Angela and Joel’s Intimate Brisbane Wedding

by | Inspired Weddings, Inspired Weddings, Weddings,


Angela Murray

Angela and Joel

It felt like Joel and I were always on the same page when it came to the pace of our relationship! I moved in with him after a month, then moved out together three months later and before we knew it a year had passed and we were planning our first holiday overseas together!

As the count down to the trip drew closer I had a sneaking suspicion that this holiday might be a little bit more memorable than we first planned. But nothing could have prepared me for what Joel had been secretly organising on the side.

Three weeks into our month-long holiday Joel came over to me and thanked me for organising so many amazing activities and being “totally cool” with him still drafting his fantasy football team from South-East Asia (haha!) And to thank me he had organised a romantic spa day for the two of us!

Before I knew it we were getting whisked off by chauffeur to the most gorgeous spa retreat in Thailand, The Sarojin. Joel had mentioned that since it was low season he was able to get an amazing overnight deal and that it would be crazy not to stay there. I completely agreed – this place was like nothing I had experienced before.

We indulged in activities, massages and glasses of champagne before retiring to our room before dinner by the pool. I was in heaven and never wanted to leave!

As I started to get ready for dinner Joel mentioned that he had forgotten to check with the onsite restaurant that they could cater for gluten free food. Joel is a Celiac and it had become increasingly difficult to find appropriate dining throughout South-East Asia, so off he went down to reception. Fifteen minutes went by and at this stage I was dressed up and ready to eat.

All of a sudden the room phone rang and it was the reception desk. They explained that the pool restaurant didn’t have the correct facilities to prepare Joel’s dinner but if we went to their off-site restaurant (only a couple of hundred metres down the road) would be fine. The lady had assured me that Joel had gone ahead to make sure they had an available booking for us so I didn’t have to walk in heels! What a sweetheart.

Unfortunately for Joel he probably didn’t realise how panicked I would get when the receptionist asked me to get in a car by myself late at night in the middle of Thailand to be driven out to only knows where! I really only started to get nervous when the driver refused to give me any information except for “not long now” and we started pulling into a nature reserve!

I was getting quite worried by now so you can imagine my delight when the car turned a corner and I was confronted with a rainforest filled with tea light candles and a private waterfall!

I hopped out of the car and was guided through trees, over streams and eventually reach the top of the private forest where Joel was waiting in front of a beautiful waterfall. At this stage I was making a noise that could only be described as “wailing” since I had a feeling this wouldn’t be the run of the mill dinner.

After a beautiful exchange of words, sobs and feelings, Joel got down on bended knee and produced the most amazing ring I had ever seen (I later found out he had been zip-lining, hiking and kayaking half way across South-East Asia with that ring! And yes it was the real deal!). We were engaged!


Joel and I were very lucky when it came to our wedding. It seemed like everything has just fell into place! We had originally planned on a May wedding, the weather would be perfect and it would have given us enough time to plan the wedding of our dreams. Unfortunately sometimes life throws you curve balls and we got the biggest one you could get! Joel’s Dad had been diagnosed with stage four  pancreatic cancer a couple of months before Joel and I first started dating. So you can imagine that after two years fighting tooth and nail for good health, it was devastating news to hear the news that one of the most beautiful and strong-willed men I had ever met, Mr Jim Spotswood, would not be long for this world.

After days of deliberation with the Spotswood clan we all decided the most amazing wedding present to both my husband and his father would be to have them both there for a beautiful private ceremony! So we threw caution into the wind and gave ourselves two weeks to plan a wedding which would be held two days before Christmas!

I’m sure most people would be pulling out their hair by now but I saw it as a challenge and Joel saw it as a blessing so we were willing to do what we needed to make it work! It was by pure fate that I had actually already been in contact with an amazing Perth based photographer, Hannah from Lola Images, regarding a couples shoot that she wanted to do over the Christmas holidays for Joel and me, as she was looking for new images and Brisbane based referrals as she was looking at moving to Queensland the following year!

I sent Hannah a couple of messages explaining our situation and asked if she would be willing to change our couple’s shoot to a full wedding shoot and Hannah being the beautiful woman she is sounded more excited than we were about the idea; finally we had somewhere to start!

Before I knew it Hannah was putting me in touch with all these amazing companies that she had worked with in the past that wanted to help out as well as have the chance to collaborate with Hannah again, one of which was Cleo Borrello, an amazing boutique dress label based out of Perth. After a couple of email and photo exchanges all of a sudden I had a dress!!! And not just any dress, a stunning backless, formfitting wedding dress which any girl would be lucky to walk down the aisle in.


So at this stage I had a fiancé, a date, a dress and a photographer and that was about it! It was time to find a venue. Joel and I live in an apartment in Brisbane, not exactly the best backdrop for an intimate wedding. We knew we didn’t want anything too big or out in the open since most of the guests would be close family members.

So we did something a little be out of left field and hired a luxury four bedroom house which came paired with its own real-life zen garden out the back! And where did we find this little gem? Air BnB! The owner was such a sweetheart and loved the idea of his house being used for such a special event  – so with a bit of imagination and furniture hire we were able to turn a sleek stylish house into the perfect intimate wedding and reception venue.


Our original chosen bridal party which consisted of close friends completely understood that under the circumstances we were just going to be inviting family to the ceremony and then they could come afterwards for the drinks and speeches. Although this wasn’t going to be the standard wedding, the bridal party collectively decided that it was still a pretty good reason to celebrate and as a result we got to have an incredible mini hen’s and buck’s night out two nights before the wedding.

Although I didn’t want to do the traditional bridesmaids set up for our wedding I really wanted to take the opportunity to for the women in both of our families to spend some time together before the big day so I invited them along to get ready with me before the big moment!


In our beautiful robes by Cookies and Ry, it was so special to be able to get ready with one of Joel’s sisters and my Mum and little sister (unfortunately Joel’s eldest sister and Mum had to stay with Joel’s Dad). It really gave me a sense of calm throughout the day.


As for my makeup I had always known that no matter where or when I got married I would have Jasmine from Tiara Bridal Artistry do my hair and makeup! She is not only a dear friend of mine but she is also the best in the business and she reminded me of exactly why I love her work so much.  When I looked in the mirror for the first time after she had worked her magic, I knew Joel would love it especially since I was wearing an amazing beading crystal headpiece and matching jewellery from Fletcher and Grace.


My stunning bouquet was courtesy of the Bouquet Boutique who with such short notice were able to create a work of art; they were so friendly and made the whole designing process so easy since I really didn’t have the time to worry about the finer details.


Another fun little idea Hannah had was to do a boudoir shoot before the ceremony as a keep sake for Joel! I loved it; it was very cheeky and very us and I knew it would be a little something exciting to look back and reminisce on. Hannah as always had the inside hook up and I ended up wearing some stunning, handmade lace lingerie for the shoot from Black Lace Designs.


Hannah was honestly a my saving grace when I came to planning our wedding, her years of experience and her connections and ideas really helped me pull together our beautiful wedding. Hannah had some amazing ideas for the finer details such as suggesting we get stationery made up for our vows as a keepsake; we didn’t actually have time to send out invites or save the date cards and this way the amazing team at Pepper and Archie were able to produce one full set of wedding stationery for us to keep with our wedding album.


As for our cake, I was lucky enough to get in contact with a lady named Caitlin that owns a Brisbane based cake making company called A Little Cake Place.  I have honestly never met someone so passionate about what they do than Caitlin. When I went to pick up the cake, she showed me into a room that can only be described as cake heaven!

The room was filled with sample cakes as far as the eye could see, wedding cakes, graduation cakes, baby shower cakes and all so intricately decorated! I was honoured to have her create our perfect little peanut butter and chocolate fudge, gluten free, two tiered cake!


The morning of the wedding was busy and before Hannah came over to help with the styling and decoration, she had great fun photographing Joel and his groomsmen in their hotel room!


So, after the longest two weeks of my life the big moment finally arrived. As I started walking down the stairs to my Dad waiting teary eyed at the bottom, I could hear an acoustic guitar cover of ‘November Rain’ by Guns and Roses being played softly in the background.


I knew then that no matter what we had to overcome to be here and no matter what we would face in the future, we could overcome everything because right at that moment I was about to marry the love of my life in our home town with our entire family around us watching and cheering us on and that’s all that mattered.



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Ms Chinoiserie Says: Congratulations Angela and Joel on such a beautifully intimate wedding; a very special tribute to your love for your families!


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