Melissa & Dave’s Relaxed Bonnie Brae Barn Wedding

by | Australia - Victoria, Bride, Inspired Weddings,

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Melissa & Dave

Melissa and Dave chose an intimate ceremony for just their closest family and bridal party for their day before celebrating with 150 of their favourite people at a relaxed Bonnie Brae barn wedding. They worked with photographer Catherine Forge Photography to capture their day.

Melissa tells the story of how they met. “We are both accountants & met at work 5 years ago. Dave (21 at the time) was a graduate accountant when he started, whereas I (25 at the time) had been working there for a few years. After working together for a year we started hanging out socially, which is when I realized that I had feelings for him. However it took Dave a long time to realize he had feelings for me. We had a close group of friends within the workplace and everyone else could see Dave liked me but him.

After 6 months of chasing, I asked him to if he wanted to be my boyfriend – his response was “no I don’t want a girlfriend’. I said, ‘so you won’t miss me?’ and he said ‘no, not really!’ Dave then went off on holidays with his friends and during this holiday he had a ‘light bulb’ moment where he realized that he did like me. After returning from his holiday he arrived on my doorstep and said he missed me. That was the night (5th April 2012) that we became official. I knew from that night that I was going to marry him (of course Dave had no idea at this time)!”

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The bride chose a gown from Whimsical White, noting “For the past 5 years I thought I knew what my wedding dress was going to be, however when trying on this dress it looked nothing like I’d imagined & it really didn’t fit in with our theme & bridal party. I tried on several other dresses but nothing was making me go WOW. I came across Whimsical White at a bridal show, they had a dress on display that caught my eye & so I booked an appointment as they had an upcoming sale on.

I tried the dress on that caught my eye, it was terrible. They suggested another combination. I really wasn’t sure but gave it a go & fell in love with it straight away. The dress was nothing like I’d ever imaged I would wear or seen in all my bridal mags & internet searching. The dress was so light & comfortable & made to measure so I knew it would fit perfectly on the day.”

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The couple married at Bonnie Brae Barn in Gippsland, noting, “I had the idea of having a wedding in a barn, where we would serve cocktail food rather than a formal sit down meal. However we didn’t want our guests to have to travel too far from our hometown. I had looked & Googled everything I could think of to find a barn close by, but found nothing. I was out one night & mentioned to someone that I was disappointed we weren’t going to be able to have our wedding in a barn as we wanted. It turned out this person knew of someone that knew someone that had their wedding in a local couple’s private barn only 15km from our home. After making contact with the barn owners, we booked in a visit & fell in love with the venue – it was everything that we had imaged.

The barn had everything – rustic tables & chairs, decorations, old cars, historic signage, collectables etc. When we visited the barn for the first time you could feel a buzz in the air, there was so much atmosphere with a warm country feel. Nothing in the barn matched but it all fits together perfectly & created a place we only ever imagined getting married in. We were able to have our own catering and bar, which suited us perfectly. After seeing all the beautiful places around the barn & farm we decided to have our ceremony there as well. Sue & Peter Aryes from Bonnie Brae Barn were probably our standout vendor. Without their amazing property we would not have had the wedding we had.”

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Of the processional, Melissa remembers, “I am a massive One Tree Hill fan & chose to walk down the aisle to the same song Nathan & Haley walked down the aisle to: We Are Man & Wife by Michelle Feathertone. I played the song to Dave & he thought it was perfect to walk down the aisle to, until I told him it was from One Tree Hill. After that he refused to have the song in the wedding, somehow I ended up winning that argument.”

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Christine Skicko Celebrant officiated the ceremony, the bride remarking, “To us the ceremony was a formality that had to be done but we were never excited by it & just wanted it to be a quick as possible. The thought of 150 guests looking at us was terrifying. Our answer to this was to have a private ceremony that was as quick as possible. We had our parents, my grandparents, siblings & bridal party attend (about 25 people). After the ceremony was over, I was quite surprised by how much I enjoyed it.”


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“We both wrote our own vows. Originally we were going to keep our vows a secret until the day, however we had left this very late & were struggling to put words together. I think we both knew what we wanted to say but didn’t quite know how to tie it all together. On the Thursday night prior to the wedding we sat down & wrote the vows together. At the time & looking back now this was a really special time for both of us.”

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“Dave’s aunty (Sue Van Berkel) kindly offered to put together some baby’s breath bouquets for myself & the bridesmaids, she also put a couple of stems of the baby’s breath on the tables for decoration. It looked fantastic & we got so many compliments on them.”

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Of their photographer, Melissa remembers, “I was very picky on the photographers. I was very adamant that we were not going to pose for photos all day. I wanted our photos to be natural and capture the moment.

As the ceremony was private we wanted as many photos of our guests as possible. We also wanted to make sure the photographer would be able to supply us photos from the ceremony that we could print out to have on display at the reception.

After meeting with Catherine we knew she was the one. She completely understood our vision & wasn’t trying to tell us what we “should” be doing. Catherine worked alongside her second shooter Fiona McLennan (who also happens to be her mother!) and they captured so many amazing moments together.”

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The couple arrived back to their venue to the applause of their guests, who had arrived to celebrate the evening with them.

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“We wanted the reception to be like a party & we wanted everyone to have as much fun as possible we decided to have a few games for people to play. I know not everyone’s idea of fun is to spend the night on the dance floor. We had a friend make us a beer pong table, which was used throughout the night (mainly by older people that had never heard of beer pong & just tried to throw the balls into empty cups which was funny)! The day before the wedding my Dad & Pa worked together to make us a large Jenga set that people also played throughout the night.”

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Brent Sinclair Catering  catered the wedding, the bride remembering, “Although we wanted finger food, I didn’t want any guests to go home hungry. Our caterer was fantastic & already had great reputation locally. The food kept coming for most of the night and we received so many compliments. Although it doesn’t sound that big of a deal, it was really important to us that all guests had delicious food (and plenty of it) and the drink of their choice. We also had tables for people to sit if they wanted to, but there was no allocated seating, so people moved around a lot and switched seats when they wanted to.”

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“I was always dreading the speeches but knew they were kind of a requirement. But it turned out they were fantastic & all the guests enjoyed them (I had a image in my head of the speeches going for an hour with the guests falling asleep). Both my sisters gave a beautiful speech that was a complete surprise to me.”

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Of the first dance, performed by The Club, Melissa remembers, “We had a 5 piece band that played Ed Sheeran – Tenerife Sea for our first dance. We really can’t dance at all & again we didn’t like the thought of everyone looking at us. We danced (or swayed around in circles) for a minute then had the rest of the bridal party & parents join us. After this song finished the band lifted the tempo & the dance floor was filled.”

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Congratulations Melissa and Dave! Thank you for sharing your day with us! Thank you also to Catherine Forge Photography for sharing today’s celebration!


This post features the following wedding vendors. If you've been featured below, we'd love to get to know you. Click here to join Polka Dot Bride.

  • Makeup Artist
  • Lauralei Nicholls
  • Flowers
  • Sue Van Berkel
  • Venue
  • Bonnie Brae Barn
  • Wedding Cake
  • Anne Wilson
  • Ann says:
    May 28, 2016 at 8:31 pm

    Love the Country wedding

  • Catherine Forge – Freelance Photographer | says:
    July 8, 2016 at 8:00 pm

    […] JuneBugWeddings PolkaDotBride […]

  • Phoebe says:
    August 7, 2016 at 7:19 pm

    Hello, I am just enquiring on prices and what the venue offers for a wedding?

    • Polka Dot Bride says:
      August 8, 2016 at 7:33 am

      Hi Phoebe

      Unfortunately, it looks like the barn is privately owned so I don’t have the information to give you. Hopefully Melissa or Dave can fill us in!

  • Yvette says:
    August 29, 2016 at 3:21 pm

    Hello, love the look of this wedding venue. Would also like to find out the details and having no luck on the internet. Even just an email address so I can enquire with the owners!

  • Kimberley says:
    May 29, 2017 at 11:30 am

    Hey Nicole

    Do you have a contact number for the owners here? Really interested in this venue!!

  • Belinda sawers says:
    May 29, 2017 at 1:50 pm

    Hi I would really like to get in contact with the owners of Bonnie brae as I’m having to find a new venue for my wedding as the place I booked has fallen through

  • Nicole Peterson says:
    October 2, 2017 at 12:33 pm

    Hi Ladies, Sorry I’m not sure if the owners are running it anymore my old contact is no longer available to be reached on that mobile. I’d delete my comment above but I don’t know how to do that. Sorry!



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