Rodney and Zoe
We met at Seaspray, a tiny seaside town on Gippsland’s Ninety Mile beach where both of our families own holiday shacks. Our holiday houses are literally across the road from each other, and though Seaspray is little more than a dot on a map and we’ve both spent every summer of our lives there, we’d never met until a mutual friend, who ended up being the MC at our wedding, introduced us in the summer of 2007. At that stage I was living in Melbourne and Rodney was working as a teacher back in Gippsland so we did long distance for the first two years before Rodney moved to Melbourne, which is where we continue to live.
Rodney proposed at Tasmania’s romantic Cradle Mountain Lodge in January 2011 where he’d whisked me away as a surprise for my 30th birthday. It was the perfect beginning for us. There was no phone reception so for the first few days our engagement was just our little secret. We loved it.
I had a lot of trouble finding a dress. I looked along Armadale’s High St and Brunswick’s Sydney Rd but I felt like I was drowning in stark, white silk and couldn’t see any of my personality reflected in the designs. Out of desperation I hit Google and through sheer luck I found the gorgeous Rose Zurzolo who listened to my vague, rambling ideas and turned them into my perfect dress. When I began planning our wedding the dress was something I thought I didn’t care too much about but I loved the experience of designing it with Rose and of having a dress made just for me. It ended up being one of my favourite parts of both the lead up and the day.
We got married in Sale’s St Paul’s Cathedral on March 24, 2012 followed by “dinner and dancing” at the Seaspray Surf Club.
Though neither of us are very religious, getting married in a church was an important way for us to connect with members of our families who are no longer with us. Rodney’s uncle read from a bible that was originally given by his great grandparents as a gift to their daughter, Rodney’s grandmother, in 1934. The church is also home to a sterling silver cross and two candlesticks, which were donated in 1961 to honour the memory of my great grandparents.
Though we had a church ceremony it was important to us that our readings reflected who we are. Rodney’s sister read Dr Seuss’s Oh, The Places You’ll Go and a friend Louise Halliwell read Edward Monkton’s A Lovely Love Story, a modern-day fable about two dinosaurs who fall in love, despite their differences.
As for the reception, it was a no brainer for it to be held at Seaspray. With 180-degree views of the Ninety Mile Beach the surf club enjoys one of the best beach views in the country. It’s the town where we met, where we always have and always will holiday and it’s our most favourite place in the whole world. In saying that, squeezing 120 guests into a run down surf club was no easy task but, for us, it was worth every bit of effort.
Music was an important part of our day and a medley of songs at our ceremony ranged from Florence and the Machine’s You’ve Got The Love to The Time Of My Life from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack. I walked down the aisle to Newton Faulkner’s If This Is It and we danced into the reception to Pink’s Raise Your Glass, which of course, prompted all the guests to raise their glasses and dance along with us. It was such fun and it really set the tone for the whole night.
Vincent Taylor was our photographer and his background in film as well as photography meant his photos reflected the story of our whole day rather than just a few key moments. When we got our photos back (all 5000 of them!) we just loved being able to relive our most favourite day through Vincent’s eyes, particularly because he’d focused on some moments that had passed us by on the day but provided a fabulous snapshot.
We spent a lot of time looking for a location for our photos. I love the unpolished style of photos taken in a rural setting and we found the perfect spot in front of a beautiful wooden shed on the property at which my grandparents met in the 1920s. The property is no longer in the family but luckily the current owner was chuffed to host our shoot for the afternoon. The shed, which was Sale’s original pork factory, had seen better days but that only added to the rustic feel and character of the shot. We also wanted some beach shots without them being too clichéd so the relatively unknown Trinculo shipwreck on the Ninety Mile Beach near Seaspray was perfect, even more so because it’s a spot Rodney and I have always enjoyed visiting. Getting to the shipwreck involved a short walk through overgrown coastal scrub but even that provided some lovely photo opportunities.
We love going to weddings where we get a real sense of the couple and their relationship and we wanted to have our guests feel the same way about our day. The nature of our reception venue meant everything was DIY and so ETSY became my best friend as I searched for ways to personalise as many elements as possible.
Our chosen colour scheme was grey and yellow and we sourced some lovely, personalised invitations and matching reception program from Inviting Moments. My favourite novel is Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights so I was swooning when I found the heart-shaped confetti cut from pages of a vintage copy of the book at Ddeforest. We also printed an “It All Began…” canvas from SthBlue, which we just adored because the words perfectly captured our reasons for choosing to have our reception at that particular spot. I also arranged matching yellow and grey clutches for myself and my three bridesmaids from Waterpath where I was also able to source a clutch in identical design but in black fabric for Rodney’s ‘best woman’.
It was important to us to pay tribute to the weddings that had been celebrated by previous generations of both of our families, as well as to remember family and friends who were only with us in spirit, so we also featured a table with wedding photos from our parents, grandparents and some great grandparents as well as a photo of a friend who is no longer with us.
Transforming what could only be described as somewhat ramshackle clubroom into a stylish reception venue was no easy task but we draped white material over the walls and hung fairy lights from the ceiling and just filled the room with flowers, candles and photographs. The very rundown (and smelly) bathrooms were a tad more challenging but by filling the space with even more flowers, candles and photos we managed to turn the tiny room into almost a feature of the venue. We also used a paint pen to scrawl quotes from our wedding readings on the mirror and even had a basket of bathroom goodies so our guests could freshen up, which everyone loved.
Our families were such an important part of our day and we relied on them heavily to pull everything off. My Father grew the tomatoes which my Mum turned into sauce bottled in mini milk bottles as our bonbonniere as well as making hessian table runners for the tables. Rodney’s Dad gathered old fence palings to make blackboard easels for our menus and his Mum spent days baking a selection of sweet treats for our legendary dessert table. And absolutely everyone was collecting hundreds of glass jars and bottles which we used as vases filled with bunches of Easter daisies and gypsophila.
One of the best pieces of advice we were given in the early days of our planning was to pick the things that were important to us and compromise on everything else to make those key things happen. For us, the food and wine were at the top of that list and we knew Brad Neilson and Damien Gannon from the Tinamba Hotel were the only ones in all of Gippsland who could execute a wedding feast to fit our vision. It was the first time the Tinamba Hotel had catered off-site and it was an epic effort for them (they did countless trips between the Hotel and the surf club on the day of the wedding, a 40-minute drive each way), they went above and beyond to make sure everything was executed perfectly.
Our guests were welcomed to the beach with Jansz served in vintage champagne flutes and our shared feast of 14-hour slowcooked saltbush lamb shoulder, baked loin of Berkshire pork and mini versions of the Tinamba Hotel’s famous chicken parmas was served down four long tables, family lunch-style. Being able to take the time to sit at a table passing platters of gorgeous food between our most favourite people in the world was such a great treat and a memory of the night we’ll treasure forever.
A standout highlight of our reception was our very ramshackle and unrehearsed wedding dance to Paul Simon’s ‘You Can Call Me Al’. There was no rhyme or reason to our song choice other than it’s our favourite song to belt out on a roadtrip and we thought it would capture the relaxed vibe of our celebration quite well.
We also loved the idea of incorporating the song’s flute solo into our dance, which we also used as a sneaky hook to include our bridal party. They had no idea what was going on, we just handled them the flutes just before the reception and told them they’d know what to do when the music came on – and they did! The dancefloor was full for the rest of the night.
Living in the city and planning a wedding in the country with lots of personalised touches wasn’t easy, but it was worth every ounce of effort. And, with the benefit of hindsight, we agree we wouldn’t change a single thing.
Images by Vincent Taylor
Ms Gingham says: GREAT wedding dance! The video makes me feel like I was right there in the thick of things!! Congratulations to Rodney and Zoe and thankyou to both for sharing your wedding today.
Zoe says: “I am a 32-year-old country girl currently living in the city. Collector of cookbooks, fiend for fab champagne, salted caramel and all things pork and a firm believer that most dishes are better with a squeeze or two of fresh lemon juice.”
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