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Here at Polka Dot Bride, we love telling stories. This goes beyond writing pretty words. We actually jump up and down with excitement when images tell a couple’s wedding day story, with all the beautiful details intertwined. We also relish in the small, quiet, often unnoticed moments. A look. A touch. The tears. The laughter. Lindy Yewen of Lindy Yewen Photography is all about these elements of storytelling too. Her images are so moving because of their simplicity and honesty. Her work is so touching that clients often have trouble deciding what images to print! As one couple put it, “they [the images] are so beautiful and have captured our day as it was, relaxed and casual.”

Today, we hear from Lindy what it’s like to be a wedding photographer for 18 incredible years, how weddings have changed during that time and how she makes that oh-so important connection with her bridal couples.

You’re based in Noosa. What do you love about the area?
My parents moved to Noosa when I was six years old. It’s grown so much over the years but it still has a pretty laid-back vibe. I also love that we are surrounded by some of the best beaches on the east and have gorgeous green rolling hills to the west.

What are the best photo spots around Noosa?
We are spoilt for choice as far as beaches go but Sunshine Beach is a fave! It offers a variety of different backdrops including the greenery of the National Park headlands, the ocean and the rocks. I also love to shoot at less popular spots like the old post office in Tewantin and throughout the state forest walking tracks that cross all over the Noosa Shire.


Do you work closely with any other Noosa based vendors?
I’m on the board of the Noosa Wedding Organisation. It’s a group of Noosa wedding suppliers that was formed 10 years ago to promote Noosa as one of Australia’s best wedding destinations. I work with a bunch of fantastic vendors from celebrants to reception venues.

How long have you been a wedding photographer?
I photographed my very first wedding in May 2001, in a gorgeous church in the hills of Berry NSW. So 18 years this month!

How would you describe your photography style?
Timeless, honest and fun with a film like edit. I love to capture the small moments and take photos that will tell a story that couples and their families can look back on in years to come.


How has you style and approach to weddings changed since you first started out?
My images are more candid, capturing moments as they happen rather than stiff, posed images. Wedding albums were the in-thing so shooting lots of the small details was important to be used as fill in, background images. These days it more about the couple and their families and friends… with people being spread apart with great distance it can be the only opportunity to capture images with everyone together.

How have weddings changed since then?
When I first started the whole focus was on the couple only and their schedule. This often meant that after the wedding ceremony guests would have to just wait around for a couple of hours before the reception began. These days couples are more considerate of their guests and this often sees them going off aboard a boat cruise along the Noosa river while the couple are off doing their main photos. The whole day has more of a party feel than the traditional seriousness of years gone by.

Tell us about your studio…
My studio has evolved from an entire room with dedicated lighting and backdrops for portraits. This then downsized to an office with two Mac monitors setup for editing and now I’m moving to a laptop so that I can edit/work anywhere, anytime. My entire setup is automated online and it’s rare that I actually meet with a couple before their big day (although I still love to). I think that is because the majority of my couples come to Noosa for a destination wedding and live elsewhere. Most of our communication is via email, text messages, Facebook messenger and Instagram messenger.


How early should a couple book you in?
2020 is going to be a massive year for weddings so couples really need to start booking in now. Having said that I shoot a lot of little elopements where the couples are happy to go with any midweek dates that I have available and these tend to be booked last minute. Generally, most couples book six to 12 months ahead of the wedding.

How do you make a connection with your couples? Why is it so important?
Most of my couples are from interstate or overseas and head to Noosa as a destination wedding. We mostly communicate online and I usually only meet them on the day of the wedding for the first time. It shows what a great deal of trust my couples place in my work as we don’t meet beforehand and that feels pretty amazing.

Do you do engagement sessions?
Yes and I love them! It’s a great opportunity to not only get some stunning couple photos but it gives an idea of what to expect on the day. I would love it if more couples would include them.


What are your favourite weddings to shoot?
Adventurous couples! The ones who think outside the square and choose to marry on the side of a hill, on a sand bar at low tide, in the woods with their nearest and dearest. Elopements and small intimate weddings are my favourite.

Are there parts of the wedding day that stand out – that you particularly enjoy photographing?
Definitely the couple on their own after the wedding vows are done and before the reception starts. It’s a quiet moment out of a crazy day that is entirely just about the two of you.

Are you available for destination weddings?
Hell yes!!!


Where in the world have you travelled as a wedding photographer?
You will often find me travelling between Brisbane, Byron Bay, Sydney and Melbourne to shoot weddings but I also went to Florida in the USA in 2014 and it was incredible!

Best wedding venue you’ve visited lately?
In Noosa we have some absolutely stunning wedding venues that overlook the ocean and rivers, but the ones I’m really loving are the non-traditional wedding venues. A tipi set up in the hinterland, a long reception table under the starts, a party in an old barn. Mobile caterers and bars in vintage vans are so in and will take your reception to the next level!

When you’re not working, where would we find you?
With my family – hiking the Noosa trails with a camera in hand, sitting beside an open fire while camping, fishing along the Noosa river or taking my border collies for a run at the beach.


Thank you Lindy for sharing your story and your gorgeous work with us today, and a huge congratulations on 18 amazing years as a wedding photographer! Your couples are so lucky to have your knowledge and talent available to them. To find out more about Lindy and her photography packages, head on over to the Lindy Yewen Photography website.

Images and headshot courtesy of Lindy Yewen Photography

Pearl Button Bridal by Sandra Henri Photography

Enjoying a long career photographing weddings, it was a ‘mid life opportunity’ that drew Sandra on another path. Having witnessed the trend toward lavish and extravagant weddings, it was clear that there was less and less meaning centred around the two people actually saying ‘I do’. Returning from time spent in Africa, Sandra realised the need for social change and was inspired to create a new wedding culture – one of eco-ethical celebrations. Her philosophy has inspired many and has grown into the development of Australia and New Zealand’s first eco-ethical wedding hub. Sandra shares her vast knowledge in the area and helps with handy tips to ease into the ethical and eco-minded wedding path!

Less Stuff – More Meaning organisation for wedding rebels, for those who value connection, community and living mindfully. Mindfulness and weddings don’t seem to naturally go hand in hand, but our focus is to make it easy for couples to be eco and ethically conscious, all whilst feeling affirmed in your relationship and community values.

Through our eco-ethical wedding community, we bring you the ‘how to’ – our Mindfully Wed E-Guide, as well as the tribe you need to plan a wedding that is kind to people and the planet. We believe that as empowered individuals, alongside the pretty, we can infuse our hearts, passion and vision for a better world into our weddings.

Eco Weddings – Image by Capture the Present Shaun Li

Of starting the ‘Less Stuff – More Meaning’ Sandra says, I like to call it a ‘mid-life opportunity’. I’d been working as a wedding photographer for over 10 years, and had become somewhat jaded with the wedding extravaganza. Then add in a little dash of cynicism thanks to a divorce!! It had always been my dream to work in Africa, somehow I could feel it in my bones.

So following my divorce, I went to Malawi to volunteer as a photojournalist for a development organisation. Capturing success stories, and speaking heart to heart with those who shared their stories, was where I found my soul space. It was the most healing experience of my life (way better than therapy!). I sat on peoples’ front porches, listening to their immense appreciation for the things such as pots and pans, a mattress to sleep on, or a brick home that won’t need to be re-built every 1-2 years.

And then I returned into peak wedding season, with the luxury that this entails, and it changed my lens forever. Rather than seeing this cultural contrast as a negative, it got me thinking: what if these happiest of days, instead of being centred around the couple, we extend the love to our greater community and global family?

From this grew our motto of“Eco-ethical weddings: celebrating the love you share between each other and ALL humans”

Over time, I got to know many more change-makers in the wedding industry, offering more sustainable options or giving back in some way. So very organically, LSMM became a hub for eco-ethical wedding businesses, a source of eco-ethical inspiration, and an avenue to help find like-minded wedding vendors through our directory.

Letterbox Press Recycled Papers – Image by Sandra Henri Photography

Image via Lina Hayes

What are some ways that couples can get involved and make ethical choices in their wedding planning?

There are more ethical or eco-friendly choices at every step along the way of planning a wedding, but trying to do them all might drive you a little batty! We recommend concentrating on your most important values, such as plastic free, small and simple, up-cycled, or supporting local, and going from there.

For a comprehensive guide that includes all our tips and knowledge across the industry, we recommend grabbing the Mindfully Wed E-Guide, which is empowering as well as sanity saving!

The best things you can do for the planet with your wedding, might surprise you and even save you money!

Image via Lydia Reusser – Eco-Friendly Florist

A few easy ways to incorporate eco-friendly choices may be:

  1. Increase the plant-based options in your wedding menu:

Switching one beef serving for a plant-based meal for 100 guests, would result in a carbon saving of 1164kg. That’s the equivalent of 3 one-way flights from Sydney to Bali. What an easy way to offset your honeymoon travel! Head to the Mindfully Wed E-Guide to get some menu inspiration that is both earth and guest friendly.

  1. Reduce your travel miles:

This includes the obvious travel made by you or your guests, but also the hidden travel miles of your produce, flowers, or your clothing. The Mindfully Wed E-Guide will help you understand which questions to ask your vendors, so you can make the most sustainable choices.

  1. Use something that already exists, rather than buying new:

This may include re-creating family jewellery into a new bespoke piece, up-cycling fabric or a pre-loved gown into something perfectly you. Borrow, rent and re-use where you can.

Image via Nina Hamilton

The biggest item of waste at weddings is…flowers! You’d be surprised how many kilos of flowers are ordered for your wedding styling, in order to select the best to create your bouquets and table decorations. 80-100kgs is not uncommon! And due to time constraints, venues will often turf the left over flowers in the bin.

We recommend choosing a florist who sources locally grown, seasonal and can compost your florals, or loves to work with dried flowers. Or feel like Santa for a day, and re-gift the flowers to a local community service, nursing home, or hospital. Fun!

When I first started LSMM, I felt a little like the wedding industry crazy lady! Yet now, I hear over and over “I wish you were around when we planned our wedding!”.

Through my own experiences attending weddings as a photographer, I have to say, eco-ethical weddings have a whole extra layer of meaning. These couples ooze heart, are totally grounded in why they are getting married, and have zero fear in ditching traditions that don’t mean anything to them. It’s a way for them to say no to any unnecessary fuss, save money where they can, and have the fulfilment that comes with knowing you have personally made a difference.

Image via Nina Hamilton

With 110,000 weddings/year in Australia, and with an average wedding budget of 35k, never before (and maybe never again) will you hold so much consumer power. Use it! Let your wedding speak for a better world.

 

We have so much more to come from Sandra this month, so stay tuned! Catch Sandra over at Less Stuff – More Meaning and read her Mindfully Wed E-Guide here.

Photo Credits: Zoe Pook Jewellery

Is all the greenwashing getting you down? Are you tired of sifting through information to find a product’s actual ethical credentials? Or is there just too much smoke and mirrors to even bother trying to find out?

We talk to ethical jeweller Zoe Pook of Zoe Pook Jewellery to get her straight talking answers. Happily, says, Zoe, there are only 2 ingredients in a wedding or engagement ring; metal and gems. In order to find out the ethics of each of these ingredients you must first know where they came from. Let’s start with gold and platinum.

Gold and platinum are mined all over the world, which is why most jewellers find it hard to tell you exactly where their gold comes from. Unfortunately, ninety percent of the world’s gold and platinum producing workforce is made up of artisanal and small-scale miners (ASM). There are 16 million of these miners and almost all of them work in illegal conditions with little access to sanitation or education. Often, ASM gold ends up being sold at as low as 70 percent of the international market price.

Because of this, these miners are trapped in a cycle of poverty. They have no money to invest in improving their operations and no way of creating more efficient, sustainable mining practices. Without safe methods for gold extraction, in many cases they are forced to spend their days standing in pools of mercury. International laws protect those involved in large-scale mining and prevent hazardous practices like the unsafe use of mercury. The problem is these laws do nothing to benefit either small scale miners or the environments they work in. Enter Fairtrade Gold…

Photo Credits: CRED

During my early days as a jeweller, troubling images of filthy mines with poor working conditions
prompted me to research alternative gold sources. This led me to become Australia’s first licensed supplier of Fairtrade Certified Gold: a qualification which guarantees the gold I work with has been mined and sold according to Fairtrade standards. There is some confusion about what Fairtrade Gold is. Basically, Fairtrade gold is just gold! It does not differ in composition or quality to gold from any other source. The difference is that Fairtrade Gold has the power to create better opportunities for disadvantaged miners and their communities.

The miners at Fairtrade certified mines are guaranteed a fair price for their efforts. Premiums
paid by buyers are provided to the administrators to spend on improving their business or on
projects which benefit the local community. Fairtrade assistance allows formerly illegal miners to be registered and to receive appropriate training and support. The result is better, more efficient business practices and the opportunity to generate more sales on better terms.

While most gold from bullion dealers in Australia is sourced from big mines which have
approved OHS standards and meet environmental guidelines, the point of using Fairtrade gold is to support change in an area that desperately needs it.

We source our Fairtrade Gold from Peru and hopefully soon from East Africa too.

The other option is to get your rings made from 100% recycled metal. Recycled metals are taken from old jewellery, old photographic materials, vintage jewellery and waste from jewellers’ studios. This scrap is refined and 24ct gold or pure platinum is extracted. There are a few refineries around the world that sell 100% recycled metals to jewellers. You can also recycle your own vintage jewellery. We can use the gold and gems from a family heirloom that isn’t quite your style, or a sentimental gem or jewellery piece and turn it into something to be cherished.

Photo credits: Zoe Pook Jewellery

Diamonds and gems are the next piece of the puzzle. Diamonds are a little easier than coloured gems. Some of you may have heard of The Kimberley Process, which is essentially a tagging method for all diamonds sold on the international market. Whilst initially a good system, it now has some flaws. A better way to be sure of the ethics of your diamond is to source from one of 3 countries – Australia, Canada or Botswana. Until there is a Fairtrade or similar system for diamonds, these are the safest countries to source from, larger Australian and Canadian diamonds will come with a laser inscription to track to the source.

With coloured gems, there is no internationally recognised system to identify their ethics or trackability. However, as they don’t attract the price tag of diamonds (mostly) they also don’t attract the corruption levels and ethical problems that diamonds do.  Sapphires are mostly sourced from Sri Lanka or Madagascar. Both countries have small scale mining, whilst not perfect, they are often family run and profits go back into the areas where the gems were mined, providing much needed income for the local community. Emeralds come from Zambia or Colombia; spinels (my favourite) from Sri Lanka, Madagascar, East Africa; zircons (not cubic zirconia) from Australia, East Africa. We are very lucky in Australia to have a rich source of amazing gemstones right in our backyard (sometimes literally!); sapphires, zircon, aquamarine, emeralds, ruby, opal. One company to avoid in this area is Gemfields, they make many environmental and ethical claims but if you dig a bit there are some dirty secrets they try to hide.

Photo Credits: Zoe Pook Jewellery

There are some incredible companies out there in the coloured gemstone world making headway in providing fully traceable gemstones from mine to market. ANZA Gemstones are one of them, we are delighted to be their only Australian supplier. Their gems are bought in person in East Africa, often cut locally or by designer gem cutters in America, they are then sold to a select number of jewellery designers around the world. 10% of the sale price (not just profit) goes back to the gem mining communities. More than that, education and equipment support is provided by ANZA in an ongoing relationship with the gem mining communities. There are a number of other suppliers with similar ethics that we source from.

It has taken us at Zoe Pook Jewellery many years to find the best suppliers of ethical gold, platinum diamonds and gems from around the world. We are constantly educating ourselves and adding new suppliers. Contact us to talk about creating your own ethical wedding or engagement ring.

 

Ms Zebra Says: Although it can be difficult, it is SO important to source from ethical practices. Thanks Zoe for not only sharing your knowledge, but also why it’s an important issue to care about!

About Zoe Pook Jewellery: As a classically trained jeweller, attention to detail is first and foremost.  She uses traditional tools alongside modern techniques to create beautiful and durable pieces. She finds that working with clients during the design process adds something special and more personal to the jewellery that she produces.