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 Zoe & Joe

There is so much to love about Zoe and Joe’s colourful convent gallery wedding. The newlyweds wanted a weekend away for their guests and chose a place of significance to them, Daylesford as the place to spend an extended weekend celebrating their marriage.  The main aim for the wedding was to have it feel like a big party, and party they did! They chose Daniella Melfi Photography to capture it all.

Zoe and Joe tell. “We met in London in 2006 – both of us were traveling and living there for a year, and we met through mutual friends at a pub. Not really very special!

The engagement story is a good one though: We were on a holiday for a family member’s birthday in Port Douglas, in far north Queensland. On our second morning, we were on our way to the beach, when Joe guided me in the opposite direction. Confused, I was led to a helicopter that was set down on the wharf at the marina. Bradley our pilot and Joe instructed me to hop in as it swept us up and out over the coastline to the Great Barrier Reef. We saw sharks and sea snakes, flew low over sea turtles and dolphins and stingrays, and took in the most amazing reefs and sand cays. Heading inland, Bradley flew over a ridge in the mountainous rainforest and low into a winding river, heading straight towards one of the most magnificent and isolated waterfalls I’ve ever seen. And then he set down the helicopter…on top of the waterfall! Hopping out, we were encouraged to go and have a swim in the pristine waterholes, bath in the waterfalls and snorkel for turtles and fish.

Meanwhile, Bradley had set up an afternoon tea of wine and cheese and fruit. Left completely alone and to ourselves, Joe asked me to marry him and presented me with the most beautiful diamond. We were able to choose the setting together. It was simply the best!”

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The couple chose a first look before the ceremony, noting, “We always planned to have our photographs taken beforehand, as we wanted to maximise the time spent with our guests after the ceremony. This also enabled us a lot more freedom when choosing our site for photographs, something that I will never regret. We did the “reveal” and other formal photographs at Jubilee Lake.”

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“I had my grandmother’s wedding sash, with my great-grandmother’s wedding ring sewn onto it, wrapped around my bouquet. It made up the “something old” element and was a lovely way to remember family.”

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The groom and groomsmen wore suits by Studio Suits  while Zoe chose a gown by Elly Louise, who also made the bridesmaid dresses, noting, “I loved my amazing dress which was suited so perfectly to the relaxed vibe and yet still made me feel like a princess.

On the morning of the wedding, I realised I had completely forgotten the pocket squares for the boys. I rang Elly down in Melbourne and she quickly ran up some more out of the bridesmaids’ fabric and popped into mum’s house to deliver them before the ceremony. My eyes are closed as I was getting my make-up done and all I hear is “Zoe, don’t panic, I made the pocket squares… but the boys don’t have breast pockets.” The way everyone was bracing themselves they must have thought those pocket squares were life itself! I just laughed and laughed and wondered what kind of blazers don’t have breast pockets?! Poor Elly. She went above and beyond!”

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Of their photographer, Zoe tells, “I knew Dannii from previous photo shoots through my work as a costume designer, and she’s always been so fabulous – it didn’t take us long to decide we would use her for the wedding. She was fantastic, and made a trip up to Daylesford a couple of weeks before the wedding, so we could walk through locations and logistics. It was such a load off to know that we were both on the same page! The photos are gorgeous – we’re very happy.”

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“Our wedding itself was not at all religious, given neither of us are that way inclined. Joe is, however, Filipino and although he wasn’t that fussed, I wanted to make sure we incorporated at least one tradition – as weddings are a big deal in the Philippines and they have a number of rituals involved. I chose the “cord” ritual, which is where “sponsors” (like godparents, but for the marriage itself) place a cord around the couple, representing their bond but also their family’s commitment to helping them through, no matter what. Of course it couldn’t be this simple though!!! I wanted the cord to be extra special, and so in the end one of my bridesmaids made 80 bread-dough beads and hand painted them all in the colours of the wedding.

As guests arrived at the ceremony, they were asked to select a bead out of the large vase, and my cousin Danielle, a jewellery maker, threaded and knotted it onto a string. She had previously hand engraved a little silver infinity symbol, which she placed in the centre of the figure of eight. By the time the ceremony started, she had completed the cord, which each of the guests had contributed to, and our mums placed it around our shoulders as sponsors. It was really special and we now keep the cord on our mantelpiece – what a fabulous keepsake.”

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Mark Doggett performed the ceremony, the bride noting “We loved our ceremony, from our beautiful self-penned vows that had everyone laughing and crying all at once  to the song that Joe’s best man Casey, sung at the ceremony that came as a complete surprise to me.”

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“Pimms and Peronis followed in the St Lawrence room, and of course we couldn’t resist taking a couple more photos in the new surroundings. It was wonderful though, to know we could just relax with our guests over cocktails, canapés and entrees, which were cooked and served by chefs in front of everyone.”

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Zoe and Joe chose The Convent Gallery, Daylesford  for their wedding, from the ceremony to the after party. Zoe explains, “We had entertained the idea early on of a long-weekend wedding, hoping that guests would take advantage of it and enjoy the town of Daylesford. My mum had always owned property there so I had grown up visiting the town often – and she now lives there full time. Joe and I adore going up as often as we can, and so it was a natural choice for the location. The Convent Gallery won us over with their can-do attitude and the assurance that everything would be taken care of for us on the day, and we wouldn’t need to worry about a thing.

We chose the Melbourne Cup long weekend, at the beginning of November, and were married on the Monday. Being at the time of the Spring Racing Carnival, guests were encouraged to wear hats. The weather was sublime, and the roses were out, exactly as I had hoped. Mainly though, as it wasn’t the height of summer, everything was beautifully green and lush – something that really became a feature of our photos.”

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“Our main aim for the wedding was that it had to be one big party, and we didn’t want to have to restrict our guest list too much more than we already had. Fun was the major criteria, plus good food and drink. I think we did it! Everyone had a great time and there aren’t really any decisions that we regret.”

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“Our guests were then invited into the St Michael’s room for the seated part of the evening and this was my opportunity to take off my big skirt, to reveal the cocktail-length dress that the amazing Elly Louise had helped bring to life. Dancing was a priority, but I had always dreamed of a big wedding dress, so this was the perfect solution. It was also a lovely surprise for the guests upon our announcement in the main room.”

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Zoe explains, “On each place setting was a handwritten thank you note for each guest – a personalised way of thanking them for coming. I really wanted everyone to feel like they were special to us, and this was easy for me to do ahead of time – I just did a couple each night for a month before the wedding. The invitations were all handmade by my best man and I (with the help of his wonderful scrapbooking mother-in-law!), and he made the sign that sat at our ceremony on an easel – “Breathe now, love is in the air”. We also made the favours together – chocolate hearts moulded onto a pretty teaspoon and wrapped in cellophane. Really simple to do and a cost-effective solution.”

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Zoe tells, “I did everything myself – so the centrepieces were lots of fun. They were inspired by our surrounds and the history of the building where the wedding was held. We were married in the gardens of an old convent, and the reception was in the old school hall. The centrepieces were comprised of two old books, a strip of hessian cut to be like an altar runner, a candle, the letters J and Z painted red and a jar of roses. From underneath that, however, strings of twine rolled across the table to each place setting, where a photo of that person (a funny one that I had, or one with the me and/or Joe) was pegged.”

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“As far as theme goes, I was inspired by a photo of a mass of different coloured roses. Everything branched from that – and our flowers were all multicoloured roses (together with some baby’s breath) as they were in peak season at the time of our wedding. Other than that, everything was just knocked back a little to fit the country, relaxed feel. The roses were secondary roses (not premium), which we bought in bulk and then arranged ourselves into lots of jars and wooden crates from the local antique centre, used together with old books, vases and twine.”

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Of the first dance, Zoe remembers “We had taken lessons with a local dance teacher and she came up with a great blend of Rumba, Cha cha, foxtrot and swing and we did it to Love Never Felt So Good by Michael Jackson. It was a hit with the guests, even if it wasn’t the most coördinated of performances!!”colourful convent gallery wedding0070

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The community feeling of the wedding involved cake, and lots of it! Led by MC Andrew McClelland and Brunetti, Carlton. Zoe explains ” I spent a while considering what to do for our cake, as neither of us were really impassioned by the thought of it. Amongst friends I’m renowned for always bringing a Brunetti’s cake for dessert, and I didn’t want to let them down! The wonderful Barbara at Brunetti’s Carlton helped us choose a different cake for every table, the only custom one being our wedding cake, which was still small and simple but a little more in the colour theme. MC Andrew McClelland then asked each table a question about the couple, and whoever answered correctly was able to stand up (with their spouses/partners too if they liked!) and we all cut the cakes together. Everyone was encouraged to try the cakes on the other tables and what a hoot! Everyone was running around swapping entire cake stands and having a ball.”

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Guests enjoyed the photo booth set up by The Booth Butler.

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Congratulations on your marriage Zoe and Joe! Thank you for sharing your day with us! Thank you to Daniella Melfi Photography for sending the wedding our way!