So what makes for styling up the ultimate Australian wedding? What is just ours, unique to our land, our landscape, our take on life’s celebrations?


It’s hard to beat the incredible and unique flora this nation delivers, especially in spring. For this wedding we had the joy of working with flannel flowers, flowering gum, gum nuts, paper daisies, seeded gum, Geraldton wax, banksias and blushing bride in creamy white to deepest pink. And a starring role for king proteas, originally from South Africa, but now grafted into our landscape like they were born here.


Take to the spaces that surround you with the best of Australian nature. Our bushland, our rivers, our coastlines. Or buildings and spaces created by our architects, for our land, our lifestyle, our conditions.
This wedding took place in the iconic national treasure that was the property & studio retreat of artist Arthur Boyd. Bundanon on a hillside overlooking the Shoalhaven River was gifted to the nation.
This property afforded our couple a place to celebrate away from the maddening crowds, completely private, with those they love. Wedded by the river, celebrating immediately with champagne and ales under the warmth of a spring afternoon, followed by a gentle stroll back to the architect design splendour that is Riverside, designed by legendary Australian architect Glenn Murcutt for the reception.


We’re all about the long lunches and dinners in Australia and an easy on the eye style that is never ostentatious but always beautiful.
For this couple we dipped into our styling kit of linens in grey, charger plates in pale birch, linen napkins in a gorgeous shade of sand. Florals were worked into a collection including timber vases, and brown medicine bottle vases in a nod to the groom’s love of science and mathematics. Candles were hand made beeswax by the groom himself, and we showcased them in Australian designed and made amber votives and candleholders fashioned from slices of birch trees.

Outside, linen lounges and ottomans, bar tables clothed in linen with timber bentwood stools, and a fire pit for after sun down fireside chats set the scene for a party that flowed effortlessly from indoors to outside – another hallmark of how Australia loves to celebrate.

In keeping with our love of keeping it seamless, we took the palette from the florals, to design the stationery suite, commissioning an artist to create the design in water colour, as well as add her calligraphy font to the design; but for the menus for the day, we switched from paper to wood, and had individual timber menus for each guest, which also acted as a place card.

Never losing sight of what mattered to them both, we also worked in mathematical equations into the suite, and created fun quiz cards for the night guests to discover under the napkins.

The run of the day – we don’t think it gets more Australian than this – the marriage ceremony and the celebration taking place in the one space and place, no awkward breaks between ceremony and reception, with one flowing seamlessly into the next, no leaving the place to get wedding portraits taken and buses to pick up everyone from their accommodation, then taken them home again once the dancing is done. Carefree, generous, fun – all an Australian wedding should be.

Ms Zebra Says: What an incredible landscape and beautiful wedding! Thank you for sharing this amazing setting with us as we wrap up our Australia Issue

About the author Form Over Function: The Form Over Function team believe everyone has the right to enjoy a celebration – no matter how big or small – that is unique, personal, and carried out with a sense of fun, or a touch of style and grace. So whether you turn to us to design and manage your complete event, need to hire just a single spectacular vase, or wish to use our creative assistance for any of the many possibilities in between these two levels of service, you can be guaranteed the same degree of attention to detail, care and innovation we offer to all our clients.

Polka Dot Dream Team...

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Image via Native Weddings

I’m a big fan of investing in a videographer to truly capture those unforgettable moments and this month I’m chatting with someone who can certainly make that happen, Mike from Native Weddings.

Native Weddings are a video production house based in Melbourne, making films worldwide. The team specialise in creating personalised, handcrafted films that reflect the emotion of your big day. Mike believes every wedding is unique and prides himself in capturing that individuality in a beautiful and candid manner.

Image via Finder Seeker Photography

Image via Native Weddings

“I started Native Weddings just under 5 years ago after resigning from my position at the Australian Center for Moving Image and since its inception, the company has come a huge distance” says Mike. “I literally began by working from my spare room in Collingwood, built my website late into the night and arranged to film some friends weddings so I had some initial weddings to show clients and bookings soon started rolling in”.

Image via Native Weddings

Image via Finder Seeker Photography

Mike started out partnered with a friend who had previously worked for another large Melbourne video production company. He stayed working with the company until a year and a half ago when he moved to the UK. Now Mike works with the amazingly talented Adelle who joined the team of existing freelance professionals and has been an amazing driving force in continuously updating and improving Native Weddings. Today, they are filming more couples than ever and loving every moment of it.

Image via Native Weddings

Originally Mike moved from his spare room to a windowless basement in a Collingwood artist studio. “It was far from perfect but it provided us the space to start building and get creative” says Mike. “Although we had painted the space and acquired some cool retro furniture, it was still by no means a space that we could meet with our clients. This was often done at our local bar.”

As soon as he was more established, Mike found the stunning Fitzroy warehouse which has been home for the the past 3 years. “It was just a lucky find on Creative spaces – we gelled well with the photographer owner and we were in and set-up within a week” says Mike, “Since moving here we have truly made this space our home, it’s filled with plants and thank you letters from our amazing couples”.

Image via Finder Seeker Photography

Image via Finder Seeker Photography

The location, just off Brunswick street, means that it’s super convenient for couples to reach from any part of the city and the team are surrounded by some of the city’s most amazing places to eat and drink.

“Fitzroy is just such an amazing creative hub and the street art and environment are continually inspiring us” says Mike. Also, conveniently, Mike lives in Collingwood, just a 10-minute walk from the studio. “The move to this studio meant that we also had lots more space. From here we run both Native Weddings and our commercial company Outsider Productions.” The space is always filled with creative minds and people who love making great films, but in addition to this, the team also lend any desks they have free to other creative people within the wedding industry. What an inspiring workspace!

Image via Zuster Photobooths

Ms Zebra Says: What an inspiring story! So great to be able to delve deeper into the wonderful vendors of the wedding industry. 

About Amelia Waddell of Moonstruck Bride: I’m a proud bridal store owner with a love of exploring creative spaces. Whether it’s an office, event space, workshop or retail store I love seeing how other wedding businesses create their own special magic. When I’m not fitting brides I love immersing myself in everything wedding, in the name of “research” of course.

Sarah Nalder of Photography by Sarah J is all about capturing wedding days exactly as they are. She believes the best moments can’t be constructed and instead happen naturally when bridal couples are given the space to relax and be themselves. As a patterned lady of Polka Dot Bride who spends many, many hours scouring submissions to find those feel good and real moments, I adore and applaud this approach. Today we chat to Bendigo-based Sarah about her photography style, how its changed over the past 14 years she’s been shooting weddings, and her favourite part of documenting days that are all about love.

You’re based in Bendigo What do you love about the area?
I love that it’s central. I’m from Swan Hill originally and I feel like it’s between there and Melbourne. It’s also a stunning and super chilled place to live.

What are the best photo spots around Bendigo?
I actually find this changes all the time. I’ve never been one to just pick a spot and stick to it. I love finding new places and mixing it up as much as I can.

Do you work closely with any other Bendigo based vendors?
Not really, I’m based in Bendigo but have always found the bulk of my work is all over Victoria and beyond. Mainly because I love the variety that comes with new places, so working with the same people doesn’t happen for me a whole lot. I love running into people I have worked with before, but I also love that I get to meet lots of new businesses through the travel aspect of wedding photography.

How long have you been a wedding photographer?
I have photographed weddings for 14 years. Photography by Sarah J started up after I had done four of those years.

How would you describe your photography style?
Documentary, real, creative.

How has you style and approach to weddings changed since you first started out?
So much has changed in the photography world since I started, so I guess as this changes it changes how you do things yourself. When I started in my late teens along side my mum and her business we were in the last years of weddings being shot on analogue/film. In those days you would take around 12 rolls of film (give or take), drop them in to be developed and you’re done! Then digital arrived and with it editing. So new trends came with this, it was totally unexplored territory which provided a whole new way of photographing weddings and I think ultimately this began shaping how I photograph today. Whether you realise you have one or not every photographer has a style. As for me, I’m sure my work looks a lot different now to when I began. But it’s been an amazing growth adventure so far. In my work I have found out a lot about myself and how I see others. It’s never been about taking a photo. It’s about how you see the day when you’re planning, the moments that happen spontaneously on the day, how you capture them and even the way you edit them. Each photo has its own elaborate story and the difference in how I tell it compared to how others might I have always found fascinating.

Tell us about your studio…
I have an at home studio. At one point or another I toyed with the idea of having a more commercial space. But I really only photograph weddings and that’s all on location, so having my work space at home just made sense. I’m in great company with four cats and coffee, coffee and more coffee. I know many photographers find the editing side of things a bit of a stretch but I really enjoy that side of the process and the creativity that comes with it.

How early should a couple book you in?
It depends on the time of year you are wanting to have your wedding and where. In Victoria we have “wedding season,” which is generally spring and autumn. Summer can also be popular but it’s like playing weather roulette in Victoria, you could end up getting married in a sweaty 40 something degree day. Least popular is Winter, which I don’t understand because I love winter! So the earlier the better for the peak months, we are talking 1-2 years in advance. Mostly it’s a bit of a lucky dip.

How do you make a connection with your couples? Why is it so important?
I feel like the initial connection is probably one of the most important. I’m talking about brides or grooms who connect with what they see in my work (usually) online. It’s so important to have that connection between the work and the couple because this style is going to be similar to their own wedding story. I love having people recommend me but honestly, it’s about the connection with the work first.

Do you do engagement sessions?
Yes! I love engagement sessions. They have so many bonuses! For one thing you’re getting the couple as they are, day to day, which is a wonderful thing to have record of. You’re also getting to know them really well in lots of ways which not only makes it easier for me on their wedding day but also for them.

What are your favourite weddings to shoot?
The ones where people aren’t afraid to go a bit rogue and splash their personalities all over the day.

Are there parts of the wedding day that stand out – that you particularly enjoy photographing?
Of course every photographer loves the shoot time, probably because of the creativity attached.

Are you available for destination weddings?
Heck yes!

Where in the world have you travelled as a wedding photographer?
Thailand. I have also had requests for Scotland, New Zealand and Canada. Though none of which I could squeeze in during the busy Australian seasons.

Best wedding venue you’ve visited lately?
I keep thinking of a hilltop wedding/reception which was between Kyneton and Castlemaine earlier this year. It was incredibly stunning and had a glorious sunset. Not a listed venue, more of a private property. But just gorgeous!

When you’re not working, where would we find you?
Volunteering at Connect Church in Bendigo. These guys are my family and super fun! I do the media, photography and graphic design for Connect Church and have the best time doing it.

Thank you Sarah for sharing your words and work with us today. Your documentary style is so beautiful in its honesty and realness. To find out more about Sarah and the packages she offers for weddings and destination weddings, head on over to her website or check out Photography by Sarah J on the Polka Dot Directory!