So a diamond solitaire simply isn’t your thing. You and your beloved are looking for an engagement or wedding ring that’s a little more atypical, contemporary or colourful. Perhaps your perfect rings are “worn, weathered, textured and geometric”? With custom pieces starting at around $3000, Melbourne jeweller Georgie Brooks could be the designer of your dreams! Her latest collection is filled with sapphires in dreamy blues and greens and other precious Australian stones. The collection is available to try on at e.g.etal (167 Flinders Lane, Melbourne) now. Georgie shares her inspiration – and why local gemstones are among the best in the world – below:

Do tell us the story behind your new collection…
This new collection has been inspired by exploring how the rough gemstones can inform the shapes of the final designs of the stones. This results in most of my pieces being unique one-off designs because all rough gemstones are one of a kind. I use textures and contrasting materials to generate interaction with my work. I play with surfaces that appear quite rough or present a question about how it is made. But then when the piece is worn it feels almost weathered. There is definitely an element of the hand made in my work but I also strive to contrast this with precision comfort fits for example.

Why is using Australian stones important to you?
The provenance of the stones I work with is really important and often when they come from overseas it is difficult to track where they came from and who cut them. By sourcing Australian stones directly from gem cutters, I can have more control of this and mostly know the exact town a particular stone comes from. I can also request particular designs by working like this so the result is much more bespoke. Furthermore I am collaborating with some very talented people and ensuring these skills continue, there is one gem cutter who I work for example, who is seventh generation gem cutter. If we didn’t support these people these small industries will no longer be here in Melbourne.

What type of brides and/or grooms should seek you out for wedding, engagement or eternity rings?
Anyone who likes a story in the jewels that they wear as all of my pieces have that. Also anyone who wants to collaborate and have a very bespoke service, it is an honour for me to think that an engagement ring will be worn for a lifetime. My work also appeals to people who are wanting something that draws upon the traditional yet has a contemporary slant and those that appreciate design and making by hand. I am also working with same sex couples a lot at the moment, what a relief they too can finally get married.

What are ‘parti’ sapphires?
Australian parti Sapphires are individually unique, like a fingerprint. They are bi or tri-coloured usually yellow, blue and green. I also recently bought one that is orange and yellow. Sapphires are amazing stones because they are also very durable with a more affordable price point, this means a bigger rock in the end…which we all like!

What inspires you?
I am fascinated with Viking or Saxon hoards and how these pieces were lost for hundreds of years and then rediscovered. Often these collections are incredibly contemporary. It also amazes me that some of the techniques used by them are still unchanged today. I am very interested in where things are going now with how pieces are made, how we can merge ancient techniques with modern technologies such as 3D printing.

What do you wish for bridal couples to seek more of in their rings?
So many people purchase something that is really generic and traditional. To be safe with the idea it is going to be worn forever. I also have so many people lament to me about this decision. I think you should have fun designing something. Collaborating with a jeweller as it is a great honour to be part of this process. I also think diamonds are great but there are so many other options such as Sapphires. Unfortunately there are a lot of retail chain stores that are not selling a product of value. It is much better to engage a commission from a reputable contemporary jewellery gallery. There is endless choice and scope from talented artists. It also supports locally made pieces.

Exciting happenings coming up for the Georgie Brooks label…
I am developing a new range of pieces where I am exploring 3D printed silver work which will be exhibited at the end of the year. I am also developing a smaller precious range and I have a few engagement rings which I love doing.

Images supplied by Jeweller Georgie Brooks

With all its joy, laughter and tears – what does a wedding really represent? Is it more than just the story of two people in love and wanting to spend the rest of their lives together? Is it also a declaration to the world that love in all its forms, can, after all, knit us together no matter who we are? To quote Hannah of Hannah Photography, “With so many crazy things going on in the world, it is life affirming, that people still take time out to celebrate love and family.” And shining through in her photographs is love – pure and simple – between couples, friends and family. And that is the strength and magic of Hannah and Olivia’s images, because in 70 years from now, the love in these images will still be there for the world to see. Today, we learn about what makes the Hannah Photography team tick  – let’s join them!

Tells us about the journey to where you are now with your photography?

My journey began in high school at a careers day! An inspiring woman with a presentation about her photography business triggered a light bulb in my head, and I decided yes – that’s what I want to do with my life! From school, I went straight into a bachelor of photography degree. Then traveled the world for about 7 years after university, working in studios and pubs along the way. In 2012, I returned home to Brisbane and launched Hannah Photography.

What was it about photography that intrigued you enough to do degree study in this field?

The longevity of a photograph and how fascinating it is to look at photographs from previous generations. I still blows my mind that a tiny moment in time can be captured on a device and kept forever. Magic!

How would you describe your style of photography?

Real, romantic and fun.

What fields of photography do you specialise in?

Wedding photography and pet-friendly family portraits. We have a really unique and interesting studio space for portraits. And we love exploring all kinds of locations for weddings.

What do each of these bring to your photography?

The portrait side of the business really helps on a wedding shoot as well. We love to balance a photojournalistic approach with creating really special portraits of all of the beautiful people attending the wedding. And equally, with portraits, we love to capture the real emotion and stories and relationships during the session, rather than just taking a snapshot or record of what someone looks like.

Do you have a particular skill in getting people to relax in front of the camera?

Olivia and I both tend to be a bit over enthusiastic when it comes to taking photos, which can sometimes be entertaining and put people at ease. Our other tactic is to be well prepared and get to know the couple and what they have in mind, before the wedding day, so they don’t have to worry about a thing.

Can you give us some tips that might help us too?

It’s honestly best to try (as much as possible!) to forget that there is a camera in the room. You can trust that the photographer is using the light so the shot will look beautiful and if you are relaxed and truly in the moment, the shots will reflect that and you can relive the moments over and over.

Australian light is unique and we see photographers use it in all sorts of ways to enhance their images. How does it feature in your images?

After spending time in Italy, for example, and then returning home, Australian light really is noticeably different! Light, for us, is one of the most important aspects of the photograph. So, we really focus on utilizing the light in both flattering and creative ways. We love the term, “painting with light”, and try and do this on every shoot.

What, do you feel, is the power in photography?

The power, for me is simply the ability to capture a moment in time and be able to relive that moment forever. Photography connects people and can sometimes show a relationship more clearly than the expression of any words. I think it is the most beautiful and powerful artform.

Please describe the wedding journey the couple takes from when they first meet with you?

We love to meet in our studio to discuss ideas and inspiration for the wedding day. If we are chosen as the photographers, we then set up a timeline that helps us check in at key moments in the lead up to the wedding day. Some couples choose an engagement photo shoot which is always fun and a great way to get to know each other a bit more. We also arrange a walk-through of the wedding venue. This we find, is an important step, so we can best plan timing and photo locations for the wedding day so that everyone is nice and prepared beforehand. On the day itself, we are there for the whole day, capturing all the beautiful and unexpected moments as the story unfolds. We always love to send a sneak peek as soon as possible after the wedding to share with family and friends! Then, within four weeks, we have all of the photographs ready for collection as high resolution printable files in a keepsake box. This is when we look at album designs and wall art if desired by the couple.

To get the best out of the day and your photographs, do you and the couple have to feel a connection?

Definitely! Next to lighting, this is one of the most important things as it resonates through the images every time.

Do you give a lot of direction while photographing weddings?

It varies with each wedding. Some couples prefer a photojournalistic approach only – which is always fun and beautiful. Other couples, really love to capture a mixture of “in the moment” and more portrait style photos. We love to make the portraits still feel very natural, relaxed and real and sometimes this does take a bit of direction. Often, we will position a couple in the best pocket of light, then stand right back and use a telephoto lens. They get to enjoy an intimate moment, and we get to capture the moment without being intrusive, but also ensuring the light is amazing!

What is your ultimate aim when photographing weddings?

To be almost invisible on the day yet be completely thorough so that when we show each couple their slideshow, they are blown away with the reliving of their wedding day.

What is the most exciting part of the wedding day or wedding journey for you?

I love being in the moment on the wedding day and focusing on the unfolding events around me, however, my favourite part of the journey, is looking through all of the photos from the day, and getting excited to share them with the couple, knowing we have captured something very special.

As a small close knit team do you find that your photography styles are or have become similar?

Yes, very much so. Olivia joined HP right at the beginning, so we have been photographing weddings together for five years now. I think we still have our own flair, however, when we compile our wedding photos, they look consistent and almost impossible to tell apart.

What do you love about photographing weddings?

The people, the emotion and the humanity. With so many crazy things going on in the world, it is life affirming, that people still take time out to celebrate love and family. The raw emotion you often see on a wedding day, still brings me to tears and gives me hope for humanity.

Do you have interests outside of photography?

I still love to travel and see new and interesting places and cultures. I love a quiet Sunday afternoon beer with my husband (is that an interest?!)… I also have a big interest in discovering new music, making playlists, live music and festivals! X

Hasn’t this been a lovely insight into Hannah Photography and the team’s work? Thank you for sharing your story Hannah. To find out more about Hannah Photography visit the website.

Headshot by Hannah Photography.

Photographer: Hannah Photography

Is the cliché question of “chicken or fish?” at weddings soon to be a relic of the past?

The Plaza Ballroom‘s Executive Chef David Ricardo certainly hopes so. “Everyone’s been to functions and knows what the food is usually like. We like to go the other direction and show what the food can be,” says the chef (who has formerly cooked at Chin Chin and the hatted Pearl).

In keeping with the times and modern wedding food trends, David and his very small-but-impressive in-house team of chefs want to see more custom-designed and degustation menus at special celebrations. No more cookie-cutter food and beverage packages by the hour, please. He personally sits down with each couple to discuss their individual tastes, wishes and guests’ dietary requirements. Imagine feasting on dishes inspired by your first date, the bride and groom’s all-time favourite foods or an upscale incarnation of whatever you ate at dinner when the surprise proposal happened?

Underneath vintage chandeliers, you could dine on morsels like tuna with apple and dashi jelly, pickled radish, ginger gel and wasabi sherbet or even a Bombe Alaska-esque coconut mousse with pineapple salad and Italian meringue. Definitely request any dish that features David’s parmesan marshmallows too!

Typically serving six courses, David and the Plaza Ballroom (he is also in charge of the cuisine at the wider Regent Theatre, Princess Theatre and the Forum Melbourne) can actually cater up to any number of dishes during a degustation. Dishes are matched to as-local-as-possible wines but can also be paired with whiskey, gin or Champagne. A celebratory menu here could even include gourmet house-made sodas in the case of a dry wedding. It’s all about making delicious dreams come true for foodie couples.

The Plaza Ballroom is suited to food-focused couples who want their guests to enjoy both an elaborate setting and dining experience. “Melbourne’s a very food-focused city and at any kind of function these days is not as if you’re paying a cheap entry fee,” says David. However, you’d be surprised at the very reasonable starting price for a wedding degustation (which includes venue hire depending on number of wedding guests). The Ballroom usually seats 150 to 550 guests amid late 1920s architecture underneath Juliet balconies and a canopy of ornate Baroque ceiling decorations. However, they won’t object if, say, you wanted to reserve the whole of the grand space for an intimate yet dramatic table for ten of your nearest and dearest.

Food has become the heart of many weddings so why not look beyond buffets and basic menus?David says, “The way we see it is guests deserve to have a meal that befits them and we try to give it our best shot!”

You can find out more about the Plaza Ballroom’s delectable weddings here.

Ms Zebra Says: I’m constantly amazed at how the wedding industry is changing & modernising! There is nothing worse than a sub par meal when you’re celebrating a loving couple – and know just how much they’ve paid for it! This sounds incredible – and Melbourne being a foodie capital, it’s the perfect place to start. 

Images Supplied By Venue.