I love nothing more than a country wedding set against the rolling, stunning landscapes of Australia. There is something secluded and special about “escaping to the country” to celebrate a wedding and today’s gorgeous celebration of Sarah and Evan in Kangaroo Valley is just the ticket to inspire your own country celebration.
Sarah tells their story. “We met in Thredbo 2002 through a mutual friend. We discovered that we lived in the same suburb and Evan’s mother was a hairdresser who had cut my hair as a child and had been my grandmother’s hairdresser for many years. We remained friends but didn’t start dating till 5 years later in 2007. We then spent nearly 3 years based in London from early 2008, with 6 months of that time spent living in Ethiopia and 6 months spent traveling around Europe in a campervan. We returned home to Sydney in late 2010. Evan proposed a year later in September 2011 in the Blue Mountains and in 7 months we organised the wedding!”
Michelle Fiona captured today’s images (along with her second shooter John Benavente) what a beautiful mood they added to the wedding!
Sarah chose an elegant gown from Lisa Gowing and her bridesmaids wore printed frocks by Fleur Wood. Sarah remembers “My bridesmaids gave me 4 charms on a necklace on the day. They had each picked out their own charm as a significant memory between us. It was the most beautiful and thoughtful gift. Whenever I wear it it reminds me of the special day and such special people in my life. It was the first time I cried on the day!”
The bouquets were put together by family friend Janet Bowman. Sarah remarks “Janet, (a very long and great friend of my mum’s, also my sister’s godmother) did all the amazing floral decorations including the bouquets and autumn leaf aisle. She picked many of the flowers (including the Hydrangea for my bouquet) and foliage from her beautiful garden and property at Orange. I wanted the bouquets to look hand-picked with long stems. All the boys also had individual button holes. Everything was strung with twine.”
“I’m a designer so I had a strong idea about how I wanted to style the wedding. It was a lot of work, much more than I had thought when I set out at the start but it was a lot of fun. My husband, parents, family and friends were amazing in their generosity and help. I designed all the stationary including, Save the Date postcards, Invitations, Place cards, Menu’s, Bonbonniere CD covers, Order of Service, Thank you cards etc.”
Sarah walked down the aisle to ‘What a wonderful world’ by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole.
Of the decision to marry in Autumn, Sarah says “I wanted to have the wedding in autumn with the beautiful changing colours of the trees. We were blessed with how magnificent the tree looked that we were married under. I never imagined the ceremony setting to look as amazing as it did.”
Sarah and Evan held their wedding at ‘Melross’ Kangaroo Valley. Sarah remembers “Melross is an absolutely beautiful property 2 hrs drive south of Sydney. We hired 2 houses on the property for a few days either side of the wedding. All our family stayed in the houses which was great. The owners and managers on the property were absolutely delightful to deal with. They let us use their property exactly how we wanted for the wedding. They were extremely helpful with the set up and anything we needed. We loved that we had complete control over all aspects of the wedding and no one to kick us out at the end of the night. We wanted the night to be relaxed and fun.”
Of their photographer, Sarah says, “Michelle was great and really easy and professional to deal with. I hardly noticed her on the day. She captured such natural shots, which is what we wanted. The lighting and vintage look to the photos was exactly what we were after. I also loved how quick we were getting the bridal party shots done after the ceremony so we could go mingle with the guests and play croquet etc. with them.”
There was plenty of family help. Sarah recalls “Dad was an amazing function organiser. He lit up all the trees around the property and basically made sure everything was on time and in place. The wedding would not have run as smoothly without all his planning and organising.
I wasn’t that impressed about having port-a-loos for the wedding. So we decided to try and make them as nice as possible. Dad, Zac (brother-in-law) and Evan made a hessian frame to enclose the toilets and create a powder room outside. Janet’s son Hunter had made an outdoor sink using a wok for his own country wedding. He kindly let us borrow this. We hooked it up to water and created an outdoor sink. We hung a mirror. My mum and Janet decorated the outdoor room and toilets with candles, flowers, hand lotions. My mum rolled 150 little hand towels for people to dry their hands.”
Guests were entertainment as the sun set down, says Sarah “I wanted the time between the ceremony and reception to be fun for the guests. We hired a photo booth, set up a table with postcards for guests to write messages and post in the letterbox. We also set up croquet, boules and quoits so guests could relax, have a drink, some canapés and play a game. We hired a great rustic bar for the drinks area. We bought old wine barrels to make tables and hay bales for seats. As it was going to be a cool night my mum bought loads of white blankets from Ikea. She rolled them up individually tied with twine and scattered them around the seats and in an old wheel barrow for guests to wrap around themselves and keep warm.”
The cushions were personalised. “Chris (My mum) made all the hessian cushions and had them stenciled with our initials. She also made all the floral and napkins.””There was even a lolly buffet “My mum sourced lots of different lolly jars for the lolly table. My mum and Dad drove out to a lolly supplier and bought all green and white lollies to go with the country theme. My sister and her mother-in-law created the wonderful lolly table.”
The reception was held inside a marquee- with an outdoor twist! Sarah explains “I would have loved to have the reception outside under the stars. It was just too risky with the weather and the temperature. So I decided to bring the outdoors in. We collected branches from around the property. Evan and Zac hung all the branches then threaded fairy lights through them to look like twinkling stars. It was magical.
I wanted the room to have a rustic look without the usual white table cloths and white covered chairs. It was hard to find affordable wooden tables and chairs. Evan who is a builder made all 17 of the wooden trestle tables (now available for hire). He sourced old floorboards from Camden which we’re sanded back and varnished in an Indian tea colour. From other fence palings and bits and pieces he made the wooden signs, table seating board and table name plaques.”
Sarah and Evan seated guests at long tables. Sarah remarks “We wanted the wedding to feel intimate even though there were 140 guests. I always liked the idea of having long tables rather than groups of 10. I had also been to a few weddings where they had shared platter style meals. Evan and I loved this. It meant you had the opportunity to try all the menu items instead of eyeing off what the person next to you has. It’s also a great way for guests to interact. Duck Duck Goose did a fantastic job with the food. We had canapés on the lawn with drinks. 2 shared entrée platters. 2 shared main platters. This was followed by a cheese buffet, chocolate mud wedding cake, crème brulee’s and the lolly buffet.”
“Prue (My Godmother) made the wedding cake. I loved the cream rough icing, twine ribbon and scattered gardenias. It really fitted in with the theme.”
“The lacy doilies all belonged to my grandparents as did some of the vintage tins and boxes. The Long and Barden box was my grandfathers. I collected other bits and pieces such as old watering cans and jars from markets. On my bouquet I had a lace handkerchief of the Nana’s pinned to the bottom. She had it on her wedding day then passed it to my mum on her wedding day, then to my sister and now me. All our initials are stitched on to the hanky.
After a trip up to Janet’s farm we collected milk churns, ladders, old wooden doors to use as props and decorations. I also wanted to have a country looking mailing box for people to mail wedding message postcards. She had a barrel welded on to a stand to make the letterbox. It was fantastic!”
There was even a bonfire. Sarah recalls “Evan was set on the idea of having an open fire to create the country atmosphere and especially as it was the end of April it would be a cold night. The property manager organised a huge bonfire out to one side of the marquee which looked fantastic through the clear walls at night. It was also a nice spot for guests to stand around during the evening.”
Sarah had a special surprise for her groom. She remembers “Evan loves to sing and play guitar. He has no fear of getting up and performing. I on the other hand have no musical talent. He is always encouraging me to get up on stage with him, something I would fear! So as a wedding present to him I took a few singing lessons (not that they helped!) and I organised to sing a song with the band. I spoke last and finished with singing to him Franki Valli’s Can’t take my eyes off you. Evan says it was his favourite part of the wedding. As expected, Evan then sung a few songs with the band later in the night which was great fun (he sung The Temptations My Girl, Van Morrisons Brown Eyed Girl and Ben-E King Stand by me).”
There was dancing, oh there was dancing. Sarah explains “We extended the floor of the marquee outside at one end to create an outdoor dance floor. It was lined with lanterns and braziers. It was nice to dance under the stars.”
For their first dance, Sarah remembers, “We had dance lessons at Crows Nest Dance Centre. We wanted our first dance to be fun and upbeat not slow and soppy. We danced to I feel Good by James Brown. We had so much fun learning the dance and doing it on the night.”
Thank you Sarah and Evan for sharing your wedding celebrations with us. Congratulations on your marriage. Thank you to Michelle Fiona for sharing today’s images.