COVID-19 crashed in and postponed your big wedding plans? A public park or garden could be the perfect ceremony location for you. Here you can have an intimate wedding, with enough space for everyone to socially distance, in a beautiful setting, with a pretty affordable price tag. Not to mention, glorious mother nature turns on a show, so you don’t have to spend a fortune on floral styling. With a little planning, you can have the most beautiful wedding in your local park or gardens.

1. Permits
While parks are a public space, generally you can’t just turn up with 50 of your nearest and dearest, set up chairs and call it a day.
If you’re keen to celebrate your marriage in a park, seek out the local council responsible. Talk to their parks department and ask them if you need a permit.

A little upfront investment will give you the peace of mind that the space is reserved for you alone on the day, ensuring that you avoid any unwelcome fines for holding an event without a permit.

Top tip: If there is an option to book a structure that will provide cover in the event of bad weather, book it!

2. Conditions
Ask the council whether there are any extra conditions on holding an event in the park. Council may have restrictions on the number of guests, length of event, use of music or general noise limits, alcohol consumption and removal of rubbish. Better to be safe than sorry and know all this stuff in advance!

Top tip: Like a house party at a mate’s place, you would want to leave the park just as you found it. Nominate a squad for clean up duty after the ceremony is over, or better yet, hire a vendor to come and help out.

3. Location
When you are making your decisions about where to have your ceremony, consider accessibility and utility. Some of the glorious gardens we have available to us in Australia are huge.

Are you close to car parking? Toilets? Drinking fountains?

If you’re on the main thoroughfare, do you mind if members of the public stop to take a squiz?

If you’re somewhere secluded and beautiful within the gardens, how will your elderly or differently abled guests manage the walk in? And will your chair hire company be able to carry 30 chairs down a winding stone pathway to meet you at the waterfall for your ceremony?

If it is possible, visit your preferred ceremony spot at the time of year and day that you intend to get hitched. Look at the position of the sun, will you or your guests be looking into it during your ceremony And most importantly, is there any cover in the event of bad weather?

Top tip: Talk to park and garden staff, they may be able to open the gates so that people with additional support needs can be driven down to your ceremony spot, or might even be able to provide a golf buggy to assist.

4. Dress

Dress for the location not the occasion. If you’re planning a park wedding, look at getting a dress that doesn’t have a massive train. If a splendidly long train has been part of your dream for as long as you can remember, lift it so it doesn’t drag in the mud and collect debris.

Similarly, a silk covered stiletto is super chic, but not when you are trekking blue stone steps and well watered grassy plains.

Another alternative to avoid soggy wedding attire is to hire a carpet for you and your guests to walk down.

Top tip: Wear flats or a wedge shoe to the wedding and change into a stiletto later.

5. Weather
In Australia, we live in the land of drought and flooding rains. Be prepared for four seasons in one day.
This means bring all the gear!

If you’re not close to a drinking fountain, provide water for your guests on a hot day.

Give out cute little paper fans to keep your guests cool.

Provide insect repellent and sunscreen.

Handheld or freestanding umbrellas are handy in the rain, and in the sun.

Make sure you have some cover available – trees, a covered BBQ space, a gazebo or hire a marquee.
And like all good adventurers, be prepared to roll with the unexpected and change your plans.

Make a Facebook or WhatsApp group for your ceremony updates, so that if there is a last minute change on the day, you are not having to field calls from all the aunts about how to get to the new location.

If that drizzle turns into a deluge, or the mild summer afternoon becomes a furnace, activate your extreme weather option.

Your guests, their frocks and your do will be thanking you.

Top tip: In the event of extreme weather, have a back up ceremony location locked in and ready to go; think your reception venue, a local café, or even a mate’s place.

Ms Floral Says: Such handy info to have on hand for anyone planning a park or garden wedding. This is also such a fabulous backup idea for couples who have had to change their wedding plans due to COVID-19. Thank you Megan for running us through all the logistics for this beautiful (and safe) option.

About Megan Jordan: Megan is a Melbourne based marriage celebrant that specialises in warm engaging ceremonies that are all heart and laughs. A lover of a chai latte, sustainable living and a bold bright print, Megan is a skilled storyteller and a passionate wordsmith. She will make sure that your ceremony is the highlight of your wedding day.

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When a wedding photographer is focused on connection to create images that truly represent and celebrate individual couples, you’ve found yourself a winner. Adriana Watson of Adriana Watson Photography prides herself on getting to know her clients so she can accurately capture the beauty of their love story in her work. Today, we chat to Adriana about her style of photography, her favourite weddings to shoot, and what sets her apart from other wedding photographers.

Where are you based?
I’m based on the beautiful Sunshine Coast, but always up for destination weddings (Australia wide and international).

What are your favourite local spots to take wedding photos?
That’s a hard one to answer. We are so fortunate to have so many breathtaking locations on the coast, from beautiful mountains to fantastic beaches. But if I have to pick one, it would be Maleny.

How long have you been a wedding photographer?
Almost eight years, it never gets old!

How would you describe your photography style?
My style is true to life, just like a storyteller, no poses or staging the day. I like my clients to look at their photos and be moved by what they see. It’s all about capturing the connection that makes us human.

How has your style and approach to weddings changed since you first started out?
It has been an incredible journey of continuous learning and improving. I think experience has taught me how to anticipate the key moments of a wedding; once I was able to do that, I started to photograph weddings more organically and naturally.

How have weddings changed since then?
I don’t think weddings have changed that much, maybe a few different trends, like decor and fashion. Perhaps the most significant change is a slight shift in keeping things simple. The day is more about the reason why they are getting married rather about the big wedding production. That’s the kind of weddings I seem to attract. The fun, down-to-earth ones.

What sets you apart from other wedding photographers?
I don’t only deliver beautiful photos, but I’m BIG on customer service. Making sure that my brides and grooms are well looked after is very important to me. Going above and beyond, setting expectations and helping my clients in any way I can, is what has kept me in business this long.

What’s a typical work day look like for you?
I start my day with a long walk with my Golden Retriever, Vida. Then we both sit in my office, and under Vida’s “supervision” I answer the many emails from my clients, very often helping couples with the wedding planning. Responding to new enquiries and meeting new couples in my studio.

Then there is the editing, editing and editing. Oh, and working on marketing strategies, including social media, which can be a full-time job just there. And my least favourite, the admin work. Whoever thought photographers only took photos on the day, and the work is over. There is a lot behind the scenes to keep the business going.

How early should a couple book you in?
The venue, celebrant and photographer are the first ones that most couples will book first, so to prevent disappointment, make sure to book me as soon as you can. I recommend locking in 12 to 18 months before your wedding day.

Do you do engagement sessions?
Absolutely! And I strongly encourage my clients to book an engagement session. Not only allows us to get to know each other, but it’s a little practice for the wedding day. Most couples have never had professional photos taken, having an engagement session it breaks the ice giving the couple more confidence on the wedding day, resulting in beautiful natural images.

How do you make a connection with your couples? Why is it so important?
I connect with my clients, simply taking the time to get to genuinely getting to know them. We start that connection from that very first email exchange. We connect over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, during the engagement shoot and when we exchange phone calls and more emails leading to the wedding day. By the time the wedding day arrives, I’m no longer a stranger with a fancy camera.Creating a connection with my clients is extremely important; it enables me to photograph who they truly are. My photos are about their relationship; it’s about how my couples interact with each other. I can only capture those little moments if we have a real connection.

What are your favourite weddings to shoot?
Ohhh, I’m a sucker for rustic country weddings. I love them! When it comes to country weddings, I’m like a kid walking through Disneyland. The fun and opportunities are endless. There is so much to photograph and to be inspired by it.

Are there parts of the wedding day that stand out – that you particularly enjoy photographing?
There are many parts of the wedding day that I love photographing, but the raw emotional moments are my favourites. The first look is the best! And as a good Brazilian, I love a good party. The part when friends and family are letting loose on the dance floor are by far my favourite. It’s such a high energy time. It’s when the real celebration takes place.

Where in the world have you travelled as a wedding photographer?
Hawaii was my biggest destination. It was an epic wedding!

Your top three wedding venues?
The Rocks Yandina, Flaxton Gardens and Weddings at Tiffanys.

The best thing about shooting weddings is…
To be able to witness the love between the couples I photograph. To see the love and support from their friends and families is incredible. It’s a day like no other, and I get to call this my job. I have to pinch myself sometimes.

Thank you Adriana for sharing your story with us today. Your beautiful work speaks for itself and your focus on connection and individuality is inspiring. To find out more about Adriana Watson Photography, head to their website or check them out on the Polka Dot Directory.

Headshot by Lani Carter 

Image: Phoebe Powell Photography

This week on Behind the Door, I’m visiting a catering and events business located at a super unique venue, The Farm Cafe at The Collingwood Children’s Farm.

Image: Elsa Campbell Photography

The Farm Cafe events team are located in a stunning old Victorian style farmhouse within the grounds of The Collingwood Children’s Farm in inner city Melbourne. That’s right, a farm right in the middle of Melbourne! I meet sales manager, Lauren, at the front gate and am immediately transported into the Australian countryside. There’s green paddocks, rustic buildings, gum trees and even farm animals as far as the eye can see.

Images: Elsa Campbell Photography

“When people from out of town arrive here, they cannot believe that they are just four kilometres away from Melbourne CBD,” says Lauren. “It’s got all of the beautiful rustic country charm with the added convenience of being so close to the city.” The Farm Cafe team own and operate the onsite cafe and are the exclusive caterers and event managers of all the weddings at The Collingwood Children’s Farm.

Image: Elsa Campbell Photography

It’s an incredibly diverse venue with ceremony options including a grand oak tree overlooking the Yarra River, an enormous paddock surrounded by lush bush, and something more sheltered under the wooden beams of the stables. For receptions, there is the light filled cafe, rustic barn or a marquee or tipi under the stars.

Image: Elsa Campbell Photography

The team includes creative chefs, front of house, bar tenders, kitchen staff and expert level event planners that are so important when dealing with such a unique venue. There’s a fantastic relationship with many local wedding vendors including The Farm Cafe’s favourite florist Little Lady Blooms , who can often be found creating amazing floral installations in the barn. “We love the quirky nature of a real working farm,” says Lauren, “But you need to elevate each space and plan carefully to create a beautiful and stress free wedding”. Apparently it’s not unusual for couples to get photos with the peacocks, and guests to be greeted by a farmer at the gate, something not many venues in inner city Melbourne can offer!

Image: Sister Scout Studio

Lauren tells me that one of the things The Farm Cafe is most known for is its food. “We are absolutely obsessed with great food and firmly believe this starts with amazing seasonal produce,” says Lauren. “Our philosophy lies in serving up food that is designed to be shared, bringing people together with the time-honoured custom of sharing a meal”.

All the menus are abundant, diverse, and lavish spreads that guests can return to for seconds and thirds. There’s also a focus on vegetarian and vegan menus that are just as hearty and delicious, as well as options for gluten free, low FODMAP and other dietaries.

“We want people to feel nourished and excited by an incredible feast that leaves them feeling well fed and that is served with a sense of genuine hospitality,” says Lauren.

Images: Elsa Campbell Photography

Besides weddings at The Collingwood Children’s Farm, the team have become popular caterers at a number of unique venues around Melbourne, with specially designed packages for spaces like Glasshaus Inside, Newport Substation and Noisy Ritual Urban Winery. Lauren tells me that she’s often creating custom quotes for couples that are passionate about local, seasonal food and want to bring a little bit of the relaxed style of The Farm Cafe to their special day. What a fantastic team to have on board for your wedding!

Images: Elsa Campbell Photography

Ms Floral Says: Love that there’s a bit of country charm right in the heart of Melbourne! What a gem of a wedding venue.

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.