Sonja & Paul

If spring is about one thing, it’s colour. Plenty of it, and in abundance. So when we spied Sonja’s amazing colourful skirt, we couldn’t resist including this beauty in The Spring Issue.

For Sonja and Paul, who chose photographer Jackson Grant to capture their vibrant spring day, nothing was more important than doing their wedding their way. “We wanted it to be casual but still feel special, the atmosphere was incredibly relaxed” explains Sonja. The pair wanted to keep their day completely untraditional – the bride wore colour, the bride’s sister officiated the ceremony, there was no bouquet, and no-pre-planned first dance (although the groomsmen had other plans!). This is exactly the kind of wedding we know you will fall head over heels with. And can we just say? Join the club!!

The pair met, completely randomly, one night in Perth. We’ll hand it over to Sonja to tell the tale. “I was living in Perth and Paul (from Melbourne) was flying to South East Asia with his best friend. They had a one-night stopover in Perth and they were staying at a friend’s house. This was my sister’s housemate, so they met very briefly that night. My sister is a little bit older and asked them if they were coming back to Perth after their holiday. They were, they would be in Perth for two more nights on their way home.
My sister said that I should take them out when they returned (as I was a similar age), so Paul asked me for my number and three weeks later I received a text from Paul asking where was I was taking them. It was a Tuesday night in Perth and I couldn’t get any friends together so I lied and said I was really busy and I would take them out the following night. Long story short, we hit it off, kept in contact for 6 months via Facebook messenger and when I came over for a trip to Melbourne after finishing my studies we met up and were inseparable for the week. A year later, I moved to Melbourne and the rest is history!”

And then, of course, we need to share the proposal story! Sonja remembers “Well. Poor Paul had it all planned, he had waited until my parents were in town to do the proposal so that we could all celebrate together. One of our favourite places in Melbourne is the Dandenong ranges (that is also where Paul and I designed the engagement ring) so Paul was going to set up a very romantic picnic and propose there as it had a lot of meaning. Unfortunately, all of his plans failed that day when he suggested to me that they head to the Dandenong ranges for a walk, as I wanted to go and buy jeans on Brunswick Street. So Paul put his plans to the side (feeling the time pressure of my parents leaving in a few days) and decided to propose the following day on Easter. Paul & I were setting up an Easter egg hunt for my parents and while setting it up Paul yelled out “oh my gosh, I just caught a butterfly”, I turned around to find Paul on his knee holding out a ring. Although the proposal didn’t quite go to plan, I was nonetheless shocked, surprised and incredibly happy! It was perfect.”

Let’s talk about that skirt! Sonja found a white top at Kookai to pair with a skirt made from Chanel fabric she found at  Stitches To Style and had made by Lucy Wilkins. She explains “I was adamant that I didn’t want to wear white. There wasn’t much “tradition” on our wedding day as we didn’t really feel that those traditions were important to us. I love colour and I also love steering away from the norm. I went to so many bridal stores hoping to find something unique and different but just saw white. I remember calling up stores explaining my vision, only to be declined with “sorry we only have white”. ”

“So I went back to the drawing board, did “out of the box” thinking and decided to look at fabric stores. I knew a costume designer and approached her with my ideas, she said once I had found the material we could start designing. I went into Stitches To Style fabric store in Armadale & there it was, the most magnificent material I had EVER seen. It was perfect, I had to have it! It was everything I had envisioned and more, a beautiful, colourful Chanel fabric that was so me! They only had 5 meters left, I only needed 5 meters! Done and done.

After purchasing it I met with the designer and we started brainstorming. I knew I wanted to make a skirt out of the Chanel material but I wasn’t sure what sort of top I wanted. I ended up getting a beautiful white, silk bodysuit made which was incredible, but unfortunately, I just didn’t feel comfortable in it and that was super important to me. So five days before the wedding, I went to Chadstone with my bridesmaids and found a very simple singlet top which was perfect. I was comfortable and it didn’t take away from the skirt.  I loved my dress! And the best thing is, no one will ever have a wedding dress like it!”

Sonja’s bridesmaids dressed in different white pieces from Maurie & Eve &  Forever New.

Beautiful country venue The Riverstone Estate set the scene for the day, Sonja recalling “We were set on having the ceremony & reception at the same place and along with that, having the photos on the property was important to us too. We didn’t want the photos to go on for too long as we wanted to get to the party & the ground on the estate are incredible. That is where the whole day was spent, travelling and having photos elsewhere didn’t make any sense to us.

The venue was an absolute dream to deal with, if we had a request they would make it happen if they could. They were so easy to communicate with and very reliable. I only have good things to say about Riverstone Estate, they are just one big happy family!”

In keeping with only including what they love, Sonja and Paul only had a few floral details, and they adorned their ceremony, styled by Chloe Lashay. “Flowers just weren’t important to us at all. What was important was the company, food, music and alcohol! So we kept it very simple. We had only buttonholes made for the groomsmen, two flower arrangements made for the ceremony to sit on top of wine barrels, some flowers for the cake and that was it. Oh.. I did have a bouquet made for myself, but I saw it right before I walked down the aisle and I hated it. I was in two minds about even having one before the day as I didn’t understand the meaning of a bouquet so it was an easy decision. I was set on my bridesmaids not carrying flowers as I have 3 nephews, 2 of which weren’t walking, so instead of flowers, each bridesmaid carried a boy. It was the best!”

The bridesmaid didn’t carry bouquets, they carried children instead!

What better way to enter your ceremony than y dancing? Sonja danced with her father down the aisle, sharing “The song was “Can’t get enough of your love” by Barry White. It is a favourite of ours and it was upbeat, I really wanted to dance down the aisle and have people in the crowd dancing too! Let’s get the party started! My Dad “walked” me down, there was a lot of dancing and it was so joyous, exactly what I had hoped for!”

Sonja and Paul were married by the bride’s sister, who was assisted by Kitty of My Wedding Celebrant. Sonja telling “So my sister, who is my most favourite person in the world (Paul knows this) did the whole ceremony. We had a certified marriage celebrant there to sign the papers to make it legal, but my sister married us. It was so special. She was there the night that Paul and I met, she was the reason why we went out that night in Perth so it was perfect to have her marry us. We both decided it would have been strange asking someone to marry us that didn’t know us or our story so it was an easy decision. The ceremony was funny, heartwarming and so us!”

Sonja and Paul were utterly thrilled with their choice of a photographer. “Where do I begin? Jackson is a dead set legend. We chose him because we felt like we knew him. He is so personable and totally got our vibe. A great memory from the day was having a drink with both Jackson and Luca (the videographer) I think they were a bit surprised we asked them to have a drink with us. We were down by the river, just having a little chill which was perfect.  We could soak up every moment after the ceremony.

Jackson has a way of just making you feel so comfortable in front of the camera, as though he isn’t there. He is very chatty as well which makes you just feel like you are having a conversation while he is snapping away. He is so talented & professional you’d be silly not to go with him. We loved the fact that his photos were more documentary style, rather than posey.”

It was exactly the party mood they wanted for their day.  “Ultimately we knew this was going to be the biggest party we would ever host, so we wanted that exact vibe. A huge party & celebration, surrounded by those that we love!”

“Something that I loved was how personalised the details were” remarks Sonja. “We asked (whenever possible) friends/family to contribute to our wedding, as again, they knew us and it was special to have them involved. So for example, one of my friends made our invitations and wedding sign. We wanted the invites and welcome sign to be a little bit different and something we could hang on the wall after. We had a friend’s mum make our wedding cake and of course, my sister do the ceremony.”

Guests gathered inside for a casual cocktail reception. “Really sticking to what was important to us and remaining true to us was our favourite part of wedding planning” remarks Sonja. “I think so many people get caught up in the fact that they should have this detail because every wedding they have been to had it. Or they are “supposed” to do it. I loved that Paul and I were such a team with the planning and we only chose to include things that were important to us. I loved planning the biggest party ever and customising it to our taste! Not worrying about what other people would think because the day wasn’t about them!”

“Oh and that wasn’t the only amazing, or should I say memorable speech” says Sonja. “My dad’s speech is one of my favourite memories. It was the loosest Father of the bride speech, he had so much written down and so many points he wanted to talk about, people he wanted to thank and it all went out the window. He just started a chant & got the whole crowd saying “Sonio, Paulio” far about 10 minutes.”

The speeches were a definite highlight for the bride. “Something that was special to me was Paul’s speech. I am sure a lot of brides say the same. But Paul is not an emotional person, he holds his cards very close to his chest and his speech was just the most beautiful thing ever.

I had joked with Paul telling him that I felt like I never got the proposal I was meant to (because I had stuffed it up) so on the wedding day he mentioned that and got down on one knee and said all the things he had intended to and more, it made me so happy as like I said he doesn’t say that to me ever. Of course, he tells me he loves me all the time but he shows his love through actions rather than words & on our wedding day he did the opposite. He then proposed to me with a dummy and asked me if I would have his babies. I loved it, it made me laugh so so much and cry at the same time.”

Sunset portraits were so. worth. it. “I do love the photo of Paul and I in the paddock where my skirt is blowing in the wind. Our speeches had run a little bit over because my dad had started a chant, yeah, that’s a whole story there, so we were super pressed for time for our sunset photos, we had like 5 minutes. I was so happy that the photo was captured because we almost missed it and it is one of my favourites.”

The first dance was not planned but was indeed a carefully executed surprise, tells the bride. “So we weren’t going to do the first dance, because again, tradition? But we did want a way to get everyone on the dance floor, so Paul and his groomsman (Trent) came up with an idea. They have a “tradition” of singing Aerosmith’s “I don’t want to miss a thing” at karaoke, so they decided to keep this a secret from everyone and immediately after we cut the cake Paul and I got on the dancefloor and Trent sang the song to an instrumental version. He got the crowd involved, handing the microphone over to people which really got the party started. And from that point, Paul and I didn’t leave the dancefloor. We didn’t want to be caught up chatting to people at the wedding, we just wanted to dance and party!”

And in keeping with their whole “throw out tradition” mindset, Sonja and Paul kicked on with guests at Maeve Fox. Sonja explains “We knew we were only going to get married once and we wanted to make the most out of it, so we needed an after-party. So we contacted a friend of a friend who owned the cocktail bar  Maeve Fox and we partied there until 3 am. We organised a big bus from the Yarra Valley to Richmond (of course made sure we could have alcohol on it) and when we arrived we had espresso martinis for everyone at the bar. And of course, after the after-party, there was another party! Paul and I didn’t get home until 9 am the next morning. Just in time to get ready for our recovery drinks! A lot of people ask us if we are sad that our wedding is over. We aren’t because the celebrations lasted all weekend! We couldn’t have done it any better, it was perfect in our eyes and I know that if we were to do it all again it couldn’t possibly be as good!”

A big congratulations to the newlyweds! Thank you for sharing your beautiful day with us! Thank you also to Jackson Grant for sharing such a beautiful celebration with us.