Grace and Ben
Ben and I met while we were both living in The Netherlands, and immediately realised we’d grown up just ten minutes away from each other back in Melbourne! We had parallel lives back home, with Ben even applying for a job at the place where my Dad was working! We were just friends overseas, but eventually got together after moving back to Australia.
Our wedding was held at Lavandula Swiss Italian Farm which is a really pretty lavender farm in Daylesford. It is a relaxed, pretty property with lots of flower gardens, alpacas, emus and geese wandering around. It also has lots of rustic stone buildings, fields of lavender and (sometimes) a lake.
It usually only hosts small weddings, but my family had been visiting for decades and Carol at Lavandula was kind enough to let us organise our 150-person wedding there from scratch – which involved setting up a marquee and bringing in caterers, props and even toilets. We both have a family connection to the property. My family used to spend weekends at Daylesford and visit Lavandula all the time when I was growing up. Coincidentally, Ben’s Swiss Italian ancestors settled in that area generations ago – and there’s even a nearby road named after the family. Given that history, a Swiss Italian farm made perfect sense as our venue.
For our wedding, I wore a mermaid-style lace and tulle dress by Pronovias that I altered to have the straps removed. For drinking and dancing later, I changed into a floatier number which I had ordered online. It had little flowers on the shoulders and around the waist, a low back and sheer tulle straps. I loved my veil too which was from Vera Wang.
Ben wore a Liberty print floral tie, a crisp white shirt and a tailored blue suit with a floral pocket square. The groom and groomsmen all had different buttonholes – they were all a little quirky and incorporated local eucalyptus, roses and lots of rustic touches.
After arriving in a friend’s vintage Jaguar, I walked down the aisle to “Only Love” by Ben Howard.
Ben and I wrote our own vows, veering away from anything religious or super-traditional to reflect our own attitudes to marriage. To get around the traditional “man and woman” wording of the ceremony, we showed our support for marriage equality by having our celebrant, Tracey Patterson, add a sentence acknowledging that we believe all love is equal and should be recognised as such.
We each had a sister read during the ceremony, including an excerpt from The Velveteen Rabbit. We wanted to avoid the traditional wedding focus on men carrying out most of the symbolic stuff (like speeches and walking down the aisle), so we incorporated a ‘rose ritual’ into our ceremony, to honour and thank our Mums.
We asked Abigail Varney, a Melbourne-based creative portrait and editorial photographer, to take our photographs. Her work can be seen in leading local and international magazines and online (and currently is in the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra!)
We were after wedding photography that avoided the overly posed, predictable shots, and we were really happy with the results; they are dreamy, a little documentary-style, and they perfectly captured the autumn colours and beautiful dusky lighting of the day.
We did as much DIY as much as we could. The whole wedding was a blank canvas; we just hired a field at the lavender farm, so we had to either make everything ourselves or bring it in! Ben made the floral arbour for the ceremony from gumtrees he’d cut down from my Dad’s property. We rolled together old newspapers to make the confetti cones, then we cut up five or six types of fabric to make the napkins.
I designed the invitations, the order of service and the wedding favours, which were mix CDs in little homemade paper cases, tied with twine and sprigs of lavender. They had guest names on them, so they doubled as place names too.
Gary from Spade to Blade Catering created a menu tailored to our budget and the feel of the wedding. Then he made the whole process feel easy, even though he and his team had to work from a small catering tent in the middle of a lavender field. What a legend!
My brother-in-law Pete made the chocolate cake with his family and topped it with rose petals. We also hired in a gelato van from Bianco Latte for dessert, which the guests bonded over. It fed into the European feel of the venue, and we had fun getting behind the cart and helping to serve our guests at one point.
Our first dance was to “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran. My two sisters surprised us all with a rap to the tune of ‘Ice, Ice baby.’ It was word-perfect, and they got the whole crowd involved. My mother-in-law also surprised us with a great poem she’d written; in fact, all the speeches were heartfelt and beautifully worded; that was one of the best parts of the night.
At the end of the night, we were supposed to head back to our nearby honeymoon suite. But we ended up jumping on the shuttle bus to the local pub to join our guests for an after party. Still with my veil on, I was dancing with the locals into the early hours of the next morning. It was a fabulous celebration!
Ms Chinoiserie Says: What a beautiful wedding Grace and Ben; such a dreamy night under the stars; just magical!