local, opt for renting a Parisian apartment for your stay. With a much broader selection for absolutely every taste, desire and budget, there really is something to suit everyone. In order to choose the perfect location for your stay, make a list of the key attractions you’d like to see and choose something central to those. My personal favourites would be the 4th and 6th Arrondissements. In the 4th, you’ll find the medieval masterpiece Notre-Dame de Paris and a bevy of contemporary shops and cafes, whereas the 6th is situated on the left bank amongst Saint Germain and is home to the Jardin du Luxembourg (Luxembourg Gardens) which you won’t ever want to leave!
Must See Sights
A trip to Paris will, without a doubt, involve iconic landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and The Louvre. If you’re headed there in peak season (July through to August) make sure you pre-book your main activities to avoid waiting in the endlessly long lines.
Heading up to Level 2 of the Eiffel Tower is a marvel for the view you have of Paris on a clear day. However, if heights aren’t for you or you’re short on time, you do not need to climb the Eiffel Tower to appreciate its architectural finesse and beauty. Walking underneath was by far my favourite experience because it is here you have a complete appreciation for the design and the magnitude of this monument. After you’ve finished marveling (if that’s possible) soak up the sunshine and the view with a romantic picnic on the grass nearby.
Whether you decide to go inside or not (opinions are very divided on this one!) the external architecture of The Louvre is not to be missed. Spend your time sitting by the fountains in the courtyard and enjoy taking in the exquisite architecture. From here, stretch your legs through the Tuileries Garden which will take you through to the Place de la Concorde, up the Champs-Elysees and eventually to the Arc de Triomphe.
Champs-Elysees and the Arc de Triomphe
With almost two kilometres of shopping, cafes, restaurants and theatres on the Champs-Elysees, you’ll be able to shop all your favourite fashion from chain stores such as Gap, Zara and H&M to designer labels including Cartier, Balenciaga and Armani. Whilst your meandering up this amazing promenade, a visit to Laduree for a sweet touch of complete Parisian authenticity is a must!
Once you reach the top end of the Boulevard, if you’re feeling active, a climb to the top of the Arc de Triomphe is a must! And the views of Paris? Amazing!
Monet’s House and Garden
Take a day trip out to the beautiful town of Giverny which is famously home to Monet’s house and garden. Tour through both to see where the inspiration was sought for some of his most exquisite works. With a variety of whole and half day tours on option, there will be plenty of time for you to enjoy your time walking across the romantic bridges which are only inches away from the famous water lilies!
Palace of Versailles
Nothing says romance like the centuries’ old Chateau that was home to Marie-Antoinette. What I wouldn’t give to spend days upon days exploring the Palace and the surrounding gardens! Guided tours will take you through the indescribable Hall of Mirrors, a selection of living quarters and will also showcase the impeccable décor and detail of the Palace from every viewpoint. Once your tour is finished, you’ll have time to explore some of the almost 2000 acres of surrounding gardens! No amount of time would ever be enough here so be sure to savour every second of your Versailles tour!
High over the city of Paris, Montmartre is the bohemian artists quarter filled with cute cafes with tables and chairs spilling out onto the sidewalks. Start at Sacre-Coeur which has uninterrupted views over the city and if you’re lucky, there will be an amazing busker performing to complete a picture perfect moment. As you begin exploring the cobblestone streets, take your time through the street stalls and the boutique art stores and even have a portrait drawn of you and your loved one to capture the memory!
A note on French Style
As the birthplace of Couture and home to many of the world’s most impeccable design houses, Parisians have mastered the art of flawless style and fashion. Whilst there are times when your sneakers may be more practical than a kitten heel, be sure to pack some of your special wardrobe pieces for romantic dinners or trips to the Opera.
For the ultimate in Parisian shopping, you can’t go past Galeries Lafayette with its exquisite dome, glass, gold and leadlight detailing, not to mention the designer fashion for as far as the eye can see! Oh Paris, how I love you!!!
Ms Chinoiserie Says: Oh, je t’aime Paris for a honeymoon – or any time of year! Renting an apartment and immersing yourself into Parisian life is very chic – a daily pain au chocolat please!