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Winsome and Ben’s The Notebook Inspired Engagement Shoot

by | Bride, Engagements


Winsome and Ben

Kent Marcus sent over these gorgeous photos of Winsome and Ben’s engagement shoot. The Notebook has sprouted its own version of beautiful engagement shoots over the past few years and today’s is full of serene beauty, beautiful colour and plenty of romance. What is dreamier than floating down the river with your sweetie?

Kent says “Winsome and Ben met at the 2008 Australian You Conference but surprisingly they had the same friends for some time but had never meet before that. Winsome is a English teacher and loves the film The Notebook so she wanted to do here engagement shoot around this theme. The shoot took place at Hacks Ferry about half way between Port Macquarie and Kempsey on the mid north coast (of NSW).”

Photos by Kent Marcus

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Lauren and Toby’s Folksy Garden Wedding

by | Australia - Victoria, Bride, Inspired Weddings,


Lauren and Toby

Sometimes a wedding lands in my lap that is just so full of whimsy, joy and happiness that I want to take off my shoes and run onto the lawn and twirl- just like today’s bride Lauren did. Lauren and Toby wanted a “Folksy Garden Wedding” which was warm and happy with their own flavour of details. Everything about today’s wedding is reflective of who Lauren and Toby are and their love together, and for their friends and family today.

Lauren explains how they met. “Toby and I were good friends for about 6 years before we started dating! We had always got along really well . Our circle of friends and family were so surprised (and thrilled) when we started dating – because it seemed to come from out of the blue! Lauren’s mum was the only one who was unfazed, saying “Oh, of course you are. You were always in love with him” (Much to my surprise!).

Today’s photographer (making his Polka Dot Bride debut!) is Corey E Sleap. Corey’s shots are a little magical today because I feel transplanted into a little fairytale – the one of Lauren and Toby’s wedding. Lauren says “His experience at weddings meant he was a calm presence to be around, and he often stopped us during the day to make sure we remembered to enjoy every moment, soak up the joy of it all and give us space to just enjoy being a new husband and wife. The photos reflect this -because we were able to relax, our shoot was so much fun too! Corey was able to capture some outstanding and breathtaking photos of us that we absolutely love.”

Lauren carried a garden style bouquet of coral and cream blooms by Heaven Scent Floral Design. Lauren says “I used a lovely independent florist named Tam who was relaxed, creative and very well priced! The flowers were informal garden posies. I had pale coral roses, white chrysanthemum daisies with yellow centres, ivory spray rose buds, Advance roses. My bridesmaids had -white gerberas, baby’s breath (gypsophila), and white chrysanthemum with yellow centres”  Lauren wore a lace gown called “Bolzano” by Aire Barcelona, bought at Brides of Melbourne. She paired it with dusty blue shoes from Kinki Gerlinki for photos and reception, and some white peeptoes from Scooter for the ceremony.

Lauren and Toby had a lot of help from family and friends to personalise their wedding. Lauren says “We made my headband out a bracelet we sewed onto a ribbon. The bridesmaids’ dresses we found were too short, so we modified them for length and sizing by buying an extra one and chopping it up. A handy friend sewed 30 metres of beautiful bunting to hang up in the church as flags which we then transported to the reception! Mother of the groom and ladies from the church made 12 posies in boxes that decorated the church and were then used for flowers at the reception – as well as designing the large vases of flowers for inside the church. Also, a great team of ladies (and one helpful uncle!) spent hours the day before making long garlands of baby’s breath to decorate the walls of the church building – we found the design on a DIY website.”

Lauren’s bridesmaids wore multi coloured gowns by Lolitta. Toby and his groomsmen wore suits from Jack London.

Lauren and Toby were married at Newport Christ Church. Lauren says “The church building we were married in is the church we both attend, and met at. As well as being beautiful, it was very convenient, as we both only lived a few blocks away and were able to access the building as much as we needed in the lead up!”

“Toby and I wanted a folksy garden wedding. We love being outdoors ourselves – however could not afford the stress of hosting an outdoor event – so tried to bring the outdoors indoors! We wanted our wedding to be a genuine celebration – lots of laughter, smiles and a joyous spirit to the occasion – lots of colours, flags, flowers and music! We wanted it to be warm and happy – as well as have our own ‘flavour’ of details. Lots of what we did was inspired by DIY weddings we had seen on blogs such as Polka Dot!”

After the ceremony, Lauren and Toby had photographs taken in the Fitzroy Gardens right near their reception venue (The Pavillion). Lauren says, “Despite the drought, these gardens have historic significance and so are always lush, green and clean. Guests stood out on the balcony watching the sun set over the gardens as we walked up the path after photos to greet them. In a tepid afternoon sun, it was lovely to see everyone with a drink in hand warmly greeting us!”

Lauren and Toby celebrated with their guests at The Pavilion, Fitzroy Gardens,  Lauren says “The Pavilion is a cafe by day and venue by night. We happened to get all the venue decorations thrown in for free – and we added to the decorations by bringing some of our own that we had made for the church building.

There was an old church pew being used as a garden bench in the parents-of-the-groom’s backyard – we used it as the bride and groom’s chair for the ceremony. Toby’s sister sourced and painted the ‘Toby & Loz’ sign and attached it. A great team of friends also helped us sew together the bonbonierre – we made bags of seeds to take home for people to plant – each seed bag was unique and made from scraps of old material and filled with Gypsophila seed (‘Baby’s Breath’ that we used in the bouquets and garlands). We attached a thank you note (designed by the groom of course!) and our contact details. They were so pretty; most guests I know have used them as decorations rather than planting them!”

Lauren and Toby didn’t have a cake; in Lauren’s words “No cake! just lots of finger-picking desserts.”

Toby played a decorative role too, creating stunning invitations. “Toby is a graphic designer and printed all our stationery. He designed and screen-printed our invitations onto fabric, all by hand with his sister’s help, and we all sewed them onto card. He printed matching table numbers and place-cards too!”

The first dance is a funny memory of Lauren’s. “It was awkward! We danced to “Only Alive” by Jars of Clay. We had chosen the song the night before (the last thing we ticked off the list!) and while it is a beautiful song it turns out it is very hard to dance to! Toby managed a dip or two that was fun -but after that I was shooting glances at my MC that said “Save us! Send everyone on the dance floor – NOW!” It was very funny. The band at the reception was ‘Toast’ – lots of daggy covers that got people dancing – we couldn’t be bothered hand-picking music so we let them play whatever they liked!”

The speeches were memorable. “One thing Toby’s dad always made for him growing up were amazing sandwiches to take for his lunch (always filled with bizarre combinations such as BBQ Shapes and Peanut Butter!) During his speech he presented Toby with his last ‘lunch box’ – complete with the sandwich of sandwiches! It was huge and filled with nearly every condiment you could find in a fridge!

My family surprised us as we left the reception – they waved us goodbye by throwing hundreds of petals all over us that they had picked from my grandmother’s garden.”

Congratulations Lauren and Toby! Thank you for allowing us to share your wedding day on Polka Dot Bride! Thank you also to Corey for sharing today’s images with us!

Photos by Corey E Sleap

Friday Roundup

by | Blog News, Bride


Happy Friday dear readers! I hope you’ve all had a lovely week wherever you may be in the world! I want to let you know about a few fun things that have graced my inbox this week!

First up…around the Polka Dot Specialty blogs this week..

Ms Floral hunted down some gifts for your groomsmen on Polka Dot Groom

Manly Wines & The Wine Suites held their open night On Wednesday- I love the look of the Giggly Rose! Read about it on Polka Dot Wisdom

Victoria of The Little White Wedding Company shares her expert tips on choosing your wedding venue

Sweet printable Valentine’s Day cards on Polka Dot Made

Elesha and Luke share their honeymoon to Bali with us on Polka Dot Honeymoons

Want to share your stories on our blogs? Register for a personalised collection and filling out our contributor application! We’d love to have you!

I got a lovely email this week about a brand new Australian TV series that seems like it might be right for the love filled hearts of engaged (and married!) readers today! The Gradual Demise of Phillipa Finch airs on ABC1 next week (Tuesday February 15th at 10pm)  and is a” touchingly whimsical animated series narrated by Toni Collette and created by acclaimed artist Emma Magenta (whose work you might recognise from the Third Drawer Down Collective)”. The series airs in 13 parts and follows Phillipa Finch, “pin-up girl for the emotionally thwarted, as she tumbles back through her past relationships and reflects on her search, not just for love, but AMAZING love.”. I’m all about promoting wonderful, soul filled Australian stories lately and I thought this one might be of interest to you this week!

The website is a visual, dreamy feast and something I enjoyed pouring over this week!

The company behind Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters is launching their wedding label BHLDN on Monday and this week they gave US media a sneak peek- I am loving the gorgeous gowns they have created and the stylish accessories! Check out the coverage from Jen of Green Wedding Shoes here and here.

Photo via  Green Wedding Shoes

Style Me Pretty has launched a brand new inspiration board tool – you can now build your board from anywhere on their site, save it and share it with friends! Check it out on their site!

How was your week dear polka dotettes? Do share with me!

New Look Dunbar House

by | Australia - New South Wales, Bride, Wedding Venues


Sydney’s iconic Dunbar House is unveiling it’s makeover this month! Dunbar House has long been the venue of many classically elegant weddings in Sydney and now with it’s new owners The Tea Room Group (who also own and run The Tea Room QVB, The Tea Room Gunners’ Barracks and Sergeants’ Mess).

While the sandstone exterior has been restored, the interior has also been refurbished! Sitting right on Watson’s Bay, the venue features a neutral colour palette of greys and silvers with designer elements such as beautiful lower wood wall paneling, antique mirrors, Italian pendant lights, William Morris wallpaper, Catherine Martin carpets and hand crafted, glittering crystal chandeliers from the Czech republic.

The main dining room has an antique marble fire place and can seat 110 or cater to 150 for a cocktail reception. Looking over beautiful Sydney Harbour and taking in views of Watsons Bay and the city skyline, the room features an outdoor terrace allowing guests to take full advantage of the view. The upper level bar is situated off the main dining room and can be used as a quiet time out area, a dance floor or even more seating.

The venue captures the classic elegance feel that the Tea Room Group venues are known for and pays homage to to venue’s original 1830’s era.

Photos from Dunbar House

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