A childhood dream came true as Emma and Ben exchanged vows under the tree that Emma had dreamt of since she was a young girl. The magical setting of her Mother’s garden made all the more dramatic as the heavens opened up mid-ceremony! However, taking it in their stride, the dashing couple embraced the uniqueness of their day, their way and the multiple people who helped to DIY and craft a day that was simply for them and their guests. Thomas Stewart was there to capture the special day! The radiant Emma tells of the day they created.

As my family is so fond of saying, we just went to the pub and fell in love. Miraculously, it was at a metal club in Sydney, a scene we were both a part of at the time.

We chose to put Ben in a grey suit that he could wear again (which he has) and that really brought out his colouring. We both wear a lot of grey in our normal lives, so it was nice to bring that to our wedding day too. We chose not to put Ben in a tie as he was more comfortable that way and it went with our more relaxed style wedding.

It really was the most incredible day. I spent the day getting ready in this huge house surrounded by my best friends doing yoga and getting dolled up with Michelle Cato and Ben spent the day in a house surrounded by his mates friends and his dad, drinking beers and enjoying a BBQ. A very us way to spend the day. Yes, it rained – hard at some stages. But that doesn’t make or break the day if your heart is in the right place. We were so focused and thrilled with being married that the rain just added to the day – it sure made for some amazing photos!

As an heirloom to use on the day, I repurposed the ribbon from my mums wedding dress to wrap my bridal bouquet, which was a really special thing to include.

I actually had my dress made by the fabulously talented Ruth Fattal. I chose to get my dress made because I have a very specific vision in my head of the type of clothes that I want to wear, and that carried over to my wedding dress. Being able to have the dress made expressly to my dimensions was amazing. I wanted to walk the line between traditional – with the A-Line shape and 50’s style skirt, and modern – with the clean lines and geometric lace panelling. It was definitely a dress only I could have dreamed up and worn. I worked really closely with Ruth to create a dress that I could wear again – Im very practical in that sort of way, so we created a two piece skirt and top combination (with pockets in the skirt!) that I have worn as two separate pieces since my wedding day.

We wanted something relaxed and very uniquely us. Not necessarily casual, but not formal and not stuffy. Our major thought was making sure we had the day we both wanted, and that our guests had an amazing time.

My sister and her best friend Sean composed a mash-up of Yellowcards “Only One” which was the sound track of the earlier part of our relationship and Joshua Radin’s “Today” for me to walk down the aisle to. All played by Sean on keyboard, very acoustic and non-traditional.

We held our ceremony in my Mum’s garden, which I had been planning to do since I was about 7 years old. Turns out she then turned her entire property into a wedding venue, called The Secret Garden. We are so pleased and proud to have been the first people married in ‘Megan’s Garden’, under what I have always referred to as “The Wedding Tree”. We were married on the 20th of October, a date chosen because the tree was in it’s best foliage on that date the year before – obviously a little obsessed but it certainly worked out for us on the day!

We didn’t include any readings, we aren’t religious and honestly we wanted the ceremony to just be about us. We wrote our own vows and really spoke from our own perspectives and promised each other both silly and really important things, things that were unique to us. Our celebrant, Nina de Borde included a beautiful piece about how our rings are a symbol of our love and how the stones were made deep in the earth, which was beautiful and felt more like us. It did start sprinkling during our ceremony, but it added to the drama of the moment and made for really beautiful photos!

In our bridal party, I had my brother and sister – family is everything to me and I couldn’t imagine standing up there with anyone else by my side. Ben had his two best mates, one of whom he went to high school with and one of whom was with him on the day we met. It was nice to have those two blokes, who are such a part of Ben’s life and experience, with us on the day.

All the flowers chosen for my bouquet were grown on my mum’s property or foraged from the Southern Highlands on the day, which made them completely sustainable and totally unique. I worked with one of my favourite people and best friends Kate from Two Wild Hands to gather all the flowers and branches from the natural environment or across The Secret Garden, which really allowed me to be part of creating the look and feel for the wedding.

She did an incredible job, then making her signature wild and romantic floral design style out of a more restricted palette, which was wonderful. We used all white and green foliage for that clean, minimal and classic wedding flower look.

There wasn’t a particularly special detail on the day, but it’s really important to note that I actually broke my leg in a few places about 3 months out from our wedding. There was a lot of fear and stress that I wouldn’t make it down the aisle, or I would have to wear a moon boot or something, but it all absolutely came together on the day, it really wasn’t something I had to think about which was nice. That was mostly thanks to complete unwavering support from my incredible husband and my amazing mum who just picked me up whenever I felt like it was going to overwhelm me.

We loved all our photos! I love the ones in front of the lantern arbour, I feel like we look strong and triumphant and really together. I love the pictures of our first kiss and my first dance with dad and I love all the photos of our friends and families dancing together.

Thomas was an incredible photographer – he was actually the first thing we booked, about 2 weeks after we got engaged (which was a little over two years before we got married). He had done weddings for a few people we knew peripherally and I was completely enamoured with his photos and wanted to make sure we booked him quickly! He is very relaxed, which we loved and doesn’t make you feel awkward or weird about getting very close to your partner for a great photo. He encourages you to take the day at your own pace and makes photos that really accurately capture different sides of your personality. He was phenomenal and we wouldn’t have chosen anyone else.

Our ceremony location has huge significance for me, it’s the property on which I grew up and where I always dreamed of having my wedding. Ben has also spent a lot of time on the property, and loves being there with my family. We then chose ‘The Mill’ in Bowral for our reception. This was a recommendation from my Mum actually! We love the industrial style and felt it would offer us all the options we wanted for our guests. They had actually never hosted a wedding there before, which we loved – some venues in the Southern highlands get really over used and we wanted something unique.

I feel like between us, our families and our friends we DIY’d our entire wedding. My dress was custom, my mum grew all the flowers and one of my best babes arranged them all. My mum and I collected and created our Bonbonniere (succulents in mismatched pots for everyone to take a little love home with them), I designed my own wedding invitations (I am a graphic designer by trade) and signage for the day (which was brought to life by Kate). My parents put on a beautiful spread post-ceremony and pre-reception, my sister and maid of honour wrote our ceremony music, my mum made our wedding cakes (yes, multiple cakes). Ultimately, we loved putting our own personal touch on the whole wedding!

We adored all our vendors, but honestly the most incredible one was my Mum. She worked so tirelessly to help us create the perfect day. She made our wedding cakes, she grew all our florals, grew our bonbonniere, primped and preened the garden to its most lovely and did everything imaginable to make it the dream day for us both. We couldn’t have had the wedding without her incredible love, support and effort.

I loved thinking about all the big and little things that would make the day great for our friends and family. We did long platter style tables and dinner, so guests could choose whichever food they wanted. My beautiful friends Kat and Charlie created an incredible grazing table and custom cocktail for our guests to enjoy on arrival and it was wonderful to see them really enjoy that! We had a music list that catered to everyone’s taste and everyone got up and danced at one stage or another. Planning the details that mattered most to our guests was one of the best parts of the planning process!

For our first dance, we danced to “As Time Goes By” which has a bit of a special meaning for us. It was one of those romantic surprises that Ben planned for me when we had been dating a month or two. He just put the song on while we were making dinner and we just danced around my tiny apartment holding each other. It was beautiful to be able to bring that moment to our wedding too, even though we spent the whole dance trying to work out who was leading! Very us.

One of my favourite moments of the whole wedding was my first dance with my Dad. I had picked the song, Blinded by the Light in the style of Manfred Mann. We both love Bruce Springsteen (who wrote the original) but the Manfred Mann version was the one he and I used to dance around the lounge room to when I was a little girl. It was really special.

Our advice for future married’s to be – don’t sweat the small stuff on your wedding day! Go into it with the attitude that it is about you and your partner and the rest will be easy. Be a little selfish and do the things you love – but don’t take it all too seriously. Enjoy your own wedding, it’s the best party you will ever throw!

Ms Zebra Says: We couldn’t be more happy for this beautiful couple – and LOVE the drama of a little rain on the wedding day! Congratulations newlyweds and we wish you all the best for a very happy life together as husband and wife!