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Steffi & Zach

Weddings are enchanting, this we know, but when you throw in a story of magic, such as Narnia, you take us on an even bigger journey. For Steffi, a wedding photographer and Zach, who enlisted the help of Briars Atlas to capture their day, it was a chance to express their innermost selves. Shares Steffi “We wanted the wedding to be unique to us and we both love cinema. Our wedding had Narnia as the main inspiration since it has that magical feeling and the soundtrack in that movie was the first piece of music we bonded over.”

With a gorgeous gown, a beautiful garden setting, a reception filled with the most epic of dessert tables (just right for The Feast Issue) entered with, of course, wardrobe doors. But it is important to note, this isn’t a fairytale, because things happened and things did go wrong. And as every fairytale goes, it was still a day that held tight to its magic.  It’s important, for us that we share all of Steffi and Zac’s story. “It was a crazy day complete with car smashing, theft, heart attack scares, constant vomiting, hail (in the middle of summer), and very late vendors. Pretty much everything that could go wrong did. I can look back now and just choose to remember the good moments but holy moly it was intense.”

It wasn’t quite a beginning of a friendship for these two, tells Steffi. “We were frenemies for a long time, always pushing each other’s buttons to the max. We teamed up to do a lot of creative things together and slowly got over our borderline hatred for each other until it somehow turned into love haha!”

It makes sense, with Steffi and Zach’s love of mystery, of fantasy and whimsy then, that Zach proposed during a game!  “Zac and I both love puzzles and themes so we are avid Escape Room goers. Zac organised for an escape room to be set up for the proposal. Zac managed to sneak off and leave me alone in the third room with walls that were covered in photos of us, each linking to a relationship memory forming a code to unlock things. Eventually, I opened a laptop with a song and music video he had made for me on the Saturdays he’d said he was working. Once it started playing he came back in and proposed, before going onto the 4th room containing our families who had travelled from another city for the surprise. It was very intricate and uniquely done. It’ll always be a very special memory!”

Steffi and Zach may not have a first look, but they did meet before the ceremony “We chose to pray together in the morning before our ceremony. I was still in my pyjamas, but we held hands around the corner and prayed for the day ahead and our marriage. It was a very special moment hearing his voice and holding his hand.”

Who can even believe that the bride’s beautiful gown was found just two weeks before the big day at Brides By Design? Steffi tells the story. “I was having my dress made for me and it, unfortunately, went downhill 2 weeks before the wedding and I was left with no dress! I had to find one very quickly. It took a while and many tears with nothing fitting. Fortunately, though, I found the amazing ladies at Brides by Design who allowed me to buy a dress off the rack and altered it to fit me in 3 days. They added a cape veil and made lots of adjustments to make it extra special. I don’t know what I would have done without them!”

Woodloes Homestead played host to the enchanting garden ceremony, the bride telling “Our ceremony was held at Woodloes Homestead in Cannington. I had photographed a wedding there before and knew it was one of the few places to be kept nice and green in the middle of summer. Sure enough, it was absolutely stunning. We got married under a great big tree and it created the most amazing atmosphere.”

Steffi walked down the aisle with her father to Sia’s “Salted Wounds”. Says the bride “My favourite memory of the day was walking down the aisle, looking around and seeing every person I loved from all areas of life there in one spot. It was honestly the coolest experience to realise that halfway down the aisle, that everyone was there because they cared about us.”

Steffi and Zach made sure that the atmosphere was set from the start, the bride remembering “It was important to us that the whole ceremony flow smoothly with the atmosphere. We had music playing softly in the background of the whole ceremony. During our vows we had Finding Nemo and Josh Garrels playing and it honestly just made our vows so much more emotional. We had written our vows to each other and that was the most important part of the whole day. There weren’t any tears, just grins from ear to ear. The whole ceremony was about not only us together, but also how important God is in our relationship.”

Weaving that sense of whimsy and magic throughout the day was such a mirroring of who Steffi and Zach are. “We are both very creative, dramatic, people lovers. So the magical Narnia inspiration, the focus on making the day fun for our guests, our beautifully written vows, having all of our family there, and the focus on God at the foundation of everything were key things for the day to be special to us.”

“It was a crazy day complete with car smashing, theft, heart attack scares, constant vomiting, hail (in the middle of summer), and very late vendors. Pretty much everything that could go wrong did. I can look back now and just choose to remember the good moments but holy moly it was intense.

The beautiful blooms for the day were styled by Flowers in Love. Steffi sharing “Chantelle from Flowers in Love was 1000% my favourite vendor. She went above and beyond to make the day look so beautiful. She filled my bouquet with the most stunning array of purple and cream flowers, covered our reception from head to toe in true Narnia style, and she made our wedding table look like an absolute Narnia dream.  I’m so grateful to have had her be a part of the day. She lifted so much stress and did everything she could to make our day special.”

Steffi,  a wedding photographer (check her out over here and her work on Polka Dot Bride here) regards planning a wedding as trickier than photographing one! “Figuring out how to make the wedding a celebration of our unique personalities with everyone we loved was fun, but the rest was so hard! I’d much rather photograph weddings than plan them!”

 

Of their photographer, Steffi classes the couple’s choice as one of the most important parts of the day, but not for the reason you’d expect, she tells “When I asked Oli about photographing our day I had only ever seen his incredible portrait work but knew I needed that amazing eye to capture my day. Oli was a sneaky ninja capturing our wedding as it happened. I don’t remember seeing him the entire day, yet his photos document memories and moments so well. After having a pretty dramatic day that wasn’t entirely enjoyable, having those photos has been extra important to help me over time only remember the good parts of our day. He captured so many things I never saw and it reminds me how truly epic it was.”

The beautiful Quarry Farm set the scene for the evening reception, tells Steffi. “We were the first wedding to be held there and we are so grateful to have had such a beautiful venue for our reception. The great big wooden interior had an entire wall of windows overlooking a small lake. The sunset light that came through was very grand.”

Guests entered the reception through a “Wardrobe door” Steffi telling “We wanted our wedding to have a magical feel, but we also didn’t want it to be overboard or weird with the Narnia inspiration. So we chose some key things to create a magical feeling.

We set up the venue so that you had to walk through a wardrobe to enter the reception. We hung up fur coats inside, and on the other side of the wardrobe was a smoke machine and trees with lights through them. All of the guests were ecstatic at how fun it was.”

Bringing the Narnia inspiration to life was a handmade labour of love for Steffi and Zach. “We made our ceremony arbour, invitations, seating chart, menus and our tables had names rather than numbers. The corn toss game at the reception was also something we made and the fun of everyone playing that lasted all night! Each table was named after a place in Narnia. The bridal table was named Cair Paravel, while our parents were on Spare ‘oom and the children were on ‘Giant’s Land’.”

Guests received a wedding favour handmade by the couple, with a difference! “We made our plates. Since we were having woodfired pizza, we made wooden boards for each guest with their names engraved in the handle. That was the bomboniere for them to take home. We still get photos from people using them today!”

The first dance? An utterly romantic choice and an ode to a favourite memory. Steffi remembers “We had a dance choreographed for us to ‘Holding You’ by Ginny Blackmore and Stan Walker. It was the first song we ever danced to in the kitchen together.

My dad and I did our dather-daughter dance to a mashup of ‘Getting Jiggy With It’ by Will Smith and ‘Chop Suey’ by System of a Down. It was a crazy mixture of headbanging and dorky dancing while my brother jumped in halfway to join us. Hands down one of the best parts of the whole day! It was very iconic to my family and had the entire wedding in stitches of laughter.”

A dessert table was laden with sweets (Turkish Delight included of course) and a wedding cake by Clares Cakes.

We’re loving the finishing touch of today’s wedding, this beautiful (and so very sweet), film captured by Journey For Kate.

Congratulations Steffi and Zach! It was wonderful to share your stories today. Thanks also to Oli of Briars Atlas for sharing today’s wedding with us!

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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.

  • Hairstylist
  • Sinaed Tarboton
  • Invitations & Stationery
  • Bride and Groom
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We love a beautiful wedding favour, and for us, food-inspired gifts are some of our favourites. They’re not just a nod to the couple, but we get to actually enjoy them! We get to drink them in the sunshine, spread them on our toast, and sneak them at the four o’clock workday crash. So as part of The Feast Issue, we’re honouring all things food and drink with 10 foodie wedding favours for a gourmet lover’s wedding!

Our top tips?

Choose something personal

The best part about food inspired favours is how reflective they can be of your life together, or of what is special to you. Your beloved grandmother’s chocolate chip cookie recipe, the gin you share together whenever you’re celebrating, a secret recipe relish you’ve invented. Think about the food and drink you adore, and use that as your idea.

Start early

Making everything yourself? Make sure you start with plenty of time. Homemade canning, preserving and brewing can take plenty of time. Decanting and bottling can be fiddly and complicated. Make sure this project isn’t the one you start the day before the wedding. Plan it out and figure out what can be done well ahead of time.

Ask For Help

Some of the very best wedding experiences are when everyone pitches in to help. Making 100 of anything is always a labour of love, so don’t put too much pressure on doing it by yourselves. Invite family and friends to join in the fun and make a day of it, not only can you share the load, but that time so, so very golden to share.

Now let’s get into all the foodie inspired wedding favours!

Limoncello

Photo by via  Kara & Mo’s Modern Black Tie Polka Dot Wedding

Got an abundance of lemons and sugar in your life? Why not gift your guests bottles of your homemade limoncello? This is such a fabulous, delicious option and it’s just the ticket for summer weddings!

Biscuits & Cookies

Photo by Kayla Adams via Joanna & Nolan’s California Whimsy Wedding

Olive Oil

Photo by Florent Vidal Photography via Emily & Shaun’s Italian-Inspired Wedding in Port Stephens, NSW

Pick up your favourite olive oil and gift your guests mini glass bottles of your favourite drop. Always a favourite (and so delicious with your favourite bread!).

Jam, Preserves & Chutneys

Photo by  Angus Porter via Italian Long Lunch Country Wedding Ideas With Watercolour Details

This is one of my favourite gourmet treats. Nothing beats your grandmother’s favourite recipe for mustard pickles or your own home gown tomato chutney. This idea makes for a beautiful, personal touch.

Honey

Photo by  Adam Ward Photography via Alex & Andrew’s Relaxed Gold Coast Hinterland Wedding

One of my favourite discoveries over the past few years Is just how different and beautiful Australian kinds of honey can taste. So giving your guests favours of your favourite wedding honey is a favourite on my list. Choose honey from your wedding location, or a favourite spot for even more personalisation.

Tea

Photo by Beck Rocchi Photography via Cheryl & John’s Modern Elegant Melbourne Wedding

There really are few more comforting rituals than a freshly brewed cup of tea. If you’re in agreement, and find yourself spending your days pouring a cuppa, why to gift your guests your very favourite brew? Decant into test tubes as Cheryl & John did, or find little tins or bags of your drink of choice.

Gin

Photo by Rosie Hastie via Danica & Chris’s Glam Hobart Black Tie Wedding

Raising our hands up for this wedding favour! As lovers on gin, we’re fully endorsing giving your guests a little bottle of your favourite blend. It’s a crowd favourite and so many distilleries not only allow you to purchase mini favour sized bottles but even create your special gin.

S’Mores Kit

Photo by Elleni Toumpas via Jessica and Joel’s Rustic Country Wedding

I’m all for giving people tools to create amazing experiences and with this in mind, what about packaging up a sweet treat like all the fixings for S’mores? Biscuits, marshmallows, chocolate – even the skewers. Add a few instructions for guests and ask them to send you photos of their creations! You could do this with your favourite biscuit recipe too – just package up the dry ingredients and add the recipe.

Port

Photo by Sarah Godenzi Photography via Marianne & Guy’s Mornington Peninsula Wedding At Polperro Winery

We’re all for personalising your favours with what you love. So if you have a favourite drink, like port, we’re all for it! The couple above (Marianne & Guy) love visiting port regions, so decided there was no better nod to their love of port than by setting a bottle of their favourite at each guest’s place setting.

Something Tangible

Photo by  Carla Atley via Belinda & Mark’s Sweet Austrian Australian Wedding

 

Just because you’re set on giving something non-edible (or non-drinkable!) as a wedding favour, doesn’t mean you can’t honour your love of food. We love the idea, for instance of hand-chosen vintage glass, a cup for the evening (like the beer stein the couple above gave to honour their Austrian heritage) a special wooden spoon (like this couple), a custom printed tea towel, a cheese knife. You could even have your very favourite special recipe printed to put on each guest’s plate.

 

Lauren & Tyson

The saying ‘opposites attract’ speaks to this lovely couple who bonded over their mutual love of great food and embrace each others differing personalities! This also happened to become part of the central focus for their incredible, laid-back wedding at Alchemy Distillers where guests were treated to great food and great drinks. Their ‘Feast-ival’ wedding was intimate with Smokey Oscar capturing everything from candid moments to the mind-blowing cuisine that flowed throughout the day and night. Bride Lauren, who proves her foodie status as the brains behind Foodie Melbourne, shares their day and details all of the background for how this fabulous, feast-ival day came about!

Tyson and I met on Tinder in 2016, immediately bonding over my love for the Melbourne food scene and his love for burgers. I had just bought my little bachelorette pad for me and my dog Ollie, but before I knew it, he had moved in with his dog and we were smitten with each other despite being total opposites. When we got engaged in Paris at the end of 2017 and started planning our big day, we knew we had to find a wedding venue that was the perfect balance of both our personalities – me, the highly strung food snob with a food blog, who loved a whimsical, bohemian theme and him, the outdoorsy, sports-loving, laid back and loveable bogan who could not be more chilled!

And so, our ‘Food + Gin Wedding Feastival’ was born. Tyson had the great idea to hit up our friends who had recently opened the gorgeous Alchemy Distillers in Healesville and see if we could have our wedding there. Their mostly outdoors, rustic vibes were perfect for Tysons’ ideal venue, and their incredible cocktail options worked for the food snob in me. The gang at Alchemy were pretty happy to take care of the bar and us take care of the rest, so we were able to bring in all the food I could imagine (with Tyson’s one request- burgers).

Our wedding was exactly what I imagined. With a little help from the amazing coordination of Christine from the I Do Crew to help me bring my vision together, everything went exactly as I imagined (despite the 38 degree weather forecast… boy was it hot!)

The girls bridal party had a wonderful and relaxing day getting ready at a local Airbnb, kept chilled by the calming presence of our makeup artist Maddison Tippet, who just exuded zen all day as she worked on us and made us beautiful.

For such a huge day in my life, with the help of my wonderful bridal party and Mum, it was such a relaxing day and I didn’t feel overwhelmed or stressed at all. Putting on my beautiful Madi Lane dress from Luv Bridal was definitely a pinch me moment, as it was exactly the kind of dress I envisioned and the flower crown by Rainflorist completely nailed the bohemian vibes I was looking for.

Over at Alchemy in the upstairs apartment, despite a few wardrobe malfunctions (wrong pants sizes, oops!) the boys had the same experience getting ready. Both Tyson and I were both super lucky to have friends that were calming presences for us, so that the lead up to the big moment really just felt like hanging out with our besties, but wearing nicer clothes than we normally would!

We had the lovely Jenna from Smokey Oscar capturing every special moment of our day with her keen, artistic eye and she did a great job of following my brief – candid shots, with a focus on the food and guests enjoying the evening. Our videographer also did a great job of capturing all those special moments. We umm-ed and aah-ed about paying for a videographer, but we are so glad we did, as they captured so many moments we didn’t get a chance to see.

Pontoon lighting and some giant games from Swan Lane Hire were all that was really needed against Alchemy’s stunning canopy of bright leaves, as well as some simple, stunning Autumnal florals by Rainflorist Diamond Creek. We were treated to acoustic tunes by a duo from Lark Music, which completely suited the chilled festival vibes we were looking for. Even our celebrant, Samuel Miller, added to those vibes by being super laid-back, fun and helping us make our wedding vows into a hilarious love party, rather than super serious.

Food-wise, a talented group of vendors helped make our food dreams a reality. Our catering (all external to the venue) had enough style and finesse to impress me, but the food was casual and rustic enough to impress Tyson. We began the night with a well stocked graze table by Stasia Fox, then moved into canapés and ‘burger and chips’ (Tyson’s one insistence) by the amazing team at Gringlish Co.

Dessert had to be my favourite course, as we managed to organise a Sicilian style cannoli cart by the wonderful N’Cannuolo, complemented by roving canapés by Gringlish Co and a stunning cake by Katielou’s Cakes.

Since then, I have had so many wedding guests tell me they were some of the best desserts they have ever had, especially that freshly piped cannoli, which means as a foodie I achieved my goal. The other element we got so much good feedback on (unsurprisingly) was Alchemys’ incredible cocktails, and we felt so lucky to be looked after by the team there and able to offer our guests an absolute ripper drinks list.

Once that hot sun finally went down, I remember having a moment with Tyson as we sat back and looked around and realised that I (we, but mostly me, he would admit that) had actually pulled this together. We were surrounded by our favourite people in the world, who were loving the cocktails, grazing all night, listening to music that was perfect for the balmy summer evening and everyone just seemed so relaxed which suited us as a couple and our family and friendship circles perfectly.

The best advice I got during the wedding planning process was to do what we wanted, not what others wanted us to do, and I am so glad that I didn’t listen to people who tried to cajole me into having something more sophisticated, or ‘sit down’ as opposed to the way we did do it.

The main advice I would give brides and grooms going into the process is not to sweat the small stuff. I did my best not to do this, and because of this, the whole wedding planning process was fun, not stressful. Surround yourself with a bridal party and vendors you trust and who seem to understand your vision, and don’t be afraid to let go of the reins a little bit and take a step back so you can enjoy the day.

Something that feels so huge looming over you is over in the blink of an eye, and just becomes something you ‘awww’ over in your photos and videos, so it is so important to be able to breathe and take in every moment of the day. We had about 15 minutes where I told our photographers to stop during our bridal party shoot and we just sat with our bridal party, passed around a bottle of bubbly and spent time with them, and I am glad we had that before the craziness of the reception!

It was all over so fast but I feel like we managed to make the most of every minute and for me personally (as it should) it was one of the most magical days of our lives… Tyson says it is for him, but second to Richmond winning the Grand Final – there’s that loveable sense of humour again.

Thank you to all our vendors who worked with us to make the day possible and to bring our vision to a reality!

Ms Zebra Says: What a foodie’s heaven! Congratulations to this amazing couple – and for putting on the most ‘feastabulous’ wedding event. 

Credits

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.

  • Ceremony Officiant
  • Samuel Miller