Shantell & Ben

Nothing quite says romance like a marriage by the seaside does it? Shantell and Ben’s seaside romance wedding was simply but so utterly beautiful – the couple having two little boys, decided to celebrate their wedding in a seaside town that held a special place in their hearts. They chose Todd Hunter McGaw to capture their wedding day.

Shantell tells the story of how they met. “Ben and I met through a mutual friend, and I forgot his name within 5 minutes of meeting him. He wasn’t too impressed… I mean really, how hard is it to remember ‘Ben’? Oops! To this day I’m not sure whether it was the genuine nerves and forgetfulness that I get upon meeting someone, or a few too many drinks on that particular evening..? In any case, I did remember his gorgeous smile and that was enough for me to get his phone number from a friend so that I could apologise for my forgetfulness. After 10 years together, our wedding wasn’t just about our love and commitment to each other, but also the love that we share with our two gorgeous little boys, West and Levi. For us, the timing was perfect. Whilst we made sure that the day was about mostly Ben and I, we just couldn’t imagine our boys not being a part of our special day.”

Drippy Ink Letterpress created a letterpress stationery suite for the couple with a simple, modern feel.

Shantell remembers, “We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day, weather-wise. Neither my sister nor I could sleep that morning, so with the little boys sound asleep we tip toed up to the rooftop terrace of our apartment and watched the full moon slowly disappear and the morning sun rise up over the ocean. The dawning of what was set to be a dazzling Queensland Autumn day, and the wedding festivities ahead, had us jumping around in our pjs in excitement.”

The beginning of the day set the tone for a relaxed, beautiful day of celebration. “Our wedding day was very relaxed, just the way we wanted it. Ben and the boys played a lazy nine holes of golf in the morning. While I spent the day with my sister and my little boys, everyone dropping in to say ‘hi’ throughout the day as we got ready. As most of our guests were staying at the same Resort (or very nearby), the whole weekend had a chilled out, holiday vibe.”

Shantell chose a gown and accessories from Karen Willis Holmes. Her bridesmaid wore a gown from George.

The couple chose Rainbow Beach as their wedding venue. Shantell remarks, “Having a long engagement meant loads of time to throw around wedding concepts and possible venues. We knew we wanted to get married somewhere that none of our friends had been married, and that it had to be somewhere family-friendly. Bali and Fiji were explored but we didn’t want to get locked into a ‘destination wedding’ as such. We then looked at some beautiful Australian locations like Broome and Kingscliff and realised we were searching for somewhere that combined natural beauty with a laid-back, beach village, relaxed kind of feel. Rainbow Beach ticked all of our boxes and was also close to where Ben and I grew up, on the Sunshine Coast, making it easy for our family and friends to be there. We chose to hold the wedding over a long weekend so that everyone could relax, spend ANZAC Day together, and have a 3 day weekend wedding celebration!”

Shantell and Ben married at Laurie Hanson Memorial Park, Shantell remembering, “My parents filled large tin buckets with Baby’s Breath that we had purchased from a local florist wholesaler and lined the wedding aisle with them. Our ceremony was held on the lawn overlooking Rainbow Beach and looking out to the ocean towards world heritage listed, Fraser Island.”

Shantell walked down the aisle to “You Got What I Need – Joshua Radin. Simple, soulful, and the perfect tempo for walking down the aisle to!”

Jay Flood of Noosa Style Ceremonies married the couple, Shantell telling, “Our guests all commented on how relevant and how moving our vows were. Ben and I both agreed that we wanted to recite the same vows and that they must be special and unique to us. I wrote them two nights before the wedding, as this was the first chance I had really had to think about them properly (cutting it a bit fine, I know). Although Ben had read them once before, he shed a few tears as he read them out to me during the ceremony, which made them all the more heartfelt.”

Having their loved ones close by made the wedding for the newlyweds, Shantell explaining, “Family and friends are what made our wedding special. It became clear to Ben and I that we would not be the couple, or little family, that we are without the love and support of our guests. It is with these people that we celebrate our happiest moments, and it is from these special people that we seek guidance and strength in our lowest moments. You realise just how much family and friends mean to you, and how much you both, as a couple, mean to them too.”

Of their photographer, Shantell says, “We first met Todd Hunter Mcgaw and his gorgeous wife, Alyda, when they photographed my sister’s wedding in 2011 and knew instantly that they were the best team to photograph our wedding too. Todd captures moments so naturally (and seemingly) effortlessly, yet at the same time he manages to create photographs that have a strong emotional connection and take your breath away. Most of all, Todd and Alyda work seamlessly together and are just great fun to be around; have a laugh with, and feel at ease in front of.”

The couple chose two incredible backdrops for their wedding photographs, explaining “Rainbow Beach had 2 locations where we wanted to be photographed and we couldn’t wait to see what kind of photographs Todd would create with them as a backdrop. The first location was a paperbark tree forest and the second location was a place called Carlo Sandblow. We had never actually been to the Sandblow before and had no idea what to expect. So walking up onto a 15 hectare concaved sand dune, that has 360 degree views of the Rainbow Beach and its surrounds was amazing. Doing so in full wedding attire, riding the high of just being married to my best friend was mind blowing! After receiving our wedding photographs from Todd Hunter McGaw Photography we were just so excited that they were able to capture the magic of the sunset at Carlo Sandblow and us, as husband and wife, too of course! ”

“My sister, brother-in-law and I styled the reception the day prior to the wedding, filling all of the glass vases with sprays of baby’s breath and setting out handmade soy candles. We also set up a makeshift photobooth to keep our guests occupied while we were having professional photos taken. There are some absolute gems from the photobooth, which will have us laughing for years to come. Apart from that, we had a lot of help from all of our family and friends on the day. I think almost everyone had a small role to play, whether it was picking up flowers, setting up chairs, or filling the big drink buckets with ice to keep the pre-ceremony drinks cold.”

Rainbow Beach Hotel  hosted the reception, Shantell remembering, “The Rainbow Beach Hotel, where we chose to have our Reception is a beautifully restored, big ‘Queenslander’ style hotel. With sweeping ocean views, a massive function room, wine room, and private bar upstairs we knew that it would suit our style perfectly.

The town of Rainbow Beach is so wonderfully small that the accommodation (Plantation Resort), ceremony location (Laurie Hanson Park), and the reception venue (Rainbow Beach Hotel) were all in walking distance. This ensured that no-one had to worry about driving, and also those with children (us included) could have them minded close by while attending our wedding.

Our guests fell in love with this quiet, seaside village. Some had holidayed there as kids and rediscovered it’s beauty, while others found a new holiday destination, and some are now researching properties for sale in the area on a weekly basis! We couldn’t imagine being married anywhere else. It will forever hold a special place in our hearts.”

A beautiful friend of ours, Jo of Pilbara Essence, hand poured over 100 soy candles for us in what Ben and I now consider to be our signature wedding scent – Sweet Pea and Vanilla. Because the Reception area was quite large with polished floorboards and high ceilings, the candles helped bring lustre and warmth to the room and the scent was just perfect, so delicate and romantical (newly coined word: romantic/magical). We had so many positive comments from our guests. Many even took candles home with them. This scent will always evoke special memories for Ben and I. It takes us right back to one of the most amazing days of our lives.”

The speeches were a highlight of the evening says Shantell, “Our wedding speeches were pretty special. My husband gave a heartfelt speech that had the crowd both in tears and laughter. My sister, and Maid of Honour, shared a beautiful slideshow of photos that took guests on a journey of Ben and my relationship and made a speech that had everyone in the room exclaiming what a strong bond Jasmin and I have. Ben’s Best Man, Luke, followed with a speech that lightened the mood with his humour.”

Of their first dance, Shantell remembers, “Our first dance was to Angel/Better Together by Jack Johnson, with the lights dimmed and soft candlelight dancing around us. This was our quiet time together to reflect on our vows and the emotion of our ceremony, before the night hit fast-forward mode and the singing, dancing and crazy antics of our fun-filled reception swept us away.”

Congratulations on your marriage Shantell and Ben! Thank you for sharing your day with us! Thank you also to Todd Hunter McGaw for sharing today’s wedding!