After a surprise proposal during a romantic South American holiday, Chayna and Michael planned their rustic outdoor wedding as a full weekend celebration, including a starlit evening reception, after party and relaxed breakfast with their guests the following morning! We love their rich colour palette and sweet inclusions, from DIY tea favours to their magnificent three tiered cake.
The Planning Experience
“It was full on! Stress levels went from high to low and back again as we ploughed through all our tasks. There were many lists made, some tears shed, but a lot of laughs. The part I enjoyed the most was the quality time I got to spend with my mum on the weekends and our long phone conversations, and the least enjoyable was hours of guillotining wedding invitations!”
“We wanted to include our family and friends and much as possible. We both have biggish families, but luckily at a wedding there are lots of jobs to do! When it came to the venue, I really wanted to have our reception outside under the stars and we chose to have a destination wedding so that we could spread the celebration out and relax with our guests. Tuscany Wine Estate was fantastic for this. Most of our guests were able to stay at the venue with us – we had an after party at the on-site bar and met our guests for an included buffet breakfast the next morning.”
Bridal Party Styling
“I wanted to choose colours that would suit where we were getting married. I thought for the Hunter Valley that navy, deep red and dusk pink would be a great look with the beautiful bush and vineyards. I had two bridesmaids – one being my little sister – and my fantastic bridesman. I wanted them to look as similar as possible. Luckily my wonderful aunty made the beautiful bridesmaid dresses, incorporating the lace theme into them too.”
“There were lawn games during cocktail hour, including croquet, finska and bubbles! We had a live band to get everyone up on the dance floor and as part of dessert, we had a gelato cart. This was definitely a hit – I even saw some of the bigger kids having dessert before the main course! We’re glad that people could enjoy our wedding, kick off their shoes and find their inner child.”
Finding The Dress
“I found my dress after one day of looking with my mum at the first place we visited. I tried a variety of styles that helped me figure out pretty quickly which looks I liked. I knew I found the one when even on the rack it was just breathtaking. I immediately fell in love with the lace. When I put it on it was everything I wanted – a bit different, a bit dramatic, comfortable and flattering – it just felt right.”
“We wanted to go with a relaxed, rustic feel. We had long tables with lace and hessian runners, and small posies of flowers in assorted jars down the centre, interspersed with tea-lights. We added festoon lighting along existing wires and some draping greenery. Around the garden were ladders, Persian rugs and pillows to relax on, with lace bunting and fairy lights for decoration.”
“We were looking to incorporate a little bit of our cultural heritage, so chose to give small tea jars with love heart shaped tea strainers. We made use of some great tea puns like ‘the perfect blend’ and ‘to infinitea and beyond’ and sourced tea from Sri Lanka, Scotland and Poland to reflect our parents’ heritage. Our Scottish tea, ‘Love and Courage’ from Miss Integritea deserves a special mention – it’s herbal and hand-blended, with the main ingredient being borage, which used to be slipped into prospective husband’s drinks to give them courage to propose…how appropriate!”
“Our hands down favourite moment was when my mum got up to sing ‘Love is in the Air’ with the band for our bridal waltz. Michael and I didn’t really plan anything formal in terms of dancing – we sort of bumbled around on the dance floor. It wasn’t long until everyone joined us and we were all singing along with Mum – it felt like we were in the Strictly Ballroom movie!”
1. Don’t stress about the small stuff – and tell your family not to worry about it either! Just get carried away by all the love and good wishes on the day and enjoy it.
2. Pick your non-negotiables and if they become too much trouble, then let go of those too! I was keen on making a trio of preserves as wedding favours with my mum, but in the end it got too stressful. I felt a lot better afterwards!
3. If you have a big family, have a list of photo combinations that you would like for your portrait session after the ceremony. This makes things move a lot quicker and you won’t accidentally forget to include someone on the day.
Location: Hunter Valley, New South Wales | Photography: Bec Essery | Film: Silver River Media | Ceremony: St Patrick’s Church, Lochinvar | Minister: Father Paul O’Neill | Reception: Tuscany Wine Estate | Styling: Crab Apple Vintage | Flowers: Bonfleur Florist | Cake: Two Sweet Figs | Dress: YolanCris | Headpiece & Veil: Love Sparkle Pretty | Hair: Niki Simpson | Makeup: Chic Artistry | Suits: InStitchu | Transport: Love Bugs and Buses | Entertainment: Cat Wood (Ceremony) & Greg Agar Trio (Reception)