Jenni and Matt married in Autumn, choosing an intimate setting near Gembrook to say their vows. Captured by Jason Vandermeer Photography the day is filled with the most beautiful handmade details, incredible floral arrangements, open fires and such a sense of love.
Jenni tells the twelve year story of how they came to be. “Matt & I actually first met about 12 years ago through mutual friends. We dated casually for a little while, but as we were in our early twenties we both had some growing up to do, so we ended up going our separate ways. We then reconnected about 6 years ago at the same mutual friend’s dress-up party (Matt dressed up as half of the Brokeback Mountain cowboy pair – how could I resist?); as fate would have it we were both single at the time, and we hit it off all over again. About four years later Matt organised a weekend away to Olinda to celebrate our anniversary, and after breakfast we went for a walk through the woods. I didn’t suspect a thing, as Matt seemed so calm (little did I know he was silently but frantically trying to find “the perfect spot”). We reached a little area amongst some tall trees, and that’s where he presented me with a gorgeous ring he had picked out himself. It was one of those awesome misty mornings, which created a very romantic setting, and we even had a few kookaburras watching!”
The personal touches started the moment couple started getting ready, Jenni tells, “In honour of Matt’s Grandfather (who passed away a few years ago), Matt wore his Grandfather’s gold watch on the day. Our Bridal Party were fantastic and we were so honored to have them all playing such an important role for us. As a gift to them, Matt gave the boys each a custom magnetised bottle opener (with accompanying Coopers long necks, naturally) and I gave the girls personalised necklaces, earrings & gumboots (mixed designs in our wedding colours – luckily the weather gods were good to us and we didn’t need them). Matt also presented our Dads with custom cufflinks the morning of the wedding, and I organised for one of the boys to present Matt with a surprise “Grooms Gift” from me – a fluoro green G-Shock.”
Foxglove Botanicals styled the floral arrangements, Jenni telling, “For our flowers, my friend Kate had recommended we look at Foxglove Botanicals as she had used them at her wedding (where all the flowers were incredible!). Luke & Cara of Foxglove Botanicals were one of the best wedding choices we made; all our flowers were absolutely breathtaking and we had so many compliments about the gorgeous arrangements. Even the owner of our wedding venue said he had never seen the restaurant look so beautiful!
I burst into tears as soon as Luke & Cara arrived to deliver the buttonholes and bouquets the morning of the wedding – they captured exactly what I had wanted; unique, soft & romantic with lots of pinks & rustic greens. Through all our correspondence and meetings, Luke & Cara were so receptive and incorporated so many beautiful creative touches. We cannot recommend Foxglove Botanicals highly enough (guests from our wedding have now decided to use Luke & Cara as their wedding florists!) and it was honestly such a pleasure to work with such a lovely, passionate, talented and creative team”
Jenni and Matt were married at Swallowfield Winery (via Forest Edge Restaurant). Jenni explaining, “We were looking at venues in the Dandenong Ranges (as mentioned, we were engaged in Olinda and love the area), and when we first scouted Forest Edge Restaurant in Gembrook, we were completely blown away by the breathtaking view and surrounds. We knew immediately that we had found the perfect venue for our wedding.
We didn’t want our wedding reception to have a “function room” feel, so the intimate restaurant suited us very well, and we loved the idea of long tables, good quality food, an open fireplace and a drinks package that included frozen daiquiris! Our ceremony was held in a large barn at Swallowfield Vineyard, which is located on a stunning private property a few kilometres away from Forest Edge Restaurant. The big barn doors opened up to a gorgeous view of the surrounding farm and a huge roaring fire kept everyone warm (given it was a pretty chilly Autumn day). Our post-ceremony photos were taken on the gorgeous adjoining private property (that honestly had too many stunning photo opportunity spots to count).”
“My good friend Kate coordinated it all with the help of our friends Monica, Sarah, Andy & Mike. Kate designed / supplied of all the DIY elements; hand strung flowers on string, huge bunting, handmade candles, (even more) flowers in tin cans, vintage jars & vases (she even dressed up the poor stuffed deer heads that were up on the barn wall!). The finished product was picture perfect and when I first walked out and took it all in, I felt like I had floated into a dreamy, romantic, cosy, whimsical, vintage wonderland! So much effort was put into making it look truly amazing. It was better than we could have imagined and we are forever grateful to them all for creating such a gorgeous setting for our wedding ceremony. We were also very fortunate to have (again, the ridiculously talented) Kate design & hand paint our Thank You cards (a beautiful portrait of Matt and I). Cathy from Creative Soul Design did a wonderful job on the typeface, layout & printing.”
“My Dad walked me down the aisle to “Can’t Help Falling In Love With You” by Elvis. We were so honoured to have our good friend Nick playing the song on acoustic guitar, with my best mate (and Groomsman) Dave playing the melody on keyboard. Nick also played “Here Comes The Sun” when our Page Boy (our young nephew William) and Bridesmaids walked down the aisle, and “In My Life” for the signing of the registry. Having live music for our ceremony created such a touching atmosphere and we were so thankful to both Nick and Dave for graciously performing such an important role for us.”
“As a little girl, you always dream of your Dad walking you down the aisle on your wedding day and it certainly lived up to all my expectations! My Dad and I are very close, and so it was a very emotional moment that I will never forget. Our “makeshift” aisle wasn’t straight; about halfway down it had a little bend in it, and so when I turned the corner and saw Matt for the first time, I was overcome with emotion. You spend so many months planning and researching and worrying and organising and making a million decisions and obsessing about alllll those tiny little details (did I mention the worrying?); and then, suddenly there you are, walking down the aisle towards your future husband, who is standing there smiling at you, and nothing else matters. It was a really poignant moment and something I will treasure forever.”
“Our Celebrant Rev. Mark Bailey opened up the ceremony by reading a little history of our journey so far, and we had self-written vows that incorporated our personalities (I promised to let Matt buy Jordan sneakers, he promised to bring me dumplings).”
Of their photographer, Jenni remarks, “Honestly, we simply cannot find enough kind words to describe how ridiculously amazing our wedding photographer was. My best friend Dave and his wife Kate had booked Jason Vandermeer for their wedding (6 months prior to ours), and the second we saw his incredible portfolio we knew we also had to snatch him up pronto! From our first meeting with Jason, we knew we had found our perfect match; he is such a humble, wonderful, friendly guy who also happens to be freakishly talented with a camera! His relaxed, candid style suited our wedding so perfectly and I bawled my eyes out when I first saw our photos – he captured every moment so stunningly and documented our day better than we could have ever imagined.
We were so touched with how he incorporated personal elements into our photos (for example, Matt’s love for sneakers and our mutual love of bobble heads), and equally impressed with his skill at documenting the quiet, warm & fuzzy moments alongside the grand, epic ones. Jason was just so understanding, positive, PATIENT and downright wonderful throughout the entire experience and all of our guests commented on what a lovely guy he is (and later, how stunning all the photos are). We are forever grateful to Jason for giving us the most gorgeous images of our day, that we will continue to enjoy for the rest of our lives ”
“Matt & I also really loved the time we spent during the post-ceremony photo shoot; after the crazy energy of the ceremony it was nice to have the pace slow down a bit, and to be able to spend some quiet, quality time with our Bridal Party (and Jason too, who naturally by this point we considered one of our mates!). In order to reach the gorgeous spots across the property, we were all bundled into a few 4WDs for the bumpy ride, which was lots of fun and we all got pretty giggly & silly. And being an avid animal lover, I was absolutely thrilled that some cows came out for a few happy snaps too (at one point, the entire herd started charging towards the Bridal Party which we found very amusing). It was a really magical time and we loved every minute of it.”
Jenni and her maid of honour took care of the reception decor, Jenni telling, “My Maid of Honour Sam is super creative & crafty (and insanely organised!) and helped with so many of the DIY elements. We created the table numbers by painting wooden numbers (from Bunnings) and placing them in IKEA frames (removing the glass cover), with a soft flower patterned fabric background. Instead of a standard guestbook, we had a mini questionnaire where guests answered some fun questions, offered marriage advice and drew a small portrait of Matt & I (we rolled them up and they doubled as place settings, secured with name tags on white string). I designed these pages, seating allocation sheet and ceremony programs on Publisher. As a keepsake Sam later put all of the completed guestbook pages into a book with a gorgeous wooden cover that her fiancé designed! Sam also made sure we had custom “Bride & Groom” place setting tags.
Being a vegan I don’t get to eat cake at weddings, so I was thrilled to have the whole top tier made vegan just for me! (which I devoured the next day at the post-wedding brunch). We had a friend of a friend make our amazing wedding cake for us (she also did the cake for our Engagement Party). Sam even arranged cute customised “Bride & Groom” dessert forks for us (yes, she thought of everything!).”
“Our favours were also DIY; Matt’s family is Croatian and it was important to us to incorporate that into our day. Sam (again!) sourced custom tags from Etsy and 140 mini glass bottles with corks, and Matt and I spent a day carefully filling them all with traditional Croatian liquor, and we then tied them in pairs with twine. We added a sprig of rosemary to each (from Mum’s garden) with the help of my Bridal Party, Mum and a few close friends the night before the wedding.”
“As our MC Steph introduced the Wedding Party at the start of the reception, each Bridal Party pair had a fun, custom song playing (“The Final Countdown”, “You Can’t Touch This” and “Who Wants To Party?”, and Matt & I had “Come Go With Me” by the Beach Boys), and we all had to stop and take a shot of rakia (like grappa) on entry. Given rakia is so potent, some of the reactions were pretty animated (especially my sister Julia who looked like she might pass out on the spot!) The Kolo (a Croatian wedding dance) was lots of fun and it was great to see all of Matt’s family dancing together (I also took part, but to say I was far less coordinated would be an understatement).”
“During my best friend Dave’s speech, he surprised Matt & I by presenting a special video he made with our friends Andy, Kate, Monica & Sarah, that “documented” mine & Matt’s relationship. It was incredibly sweet, touching and absolutely hilarious (Dave playing the role of me in a dress, long blonde wig and red lipstick, Andy in a big curly black wig and drawn-on beard as Matt). It had everyone in hysterics and was such a highlight on the night. Since the wedding we have watched it again and again, and it cracks us up every time (and still makes me cry!).”
“To pay homage to our families, we had some black and white framed photos of our family members on their own wedding day, some of whom are no longer with us or sadly couldn’t be there due to illness.”
“Our DJ Dolly (of Dolly Productions) was absolutely fantastic (another vendor we used who has been snatched up by our guests to use at their own upcoming weddings!) – she read the crowd so well and had everyone dancing from start to finish. Dolly created such a fun atmosphere and (unlike some DJs out there) happily incorporated all our prior requests. I am so grateful we found Dolly; she is an absolute legend and without a doubt the best DJ we have ever seen!”
Jenni remembers, “For the Father-Daughter dance, we had “True Love Ways” by Buddy Holly, which is one of my Dad’s favourite songs. Matt & I then had our first dance (if you could call it that – more of a shuffle really) to “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond (it’s been our song since we saw the Boston Red Sox play a few years ago). After the first chorus, our Bridal Party and their partners joined us on the dance floor and we all sang along! It was really fun and relaxed, and one of our favourite moments from the night.”
Congratulations on your marriage Jenni and Matt! Thank you for telling your story! Thank you to y Jason Vandermeer Photography for sharing today’s wedding with us.