Annabel & Tom
If there ever was a state of Australia that knows what it is to live Summer, it’s the Northern Territory. The stunning deep red soil, the beautiful blue skies, the sunsets that take your breath away.
And so, for the Summer Issue, we thought, there was no better wedding to share than one that made the most of its Australian outback location – the outdoor reception, the fireworks that lit up the night sky and the wide-open landscapes that really only the Australian outback can deliver. With the most beautiful sunset (wait until you see the horse photos!) the couple enlisted photographer Lisa Hatz to join them as the day unfolded in beautiful Northern Territory style.
Although we lived 4,000kms away (Tom in the NT and myself in southern WA), we stayed in touch over the phone for 12 months before I threw in my corporate job and city life and moved to Katherine in the middle of the outback.”
The bride has one very crucial piece of advice to other brides to be – don’t change your skincare! She explains “I was one of those brides who made a fatal mistake in the lead-up to the wedding. Despite having read horror stories of brides changing skincare products and having allergic reactions in weeks before their wedding – I did just that. I didn’t think twice when it was suggested I try a new cleanser. It was two weeks prior to the wedding and I generally don’t react to soaps/ moisturisers. Five days after I started using the product I woke up with what I thought was a small rash on my cheek. I didn’t think much of it until two days later (five days prior to the wedding) my whole face was covered in red lumps. I went to emergency thinking it was just an allergic reaction and a cream would fix it to be told I had chemically burnt my face and there wasn’t a lot I could do but wait for it to heal and apply colours to it. Fortunately, it came good by the wedding day however, as a result, my skin was very sensitive and I ended up reacting to the glue of the fake eyelashes. Two days after the wedding my face was very swollen!”
The bride chose a beautiful gown with sheer sleeves from Ae’lkemi, “I already had an idea of what I wanted (after scanning many wedding dress sites); long sleeve, front split, v-neck, full length and flattering. My sister had an incredible wedding dress custom made by Ae’lkemi some years earlier and Alvin was so easy to work with. I made an appointment, walked in, tried on two dresses, agreed to use the top of one dress and the bottom of the other, agreed on the price, Alvin took my measurements, I paid the deposit and was done in about 20 minutes.
I had another two dress fittings prior to the wedding. I didn’t actually have a ‘final dress fitting’ due to not being able to get back down to WA. To be honest, the dress turned out different to what I had envisaged – it was better! I had a lot of faith in Alvin, he’s dressed so many women and knows what works on different body shapes.”
Annabel and Tom met before their ceremony for a “first look”. Annabel remarks ” I can highly recommend having photos prior to the ceremony. Our ‘first look’ moment was intimate (I think we both laughed at each other). By the time the ceremony came around we were super relaxed and able to take more in. It also meant we were able to roll straight into the reception.”
Tom popped the question on a trip down south, Annabel remembering “Tom proposed to me on the red pindan cliffs that overlook the Indian Ocean at Barn Hill Station, 130km south of Broome.
During the Top End Wet Season tourist numbers are low so we close and head south for four months. We were on our way back to the NT in March with something like 12 horses and 14 working dogs. We hit flood waters south of Newman which caused us to break down in the middle of nowhere between Newman and Port Hedland. The nights were around 36 degrees and we were sleeping in a swag with a mozzie net over us hoping not to be rained on. My car was meant to be delivered to Katherine but got dropped off in Fitzroy Crossing (1,160km short of the destination).
We made it to Barn Hill one day later than planned and Tom did very well. He had arranged for champagne and a cheese platter to be hidden in the dunes where he got down on one knee at sunset and asked me to marry him.”
The bride chose beautiful bright tropical blooms styled by Beija Flor. She explains “I always thought I would have simple native flowers, however, being surrounded by so much colour here in the Top End, I was inspired to mix tropical flowers with the natives. This tied in beautifully with the natural setting. The boys had mixed buttonholes and Matilda had a gorgeous flower crown made from native orchids.
We had vases of native flowers and greenery from our garden down the centre of the tables. We wanted to keep the styling simple..”
Annabel and Tom chose Harry Hookey to play the bride down the aisle, Annabel noting “Harry played his original tune “Audrey’s Song” which is our favourite song and fitting with our story. My father Leigh walked me down the aisle.”
These two had the most gorgeous venue available for their day- they’re the owners of Katherine Outback Experience and the setting was just the ticket for a wedding! “We got married on our property just out of Katherine. We have a beautiful big backyard with huge shady trees and lush green lawn. Being a tourism business, we already have great ablution facilities and plenty of space for family and friends to camp in caravans, motorhomes and swags.”
Annabel and Tom chose Fay Miller to officiate their ceremony, Annabel remembers “We had a relaxed outdoor ceremony. We chose a spot on our property that allowed all our guests to be in the shade. We had our wedding photos before the ceremony so the bridal party was already relaxed. We have a lot of nieces and nephews so we had them sitting down the front on cushions which was really sweet.
Our celebrant (and local mayor), Fay Miller is a lot of fun and has a really warm nature about her. There were a lot of funny moments and laughs.”
Guests celebrated at long tables under the open sky, with the help of Longrass Style. “We engaged Belinda Rasheed of Longrass Style to assist with styling the venue on the day of the wedding. She was absolutely phenomenal. Having her setting the tables, arranging flowers and adding all the final touches allowed me to sit back and enjoy the day” explains the bride.
“The theme and styling was simple with a touch of outback elegance. We had long tables dressed with white table clothes and natives flowers and greenery. Lines of festoon lights created a beautiful setting under the stars on our green lawn. The atmosphere was social and happy with lots of dancing and laughter.”
Of their chosen photographer, Annabel tells “Our photographer Lisa Hatz Photography was amazing. She had photographed another outback wedding and it was clear she understood the stunning colours of the landscape. Since working with Lisa, I have a whole new appreciation of the role the photographer plays in the planning and running of the wedding day. She really went above and beyond. She provided a detailed timeline for the day, recommendations for the ceremony location, pros and cons around the order of events, fake tans, eyelashes etc.”
Tells Annabel “It is hard to pick a favourite part. It was fun getting the photos with the horses galloping around us. The speeches were absolutely hilarious, the music was sensational and the dance floor went off!”
The first dance mixed in the couple’s favourites, played live by Harry Hookey Annabel explaining “We again had Harry Hookey perform Audrey’s Song for the first dance. I had been chatting to him prior to the reception and I asked if he knew any Bruce Springsteen songs. He mixed ‘I’m on Fire’ into the first dance which was very cool.”
A big congratulations to you both Annabel and Tom! Thank you for taking the time to share our stories with us. Thank you also to Lisa Hatz for sharing the beautiful day with us!