Phoebe & Ryan

You know how much we shout from the rooftops around here about doing it your way. Well for Phoebe and Ryan? That advice rang true because there is simply nothing about this day that wasn’t completely, well, them. In Phoebe’s own words “We wanted an all-inclusive and relaxed vibe where our guests were left wanting for nothing. Our style was very 70s bohemian crossed with rustic country. We wanted the atmosphere to feel cosy, fun and laid back.”

From the bride upcycling an 80’s puffy wedding dress, to the flower clad Landrover she arrived in, and the aisle runner that the couple use in their very own home, it was packed full of colour (our nod of course, to this month’s Colour Issue) and every detail played together to create the best kind of country festival wedding. All captured beautifully by Gold and Grit Photography, this one is an utter treat to share with you today.

Dancers, these two first met while working on a cruise ship. “We met in Florida, almost 9 years ago” they tell.  “Both performers, we had been cast together to work on a cruise ship and met during rehearsals. After a few awkward conversations on the bus trip home, we scandalously shared our first kiss on a night out with our colleagues only a week after meeting. Luckily it worked out as we were about to spend 6 months working and living in very close confinement!

It was Christmas day that was the most utterly romantic, festive moment for Ryan to ask the big one, in his own words, the story goes a little like this. “In preparation for Christmas day, Phoebe had to make a bunch of salads for the family lunch. She had left it to the last minute and decided to have drinks with her friends on Christmas Eve instead of getting prepped. She was getting so mad at me for insisting she come home and get organised because I wanted to have a romantic Christmas breakfast together. She got mad at the idea of breakfast because we would eat so much at lunch anyway. But hungover and rushed to make salads on Christmas morning, she obliged to breakfast on our front porch in the glorious summer sunshine. The last present I gave her was a big box filled with many smaller boxes finally producing her Grandmother’s engagement ring, which I had asked her Dad for. It was personal and intimate and in one of our favourite places to be.”

Country Victoria set the scene for this festival wedding to unfold, the couple choosing Trafalgar East Hall to set up camp (literally, with tents from Kanvas Village). The newlyweds tell  “We knew very early on we wanted the whole affair to be in one place; ceremony, photos, party and camping. You can’t camp on council-owned halls in Gippsland but lucky for us Trafalgar East Hall is community-owned. It’s in the middle of a paddock, with huge lush gum trees and incredible views of Mount Baw Baw and it’s 5 minutes from our home. I have very fond memories of 18ths, 21sts and 30th birthday parties held out there and with its fresh coat of paint and rustic tin cladding, it fitted out brief perfectly. Inside is a gorgeous old 70s light fitting that I knew immediately would be where we would tie the knot. A local company, Kanvas Village, supplied us with a gorgeous Kata Tipi for the afternoon festivities and bell tents for friends and family to camp in afterwards. It was like a mini-festival!”

The personal touches began with the car the bride arrived in – this was a day that was all about personal touches, explain Phoebe and Ryan. “We really wanted everyone involved to have a personal connection to us as much as possible, because we didn’t want to feel surrounded by strangers on the day. Our friend Alana sang, our friend John played the piano, Phoebe’s brother performed, Phoebe knew the caterers personally, the bar staff were my colleagues, the makeup stylists were friends, hairstylist was a friend, the MC was Phoebe’s sister in law and the singer who entertained during the party, James Franklin, was someone we had seen perform at a festival and loved so it was super cool to have him there.

Phoebe’s sister made the cake and a work colleague Amy acted as our event manager for the day to make sure it all ran smoothly (plus she made the biggest grazing table you’d ever seen). Lots of other details were a group effort whether it be helping hang lights or flowers or sewing cushions or cutting out bunting or making extra desserts, so many friends and family helped make it possible. One of the day’s highlights was Phoebe and her close friends arriving in our friend Cameron’s 1980 Army Landrover. He went to such an effort to decorate it with flowers and fairy lights and even painted a step ladder so they could arrive in style. We also had our invites designed by a local watercolour artist to depict a picture of our venue. It is the most beautiful image and we now have the original painting framed for us to look back on forever.” 

Let’s talk about that op shop dress Phoebe upcycled herself! She explains “All I wanted was a second-hand dress that I could whack a leg in and drop it like it’s hot. A $50 puffy-sleeved, lacy 80s wedding dress from my local op shop ended up being it. I did try on gowns, nervous that I couldn’t make the op shop dress work but I felt so silly in them. I am not a delicate person by any means, and they all made me feel like a bit of an imposter. Also, we were practically getting married in a paddock and I didn’t want to spend the day worrying about this crazy expensive dress. I also really really really didn’t ever want to see a picture of someone else wearing the same dress, so it had to be the op shop one! About 2 months before our wedding I took it to a local dress marker who pulled it all apart and turned it into this glorious 2 piece, which was so comfortable but beautiful at the same time. It was perfectly matched by my bargain rainbow heels and my pink and gold trainers I had for later in the night.”

The couple filled with the day with carefully thought out details- the aisle runner borrowed from the hallway of their home together. Every detail made this day just a little more special, tells Phoebe. “I love that so many of our details were unique to us and we won’t see pics of other weddings with them, like our hallway way carpet, the flowers and the rainbow of velvet furniture. When I got to the end of the aisle I was truly overwhelmed by what we had created. This simple old hall had truly been transformed and it looked incredible.”

Phoebe walked down the aisle on the arm of her father, to friends singing live, the couple remembering  “Our friend Alana sang a gorgeous ballad rendition of “Be My Baby” by the Ronettes, accompanied on the piano by our friend John. Phoebe had initially wanted to walk herself down the aisle as we didn’t really feel comfortable with idea of needing to be “given away” but after her Dad had an accident with a circular saw two days before the wedding and could no longer play the guitar during the ceremony, we made a last-minute change for him to accompany her down the aisle. John had done an incredible amount of building for our wedding it felt like the right way to say thank you.”

 Phoebe and Ryan adored their celebrant Mrs Jones, for all the right reasons! Phoebe explaining “Nicola our celebrant was beyond perfection. Honestly, so many celebrants appeared to be quite strange people and a lot of them seemed to really love being the centre of attention. Nicola really put the celebrate into celebrant. She captured our story and essence so perfectly and had great advice of the what to do and what not to-do’s. She helped us to write vows that were secret but had the same structure. I felt like we hadn’t really given her enough to work with but the words she came up with were beautiful and honest.”

The floral details were pulled together by the bride and her bridesmaids, using loose blooms from Tesselar Flowers. Phoebe noting “Two days before the wedding, I went to Tesselar Flower Wholesaler in the Dandenongs with a budget of $1000. $800 later I had so much more than we needed. I chose lots of flowers that were native and/or wild-looking and ended up with lots of purples, deep pinks, a stack of red pepper berries and accents of yellow and white. My incredible bridesmaid Chanelle put together the most beautiful bouquets, tie pins and decorative vases for the aisle. Two other friends who flew over from the USA to be there, Rebecca and Bridget, created a sensational garland for the entrance to the hall and a feature piece for the tipi. The bouquets have dried beautifully and they’re still hanging on our wall!”

Just like the rest of the wedding of Phoebe and Ryan, the couple wanted something personal to them for their ceremony, the couple explaining “We wanted a unique, personal and not overly serious ceremony and boy did our celebrant Nicola deliver. She really captured the essence of our relationship perfectly and her words told our story beautifully. We wrote our vows ourselves and they were heartfelt but also a bit silly – like us! Our friend Emily read the sweet, funny and honest poem “Marriage isn’t beautiful”. Whilst we signed the registry my brother performed an acoustic rendition of “Never Gonna Give You Up” which got everyone up singing along. Everyone was given a cone of rainbow confetti and walking down that aisle under all that colour was just wonderful. Afterwards many of our friends and family expressed how much they loved our ceremony as it felt like a true celebration of our relationship.”

The formalities over, guests celebrated with a festival style outdoor celebration!

This celebration? Handmade everything! Beautifully thought out by the bride and groom who sourced much of the decor, or handmade it themselves, along with their friends and family. Phoebe explaining  “We collected heaps of brightly coloured 70s style velvet couches, rugs and blankets, made bunting and chalkboard signs for the bell tents and the entrance, hung hundreds of metres of coloured festoons and fairy lights, used our old hallway carpet as the aisle, sewed stacks of brightly coloured cushions out of second-hand fabric, confetti cones out of paper doilies, did our own flower bouquets, garlands and tie pins. Phoebe’s dad made and painted pallet chairs and tables, an arbour with some fabulous old yellow curtains, a bar, and turned an old singer sewing machine table into our table for the registry. We even lugged a piano all the way out to the hall!”

“Perfection” says the bride of the couple’s photographer. “The two people we hired who we didn’t know were our photographer and our celebrant. But both felt like close friends by the end of it all. Stina is the epitome of professionalism, but she does it whilst having fun. From the first email noticed she had such an eye for detail and when we met her, she had already picked up on the style we wanted and had a range of photos to show us from other weddings. Honestly, there wasn’t a single photo of these stranger’s weddings that I didn’t love. We walked away from this first meeting knowing that our photography was in the best hands. She was such a beautiful and calming presence to have about on the day and when anyone reminisces on our day they never fail to mention how fantastic she was – so many people now follow her on Instagram too!
Leading up to the wedding, she was almost like a wedding planner! She helped us nut out our schedule from top to bottom and every question was replied to in such huge detail and almost immediately.”


This photo? It’s the one Phoebe loves the most. “You can see the hall, the bell tents, the tipi, the fire circle and the Landrover. Ryan is carrying my bouquet and I’m fixing my hair. It’s just casual and honest. Ryan always has my back and we work so well as a team and I feel like this shot really captures what we created together.”


The first dance? Utter fun for these two! “Being dancers we didn’t want a dance that was too serious. My friend Michael is an amazing choreographer who created us something that was fun, uplifting and a little bit cute and a little bit silly to “This Will Be – An Ever Lasting Love” by Natalie Cole. It was the absolute best moment of the whole day. Especially our ridiculous lift at the end. Most of our friends had never seen Ryan dance and it was such a kick for them to see him in action.”

A big congratulations Phoebe and Ryan! What a day to share! Thank you to your both and to the lovely Gold and Grit Photography for today’s beautiful story!