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Kathleen and James’ New York Destination Wedding

by | Honeymoons, Inspired Destination Weddings, Inspired Weddings, Location USA


Polka Dot Bride

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Kathleen & James

Could there be a more spectacular place for a destination wedding than New York? The Big Apple played host to the destination wedding of Australian couple Kathleen and James who chose Everly Studios  to capture their wedding.

“We met 11 years ago at university through a mutual friend. And we started dating soon after. We shared similar interests from the beginning and picked up hobbies together along the way, from studying design (which is how we met), cycling, muay thai, basketball, running, hiking, cooking and travelling the world. We’ve had a lot of experiences over the years but our favourite has been renovating our home before we finally moved in together in 2012. We did everything from painting the walls, removing the carpets, landscaping the backyard to building the kitchen from IKEA flat packs. James proposed during a hike to Mt Pinatubo (a volcano in the Philippines) with a few of our close family members present.”

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Kathleen chose a gown by Johanna Johnson , explaining, “The gown is by Johanna Johnson called “The Satine”. I had always loved her dresses because of their old world glamour. I picked The Satine dress because I thought it would look timeless. It was the most amazing dress I’ve ever worn and I didn’t want to take it off at the end of the day!”

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Kathleen and James were married at Brooklyn Bridge Park , Kathleen remarking, “We picked Brooklyn Bridge Park because of the amazing backdrop and we are outdoors people.”

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The bouquets were made by the bride’s mum and aunty, Kathleen remembering, “My mother and aunty went to the Chelsea Flower Market at 5am to buy the flowers. My only instructions were the colours to be in the shades of red and to include some greens. I left the rest up to them!”

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Kim Worley performed the marriage ceremony.

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Kathleen remembers, “All of our guests were from out of town, from Sydney, LA, San Diego, Maryland, Chicago and New Jersey. We were so touched that so many people made the trip to celebrate our marriage!”

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The newlyweds made sure to get many iconic New York buildings and food into their wedding photographs!

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Kathleen and James held their reception at ReBar (now closed). Kathleen remembering, “We booked ReBar because of the relaxed informal setting, and we loved the mural in the Low Rider room that we booked.”

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Kathleen notes, “We were going for a “classic” New York / Brooklyn vibe for the wedding. One song that got our guests up and moving was Empire State of Mind –Jay Z was the track of the night! ”

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The bride made the Brooklyn themed cupcake toppers for the “cupcake” wedding cakes which were a decadent red velvet with cream cheese frosting.

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Congratulations Kathleen and James! Thank you for sharing your wedding day with us! Thank you also to Everly Studios for sharing today’s wedding.

Photographer: Everly Studios / Bride’s Dress: Johanna Johnson / Bride’s Shoes: Verali / Groom’s Attire: Pierre Cardin / Bridesmaid Dresses: Forever New / Bridesmaid Dresses: Esther Boutique / Hairstylist: Jackie Schneider / Makeup Artist: Jackie Schneider / Invitations & Stationery: Design & printed by bride / Ceremony Venue: Brooklyn Bridge Park / Ceremony Officiant: Kim Worley / Reception Venue: ReBar / Cake Baker: ReBar / Cake Toppers: Painted by bride / Wedding Rings: Blue Nile

Five Soul Changing Experiences At Eco Beach Broome

by | Destinations, Honeymoons, Location Australia


Polka Dot Bride

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Is a holiday enough to change your soul? To ignite your spirit? I certainly didn’t think so, but that was before we headed to Eco Beach, an hour from Broome in August, as part of our Expedia Western Australia travels (read my last part here).

This  is not a new story for me, it’s one I shared with our advertisers in the Polka Dot Inner Circle the week I was in Eco Beach, but it is new for me to share it with you. I never really enjoyed holidays, Mr Polka and I have rarely been away since I started the site. Small breaks never felt restful and always resulted in my exasperation – surely holidays were meant to be relaxing? But it was while lying in one of the resort’s hammock pavilions with nothing but the sounds of the sea, Mr Polka beside me, that I realised it could do more than expose me to sights and sounds, it could actually change my life pattern, change my resolutions, change my way of living.

You can read my full review of Eco Beach over on the Expedia blog by clicking here, but today I’m also sharing five soul changing experiences that Eco Beach offers.

Ec beach Hammocks

So let’s kick off with number one. Hammock time! (You have no idea how much determination it is taking not to break out into lyrics). We were lucky enough to spend a day free at Eco Beach, which in my mind is a brilliant way to really get the feeling and atmosphere of a place. After breakfast, we wandered along the beach (and saw a grand total of two people, which is a another reason I love this place, just how darn quiet it is!).

The resort has hammock pavilions dotted along their private beach and hammocks have to be the best way to laze a day away. After our tasty breakfast and our morning walk we settled into the hammocks. A feeling of not having to be anywhere, the warmth of the sunshine, the fresh air and the crashing waves? That’s a recipe for Ms Polka suddenly going “Oh, I get the relaxation thing now!”. We stayed in those hammocks for what felt like hours. Manager Josie later telling us a group had spent an entire day there the week before, rising only to fetch cocktails and food. When we return to Eco Beach (because it’s a when not an ‘if’) I am staking one of these babies out every single day.

Eco beach Plane

This teeny airplane marks my second experience which I will never forget. It’s tiny and if you’re like me you may feel slightly terrified, but trust me, this plane it’s smoother than any bigger plane I’ve ever been on. This is just one of the ways of getting to the resort, but it’s also the fastest; the flight is only 15 minutes and in the afternoon glow over Roebuck Bay was truly magical. I felt like I was in the middle of a milky blue gemstone. The bay was still, the sky and sea the same colour, the sun glinting off the water as it set and just four of us flying over the bay. It was exhilarating, peaceful and utterly beautiful. The return flight, which was mid morning was completely different and showed off the turquoise blue waters and bright vivid colours of the landscape, but for me, I will never forget that serene blue and quiet of our debut flight.

Eco Beach Sunset

I’m counting each sunset we experienced at Eco Beach as a different experience because, they were both completely different. The one above, is looking over the resort’s beach. We’d come up the stairs to the main pavilion (which houses reception, a guest lounge, the infinity pool and restaurant) and caught site of the sherbet colour sky. So we quickly headed down to the beach – our first sighting of just how remote this resort is. The gold sky shimmered off the water, the sky changing minute to minute. Sunsets are magical things, they make you stop and be present, breathing it in and really, what could be more romantic than  a walk along this beach as the sky changes to night?

Eco Beach smoking ceremony

The “Welcome To My Country” and “Spiritual Sunset” tours at Eco Beach are for me, worth the trip alone. We were met at reception by Traditional Landowner, Dominic Matsumoto. We loaded his esky and climbed into the back of his 4Wd where we set off out of the resort (which is set into a cattle farm -Yarroogarra being the traditional name for Eco Beach). Dom has an openness to him – he requests you ask him anything, including taboo subjects and he will do his best to educate you and help you understand his life and way of living. We were taken to Dominic’s grandmother’s birthplace where we participated in Dom’s interpretation of a welcoming sand ceremony as well as a cleansing smoke ceremony in between many, many stories of Dom’s childhood and the challenges he faces as an adult in western society.

In between it all is a brief lesson on using plants as food and medicine – our group invited to try Dom’s favourite bush lollies and educated about different plants and their uses. I can never do this experience justice when I recount it to others. The smoking ceremony alone is worth booking this tour for, but the entire tour was packed full of learning, education and in the end of a greater understanding of a culture I have not been able to dive into as deeply ever before.

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My last soul changing experience is almost summed up in the photo above. I can’t believe in some ways that was my view, it’s the sights I see in photo books – that happen to others, not to me.

After we finished up the “Welcome To My Country” tour, we hopped back into Dom’s 4wd and headed to a clifftop which literally gave us a 360 view. I was thinking that in itself was going to be amazing, but then Dom led us like mountain goats (I was inelegant and unsteady, Dom put me to shame as he ambled up and down) to the beach below. Dom lugged down folding chairs which he set up in a row for us and the finishing touch, our ice-cold beverages from his esky.

The water was still, giving off a metallic glow, the clifftops around us literally glowing red and listening to Dom’s stories of his childhood and life, as the sun set, was one of those experiences that was unexpected yet probably the most valuable and interesting of my year. The photos do not capture it’s beauty, my words do not capture the wisdom that Dom imparted, but it remains in my soul and is one I will share with everyone I meet, to encourage them to do the same.

Eco Beach, as you can tell, had a profound effect on me that I am still trying to understand. The sights, the sounds and the feelings that the resort gave me were unforgettable and something I felt so lucky to experience.  So be sure to click over to Expedia and read my full review of Eco Beach Resort, because it really is an undiscovered gem.

The Polkas traveled to Eco Beach courtesy of Expedia and Australia’s North West Tourism.

Kara and Bart’s Eco Beach Wedding

by | Honeymoons, Inspired Destination Weddings, Inspired Weddings, Location Australia,


Polka Dot Bride

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Kara & Bart

Recently I spent some time  at a beautiful Western Australian place called Eco Beach Resort, and as a prelude to my stories of my time there I wanted to share this amazing Eco Beach Resort wedding captured by Lakshal Perera. To me it captures the heart and soul of this beautiful place – the incredible scenery and the magic of a love story that unfolded on its shores. Destination weddings are often thought of as international affairs, but there are so many amazing places right here in Australia that can set the scene for a weekend of fun.

Kara tells the story of how she and Bart came to be. “We met via a mutual friend at a pub in Cairns. I moved to Brisbane a few weeks after that initial meeting and while we stayed in touch, it wasn’t until I moved back to north Queensland 18 months later that we realised we had something special. Still, we lived 4 hours from one another, me in Townsville, Bart in Cairns and most weekends one of us would make the drive to spend it with one another. A further 18 months of doing this saw us pack up and drive across the country to Broome where we discovered that this was a once in a lifetime kind of love.

Bart proposed one afternoon at a little coastal creek just north of Broome. My sister was living with us at the time and we’d spent the afternoon showing her how to hook for mud crabs. While we had no luck with the crabs, we did take the time to enjoy a sunset drink while overlooking the Indian Ocean. My sister was on the phone to my brother (completely unaware of what was about to unfold) when Bart got down on one knee and asked the big question.”

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Of their decision to hold their wedding celebrations at Eco Beach Resort, Kara tells, “Eco Beach Resort was the perfect location as it enabled us to have a three day celebration in one of the most magical places in Australia. Having everyone there the day before and the day after meant the wedding day was stress free. Seriously! We did what we wanted, when we wanted, knowing we could catch up with individuals the following day if we didn’t get the chance on the wedding day.

Eco Beach Resort is a little over an hour from Broome. As most of our guests travelled from interstate to celebrate with us, choosing a venue that enabled them to enjoy not just the wedding but their time in the Kimberley was essential. When beginning our hunt for a venue we knew we really wanted a bonfire, a beach and a never ending party (the worst part of weddings is when they end!). Eco Beach Resort offered us all of that, plus it meant that we got to spend a long weekend with most of our guests. Seriously; BEST DECISION EVER!”

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Guests arrived the day before the wedding and celebrated on the beach – the girls enjoyed “mud and bubbles” a treatment where after taking to the beach, your skin is slathered in mangrove mud from Jack’s Creek. Champagne optional (but in my mind, required). The boys celebrated with a sunset cricket match. Kara explains, “We organized as much as we could to ensure that our guests’ weekend was as hassle free as possible. Seeing everyone else relaxed and enjoying themselves meant we could do the same.”

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Of the wedding day, Kara tells, “We started our day like any other. We enjoyed breakfast together and took some time to appreciate what the day would bring. We had to do a lot of the set up ourselves so we borrowed the man power of many of our guests. They were all seriously awesome and the venue looked amazing.”

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The couple hired one of the ocean view villas to get ready in, Kara explaining, “I started getting ready at lunchtime and had family and girlfriends come and go throughout this time. Bart got ready with his folks.”

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Kara chose a gown by Carla Zampatti . She tells, “I’d purchased two dresses and I didn’t know which I was going to wear until the morning of the wedding. In the end, I chose the Carla Zampatti gown.

Living in Broome made it incredibly difficult to shop for a dress. During a trip to visit family in Melbourne I took my mum and Aunty dress shopping on High Steet, Armadale. This was the first dress I tried on that morning. I decided to keep looking however after walking through the next shop went straight back to Carla Zampatti and placed my order. The most outstanding customer service imaginable!

I loved the simplicity yet amazing lace-like detail. It was different to anything I’d seen elsewhere, and I knew from the outset I didn’t want a typical wedding gown. It was perfect for the beach setting.”

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Bart and Kara met before the ceremony for a first look, Kara remarking, “We had a first look prior to the ceremony which allowed me to rid myself of much nervousness.”

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Broome Florist created a hairpiece of white blooms for the bride, Kara telling, “I knew early on I didn’t want formal arrangements of the flowers. I wanted something neutral and rustic. Rather than carry a bouquet, I wore a garland made of white snap dragons, hyacinth, chincherinchee, wax flower, delphinium and ranunculus. The same flowers were purchased in bulk and our Aunty’s had a lovely time arranging them for us on the day.”

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Kara walked down the aisle with her parents to “Here Comes The Sun” by The Beatles.

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Kara’s sisters gave a reading during the ceremony which was performed by Bea Mead (0420 946 117). Kara remembers her favourite memory. “I loved looking out at our guests during the ceremony and seeing such love and happiness on their faces. It was a truly beautiful moment realizing that all of these people were there to support us and our relationship. The vows were also pretty special. We each wrote our own and they were very heartfelt and emotional.”

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One long table was set up on the beach, Kara telling “The beach in itself was enough of a backdrop – we really didn’t need to do much to create the feel we were after. I’d wanted a long table on the beach from the outset but it seemed near impossible to achieve. However, after showing Eco Beach Resort my inspiration, they were sold on the idea.”

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The couple made sure their family was very involved in the day – the bride’s parents walked her down the aisle, her sisters gave readings during the ceremony, Bart’s best friend and cousin signed the marriage certificate along with Kara’s brother who also acted as DJ on the night. Bart’s dad was the MC for the evening and Kara’s brother and sisters gave a speech as did Bart’s pseudo best man. Kara notes, “We’d tossed up the need to get married for a long time. Our discussions kept coming back to the fact that it would be the only opportunity in our lives when we get the chance to have a massive celebration with all of our love ones. I grew up in Melbourne, Bart in Cairns. Between us, we have lived all over Australia and many of our family and friends have heard stories of one another but never had the chance to meet. Even our parents! With that in mind, we planned a wedding that not only celebrated our love but that of all those that were special to us.”

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“While decorations were minimal, I did want to create a special feel for the reception area. For the table setting I collected blue / green vintage bottles that were used as vases, the place mats were a neutral ‘beachy’ addition, I spray painted fish and other marine animals gold to use as place settings (this was an homage to our careers – we both studies marine science and work in the field), as well as lots of candlelight. We also set up the fairy light stands that we strung across the table.”

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Kara notes, “Initially, when people asked me my theme, I had no answer for them. To describe our style seemed impossible. In the end, I thought ‘chillaxed’ suited us best. All we really wanted to achieve from the day was an awesome celebration of love and friendship where everyone was relaxed (including us) and felt comfortable enough to be themselves. Minimal formalities, bare feet, lots of food and drink, a massive dancefloor, and it just so happened that we professed ‘forever’ to each other on the day.

We shied away from a number of wedding traditions which I think helped with the relaxed feel of the day. We didn’t have a bridal party, we each wrote our own vows, we had photos taken before the ceremony, my mum and dad both walked me down the aisle, we didn’t have a wedding cake, we had a no gifts policy…”

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Eco Beach Resort catered the sit down dinner, the bride noting, “The food was important to us and we wanted the meal to feel as though were sharing it with friends on our balcony at home – delicious shared platters of food, plenty of beer and wine, music to set the mood (Gurrumul and The Pigram Brothers) as well as plenty of laughs and conversation.”

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The couple served a tiered “cheese” cake from Blue Cow Cheese and handmade chocolates from Lady Bea as dessert.

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The dance floor literally lasted until the wee hours, kicking off with the newlywed’s first dances, You and Me by Penny and the Quarters and  Your Love by Saskwatch.

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The party continued until 4.30am, though the bride and groom made their exit at 2.30 am, Kara remembering, “We took some time to sit at the top of the sand dune, looking back over the reception venue and taking some time to watch and reflect. We felt an amazing sense of love and achievement.”

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Congratulations on your marriage Kara and Bart! Thank you for allowing us to share it today! Thank you also to Lakshal Perera for sharing today’s wedding with us!

Photographer: Lakshal Perera / Bride’s Dress: Carla Zampatti / Bride’s Shoes: Forever Soles / Bride’s Jewelry: Samantha Wills / Groom’s Attire: Myer & Zara / Makeup Artist: Effloresce Makeup by Marika / Hairstylist: Jenna Stewart / Flowers: Broome Florist / Venue: Eco Beach Resort / Ceremony Officiant: Bea Mead 0420 946 117 / Wedding Cheese Cake: Blue Cow Cheese / Wedding Chocolates: Lady Pea / DJ: Brother / Engagement Ring: Linneys / Wedding Ring (Bride): Fidges Castaways / Wedding Ring (Groom): Jewelry by Johan
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