After her gorgeous Perth Town Hall Wedding to love John, Bride Dana shared some fantastic (and practical!) wisdom for anyone planning their big day. She has given some great pointers to note down, so get out that pen for her top four tips!
1. Start planning early, focus on one thing at a time, and chip away at it bit by bit.
2. Wedding week eve is nuts and totally unavoidable so just accept it will come, and be as prepared as you can beforehand.
3. Have at least one crying meltdown before the wedding just to relieve the nerves and stress.
Half a decade ago we took off on our first overseas trip to a place that captured our hearts forever: a place of pristine beaches, island hopping, mojitos, thai massages and a beautiful culture of happy faces and grateful hearts. A place of crystal clear oceans, incredible cuisine, hidden paradises and untouched natural beauty. A place where people smile just because they can! A place we can’t help but return to every year… And, the very place where we wished to be married.
After ten years of true love, on the 26th of February 2014, that’s exactly what we did!
Getting ready with the girls was so much fun. We listened to Jack Johnson while Koh Samui’s popular hair and makeup artist Dany Lopez transformed us all from holidaying beach babes into bridal beauties. Reality didn’t quite hit me until my bridemaids helped me into my dress. As they laced and buttoned up the back of my beaded Bluebell Bridal Melbourne gown I felt I could burst with excitement, but somehow there were no nerves! I couldn’t have felt more at peace with what was happening, marrying my best friend and love of ten years was the most, real and right thing for me to do. I just felt so ready.
My bridesmaids wore dresses from Forever New and everyone went barefoot with the exception of hand-made ‘barefoot sandals’ for me. The bridal garter was made by my mother from 100-year-old family heirloom lace and was personalised with the wedding date. Matt and his groomsmen suited up in beige vests and trousers with silk ties and orchid boutonnieres.
We were a little untraditional and spent the early hours of our wedding morning together with a relaxing swim in the ocean and a walk on the beach before going our separate ways to prepare. A cheeky ‘first look’ session took place shortly before the ceremony. This beautiful reveal to each other with no one other than our photographer to capture the reactions was truly special for us and allowed us to share in some truly intimate time alone. It allowed us to see each other first, share some tears and an excited ‘Let’s do this’ as well as calming any nerves.
Although we’d seen each other before the ceremony nothing could take away from the emotions we still felt as I walked down the aisle towards Matt with my father by my side. With my nerves all erased all I could do was smile and take in the fact that in this moment all of my dreams had come true. We’d poured so much love, time and energy into planning our Koh Samui wedding and we’re continuously told that it absolutely showed.
Despite an obvious beachy vibe we maintained an atmosphere of elegance to match the luxurious private villa ‘Ban Suriya‘, Thai for ‘the sunshine house’. The naturally beautiful surrounds of the beachfront ceremony were complemented with a simplistic bamboo altar with white thai silk draping and beautiful white orchids. White ‘Tiffany’ style wooden chairs were adorned with dusky pink ribbons and the aisle was scattered with white and dusky pink rose petals to match the bridesmaid’s beautiful flowing dresses. At either side of the altar stood five white Bali flags, ten in total; one for each year of our love.
My bouquet was a stunning combination of white phalaenopsis orchids and roses with a beautiful charm of my grandma’s photo and the words ‘always in my heart’ so she too could be with me as I walked down the aisle clutching a tiny locket of her ashes in my free hand. The bridesmaids carried cymbidium orchids and the two flower girls scattered rose petals along the white sand aisle. Cute wooden signs were used around the place including ‘Shoes here, Vows there, Love everywhere’ to add personal touches and the guest book table included photographs of our grandparents on their respective weddings days.
Our ceremony truly reflected our long-standing love for each other and brought tears, smiles and laughter to everyone who was there. We wrote our own vows and compiled every word of the readings to our liking, including a blessing from our parents and the remembrance of our grandparents, complimented by lighting a candle in their honour. A Hawaiian tradition of blending of the sands was a nice touch to include also.
Our celebrant Alexandra Conroy, originally from Australia, was absolutely incredible in bringing together the most intimate and personal ceremony we could have wished for.
Thailand is such a special place to us that holds so many beautiful memories and promises so many more. A barefoot beach wedding that truly reflected who we are, our love for each other and our love of life. The islands of Thailand have witnessed so much of the evolution of our relationship and to share our special day with those we most love in the place we most cherish was an absolute dream come true. We chose a private villa on the island of Koh Samui in Southern Thailand. We knew we wanted somewhere exclusive and intimate and a place that both we and our guests would never forget. Our closest family and friends loved the idea of a holiday to Thailand and it was truly special to have so much more time with them all before and after the wedding. By the time the big day arrived everyone was just SO relaxed!
Following the ceremony we surprised everyone with the appearance of a baby elephant. This beautiful creature kindly posed in bridal photos on the beach and entertained the kids. It was something special to spend time with this gentle giant on the beach, who accompanied us for a walk into the sunset and stood by as the bridal party had piggyback races along the sand.
We had an alfresco wedding reception right beside the beach beneath coconut palms and a clear starry sky. The table centerpieces were beautiful white phalaenopsis orchids with accents of candles and starfish/message in a bottle bonbonniere that I made myself.
A particularly sentimental part of our day was the inclusion of a traditional Thai Buddhist water blessing after we entered the reception. Our guests blessed us with sacred water from the ceremonial conch shell. As they poured the water over our hands they quietly said a wish, a blessing or advice for our marriage. It was beautiful to have a few moments of one on one intimacy with every one there and it simply felt right to honour the traditions of the land we were married in.
We had several more surprises in store including Thai fire dancers and a fireworks display following our first dance. Everyone loved the opportunity to head back down to the beach to release thai lanterns into the sky together. As we each made a wish and let go of the lanterns it truly felt like we were putting our own stars in the sky.
The reception went late into the night with dancing and cocktail making at a DIY mojito bar. Guests enjoyed photo booth fun and conga lines as the wonderful catering staff served tropical drinks and wine imported from Australia.
At the end of the night the we and many of the guests went for a dip in the pool to cool off before retreating to the villa’s rooms which served for not only the wedding venue but also the bridal party’s accommodation.
Everything about our day felt perfect. I am so grateful for immense amount of thought and energy we put into our wedding and the belief we shared in making our dreams come true. We’re only getting married once, we had to make the most of it! It truly was the most beautiful day of our lives and one that we will absolutely never forget. We are so grateful to every one who shared in our day. We truly feel we share an extra special bond with you all now, for we all witnessed something magical.
Videographer Daniel Baci captured it all on film and produced this wonderful trailer.
Ms Gingham says: What an amazing day Saskia! Thanks so much for sharing so many details with us today!
Saskia says: “I’m a young passionate Paediatric Nurse who spends her working days caring for sick kids and striving towards bringing big smiles to little faces. I spend my days making the most of this beautiful life by spending time with those I love doing the things we love most!”
When you’re making a list of your “must have’s” for your wedding, one of the vendors that invariably hits the top five is the cinematographer, or videographer. Bride Carmen couldn’t recommend this more after her Elegant Winter Solstice Wedding to her love Garvin, and had this advice for all those planning their big day.
“Hire a videographer! It all goes by far too quickly. We couldn’t imagine better people to have with us on the day as they felt like part of the family. The footage is absolutely incredible and still makes us giddy after we watch it.”