Tharindu and I met in High School when we were 15. Four years later we were accepted into the same university to study medicine. We got engaged the year we moved to university, and five years later we finally tied the knot. We were married at Villa Botanica, Airlie Beach, June 25 2018

We always wanted our wedding to have a really intimate feel. For us, a destination wedding was an excuse to celebrate with our loved ones without the pressure of work and other commitments. We had only 50 guests, and most of them arrived a few days before the wedding.
We arranged a BBQ for everyone to get to know each other and I think this really helped to create a more relaxed feel on the day of the wedding. The biggest thing for us was to be surrounded by family and friends who we love and who love us.

Our wedding styling was simple and romantic with a white, blush, green colour palette. The venue was so beautiful that we wanted to keep the styling to a minimum and let the venue speak for itself.

I had a beautiful unstructured bouquet of white roses, stock, thryptomeme, and green foliage. The bridesmaid bouquets were white polaris chrysanthemums, stock, thryptomeme, and foliage.

I went dress shopping with my mum, sister, and best friend. I finally found the perfect dress at Brides of Sydney after a few weekends of looking. The dress had only just arrived as part of a trunk show and as soon as I saw it, I knew I had to try it on.  I fell in love with layered skirt and lace floral appliques and knew it was the one!

Tharindu wore a custom made suit from Peter Jackson in a dark Navy.

My sister Holly and a friend of 11 years, Hannah were my Bridesmaids. While Tharindu’s brother Senura and friend Toby were his Groomsmen.

I walked down the aisle to Maestro by Hanz Zimmer.

Our entire wedding was at Villa Botanica in Airlie Beach. It is a private estate with its own wedding pavilion, reception venue, and even a private beach. Villa Botanica has this beautiful and opulent tropical architecture (think dark woods and limestone) and is surrounded by magnificent tropical gardens. It even has its own cactarium!

Our ceremony was personal and relaxed. Peter, our celebrant was fantastic and had all our guests laughing. We didn’t want the ceremony to be too traditional and we wanted our guests to enjoy it. Tharindu and I wrote our own vows together. The one traditional aspect of our ceremony was the reading: my mum read a passage on love from the First Letter of St Paul to Corinthians.

Mel our Photographer from Stories With Mel was absolutely amazing. We honestly can’t recommend her highly enough. From the moment we met her over coffee, photography has been the one aspect of our wedding that we never had to worry about. Mel was able to capture the essence of our wedding perfectly and her antics to get natural looking photos had us in stitches. Mel is just a genuinely lovely person and it was an absolute please to have her photograph our day.

Tharindu’s mum made a traditional Sri Lankan wedding cake for our guests to take home with them. The cake takes weeks to make and we had to fly it up to the Whitsundays with us. The day before the wedding, both our families came together and spent a few hours wrapping and boxing up individual pieces of cake.

Our favourite detail would definitely have to be the fact that we were surrounded by the most beautiful people that day. Our family and friends had travelled so far to celebrate with us and we just felt so loved and blessed.

One of my favourite photos is where we are dancing and I am spinning around. I think that’s probably my favourite – it just looks so dramatic and reminds us of the fun we had learning to dance together. There is also one immediately after the ceremony in front of the wedding pavilion. We have a drink in our hands and the biggest grin on our faces. We were just so happy in that moment and the photo really captures that.

Our first dance was to ‘Better Together’ by Jack Johnson. Neither Tharindu or I are great dancers (and that’s being generous). I somehow convinced Tharindu into getting dancing lessons in the lead up, in the hope that we would feel less nervous having a routine to follow – and that maybe we wouldn’t look half bad. It was actually so much fun to learn something new together and we’re so glad we did it. Some of our favourite photos were from the first dance.

Villa Botanica has to be our favourite vendor. They organised pretty much everything for us – recommending local vendors and liaising with all of them to make sure Tharindu and I could just relax not only on the day, but also in the lead up. We were both studying full time so this was an absolute god-send. Everything was co-ordinated down to the minute and so stress-free for us and our guests. Tanya, our wedding co-ordinator, was a life-saver on the day – she even had a pair of scissors in her little magic bag for when the hem of my dress filled up with sand from walking along beach. Villa Botanica well and truly exceeded our expectations and we wouldn’t hesitate in recommending them to anyone.

There were a few things that made our wedding so special – being surrounded by family and friends was so important. We took some time with each other while on the photoshoot as well where we had a picnic on the beach, just the two of us. It gave us a chance to catch our breath and let things sink in. The speeches were also a hit – I don’t think there was a dry eye at the table!

Having a destination wedding definitely made everything feel more special and more surreal, especially being atVilla Botanica. From the moment we arrived (me at 9am and Tharindu at 2pm) to the moment we left the next morning, the staff at Villa Botanica did everything they could to make us feel special. We felt like we were being waited on hand and foot, and that’s not something you get to experience every day. Even when the celebrations had ended, we got back to our room to find some wedding cake and wine waiting for us.

I know everyone says it, but the day goes so quickly. Definitely invest the money in a great photographer and videographer so that you can preserve all amazing memories and small details that you might not have even noticed.

Photographer: Stories With Mel / Bride's Dress: Casablanca Bridal / Alterations: Brides Of Sydney / Bridal Salon: Brides Of Sydney / Bridal Robes: Beautiful Robes / Bridal Salon: Botanica Weddings - Villa Botanica / Bride's Shoes: Nine West / Bride's Veil/Hair Accessories: All About Romance / Bridesmaid Accessories: Colette by Colette Hayman / Bridesmaid Dresses: Forever New / Bridesmaid Shoes: Nine West / Bridesmaid Robes: Le Rose / Catering: Botanica Weddings - Villa Botanica / Styling: Event Company Whitsundays / Ceremony Officiant: Peter Upton - My Celebrant Whitsundays / Venue: Villa Botanica / Cinematographer: Unveil Film / Dance Lessons: Dance Events / Engagement Ring: James Allen / Favors: / Flowers: Flower Hut Whitsundays / Groom & Groomsmen Attire: Peter Jacksons / Groom's Shoes: Andrew McDonald / Groomsmen Shoes: Aquila / Hairstylist: Whitsunday Wedding Hair Stylist / Invitations & Stationery: Honest Invites / Makeup Artist: Airlie Beach Hair and Makeup / Reception Decor: Event Company Whitsundays / Reception Venue: Villa Botanica / Wedding Cake: Whitsunday Baked Creations / Wedding Planner: Botanica Weddings - Villa Botanica / Wedding Ring: James Allen

When you meet via a dating app only to find out you work for the same company AND live within 1km from each other AND share mutual friends.. it has all the makings of a modern day romance! Emily shares their beautiful Family Christmas proposal story…but don’t forget to also see their beautiful Wedding in the Blue Mountains.

Three years later, Steve proposed on Christmas Day in front of my family opening presents. My sister was visiting from London and had offered to do my hair and makeup that morning which was lovely, yet unusual – I usually have to beg her.

Steve was so relaxed and I had no idea that the oversized gift box I was opening had the most gorgeous ring and note inside. I was thrilled.

We had been drinking cups of tea but we quickly moved onto champagne.  We celebrated well into the evening by the pool.  It was really special to celebrate this momentous occasion with the whole family (as we live in all parts of the country and world)!

Image via Zee and Cee Studio 

The day I met Blake is a bit of an odd story and if you had told me then that he was the man I’d marry, I never would have believed you. We were at a mutual friends Christmas party, I was an awkward sixteen-year-old and he an overly confident seventeen-year-old. Our first conversation was over our dislike of prawns which was followed by him going through with a dare to put lemon in his eyes! Needless to say, I left thinking he was a pretty unusual guy.

Fast forward three years and by that time we had been best friends and then at some point, lost touch. But in 2014 our paths crossed again and here we are today, engaged and preparing for our wedding in March 2019.

Blake proposed in December 2017 with what I think was a pretty spectacular proposal, though I am a little biased!

Images via Zee and Cee Studio

I noticed him behaving strangely the night before, but I blew it off, trying not to get excited by putting ideas in my head. That morning he got up at around 6am and left a note on my bedside table. I heard him get up, but I forced myself to wait an hour or so before reading the note, it was the longest hour of my life!

When I finally opened the note, it read:

“Follow these steps:

  1. Put on your best dress
  2. Do your hair and makeup
  3. Bring your camera
  4. *Important* Get your nails done

I’ll be waiting for you x”

I could feel the butterflies in my stomach already! I quickly called my mum telling her about the note. Little did I know she was in on the plan the whole time.

She picked me up and we got our nails done together – she could tell I was nervous but was acting like she had no idea. She seemed to rush the manicure, whilst I was in a panic and wandered off to buy some water and go on a quick bathroom break.

When we finally got in the car to leave she handed me a note with a riddle and would only repeat a line from one of Blake and I’s favourite songs.

Image via Bec Lawrence

After struggling to solve the first riddle I ended up at the café where Blake and I had our first date. My brother was waiting inside and handed me a similar note to what my mum gave me, this one with a different riddle and him reciting the next lyric of the song.

I’m notorious for getting car sick and the heat and my nerves were not on my side. Luckily mum made a pit stop and we got some food before heading off to the next destination. This time it was at a restaurant on the opposite side of town, where we go for our anniversary every year. My dad was waiting for me outside the restaurant and handed me another note with a new and final riddle. He then continued the lyrics to our song.

The final destination was the Arboretum, a beautiful spot overlooking all of Canberra. My mum swiftly dropped me off, shouting the final lyrics from her car, leaving me to find Blake.

There he was at the top of a small hill, a private space where there weren’t many people around. I could see he was dressed up with a bow tie and a picnic set up by his side. I’m not sure who was more nervous, he or I, but walking over to him seemed like forever and I could feel the sweat dripping off my forehead from the sudden heatwave of almost 35 degrees!

When I finally reached Blake, he grabbed my hands and finished the verse from the song,

“Will you be there under the same sun?”

He then gave the most beautiful speech though I was so nervous I can’t recall a single thing he said and he never wrote it down! He went down on one knee and asked, ‘Will you marry me?’ and all I could think to say was ‘it’s about time!’

Image via Bec Lawrence

When the formalities were out of the way, Blake told me he had been waiting up there for hours but my detour to get water, lunch and a quick bathroom break had taken more time than he expected.

We opened a bottle of champagne and to my delight the reason Blake had woken up so early, was so he could line up to buy my favourite doughnuts – which of course were part of our picnic. Whilst we didn’t have a photographer on the day, we did take a few snaps on my camera and then later organised for an engagement shoot.

Image via Zee and Cee Studio 

I feel so special to have had such a unique and personal treasure hunt proposal that involved my family. I don’t know how they managed to keep it a secret but with their blessing Blake managed to pull off a pretty amazing proposal that I will never forget.