Our wedding was held in Sutton Forrest in the Southern Highlands, New South Wales at a beautiful heritage listed estate called Rona Lodge. All along I knew I wanted to get married in a place where I could have it all done there – from getting ready to wedding photos and the reception, as well as staying onsite. Rona Estate was the perfect place for us.
My bridesmaids and I got ready at Rona Estate, with hair done by the beautiful Megan Pine and makeup done by the lovely Yvette from Ethix Makeup.
Our church service was held at the historic St Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Berrima and started at 1pm; my bridesmaids and I arrived in 1945 Silver Bentley’s from Cloud 9 Wedding Cars.
After the service, Jonathan Dear from Vibrant Photography took our photos back in the grounds of Rona Estate.
Guests arrived by bus at 5.00pm to drinks and canapés on the lawn with the beautiful acoustics of The Usual Suspects playing jazz music under the grey clouds.
Our reception was held in a marquee at the back of the estate, with Centennial Vineyards doing all the catering and supplying the champagne and wine for the wedding. Everything was beautifully thought out and planned. I work in events, so we did all the planning ourselves and made as much as we could including wooden signs for the day to direct people where to go, the reception flowers, table settings, table numbers and the seating chart.
Our guests were then treated to a four course dinner, that was beautifully created by the head chef at Centennial Vineyards, Robin Murray.
I made the favours for our guests; macarons from MakMak Macarons in small apothecary jars, with a name tag attached that was purchased from Etsy. Each jar was tied with twine and doubled as a place card.
Our beautiful cake was a 3 tier caramel mud cake which was made by Vickie from Totally Cakes in Sydney.
After dinner, guests were treated to more music from The Usual Suspects; all our family and friends were on their feet dancing the night away to our favourite songs.
Guests travelled from near and far to join Charles and me for our special day, including Charles’ family who had made the trip from the US.
Charles and I danced our first dance to Michael Buble’s, ‘Everything’.
It was the most perfect day – and we were lucky the rain held off! The year of planning and designing was all worth it!
Ms Chinoiserie Says: Congratulations Anita and Charles: I love the pretty soft colour palette of pinks and creams.
About Anita: I had just the most beautiful wedding day – working in events certainly helped with the planning! We finished our wedding off with a wonderful honeymoon in South America and Barbados – it couldn’t have been any better!
My fiancé Mark proposed to me in the most beautiful, meaningful and surprising way last December. There is no short version of this story. Mark had lots of ideas for the way he would propose to me, but he knew that the most important thing in the entire world to me is family. He knew that if he were to include our families in this special moment of our lives, it would be the singularly most incredible day of my life. And so begun the months of lying and deception from Mark and our families!
Mark and I had organised to go out for a nice lunch in Sorrento. On the way, Mark had suggested we drop in at my Aunt and Uncle’s house and I was really looking forward to seeing them until I realised how early in the day it was. After a little bit of back-and-forth, Mark convinced me that it would be fine to drop in unannounced on a Sunday morning. I almost didn’t make it inside. Little did I know that this morning was going to change my life forever. While I was inside, kicking my heels off and making coffees, our families were hiding in the garage getting ready for a surprise that I could never have imagined.
After using an excuse to lure me outside, I opened the front door to make my way out to the garden. That’s when I realised that I was the only one that was not part of the wonderfully orchestrated plan that was our proposal.
Across the road, stood all of our immediate family, cousins, uncles and aunts. I knew what was happening before I had a chance to read the huge red letters that Mark had spent weeks making himself, spelling “Will You Marry Me?”
Before I knew it, I had burst into tears. This was happening, and it was so much rawer, special and “us” than I could have ever dreamed. He nailed it. And the ring… I was astounded. He had been designing it with jeweller Janai Jewellery for months. It was the most perfect ring I had seen. He organised my cousin to capture the moment, and his brother to record the whole event for our families overseas.
Just when I thought it couldn’t get better, Mark turned me around and pointed out my Aunt waving from the window. At that moment, I realised why Mark had chosen the spot he did to propose. My Aunt has suffered from Motor Neurone Disease for many years, and due to her illness is unable to leave home. Just before I opened the door to reveal the surprise, my Uncle had led her to the front window where she had a clear view of the proposal. She was just as much a part of the day as everyone else. Had it been anywhere else, she wouldn’t have been able to experience it with us.
Celebrations kicked off that morning, with everyone having organised food, champagne and Scotch (in true European style!) Mark had made a reservation for us at Vue de Monde, and while initially I didn’t want to leave our family, it was just wonderful to be able to take some time out by ourselves and reflect on this special moment.
Mark is far more caring and thoughtful that I could ever have dreamed of, but this day was the most special of my life.
Ms Chinoiserie Says: What a wonderful surprise – those amazing letters would have been hard to hide! I’m not sure how everyone kept it a secret for so long!
About Stephanie: I am a 25 year old office manager, working for a data analytics firm in Melbourne. I have a love of glamour, makeup, fashion, wine and food. I have organized some corporate events before but nothing could have prepared me for the whirlwind of planning that has been our engagement party – and upcoming wedding!
Craig and I met at work in 2007, we were introduced by our mutual friends and have been inseparable ever since. I like that we are two very independent people in a loving and wickedly fun relationship. We enjoy nothing more than a good laugh together and spending time with our beloved dog Matilda. After six and a half years together, Craig and I were having a picnic at Elwood Beach when he asked me to marry him, underneath a beautiful tree looking out to the Bay. It was nothing over the top or dramatic, it was just us and perfect. I knew it had been coming as I found the ring in the cupboard four months earlier!
I chose an Anna Campbell dress, as I wanted something a bit sparkly and the shape of something just falling to the ground. I knew I didn’t want anything that made me look like a marshmallow and nothing too tight that left nothing to the imagination! The beautiful silk on my dress was perfect and the bow on the back was exactly me!
I didn’t look in any other store as I had found what I loved the first day. I took my Mum and my middle sister with me and the three of us all agreed on the one that was perfect. I made a few changes with the lovely Olivia at the Brunswick store to make it completely unique. It wasn’t until the third and final fitting, that it all started to feel real. The first two fittings, I was nervous and anxious about it all coming together, but it turned out to be as beautiful as I had imagined!
I had an idea of the ring I liked, I wanted it to be simple but beautiful. Being a modern couple, I gave Craig a picture of the ring I liked and he kept it in his wallet for four years! And what do you know, he got it exactly right! We had just bought our new house, when I was putting something into the cupboard and found the ring hiding in one of Craig’s shoes! It nearly killed me to wait another four months before he finally gave it me.
The flowers were arranged by Lilypad Flowers and were absolutely beautiful! I wanted my bouquet to look like a bunch of roses as if they were just picked from the garden. I chose a vintage style posy with a greenery base featuring honeymoon roses and a mix of lace roses in very pale pink/latte colours, soft lisianthus, freesia, berry details and silver suede.
I had both of my sisters as my bridesmaids – they are my best friends and it was perfect just the three of us – as it has always been. Craig had his two best mates from high school. Picking bridesmaids’ dresses for the girls was the hardest part of the whole event! Nothing suited and we didn’t want anything traditional ‘bridesmaid-y’.
It was lucky that early on last year, Anna Campbell held a fabric sale and it was here I picked the colour for the bridesmaids’ dresses and then had them made by a private dressmaker, Clasch Design in Ballarat. I let my sisters pick the design they wanted as they had to wear the dress and I wanted them to be comfortable. Originally, I wanted them to have mismatched dresses, but they wanted to wear the same thing and that was fine too. They suited both of them perfectly! I am so glad we went with something unique. We added some extra embellishment onto the front to jazz them up.
I chose to wear my Nana’s pearl earrings, I had my Mum’s veil to wear, however the colour did not match my dress and so rather than not have it at all, I placed the veil into the bottom of our wishing well for decoration.
Our stationery was completed by Peppermint Press. We wanted something simple, elegant and modern – I worked with Carla from Peppermint Press to create an invitation set perfect for our day.
We had a guest list of only 75 (inclusive of the bridal party). It was the hardest part of the entire wedding planning process to work out who to invite, but we wanted an intimate feel to the day and therefore we only had people who had played a significant part in both of our lives.
We met prior to the ceremony to have our photos taken; we both agree this was the best thing we did for us as it was the most calming feeling to spend some time together before the craziness started. It helped to reduce the nerves and it was nice to see each other and have that ‘first peek’ before anyone else had seen us. It’s not for everybody, but it meant we could spend the time between the ceremony and reception mingling with our loved ones and not be pushed for time.
We chose Leonda by the Yarra as we wanted our ceremony to be in the same location as the reception and didn’t want the added stress of trying to organize everything separately. It was modern, elegant and intimate. We loved the courtyard and the presentation of the staff at our first meeting sold us straight away!
Our ceremony was emotional, funny and exactly what we wanted. I had both my Mum and Dad walk me down the aisle to Coldplay’s ‘Gravity’. Given both of our Mums had only recently both lost their Mums unexpectedly, we chose to have them sign as our witnesses.
We wrote our own vows and chose not to share them with each other until the day. This was really hard, as the person you want to discuss it with the most, is the one who you are keeping it for.
Our rings were tied to a stunning ring cushion that my mum made. She is so crafty! The courtyard was perfect for our ceremony and Leonda were fabulous with the set up.
Our photographer was Shannon from Sorrento Weddings. He was fantastic! Very laid back and not intrusive to our day. He made us both feel relaxed and calm despite the enormity of the day. We wanted photos that were natural and crisp. We had a lot of fun with him and nothing was too much to ask.
The reception was just simply the best fun. A massive party with all of our favourite people in one place – what more could you want?! The staff at Leonda were amazing and we could fault nothing. We set up big L.O.V.E letters to add a bit of style. The live music also helped to get everybody out of their seats.
We had been having some basic dance lessons, which we both really enjoyed and it was nice to have that moment in the lead up to the wedding to dance at home just the two of us. We chose Coldplay’s ‘Always In My Head’. (They are my most favourite band and I always said they would play a large part in our wedding. Craig always joked he would get them to perform at the wedding – but they were busy that weekend!)
The wedding favors were tricky, we wanted something unique but not overly expensive. My sister came up with the idea of shortbread, so the weekend before the wedding we had a working bee – Craig included! He baked the shortbread into love heart shapes and my sisters and Mum helped us to ice the biscuits with our initials and wedding date on them. We made calico bags and stamped our initials onto them too. It was quite the production line! They tasted delicious and were unique and personal.
Lilypad Flowers also arranged our wonderful cake – a delicious three tier Jaffa and white chocolate mud cake. The flowers on the top of the cake matched my bouquet and the rustic ribbon look was exactly what we visioned! It was perfect!
We also decided to create our own photo booth. My sister set up her camera on a tripod with a box of crazy hats and props beside it; instantly people were drawn to the camera. As part of our thank you cards, we then sent a copy of the pictures to our guests. It was a really nice way for people to have a moment and receive it as part of their thank-you. It also saved us quite a bit of money and the shopping for the props was a lot of fun!
In the final months in the lead up to our wedding day, within a 12 week period we lost my Nana, Craig’s Nana and my Aunty, all unexpectedly and it made the last months difficult. It meant we had no grandparents between us to be there on our special day. We wanted a way to remember them on the day but without making it sad and so we set up a beautiful reflection table. We also added photos of ourselves, our parents and grandparents on their wedding days. We finished it off with a beautiful lyric from Ed Sheeran’s ‘Photograph’. “We keep this love in a photograph, we made these memories for ourselves, where our eyes are never closing, hearts are never broken, and time is forever frozen still.”
I dried out my bouquet for a few weeks after the wedding, (simply hung it upside down in a dark room) so that I could keep it and it is now displayed at home. I took the flowers from the ceremony to the cemetery to put on my Nanas’ and Aunty’s graves as a way of including them as part our of the day. Craig’s Mum kept the flowers given for his Grandmother.
Overall, it was one of the best days and the start of a new, exciting chapter in our relationship and when people ask me how married life is , I simply reply with “it’s wonderful and nothing has really changed, except I love him more than I thought I possibly could.”
Ms Chinoiserie Says: Congratulations Jessica and Craig; a fun and beautiful wedding day with some very heartfelt details.
About Jessica: My name is Jessica. I am a 27 year old Occupational Therapist from Melbourne. My husband and I got married in January after seven and a half years together. We live in a beautiful little home with our beloved puppy Matilda.