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Tess and Jared’s Sweet Southern Wedding

by | Bride, Inspired Weddings, International,


Tess and Jared

A hop skip and a jump over the oceans today to a sweet as sugar Southern inspired wedding that will have you beaming from the sweet details, the gorgeous outdoor ceremony and the trust that the couple have in their faith and the way their wedding day unfolded.

The story of their life together goes a little something like this. “We met when we worked together at an geriatric care management company in Orlando, Florida.  I was 18, Jared was 20.

June 24, 2003, was like any other Tuesday that Jared experienced since he had moved to Florida to “find himself”.  Tuesday mornings held the weekly staff meetings at The Cameron Group, a geriatric care management company in Orlando, where he was employed.  Over the last 5 months, Jared had developed a true appreciation for mornings and routines.  Little did he know that this weekly routine would change his life forever.

An eighteen-year-old who had recently graduated from high school, Tess was not accustomed to the workplace, nor was she used to waking up so early.  It was her second day of work at a job which her mother’s friend had kindly given her, and she was instructed to go to the office’s staff meeting.  She was nervous to take on something so foreign, yet so life-changing, that she could hardly contain her anxiety. That is, until, she saw Jared. In the midst of trying to absorb all of the updates in the staff meeting, Tess’ nerves soon settled when she saw Jared doodling aimlessly, with the most lackadaisical attitude.  How hilarious, she thought, that this felt like the most important day of her life, while he thought nothing of it.  The irony brought a smile to her face.

It was through those weekly staff meetings that Tess and Jared’s relationship blossomed.  Those meetings were always filled with  work stories, teasing, and uncontainable laughter.  Jared and Tess began to look forward to those Tuesday mornings, as it was the only time they would ever spend together.

It wasn’t until Jared started an internship for the 2004 Presidential Campaign that the two realized how much they meant to each other.  Upon his return from a six month absence, Tess jokingly told Jared how much she missed him on Tuesday mornings.  From then, everything changed.  Tuesday morning staff meetings turned into Tuesday breakfasts and Tuesday study sessions.  It was during one of those study sessions when Jared broke the news:

“This morning I told my father that I couldn’t marry you,”  Jared said.

“What? Why?” she questioned.

“If we got married, your name would be Tess Hess,” he explained.

To Jared’s shock, Tess replied, “I would marry you for that very reason!   Tess Hess would be an awesome name!”

In Jared’s eyes, her reaction sealed the deal.  By August 2005, Jared finally got the courage to ask Tess out on a date.

She said maybe.

Why would she want to ruin a friendship that brought her so much joy and laughter?  It was a scary thought to lose such a friendship, but it didn’t take long for her to decide that it was worth the risk.

We’ve been together, in every stage of our young lives, since August 2005.  We went to college together, graduated together, started our careers together, moved to DC together, and are now ready take the next step to be together, forever.”

Photos today are by Tab McCausland Photography. I love Tab’s classic, unfussy style. She captures things just as they are – the beauty, the joy, the romance. The tiny details and the big ones. Such a beautiful way to view a wedding day!

Tess and Jared held their wedding day at Cypress Grove Estate House. Tess explains “We had our ceremony and reception at the Estate at Cypress Grove.  The Southern estate home was built in 1925 on what used to be a Southern plantation.  The mansion overlooks Lake Jessamine, and is surrounded by moss-covered cypress trees.  The backyard also has a gazebo overlooking the water, as well as a lattice decorated amphitheatre.   Our venue helped inspire us to follow our dream of having a Southern themed wedding.”

Tess wore a gown with a sweetheart neckline from Paloma Bianca and carried a bouquet of pink peonies by Flowers By Lesley.

Tess’s gorgeous bridesmaids wore black gowns from Ann Taylor.

Fate played a role in the couple’s wedding day. Tess explains, “We couldn’t start our ceremony because the groom’s uncle, one of our readers for our ceremony, was late.  Initially, I was upset at the delay, until I later found out that God’s timing is better than mine, because it had started to rain, without my knowing.  My bridesmaids and wedding coordinator hadn’t told me it was raining outside with the hope that it would eventually blow over.  Thankfully, it did, right before I walked down the aisle to meet my groom.

My mom walked me down the aisle, which was especially touching to me considering my father passed away when I was eight.  My mom and I were both in tears as we walked together, in remembrance of my father and her late husband.  My mom is my hero, and I could not think of anyone better to send me off to my husband.

I walked down the aisle to a bluegrass version of Canon in D, played by our live bluegrass band, the Barnstorm Quartet.”

The ceremony had many favourite memories for Tess. “The ceremony that we created to represent our different backgrounds, but common faith. During our ceremony, Jared mistakenly responded “I will” instead of “I do” and was reprimanded by our officiant.  The crowd got a pretty good laugh.  When it was my turn to respond to the same question, I responded “I DO!” with great emphasis.  Our guests thought it was hilarious, especially when Jared responded “You can see how this marriage will work”.

Tess explains, “We had four ringbearers, two of which carried actual rings down the aisle.  One of the pillows had our promise rings that we had given each other after six months of dating, and the other pillow had Jared’s late grandfather’s wedding band attached to it.  It felt like it represented our past.

I absolutely loved our programs, and all of that went in to them, including a special tribute to our family members who are now longer with us.”

Tess and Jared made the signage for their sweet Southern refreshments which included sweet tea  and not-so-southern unsweet tea.

Tess remarks “Many of our guests were from up north, and had never been to an outdoors reception.  During dinner, they all talked about the full moon that they could see from their dinner tables, and how it’s a sign of good luck.  They, as well as we, thought it was the coolest thing.”

Prestige Printing created the stationery while Cristina Milles planned the wedding day for the couple.

Jared’s mother made over 900 cookies from scratch for the couple’s cookie bar.

Tess explains the wedding theme. “We decided early on that we wanted to have a Southern-themed wedding in order to capture all of the things we really love.  On our wedding day, that meant getting married at a venue that captured the Old South.  It also included amazing Southern comfort food.  During the cocktail hour we served pink lemonade vodka martinis,  freshly fried pickles, grilled cheese with tomato soup shooters, mini cheeseburgers (the groom’s favorite), and iced tea out of mason jars.  For dinner, we served cornbread, freshly-grown salad,  shrimp and grits, and bourbon-glazed salmon, accompanied with sweet potatoes.  Our guests RAVED about our food, saying it was the best wedding food they had ever had!

Our cupcakes by Serendipity Sweets (the bride and groom’s favorite) and the variety in flavors, including vanilla, peanut butter cup, cookies and cream, and chocolate.”

The first dance was long planned. Tess explains, “The night we got engaged, we were so excited to start planning our first dance that very night.  We were browsing through our iPods in the car on our way home from our engagement dinner, when Jared hit the play button on “Heavenly Day” by Patty Griffin.  By these first few lyrics, Jared and I were both in tears: “Oh Heavenly Day/All the clouds blew away/Got no trouble today/With Anyone/The smile on your face/I live only to see/It’s enough for me baby/It’s enough for me/ Oh Heavenly Day/Heavenly Day/Heavenly Day.”  We knew this would song would sum up our emotions of the day.

In the months leading up to the wedding, we became increasingly concerned about the prospect of rain ruining our entirely outdoor wedding.  In the back of my mind, I kept thinking, “Wouldn’t it be kind of cool if it did rain just a bit before our ceremony so that we could say ‘all the clouds blew away’ just like in the song for our first dance?” Oddly enough, right before our ceremony, after being sunny all day, it became cloudy and started to drizzle.  Thankfully, the rain ended right before I walked down the aisle, but it made our first dance and song so much more meaningful to us.”

DJ Jay Edwards kept the guests on the dance floor.

Congratulations Tess and Jared! Thank you for sharing your wedding day with us on Polka Dot Bride! Thank you also to Tab McCausland Photography for sharing today’s images!

Photos by Tab McCausland Photography

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Rustic South Australia Wedding Venues

by | Australia - South Australia, Bride, Reception, Wedding Venues


No matter what happens, there never seems to be less of a demand for rustic wedding venues. Finally today I am showing off one of my favourite states (anywhere that has a chocolate factory close to wineries doesn’t have to work too hard to win me over!)  and showcasing rustic, or barn style South Australian wedding venues.

Al Ru Farm

I love the farm setting of Al-Ru located half an hour from Adelaide. It’s set on a cattle property and even has a b&b so the newlyweds can stay.  The converted barn is just right for a reception and has high pitched ceilings, modern polished cement floors and can cater to 80 guests sit down or 120 for a cocktail reception. Your ceremony can be held in owner Ruth Irving’s French inspired gardens beforehand too. Check out the Al Ru Farm website for more information.

Saltram Winery

Saltram Winery is located in the Barossa Valley and has gorgeous rustic style spaces for weddings. From the Grey Floor Function Room which was an old barrel room now complete with lime washed walls and a capacity of 100 sitting or 160 for cocktail functions to the Dolan’s Den Function Room which can seat between 40-50 or 80 for a cocktail reception and is just right for an intimate celebration. Check out their website for more.

Stoneyfell Function Centre

Stoneyfell Function Centre sits just on the outskirts of Adelaide, part of the Stoneyfell Winery.  The rustic style function area can cater from 55 guests to 350 guests. Established in 1858, the hall features exposed beams and beautiful chandeliers. Check out the website for more information.


A different kind of rustic, Kingsbrook has a stunning orangerie which is a beautiful space for a wedding. There’s gorgeous accommodation onsite and the landscaping is picture perfect. Visit the website for more details.

Glen Ewin Estate

Glen Ewin Estate is one of my favourite rustic venues in South Australia. They have two venues – the rustic one being The Pulpshed which can cater for 300 guests seated or 380 for a cocktail function. With massive ceilings, wooden walls and surrounded by gorgeous gardens, it really is a beautiful venue. Check out their website for more.

Golding Wines

Golding Wines, an Adelaide Hills winery features a huge sandstone barn which can cater to 150 guests seated or 250 for a cocktail style function. There’s a beautiful outdoor terrace perfect for pre dinner cocktails (or wine, obviously) plus plenty of room for your ceremony. Visit the website for more.


Located in McLaren Vale, Olivers has a a beautiful homestead (perfect for the night before or of the wedding) and a chaff shed built in the 1850s complete with exposed brick walls and pot belly heater. The chaff shed can hold 60 guests but can be extended onto the verandah for 100 guests. Check out the website for more.

Longview Winery

Nestled within the Adelaide Hills, Longview Winery has a gorgeous barn style function room complete with exposed beams, open fireplaces and corrugated iron. The venue can cater between 70-100 people depending on your style of function though there are different areas available for your needs. Check out the website for more.

Pennys Hill

Pennys Hill, located in McLaren Vale have a number of rustic style spaces beautiful for a wedding – from The Stables complete with sawdust floor which caters to 110 people to The Gendey Room which can accommodate 90 and many spaces all highlighting the country winery feel of the property. The onsite restaurant receives rave reviews, plus you’re guaranteed pretty great wine! Visit the website for more information.

Howard Vineyard

The historic stone barn at Howard Vineyard, located in the Adelaide Hills has two areas available for weddings. The  Pardalote Terrace can hold 200 guests for cocktail weddings or 130 for a seated event while the Amos Barn, complete with rustic rubble walls and polished concrete floors has a capacity of200 for cocktail weddings or 120 for a seated celebration. Check out the website for more.

Willunga Peacock Farm

Willunga Peacock Farm can seat 120 guests or cater to 150 for a cocktail style reception. The farm’s shearing shed and old stables make gorgeous wedding venues plus there is also a bed and breakfast on the property. Check out the website for more.

The Hundred Eaves

The Hundred Eaves is located on the Fleurieu Peninsula. The bush chapel onsite was built in 1862 and can accommodate up to 100 guests for a ceremony and can also be converted into a reception space seating 48 guests or 100 guests for cocktail functions. Check out the website for more.

Bird In Hand Winery

Bird In Hand Winery is a splendid place for a rustic style wedding with their barrel hall able to seat 350 or hold 600 for cocktail weddings. Dance with your guests after your vineyard ceremony amongst the gallons of wine underneath glimmering paper lanterns while enjoying wine grown just outside. Check out the website for more.

Any other rustic, barn style wedding venues in South Australia that you know of? I want to grow this list for our South Australia brides!

Rebecca and Brett’s Marina Wedding

by | Australia - New South Wales, Bride, Inspired Weddings,


Rebecca and Brett

By the water, by the water.. oh what a beautiful wedding I have for you! The riverside beauty of today’s wedding, the grinning bride, the handsome groom who can’t help but show off his pearly whites and the simple love, is all that I needed to fall in love with today’s celebration!

Rebecca and Brett met through a mutual friend. “Through my friend Corinne. Brett was a flatmate of one of her friends. She was the head bridesmaid at our wedding and of course took all the credit for the union! Although at first I didn’t fancy him but then he grew on me! I liked the way we could talk for ages and he is very kind to me.”

Photographs today are by SugarLove Weddings– I love SugarLove’s classic but stylish captures. Gentle and soft, they capture the mood of Rebecca and Brett’s wedding day beautifully.

Brett and his groomsmen wore suits from Stellar Formal Wear.

Rebecca started off her wedding day in a sweet and sentimental way, one that remains one of her favourite memories. “Being woken up by my dad the morning of the wedding like he used to do when I was a child. He would pick up my hand gently and whisper that it was time to get up until I opened my eyes.”

Rebecca wore a gown from the (now closed) Rose & Ruby. Her bridesmaids wore purple strapless gowns from Mr K. The girls carried bouquets styled by Rosa’s Roses. Hair and makeup was by Leah Ruddy of Cheek Makeup Artistry and Hair. Rebecca remarks “My hair and makeup artist was brilliant!”

Rebecca and Brett were married by the water at Royal Motor Yacht Club Broken Bay. The bridal aprty arrived by boat and Rebecca walked down the aisle to Kate Miller-Heidke’s “The Last Day on Earth” followed by “Our Song”.

Rebecca says, “It was one of the best times of our lives and we have so many funny and loving memories from the day!”

The couple also held their reception at the Royal Motor Yacht Club Broken Bay Rebecca says, “The venue was not only beautiful but easy for us and the guests as we had the ceremony downstairs outside looking onto the boats and the reception upstairs overlooking Pittwater.”

Rebecca added a few personal touches to the reception. “I did the bonbonierres. I bought melting moments biscuits and wrapped each one in clear bags with ribbons co-ordinated with our colour theme. These doubled as name tags also.” Sugar Princess made the pink and white wedding cake and the wedding stationery was by Astijano Design.

Magic Shot Music kept guests dancing all night. Of their first dance, Rebecca says ” It was lovely but we look back at it and laugh. As Brett is from Shellhabour, we joke that it was the Shellharbour Shuffle as he had me going this way and that way on the dance floor and it was really hard for me to keep up!! We danced to Chantal Kreviazuk’s “Feels like Home”. But the favourite memory was kept until last “My mum and dad and Brett and I were on the dance floor all holding each other around the shoulders, heads bent in close together saying how special the day was and how happy my parents were and to live, love and laugh together always!”

Congratulations Rebecca and Brett! Than you for sharing your wedding day with us on Polka Dot Bride! Thank you also to SugarLove Weddings for sharing today’s photographs!

Photos by SugarLove Weddings

Nicole and Dean’s Urban Melbourne Wedding

by | Australia - Victoria, Bride, Inspired Weddings,


Nicole and Dean

Such a stylish, urban Melbourne wedding for you this fine Tuesday – beautiful Melbourne venues, elegant styling and a very in love couple – doesn’t get much better really!

Nicole and Dean met while studying. Nicole recalls, “We met whilst both at uni ten years ago (Dean worked at the local pub at the time). We had Johnny Wonderpants who were the house band at the time for the wedding as a reminder of how it all started! We have been living in London for the past 6 years.”

Photographs today are by Brent Lukey who always takes such a fun approach to his photography – from the important moments to making the most of the hilarious ones!

Nicole wore heels from Christian Louboutin. Her bridesmaids wore grey strapless gowns from J Crew and Kristina at Viva Flora styled the bouquets of peonies.

Nicole wore the ‘Diana’ gown by Vera Wang, She loved it to pieces –  “Vera really knows what she’s doing!”

Nicole and Dean were married at Catholic Parish Church of St Peter and Paul. Nicole says, “We organised the whole wedding from London which was pretty tough because you can’t go and see suppliers (or go with fussy bridesmaids to pick dresses which may have been a good thing!). Things like the order of ceremonies I did myself, I would highly recommend looking at Martha Stewart Weddings – she has some great templates.”

Nicole walked down the aisle to Canon in D played by the Tonic String Quartet. One of Nicole’s favourite memories is her walk down the aisle. “Seeing my friends and family as I was coming down the aisle – some of whom came from overseas. Then to look up and see Dean  – he looked so happy and nervous when I was coming down the aisle. He is usually unshakable under pressure.”

Nicole remarks “Father Bob Maguire got the day off to a great start and set the tone by delivering a funny and engaging service.”

Nicole and Dean held their reception at The Prince Deck at Circa. Nicole remarks “The Prince was the perfect venue, with a roof garden, inside dining and pool with floated lilies, it felt like we were finally home.”

A family friend made a three tier wedding cake. Nicole donned a black sash to glam her gown up for the reception.

The couple hired Johnny Wonderpants to keep their guests on the dance floor at the reception. For their first dance, Nicole recalls “The band played ‘Blowers Daughter’ by Damien Rice, we had no practice so it was pretty bad but good fun.”

The speeches were another remarkable memory for the bride, who says, “I loved My dad’s ‘father of the bride’ speech –it  rocked the crowd and left them chanting more.  I was surprised by the vibe of the wedding, everyone really let their hair down and had a great time. I also loved surprising dad with Neil Young’s ‘Heart of Gold’ for a father daughter dance.”

The guests had a ball, with two memorable stories. “As soon as I heard that two guests were in the pool (fully dressed with the carefully floated flowers), my first question was “Are they my people or Deans!?” We also had a bleeding bridesmaid  – after some amazing commitment to the bouquet, she cut her foot and finished the night in the hospital ER.

Congratulations Nicole and Dean! Thank you for sharing your wedding day with us on Polka Dot Bride! Thank you also to Brent Lukey for sharing today’s wedding photographs with us!

Photos by Brent Lukey

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