Melissa and Aaron’s Surprise Retro Vow Renewal

by | Australia - Queensland, Bride, Inspired Weddings


surprise vow renewal

Melissa & Aaron

What could be better than a surprise renewal of vows at a beautifully styled wedding inspiration shoot? Today’s couple Melissa and Aaron were originally asked to be models for the retro inspired wedding shoot, little did they know the team of wedding professionals had a surprise for them!

Deborah of Boots Photography tells the story of how the surprise ceremony came to be. “I was teaming up with a few wedding vendors for a styled photoshoot with the plan to use a pretend bride and groom. Only the next day a celebrant I’ve worked with brought this story of a couple she had married a year prior. The couple had a terrible experience with their photographer and still don’t have any images.” Today’s team included The Rose Room, Blossom & Twine , Brisbane City Celebrants, Brisbane Wedding Decorators  and  Atomic Martini Vintage .

Deborah says, “We then heard the entire story of the couple … the bride also had an accident on her cruise honeymoon and as a consequence was in pain and didn’t enjoy the honeymoon, to return to Brisbane to have to have an operation. Also prior to the wedding the bride was a size 26/28 and had a scare by the doctor to say if she didn’t lose weight it could be fatal. Through surgery and dieting the bride managed to lose weight before her wedding and married at a size 18. A huge weight loss that she should have been proud of, but she loved Vintage/Retro but because of her size felt limited in her dress options and only tried on two dresses so she didn’t have the wedding she truly dreamed off … and realised there wasn’t a more deserving couple to be involved in the shoot. We then approached the couple to be our ‘bride and groom in our ‘photoshoot’ which we told them was a portfolio shoot to promote vintage/country weddings, which it did actually begin as, but in the planning process we came up with the idea to do a surprise vow renewal on the day. And surprise surprise we all managed to keep it a surprise right up till we told the couple seconds before it happened. Lucky for us too that we found at that the bride Melissa loved vintage/retro and that is what she dreamt she could have had for her wedding.

So when the celebrant told me and one of the other vendors of this story, we both jumped up and said they can be our pretend bride and groom. Well over the course of planning after hearing the sad story, we decided to surprise them on the day with a surprise vow renewal ceremony. And happily we all managed to keep it a secret and even on the day the couple had no idea what we had planned, right until we were doing a supposed shot of the wedding aisle and wanted a photo of them, “surprise” !!”

“I will never forget how excited Melissa was from the time we told her about the shoot and secretly knowing we had even more of a surprise for her and Aaron on the day. The location for the shoot was on a property in Cooroy on the Sunshine Coast (Queensland) on public holiday Monday 1 October. The day came and the weather was predicting storms but as a lot of time and money was invested in the shoot (and an excited couple we didn’t want to disappoint) the plan was to still go ahead. Throughout the day we battled intermittent showers but there was enough clear sky and flat overcast light which I as the photographer was mighty pleased about. From day dot we had always planned to do the reception table setups on the dirt road at the bottom of the property which is a public road but there are only 2/3 neighbours that would access it so we thought we’d be pretty right as it was a public holiday … they often have the neighbour’s cows wandering on to the property and I was hoping they’d wander up the day of the shoot but sadly they didn’t, but we did have to move the table setting of the dirt road a few times for the garbage truck (what council workers work on a public holiday), a Blue Care worker visiting an elderly neighbour and a couple of neighbours … all of whom I’m sure wondered why we had a beautiful table setting on the dirt road.”

“Melissa & Aaron arrived with their three kids and Melissa’s mum to supervise and were unsuspecting of our planned surprise vow renewal. Melissa went straight into hair and makeup while we did part of the portfolio shoot, then we added them in our our mock bride and groom. It was time to do some portfolio shots of the ceremony aisle and alter and they were still unsuspecting. Ciara from Brisbane City Celebrants suddenly came down the yard all dressed up and compliments were made and then Ciara announced we are doing a vow renewal. Ciara even had Melissa & Aaron’s 3 daughters participating in the vow renewal by asking them ‘do they give permission’ and also had them kiss their parents rings as a blessing.”

Deborah remembers, “During the vow renewal, the celebrant asked if their three children agreed and had them come up and kiss their wedding rings.”

“Following the vow renewal, Jamie Galloway who is a chef and had catered for the day (and also the property resident) had made some beautiful treats for us all to have a small reception, but unfortunately due to the intermittent rain we had to do that part of the shoot earlier and I took the couple straight off for the couple’s location shoot. There were so many great spots on the property to photograph them in and we had such a blast. I can’t say how excited it is to be apart of giving such a lovely and deserving couple a happy wedding experience.”

Photographer: Boots Photography / Vintage China & Event Styling: The Rose Room / Flowers: Blossom & Twine / Ceremony Officiant: Brisbane City Celebrants / Wedding Aisle Styling: Brisbane Wedding Decorators / Attire: Atomic Martini Vintage / Hair & Makeup: Guilia & Tim
Visit Ms Polka Dot's Directory

Michelle and James’ Formal Taronga Zoo Wedding

by | Australia - New South Wales, Bride, Inspired Weddings,


Michelle and James

A wedding at the zoo with masses of beautiful floral arrangements? Let’s dive right into the stunning celebration of Michelle and James who despite having their ceremony rained out, turned their zoo venue into a stunning black tie wedding overlooking Sydney Harbour, and their friends – the giraffes!

The couple tell how they met. “James (the groom) and Michelle (the bride) met thanks to the wedding of their dear friends Richard & Toni. James was the Best Man & Michelle was one of the bridesmaids. At their own wedding Richard & Toni filled the same roles & they are also now the proud godparents of Richard & Toni’s daughter Eloise.”

Photographs today are by SugarLove Weddings who capture classic weddings in such a timeless way.

Form Over Function planned and styled the wedding- right down to the blooms! Michelle says “I could not have done it all without my decorations, theming & flowers guru!” Michelle’s bridesmaid’s wore vivid purple gowns from Montage by Mon Cheri while the bride herself chose a Maggie Sottero gown.

Michelle and James chose Taronga Zoo for their wedding and moved their ceremony inside to the Harbourview Ballroom, Taronga Centre when the rain came down.

Michelle remarks, “Given your wedding day is already about us, we wanted the day to be about everyone else & their enjoyment of the occasion.”

Michelle loved “the animals at the reception”.

Faye Cahill created a magnificent three tier wedding cake.

The couple chose Papers of Distinction to create their wedding day stationery.

Congratulations Michelle and James! Thank you for sharing your wedding day with us! Thank you also to SugarLove Weddings for sharing today’s wedding with us!

Event Design & Management, Furniture,Decor, Theming & Flowers: Form Over Function / Venue: Taronga Centre / Bride's Dress: Maggie Sottero / Bridesmaid Dresses: Montage by Mon Cheri / Wedding Cake: Faye Cahill / Invitations & Stationery: Papers of Distinction / DJ: Sydney Wedding DJs

Eight Ideas To Make Your Wedding Aussie

by | Bride, Wedding Inspiration



Katie and Stephen’s Vivid Harbourside Wedding Photo by SugarLove Weddings

It’s the Australia day long weekend and I felt the need to do something a *little* Australian today as the country relaxes in the sunshine. While I adore Australian weddings for all kinds of reasons (read more about them here) if you need an extra kick of Aussie at your wedding, or perhaps want to send an Australian nod to your guests if you’re marrying internationally, then here’s a little inspiration to get your creative juices flowing!

relaxed queensland wedding029 Thi and James Relaxed Queensland Wedding

Thi and James’ Relaxed Queensland Wedding Photo by Hannah Millerick Photography

1. Have an Australian inspired wedding cake

Oh the realm is wide for this idea. Milo flavoured? Tim Tam crushed filled, Violet Crumble topping or of course, the lamington. If you’re into a cake person than might I suggest the pavlova? I’m starting to get hungry just thinking about it!

2. Serve meat pies at midnight

Seriously, want your guests to party all night long? Forget mini burgers and fries at midnight and bring out the meat pies. Mini ones, hot, with that delicious meaty filling. Don’t forget the tomato sauce and please include the napkins (i.e. because if your guests are like me, they have no hope of not spilling it down their pretty dresses). While you’re at it, sausage rolls, custard slice and iced Vovos could all make an appearance (don’t forget the Tim Tams!)

3. Pour a great Australian drop

Australia has some of the best wines in the world, so serve your favourites from across the country – Shiraz from McLaren Vale, Sauvignon Blanc from Margaret River, Semillion from the Hunter Valley and Pinot Noir from the Yarra Valley.  Of course, one should do plenty of taste testing to ensure they like the wine they’re serving!

australian USA wedding011 Whitney and Rick’s Australian Kentucky Wedding

Whitney and Rick’s Australian Kentucky Wedding Photo by Jessica Fey

4. Give Australian style favours

Mini jars of Vegemite? Locally grown Australian honey? A box of your favourite tea (Melbourne Breakfast perhaps?) Yummy Australian marmalade or relish? Even think outside the square to Murray pink salt, Australian bush spices and nuts and bush delicacies! Handy at baking? Why not gift boxes of Anzac biscuits, coconut ice, melting moments and yoyos!


Liz and Dan – The Celebration Photo by You Can’t Be Serious Photography.

5. Ditch the sit down reception and have a BBQ instead.

You know the scene, it’s a Saturday afternoon, The drinks are in a wheelbarrow that last week carted weeds and this week holds ice. There’s potato salad, there’s coleslaw, there’s probably vegetarian burgers to the left, the real deal to the right, a table piled with tomato sauce and mustard and white bread. Turn your wedding reception into a gourmet BBQ and have some fun turning what we love as that perfect way to spend an afternoon with friends into the ultimate wedding celebration. I’d say throw a shrimp on the barbie, but Australian’s don’t ever call them shrimp, so maybe go gourmet with garlic prawns. (Or in Mr Polka’s words of how I make them, garlic, with added prawns).

Australian Native Wedding Bouquet

Leah and Gerard Photo by Todd Hunter McGaw

6. Hold onto Australian blooms

So I know some of these blooms are actually South African, but plenty of them are ones we claim as our own and are always going to be recognisable for us as “Australian natives”. So why not include them in your floral arrangements? Flannel flowers, kangaroo paws, wattle, billy buttons, banksias and even gum leaves make for beautiful wedding bouquets.

7. Carry an Australian tune!

Don’t miss classic Australian tunes like “Land Downunder” by Men At Work,  “Great Southern Land” by Icehouse a bit of Cold Chisel, a few from The Whitlams, Midnight Oil, INXS, Boy & Bear, The Cat Empire, Bernard Fanning. You know how Australian you’re willing to get and there are so many tunes that are purely patriotic or just by a great Australian artist that you could use during your wedding and especially on the dancefloor!

multicultural urban wedding041 Mythili and Lukasz’s Multicultural Sydney WeddingMythili and Lukasz’s Multicultural Sydney Wedding Photo by Wanderer Photography

8.  Have A Landmark View

Something particularly easy for couples marrying in Sydney is choosing a wedding venue with one of Australia’s iconic landmarks visible through the windows, cruising past the harbour bridge during cocktail hour or even celebrating in a marquee under the sails of the Opera House. Of course, Northern Territory couples get the backdrop of Uluru, Melbourne Brides have the Yarra, Queensland brides, the tropical landscape. Really, there are so many parts of Australia that are iconic to me, that infusing a little of it in the view for your guests? Purely magic and so Australian.

Vendor of the Week – Starr Photography

by | Blog News, Bride


Happy Monday Dotties! We’re taking it a little easier around the offices today with the Australia Day public holiday, but we’re still posting regular content, we just might be basking in the smoke of BBQs and a bowl of pavlova!

With regularity in full swing, let’s take a look at our Directory. We have beautiful, talented creators of Ms Polka Dot’s Wedding Directory! We have Flowers, Bridal Gowns, Hair & Beauty, Photobooth Hire, Specialised Services, Venues and to pull it all together? Wedding Planners!

The wedding directory is always growing, always evolving and we’re looking forward to some exciting new things for it this year, so pop on over, check it out and find your awesome wedding vendors!
sydney wedding photographer

I love it when a wedding photographer can capture light in a way that makes me lose myself and get lost in the photo and today’s wedding photographers, Sydney based Starr Photography happen to do it so very well! They’re also our vendor of the week this week on Polka Dot Bride! Starr Photography has a base of five leading photographers who have shot 2500 weddings between them. So with a bevvy of experience under their belt and a knowledge of Sydney’s hot spots, you’re bound to get the beautiful wedding shots you wish for!

We asked Rachel from Starr Photography five questions in five minutes –

What is your favourite after five drink?

A beautiful cold Mojito with friends 🙂

Your favourite weekend getaway?

Wandering the streets, bars, galleries and cafe’s of Melbourne.

Favourite restaurant?

At the moment it is Red Lantern in Surry Hills… Amazing….

What can we find you eating for breakfast on a Sunday morning?

Lately Troubador cafe in Manly- yummy big breakfast

Your favourite wedding story?

I love hearing how couples met, and also proposed, there is normally a great story in there…
One great one is- Two people were each holidaying in Mexico, and an earthquake hit, and they were both stuck in the same underground bunker, waiting it out for days…. What a meet!!

Visit Starr Photography’s page to find out more about our Vendor Of The Week. Starr Photography is a member of Ms Polka Dot’s Directory