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Ainslie and Will

There’s always a risk with a wedding in Autumn that the skies will open and the cold will be too much to bear – but that’s half the joy. Because with the grey skies and the chill in the air comes the golden leaves, the rain soaked landscape and the moody bliss that is an Autumn Yarra Valley wedding like that of Ainslie and Will. They chose photographer Leo Farrell to capture their day.

Ainslie tells the story of how she and Will came to be – a tale of two at work! “We met through friends in Sydney. Will is a pilot and I am a flight attendant. We used to catch up for coffees on days off in groups, and one day I told Will to get called off standby to come on my 8 day work trip through Bangkok and London. He did! We spent every day together “just being friends”, but loving every moment – we both felt a sense of comfort and ease, and had so much fun. It took us nearly 4 months of being just friends to work out that we both liked each other!”

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Unbridaled by Dan Jones created Ainslie’s stunning wedding gown. Ainslie remembering, “I was lucky enough to have a bespoke gown, designed and made by Unbridaled by Dan Jones. Over about 6 months we worked on sketches, designs and materials. Dan is quite a genius, he just knows how to make you look amazing! I thought I knew what I wanted, yet Dan convinced me that I was looking at the wrong silhouettes for me – and he was right! He made the most incredible gown, with a fitted bodice of corded lace over invisible tulle and a flowing skirt of silk georgette. It was perfect.”

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Ainslie’s bridesmaids wore dresses by Zimmermann. The floral arrangements for the day were styled by Sassafras Flower Design. Ainslie telling, “Jess at Sassafras Flower Design was fabulous – I wasn’t very specific with what I wanted, just that I liked peaches, pinks and whites. She seemed to be able to read my mind (and my Pinterest page!) and produced the perfect bouquets and cake flowers.”

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Ainslie and Will chose Sticks Winery, Yarra Glen  for their wedding ceremony, explaining,  “We moved to Melbourne from Sydney a few months before we got engaged, and had planned to get married in Sydney. However, we really wanted an individual wedding, and all of the venues we looked at seemed to have really specific guidelines and packages for weddings (to the point of giving us a run sheet before we’d even booked!). So we refocused on what we love and where we lived at the time. We’re both foodies and love wine, and would spend many days off together in the Yarra Valley. We loved Sticks Winery for its outlook and the gorgeous deck. We both secretly thought, before we were even engaged, that it would make a great spot for a wedding.”

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Ainslie and Will kept their family involved in every step of the day, including the bridal party! Ainslie tells, “I have 3 best friends and 3 sisters, who I had to have in my bridal party! Two of my sisters have 3 little boys each – Kisani and Emily walked down the aisle with their three sons, who wore cute little suits and really just stole the show! My oldest nephew (Charlie) was our ring bearer.”

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Ainslie walked down the aisle to a classic, she remembers, “My best friend’s (one of my bridesmaids) husband is an amazing guitar player. He played Pachelbel’s Canon on his acoustic guitar as I walked down the aisle with my Dad. It was so special to have that personal connection, and he played beautifully.”

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“We did a Celtic “ring warming” ceremony, where the rings are passed around our guests, each of them blessing or making a wish for us as they hold the rings. We tried to tie in some history. Will wore some gold cufflinks that my Dad inherited from his great grandfather, made with Dutch coins from the 1800’s. He also wore a tie pin that was worn by his great great great Grandfather. Will’s family passed on a beautiful ring to me, which was given to his great great grandmother on her 21st birthday, and worn by many Dowling women over the years. It was really nice for us both to wear something given to us by our new families.”

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Veronica Pappas  performed the ceremony, Ainslie remarking, “Our celebrant suggested that we write our own ‘secret’ vows. This was a little overwhelming and we were both so nervous that we were writing the right thing! It was beautiful, and I don’t think there was a dry eye in the crowd! Veronica gave us a copy of our vows to keep.”autumn yarra valley wedding033

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“We had planned for the day to be sunny (who doesn’t!) as most of the wedding was supposed to be outdoors. It was a beautiful day, and as I was in the car to the venue it was perfect. I was 15 minutes early, so we waited down the street a little way. In that time, this gusty wind came in! So as we were standing there getting married, my 2 and a half metre veil was blowing everywhere – in the celebrant’s face, all over the bridal party – it felt like my hair would be pulled out!”

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Of their photographer, Ainslie tells, “Leo is incredible. We aren’t really ‘posey’ people and didn’t want to spend hours of our day taking photos getting our pose and face just right. Leo is like a wedding photo journalist and as soon as I saw Leo’s photos I knew he was for us – even looking at other people’s weddings, I felt like I was there. The thing was, he found the most beautiful, funny and perfect moments between us and our guests on the day, without any of us even trying.”

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“Leo suggested that we have our bridal party photos at the venue, then go to another location for photos by ourselves. The location was magical, quiet, and we just walked and talked while Leo snapped away. It was so nice to take 30 minutes to breathe and take in the fact that we were actually married!”

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“We put together every bit of our stationery ourselves, which was a lot of fun! We spent two days folding, gluing, stamping and ribbon tying our invitations and they were beautiful. We then tied the invitation theme – rustic recycled paper in a white pocket fold, with green and white ribbon – into our programs and menus. We collected corks from wine bottles for the whole year to use as our place card holders. We sanded them off and made a slit in the top. We also made flower petal cones for confetti out of large paper doilies.”

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Despite their hopes for sunshine and an outdoor dance floor, the couple and guests sheltered inside the warm and snug Healesville Hotel  for the wedding reception, Ainslie explaining, “Healesville Hotel is one of our favourite places in the Yarra Valley. The food and wine are so good, and it is a gorgeously rustic building with plenty of character. When we walked in, we got goosebumps and just knew it was right for our reception. Although it meant that everyone needed to travel, we knew that it would be worth it. The staff were fantastic! Nothing was too difficult. They worked so hard to make our day perfect and were happy to work with us on timing and small individual arrangements, to the point of decorations and producing a beautiful wedding cake when our original plan fell through. We loved that guests could choose their own food from the menu. It felt like fine dining, everything was cooked to perfection and presented beautifully, as though we were at a table of two, not 70!”

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And the rain? It came tumbling down! “As soon as the ceremony finished it started raining on and off all afternoon, though it held off for canapés. We were supposed to have an outdoor dance floor too, but thankfully the staff at HH made the decision to move everything inside. I’m so happy they did! The atmosphere in the country pub as we partied and it stormed outside was amazing.”

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The dessert table was hailed as many of the wedding guest’s favourite part of the day!

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The first dance was a memorable moment for the newlyweds, who tell, “We danced to “How long will I love you” by Ellie Goulding. Our band played it for us, which was really special. Will and I had said during all of the wedding planning that we would get dancing lessons, then two weeks out we still hadn’t, so decided we would practice at home… in the end we did none of those things and just winged it! People asked two things: What were Will and I were talking about? And did we get lessons? Well. I was telling Will to dance in time (he was doubling the beat!) for the first part of the dance. And at least it looked like we had lessons – Will did lots of twirling and a dip at the end!”

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Congratulations on your marriage Ainslie and Will! Thank you for sharing your day with us! Thank you to Leo Farrell for sharing your photographs with us!