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Image: Grape Escape

You’ve popped the bubbly, raised your glasses for toasts, worked your way through the whites, and onto the reds, just in time for some dancing and dessert. If the wedding wine was a big part of your special day, there’s no reason you have to stop there.

Long lazy lunches, afternoons in the cellar door, evening feasting – wine regions are made for honeymoons, and Western Australia’s Margaret River will woo you over in no time.

How to get there
Fly into Perth, pick up a car and head three hours down the coast and you’ll find the Margaret River region. It’s an easy, uncomplicated drive if you take the direct route (make time for a pit stop and a slice of freshly baked lemon myrtle tart at The Crooked Carrot Café at the halfway mark), but if you’re not in a rush, swing by Busselton to check out the famous jetty and Dunsborough for world famous beaches and cute cafes. Wineries are dotted all the way down the 40 minute drive from Dunsborough to Margaret River township, so it’s the region itself you’ll want to explore.

Wine, wine, wine
The Margaret River wine region is famous for bold cab savs and lush chardonnays, but there’s just about every type of drop on offer at more than 90 cellar doors. So how to choose? Don’t, leave that to the experts and hop on a wine tour or two. Not all wine tours are created equal. Geri and Paul from Grape Escape South West Tours are tree changers, leaving Perth and their nine to five jobs to follow their palates and passion. Their small, private group tours are a labour of love for the region, the wine makers and the locals – they’ll hand pick a half dozen stops based on your personal preferences. Even better, the dog lovers have made their tours pet friendly, so bring your pup, or for $5 (which is donated to a local charity), they’ll bring their cute Frenchie Gizmo-Pierre along for the day. The five hours will fly by as Geri shares the low down on the best vintages, the best varieties and the best value for your money. She’ll also stop in at the Margaret River Woodfired Bread so you can pick up a freshly baked loaf of bread for breakfast tomorrow.

Images: Grape Escape

Where to drink
You’ll need a few days to make a dent in the cellar doors of the Margaret River, but here are a couple of our top picks:
Vasse Felix: if you’re after big international heavy weights, make a beeline for the estate that ‘founded’ the region. Save time to explore the manicured grounds, or settle in for a decadent tasting menu showcasing the best local produce – with wines to match of course.
LS Merchants: want to be ahead of the curve? Jump aboard the LS Merchants wine before they skyrocket. Winemaker Dylan Arvidson is making a serious name for himself, experimenting with an array of varieties and wild fermentation. The results speak for themselves. Make sure you grab a bottle of the 2018 We Are Many wine – 100% profits go to bushfire, farmer and wildlife charities.
Cape Grace Wines: one of the best kept secrets of the region, you’ll get to stroll straight into the wine shed to try Cape Grace wines. These heavy hitters have kept their prices very reasonable so stock up while you can – the Malbec is a fantastic surprise of the region.
Windance Estate: the plucky cellar door staff will have you in stitches while you’re sipping these boutique wines from Yallingup. Grab as much of the light Glen Valley Rose if you can get it. The views from this cellar door are just as stunning too, so grab a bottle and settle in.

Where to eat
Where not to eat might be the better answer – the chefs of Margaret River have a dedicated local and global following. You’ve got everything from serious fine dining to charming country bakeries to keep you sated. Start your day at the gorgeous Margaret River Bakery – a cottage filled to the brim with vintage furniture, mismatched chandeliers, cake stands towering with meringues, jumbo cookies, freshly baked doughnuts and jumbo sized breakfast burgers. Long lunches on the deck at the Caves Road Collective are calling out for a couple of cocktails (the Dune Distilling Co. gin is perfect for a sunny day) and some shared slow cooked pork belly. If you’ve got time, make a detour to the brand new Meelup Farmhouse, where beach chic meets country charm onsite at the Wise Winery. We’re talking dreamy outdoor decking, rattan furniture and white walls.

Images: Meelup Farmhouse 

Where to stay
Honeymoons are not about holding back, and the Margaret River has some seriously swish spots to rest your head. Cape Lodge has a long standing reputation for old world glamour. Go for lush beachside chic at the Injidup Spa Retreat, where pavilions have their own plunge pools looking straight out at the Indian Ocean, or hideaway in the cosy Empire Retreat.

Honeymooners, get ready to wine and dine WA style.

Ms Floral Says: How amazing is holidaying in your own backyard. Australia has so many incredible wine regions to discover, and there’s definitely something magical about Margaret River!

About Lisa Perkovic: Lisa has spent the past decade travelling the world writing for Australia’s leading newspapers, magazines and blogs about all things travel. Her own honeymoon was her pièce de résistance – an epic journey to the Maldives and South Africa. Now she loves nothing more than sharing destinations and tips to help other newlyweds work out how to have the honeymoon of their dreams.

Polka Dot Bride Shop

Image via Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa 

Fall into a state of relaxation and enjoy being pampered on your hens day with a few of your best gal pals and make it a spa getaway not to be forgotten. We’ve rounded up some of the best spas around the country so get out those fluffy robes and slippers, it’s time to unwind.

Hepburn Bathhouse – Victoria 

Designed with wellness and socialising in mind, the social spa offering at Hepburn Bathhouse was made for brides and grooms-to-be who love a little self-care in the company of others.

Located in Hepburn Springs, Victoria, your hands and feet will be getting the special treatment before your big day with a mineral foot soak, hand and foot exfoliation, hand and foot masque and a hand and foot massage. It’s the ultimate indulgence and is a perfect escape from busy wedding planning. To make your spa day all the more worthwhile you can stay at the Hepburn Bathhouse and enjoy the range of package they offer guests.

Images via Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa 

Lost World Day Spa – Gold Coast 

Located in the Gold Coast Hinterland overlooking the western McPherson Ranges, Lost World Spa is perfect for nature lovers looking to put their feet up and make a weekend of relaxation. From ‘foot recovery’ and ‘full body relaxation massages’, to express facials you’ll feel refreshed and go home ready to tackle that last minute wedding prep. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, you must check out the 25 metre wet-edge infinity lap pool before you head home.

Images via Lost World Day Spa

Bodhi J – Perth

With 100% natural and organic products, Bodhi J offers beauty therapies, spa journeys, body and healing therapies and yoga classes. The first Bodhi J opened in 2007 and since then, power couple Danny and Tania have successfully opened in five locations. Our top picks of the five for a hens weekend include Highgate, Westin and Indijup.

Highgate

Select from an extensive menu of organic and natural treatment combinations and escape from the city. Relax in a hydrotherapy spa bath, or the outdoor relaxation garden.

The Westin 
As the most luxurious of the five, The Westin is set in the luxury hotel offering world-class treatments. Take advantage of the hotel facilities like the infinity pool and high tea in the Haven Lounge after your treatment.

Indijup

Located by Indijup Beach this secluded spa is perfect for those looking to truly escape the city and be among the natural surrounding beauty. You could extend your spa day into a spa weekend and stay at the retreat.

Images via Bodhi J – The Westin

Images via Bodhi J – Indijup

L.M Spa – Palm Cove, Queensland 

For a girls vacay to the sunshine state a trip to L.M Spa is exactly what you need. Their vast menu of treatments range from a calming facial to complete body wraps, there’s something for everyone. Enjoy their package offerings like the Palm Cove Escape Package where you will feel regenerated after a 90-minute massage, personalised body polish and wrap followed by lunch at the Nu Nu Restaurant. After lunch, return to the spa for a facial and their Alamanda hair and scalp treatment. You’ll also have access to the resort facilities before and after your treatments making this the ultimate spa day for your hens weekend.

Image via Alamanda Palm Cove by Lancemore, Photography by Kara Rosenlund 

Image via Alamanda Palm Cove by Lancemore, Photography by Rhiannon Taylor 

Ms Floral Says: Ohhh, these spas look so luxurious and relaxing! Absolutely perfect for a day of indulgence with your bridesmaids and bridesmen.

About Bec Lawrence: I’m an animal lover, sustainability advocate and natural landscape enthusiast. On a good weekend, you’ll find me hiking with my two adorable beagles and my equally adorable husband.

Monique & Justin

We’re here to tell you, that if you’ve ever dreamt of a destination wedding in beautiful Slovenia like today’s newlyweds Monique and Justin, then you need to see the amazing Castle Otocec Relais & Chateaux. Because a European castle as it turns out is the most magic of locations for a destination day, and just what the world needs to see this Wednesday.

With an intimate guest list, plenty of champagne and Katja Simon by their side, it was just what these two wanted to do to celebrate their love story. A story which all began, as it turns out over a love of food. Monique fills us in “Justin and I met online. We messaged back and forth swapped food recipes but it wasn’t a year until we actually went on a date (I initiated it). It turns out we both work in the same organisation.!”

The bride found her stunning long sleeve lace gown on a trip to Melbourne, the designer? Luv Bridal. She shares “The whole dress had lace detailing, long sleeve with open back and a long train.
I flew to Melbourne to try on dresses. It was the first dress I tried. The shop owner confessed she made me try it first because she thought I wouldn’t fit it. As soon as I walked out to show my friend her eyes went huge in amazement. This was last off the rack purchase. I tried on a few more then went to another store coincidently across the road. Tried a few more and just didn’t have the same feeling. I went back and said yes to the first dress.”

The groom found his suit at Roger David, with a little help from Monique, who remembers “Justin is an easy to satisfy man. However, he trapped me into suit shopping. I was flying back from my hens weekend. He picked me up from the airport with a hangover in tow and drove straight to the suit shop. Needless to say, we were in and out of the shop within the hour.”

Monique walked down the aisle to ‘So into you’ by Tamia played live by an acoustic guitarist and live singer. “They were amazing no matter what song they sang.” remembers Monique.

Monique and Justin wed outside in the garden, Monique explaining “The officials were from the local council which spoke in Slovene and we had a translator. They gave a few words of wisdom and advice. Justin and I gave our vows and quite a few tears were shed. Including when walking down the aisle.”

The wedding was everything Monique and Justin had dreamt of. “Honestly everyone we had for our wedding exceeded our expectations. I believe it’s because Slovenians are just amazing people, to begin with.
I think it was more when I got there a week out and saw, felt, ate and tried everything. I did all the planning via email for over a year to the wedding planner. Vida was an amazing organised woman and managed to put up with my non-stop emails. When I saw her in the flesh I hugged her and cried it was such a relief and happy feeling all at once.”

As the day unfolded, guests moved throughout different parts of the castle – post ceremony it was all about champagne and pastries in the courtyard! Shares Monique “The welcome drinks and pre-dinner snacks were in the courtyard of the castle. Cobble stone ground, brick walls surrounding us.
The ceremony was in the back garden terrace which was surrounded by the Krka River. The castle is on a tiny island with the river splitting in two and going around the Island.
The Reception was inside the restaurant of the castle which still kept the authenticity of the interior of the castle.”

Justin admits his wife may have had just one very stressed out moment, and it happened on the morning of the wedding! He shares “Besides how beautiful she was walking down the aisle, the most memorable part of the day was getting a phone call from my distressed bride-to-be only hours before the ceremony to tell me that I need to find a very specific size photo frame to place the instructions for an i-spy game for guests to play upon their arrival. Despite having drunk several beers and having no idea where I would find such an item I trusted Google maps to guide me to a nearby village where I was lucky enough to find a frame that was ‘close enough’ in my opinion to do the job! This was Monique’s only ‘bridezilla’ moment and I’m glad I just went along with it instead of trying to have a logical conversation with her about the non-importance of a photo frame that could have had landed me in trouble if I ran into the police while out on my little adventure.”

Floristry Gallery Marjan Lovšin created pale pink floral details for the day, Monique noting “To be honest I didn’t give the florist very strict instructions with what flowers I wanted. Just a budget and have dusty pinks, a lot of foliage and berries. The florist did the most beautiful job so much more than I expected! I think I was more surprised because she spoke little English and I spoke zero Slovene.”

Then it was time for cake and dancing, the happy couple taking to the floor to Michael Buble’s “Everything”, tells Monique.  “We had practice and went to dancing lessons before going over then realising the dress wouldn’t allow me to do some of the moves we could show off our new skills. But we still enjoyed the moment!”

As the sun set, on the suggestion of their photographers the newlyweds took a stroll in the castle grounds. “Katja and Simon were amazing people they took photos the day prior” raves the bride. “They just made us so comfortable and we had conversed of email for a year prior. We trusted them completely so I think everything just came naturally.”

And once the festivities were over, Monique and Justin revelled in all the memories, the bride sharing “When it all finished late at night we made the effort ran the spa bath and relaxed talking about the entire day which made it embed more into our memories. It goes so quickly!”

A big congratulations to you both Monique and Justin! thank you for sharing your wedding stories with us! thank you also to Katja Simon for today’s photographs!

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