Steph and Nathan

Steph and Nathan’s wedding was a melting pot of talented friends, talented family members, crazy ideas, homespun thoughts, a backyard reception and plenty, and I mean plenty, of beautiful love moments. While I read every wedding story from beginning to end, it’s rare that I have to stifle giggles and yet with Steph and Nathan? Their story just made me happy and that’s a lovely way to tell their story. It’s a homespun affair taking place in Eltham outside Melbourne.

Steph tells the lovely story of how she and Nathan came to be. “A few years ago we had, unbeknownst to us, synchonised heartbreak. Our mutual friends Matty and Emma tried for months to get us to the same party; Emma kept saying I had to meet Crofty, and that I’d probably fall in love with him. Honestly, I never wanted to fall in love again. He never came to the parties, and I stopped believing he existed; I started calling him Milko. Finally, finally, we both ended up at Boogie where, for various reasons, we tried to keep the hell away from each other. But inevitably we were drawn to each other; jumped a barbed wire fence and sprinted over a paddock at dusk, and fell in love with our feet sunk in the mud of a drought-dried creekbed. That was the start of the happiest, healthiest, most comfortable, even-keeled, supportive, hilarious, creative relationship of my life. I moved from my share house in Fitzroy to the house he’d built with his brothers in Eltham less than a month after Boogie – funnily enough he’d temporarily moved to Adelaide to work on a film, so I settled myself in, befriended Ruby the ol’ dog, had dinner with his parents for the first time alone, and when he got back, it felt like it had always been. I proposed pretty early on; I knew from the very beginning just how right it was.”

Photographs are by Jessica Tremp of Brown Paper Parcel Photography who has captured the fun, whimsical style of today’s wedding with such, almost magic! Nothing too serious, just a lot of happy.

Steph designed her own shoes via Shoes Of Prey. She says “I would highly recommend them– amazingly helpful customer service, and beautifully made shoes.” This really was just the beginning of the custom and personalised aspects of the wedding which the couple did themselves with the help of family and friends. Steph explains, ” With the help of our amazingly generous family, friends and Fencies (neighbours), we essentially put the whole thing together ourselves. All the styling and collecting of old stuff was done by us – from plates and jars and tableclothes and burlap sacks, to chairs and rugs and eskies, to dresses; we handmade hundreds of origami balloons for decoration, as well as wooden signs to direct our guests around; the cushion ‘bumbumiere’ were handmade by my mum and grandma; I designed my own shoes; Crofty did the lighting, not to mention mowing the paddock for an entire day! The flowers, catering, music, hula hoop performance, and of course photography, were all done for us by family and friends. ”

The bride wore a fifties style white dress from Bohemian Bisoux .Steph says, ” I actually wore two – pretty outrageous for a usually-jeans-clad woman! They are both original 50s frocks, bought online and refitted for me “.  Sally Richardson styled her hair and makeup, popping brightly coloured flowers into her up-do. Steph says, ” Sally did a kick-arse job of my hair and makeup, as well as my sisters’ and mums’. She really understood the feel of the wedding, nailed our individual styles, and we all so enjoyed our downtime in her chair. She’s rad! ”

Steph put a blue crinoline from Vamporium under her dress.

Nathan (Crofty) wore a dapper suit from Antons. Steph explains, “Crofty had an awesome day trying on increasingly outrageous tailored outfits at Anton’s in Melbourne Central. He bought the first one he tried on; the one that made his bum look the best. I wasn’t allowed to see the suit, not even the tie, until the moment we met on the day…but he’d seen all the details of what I was wearing!”. He paired it with boots from Aquila.

The couple were driven around on the day by Steph’s step mother. Steph laughs “My stepmum Jan dressed up as the most hilarious pant-less chauffeur ever and drove us to the paddock in our Valiant Safari. ”

Steph and Nathan were married in an abandoned paddock in Eltham outside Melbourne. Steph explains “After I’d proposed to Crofty, we straight away started daydreaming about what the day would look like. We both love the bush and countryside, so it seemed clear from the start that it should be out in the trees somewhere. We often go walking beside Diamond Creek in Eltham; along part of the track there is a row of gnarled old trees, vines curtaining the gaps between them, and further along is a big wrought iron gate, from which a driveway overhung with leafy oaks snakes away. I was desperately curious about this secret-garden property and what might lie within, so of course we snuck a peek. And there it was: a huge paddock, overgrown with purple thistle flowers and wild grasses, surrounded by old fruit trees and snaggly wattles, piles of bluestone, and rusted industrial junk. To us, paradise. And in life’s wonderful way, it turned out we had several connections to the owners, the Skipper family, who so generously allowed us to mow it, decorate it, open the gates to our family and friends, and get married in it.”

Not even the guests knew where they were going, Steph notes “Guests walked along the public track, following our handmade signs, through the huge gates and up the winding driveway to an open space around a huge old pine (in whose branches sat guinea fowl on the day!), piled with industrial junk and old building materials. We’d set up a bar with a large glass cocktail dispenser, jars with stripy paper straws, vintage eskies filled with cider and beer, tiered cake plates teetering with sandwiches made by Crofty’s mum Pat, apothecary jars filled with colourful boiled sweets. There were bunches of flowers balanced on piles of wood and corrugated tin, and origami balloons hanging from tree branches.

When it was time for the ceremony, the crowd was lead by our wandering minstrels down a track to the paddock; we’d lined the ‘aisle’ with our own pot plants, set out old theatre seats and brightly coloured afghan blankets for people to sit on, and hung more paper balloons in a nearby tree.”

The couple were married by JVG. Steph and Nathan walked down the aisle together, which was only beginning of their very personal ceremony. Steph notes, “JVG is encouraging of unique and meaningful ceremonies so we kind of made up our own; we had our parents walk in pairs down the aisle in front of us, we had songs instead of readings, a surprise hula hoop act, and wrote our own askings and vows.”

That grand moment? Steph recounts “The moment we walked into the paddock, both of us shaking and sweating with nerves, and everyone was on their feet and cheering and clapping and yelling, and we felt the stress lift and the excitement swell and we woo’ed back and swung our arms, and walked on in to get wed.

The ceremony music? Provided by friends of course! Steph says, ” Our awesome musical friends: Jimmy Stewart and the Miserable Little Bastards, Mikey Maddon, Matty and Beth Barker of The Gypsy Curse all played during the ceremony.

We walked down the aisle to Happy by the Stones, played by the Miserable Little Bastard featuring Mikey Madden. During the ceremony, the MLBs also played January Wedding by the Avett Brothers, and Matty and Beth (aka The Gypsy Curse) played their song Hands.

The guests were treated to a surprise performance. Steph recalls “We snuck in a surprise circus performance; we called it the ring bearers’ dance. Just as Rogan Fence was about to bring my ring to Crofty, Malia (Walsh, our beloved friend and incredible, multi-skilled performer) jumped out of the audience with a hula hoop, claiming that she had the ring, and proceeded to do some amazing tricks before trying to fit the ring on my finger. So funny.”

The rings? That story makes them laugh too! Steph tells the story, “We bought both our rings in a mad wedding freakout one morning at Burlington’s Antiques in Doncaster. Both beautiful old things with stories embedded in their metals. Whose has more diamonds? Crofty’s! ”

The involvement of family and friends? Magical! Steph says, “Having so much input from our loved ones – all our parents and siblings were involved in some way, plus heaps of dear friends – and then seeing them having a wonderful time at the wedding when it’d all come together. They took our vision on board and, even if they thought at first we were weirdos, ran with it to make it a reality that delighted us no end. We had so much physical and emotional support, we have no words for the gratitude we feel to all those involved.”

Of their wedding, Steph says, “We hope…it was a unique celebration of our lives together and our love, shared with our nearest and dearest; fun, music-filled, colourful, a little bit country and messy and vintage and handmade, heartfelt, hilarious and well-liquored.”

The flowers were styled by a family member, Steph recalls “Our sister-in-law Dina Croft did the AMAZING and abundant flowers! From the mismatched bunches in old jars on the tables, to little hanging bottles carrying single stems, to having two stunning bouquets to choose from, to Crofty’s joyful sunflower buttonhole, Dina turned our vague vintagey imaginings into the most beautiful spread of colour and detail and happiness and blew our little brains right out of our skulls!” Steph’s second gown was a strapless, pale blue fifties number straight from Nashville. A gown she found on Ebay.

Steph says, “Crofty and I working together so tightly on creating our remarkably similar dream day, and seeing it actually unfold before us and realising with a shortness of breath that it had all come together to be so much more beautiful than we’d ever imagined.”

Of their photographer, Jessica, Steph says, “Oh gee whizzes. Jess is one of my best besties, a beautiful, generous, creative-genius woman. We met through our mutual love of photography, and she’s such a hero of mine in the medium. She’s an artist of amazing talent, and she shoots weddings too. We are so blown away by her images that our tummies and hearts and eyes ache; the moments and details and expressions she captured, and how she has somehow made the whole thing look like it did in our imaginations before it ever happened. It’s amazing to see your dreamworld visit reality. Not only that, but we got to hang out with her all day too; her gentle squeezes of understanding when I was nervous as hell, her infectious laugh, her getting us to run around the paddock after the ceremony and let all the freak-out go! Luckiest weddsters in the world. “

Steph and Nathan held their reception at home in Eltham. Steph recalls, “We decided to have the party at our house to keep things affordable and easy to set up, seeing as we were doing all that ourselves (with the endless help of our family). We set up our front garden for aperitifs, where everyone gathered until we got back from having our photos taken. Dinner was a casual sit-down affair in the courtyard between the two houses, using both our garages as well. It was squishy and cosy and a bit chaotic and I think that’s why it was so enjoyable. We set the tables with vintage embroidered tablecloths we’d collected from op-shops and Etsy, mismatched plates also from op-shops, Etsy and Ebay, and Dina’s amazing array of flowers in second-hand jars. Crofty strung up lanterns between the two houses, which gave the whole area such a beautifully festive glow.”

Guests enjoyed an incredible feast, Steph explains “Jen Stockley, a mate of Crofty’s from the film industry, did a delicious buffet spread that made vegos and carnivores alike very happy in the tummy; a couple of whole fish, 11 hour barbecued brisket, miso rice balls, huge salads. She doesn’t usually do weddings, and we were so honoured she said yes to us.”

For wedding favors, Steph and Nathan did something incredibly different. Steph explains ” We called them the Bumbumiere. My wonderful mum Tig and 90 year-old grandma Jan made an incredible 120 cushions out of an assortment of vintage fabrics that I’d collected from Etsy. The guests sat on them for dinner, and were invited to each take one home. They added so much cheerful colour to the dining area, as well as the love that radiates extra warm from things handmade.” The guests were entertained with music from ” Fee Brown and Matt Stonehouse, the Miserable Little Bastards, DJ Jimmy Stewart and Other Inebriated Guests. “

For their first dance, Steph says, “Crofty and Jess spun around like people who can dance, while I jumped up and down on the spot…this was all an unplanned response to the MLBs belting out a tune on the deck.”

Congratulations Steph and Nathan! Thank you for sharing your wedding and your stories with us! Thank you also to Jessica Tremp of Brown Paper Parcel Photography for today’s photographs!