Bitsy & Toby
2020 and COVID-19 has seen many weddings shifted, many plans upset, and many dreams reimagined. For Bitsy & Toby, they’d dreamt of eloping to New Zealand, but travel restrictions soon pushed for these two to create other plans. The result? Moments like the one above, all thanks to a team of vendors, who worked with Bitsy & Toby to make their new dreams come to life, in just a few days!
“It had a huge impact on our elopement. We were originally supposed to be married on a mountain outside Queenstown, NZ but the travel restrictions put a firm stop to that – literally, days before we were due to depart” remembers Toby. “Bits stepped in &, in a display of resilience I’m not sure will ever be repeated, put together the most incredible day of my life in less than a week.”
All we knew was we wanted to be outdoors. The weather hardly came into consideration – we just feel at home in nature. With such short notice, we didn’t have much time to investigate options. Luckily enough, our connection with stylist Gee (of Honeyfig), photographer Omar (of By the Wilde) & celebrant Merren of (Cinta Celebrate Love), was instant; they just felt like our people. They were more than willing to help out with local knowledge, & stepped in to take control. They even went on a day trip up Kunanyi before we had even arrived in Hobart, just to scope it out. We put the celebration in their hands, & it couldn’t have worked out better.”
But before we get into how these two pulled off their magic day in such a short time, we need to set the story in motion with how they met. Toby tells their story. “A random encounter in a communal watering hole – the coming together of mutual friends. That was over six years ago now, but it took us five of them to iron through the passionate details & realise this was truly meant to be.
The story of the rest of our lives began just last June when we reconnected yet again after a fair time apart. Bitsy was leaving not long after for an extended stay in the Americas. I lasted all of a week before booking my own flights & joining her in Canada.
An outsider’s perspective? I chased Bitsy halfway around the world less than a month after falling instantly in love…”
Toby dressed in a suit from MJ Bale. He tells “‘I’m one of the least fashion-conscious men on the planet, so my trepidation was rife. However, as soon as I learnt Bits was going bold with gold sequins, I knew a strong blue would work well.
During one of our many wine & dine trips to Sydney we were out for an early walk & happened to pass MJ Bale’s satellite store on the corner of Pitt St & Martin Place. The shade of blue I caught out of the corner of my eye was perfect.
An hour later we were back in the store, where I found the cut & fit were just meant to be – literally in & out in 15 minutes (not an exaggeration).
The suit was then matched with a great pair of Ted Baker shoes & cufflinks from Paul Smith (a wedding day gift from my bride – cat heads to signify our beautiful cat Julius).
Oh Bitsy, tell us about the incredible gold sequin gown (the beauty designed by Loreta). “Part of me feels a little guilty in saying it was a really easy experience for me. All I knew was that I wanted to wear a gold sequin dress. I’m not sure why it was just my immediate thought. I love colour and different textures and I really wanted my outfit to reflect me. I’ve always been a solo shopper so doing this on my own wasn’t an issue.
The dress I wore was from Loreta- the “Stay Golden” dress and was one of the first I found online.
The colours that came to mind were gold, white and pink so the magenta velvet jacket from Free People was exactly what I wanted. Gold and pearl earrings made by Amber Sceats were my touch of white. The shoes were a great find at Mimco as they’re not very high. Little did I know until I went to pay that I could customise the letters on the ankle straps. Due to a shortage of the letter ‘s’ to make ‘Mrs Scanes’ I ran with ‘Toby’ & ‘Bitsy’. A bit of fun so why not. As it turned out one pair of shoes wasn’t enough. Seeing we were initially meant to be married on a mountain in New Zealand, I bought a pair of gold sequin espadrilles (also from Mimco) which came in really handy for walking along Fern Glade Track. All in all, I found exactly what I wanted even though initially, I didn’t know what that really meant.”
Bitsy even had to figure out her own hair and makeup! “Hair and makeup had to cancel the day before our wedding due to COVID restrictions. I was, of course, disappointed about the hair side of things but of the two, makeup was my greater fear. I already had a wash and a blowdry booked the day prior which was in time before hairdressers had to close that night (restrictions were later eased). So that really helped, they gave me some tips on what to do for the next day.
Makeup, however, was a whole other challenge. A local MUA (Claire Hunt) suggested I head to MECCA to get what I needed. A young woman named Drew was the MUA on that day and I must have been her worst nightmare walking in the doors that day. I had to buy everything from scratch as I had only a few basics with me. After a few non-contact tutorials and a bag full of products later, the idea of doing my makeup was still a little daunting. I had to use a small handheld vanity mirror on the day as the lighting in the bathroom of the hotel was a little on the mood lighting side of things. No doubt it was a sight for my now husband, watching his wife-to-be laugh about how she had no idea what she was doing whilst sitting scrunched up on a chair trying to use a small mirror and tilting back a few sips of champagne for courage. So to answer your question, I did my own hair and makeup which in the end was actually a fun experience.”
Bitsy’s favourite moment of the day? The couple’s first look. “For me, it was the ‘first look’. Toby was waiting out on the balcony of the hotel we stayed in (Macq01, Hobart). It was a beautiful day overlooking the water and with his back facing me I played our favourite song and started walking towards him. I could feel the emotion between us. It was really powerful. I put my hands on his shoulders and as he turned around his smile and the brightness of his eyes made my heart melt. Not to mention how handsome he looked.”
“What she said!” adds Toby “I have never felt such a passionate, emotional moment. I had no idea Bitsy was going to play that song, so to hear the first chords with my back turned, knowing my wife-to-be was approaching, set my heart racing. Turning to look into her eyes & embrace was a moment I will never forget.”
There was no processional for these two, who walked to their ceremony together ” The only sounds were of the forest around us and laughter of course.”
Bitsy and Toby attribute much of the success of their day to their stylist Honeyfig who answered their call for help. Bitsy explaining “I guess if I had to pick one it would have to be Gee from HoneyFig. Without Gee, this day would not have happened.
As I mentioned, we had a fully booked and paid for elopement in New Zealand scheduled for March 26. A few days before us leaving for NZ the country went into lockdown. It was such a hard reality to accept. This date meant so much to me in particular. After deciding to go to Tasmania instead I couldn’t help but think that maybe we could still make this happen. I started looking on the internet to only find a magical little company called HoneyFig. It was one week out until March 26 and I sent an email with a very matter of fact ‘this is going to sound crazy’ for an opening statement to Gee.
Gee read our story and to my surprise wanted to do all she could to make this happen. She quickly put me in touch with our celebrant Merren from Cinta Celebrations, who was available and willing for the 26th. Merren advised us that we may even be able to marry legally if we contacted Births, Deaths and Marriages and pleaded our case. A lovely woman from BDM was more than happy to help and approved our wedding for a legal ceremony. We couldn’t believe it.
From there Gee helped organise hair and makeup. As well as how we would get up the mountain, the location and let’s not forget the sensational set up at the botanic gardens. No question was too much or too many.”
The bride’s bouquet was styled by The Floral Criteria. Says Bitsy “It was Gee from Honeyfig that put me in touch with Ali at The Floral Criteria in Hobart. It was such a crazy time for all vendors as the COVID restrictions were in full force. Ali was working solo from home. I’d had a look at the Floral Criteria Instagram page and website and was so pleased to find their style to be very much to my liking. I exchanged a few messages with Ali and chatted once on the phone. I didn’t have any must or must not’s for her. I was happy for her to do what she does best and just create something beautiful. And she delivered. Little did she know that hydrangeas are my favourite flower. She somehow managed to include these. The blackberries she foraged for herself and they made for a tasty snack a little later in the day.”
“Our focus was intimacy” tells Toby of the couple’s decision to marry with celebrant Cinta Celebrate Love – Merren Wilkinson. The day was for us & nobody else. We wanted to revel in the emotional significance & symbolism of tying our lives together forever.
We were always going to write our vows, & both put a lot of heart into our spoken words.
We met Merren for the very first time less than 24 hours before the ceremony. We had spoken on the phone & provided some written information but, just as with Gee & Omar, there was an instant connection. She put together an incredibly moving ceremony, an emotion-fuelled but joyous occasion that honoured those who weren’t there with us. We wanted love & laughter; we got both in absolute spades.”
The couple chose Fern Tree and Wellington Park, Hobart for their hidden forest ceremony, Toby says “We had thought about including a reading which was more an adaptation of song lyrics, however, once we read the ceremony Merren had put together we no longer felt the need. Merren had suggested a few rituals that she would quite like to include for us and we were more than happy to go with the flow. These included:
– acknowledging the ancient custodians of the land.
– placing our rings on the moss of the forest floor.
– a cleansing with a dried white Sage stick which also acknowledged the time Toby and I spent together in British Colombia, Canada.
– a blessing honouring my late mother. This was incredibly heartfelt for myself and for Toby.
– sounding of the Tibetan singing bowl to bring forth abundance and peace for now and the future.
Admittedly these rituals were not something we had originally considered. We soon realised that Merren has this incredible gift to draw out a person’s heart, soul and spirit and create an incredibly personalised ceremony that will forever be in our memories.”
Of his favourite photo of the day, Toby shares “I have a soft spot for a much more personal photo, taken during the part of the ceremony where we were honouring Bitsy’s mum. It isn’t anything like your typical wedding photo, loaded with much more raw & sensitive emotion, but a true representation of where our hearts were on that very special day. It is a wedding photo that won’t make many albums – a photo just for us.”
“Fern Glade Track on Kunanyi is exactly that – a public walking track. There were a few people out walking that day. We could hear them coming whilst the ceremony was taking place. A few would turn the corner to see this strange glisten of gold with two very overdressed people for a bushwalk and the smiles on their faces were priceless. The joggers were the funniest though. They were descending and chatting whilst running (something I will never understand haha). We came into their vision and they stopped in their tracks. We were met with a ‘Holy s**!’ and a request to stay and be a part of the day. We would have happily accepted but we were already at our five people max capacity. They continued on their run after a few laughs and we heard a big ‘yewwww’ echoed through the forest as they ran on.”
Bitsy notes “The date was imperative; it is the date of my parent’s AND grandparent’s wedding.
We also wanted to make sure the day reflected just how important our family is to us, despite their absence. This was woven through both Merren’s ceremony & our own spoken words.”
“Try to make sure the day is about the both of you” advises Bitsy. “Don’t lose sight of the reason behind the wedding. I think it can be easy to get caught up in the details which are of course important however if you find good vendors try to trust their skills. We were lucky in that we both wanted to elope which I know is not always the case for couples. We both put in equal effort, listened to each other and supported each other.”
No bridesmaids, no groomsmen were present, just new found friends. “Three beautiful souls made up our wedding party: Gee from HoneyFig, Omar from By The Wilde Photography and I’m counting our celebrant Merren from Cinta Celebrate Love. Although we had chatted over the phone during that week we only met Merren in person the day before our wedding and we met Gee and Omar on the day. Despite this, it truly was like meeting long lost family. Gee and Omar had both agreed to be our witnesses so it was really special to have the 3 people that made this day happen as our wedding family.”
Bitsy and Toby just adored their photographer, remembering “Two words can sum him up – absolute legend! I remember opening the door to Omar to find this incredibly friendly face trying to juggle his cameras and my flowers. And who could forget the Hawaiian shirt (don’t worry it was a cool one that only a guy like Omar could pull off)? Omar went above and beyond, collecting my flowers from the florist and also moonlighting as our chauffeur.
Omar has a real sense of chill and calm about him. Toby and I, who are terrible at taking photos or even really enjoy having our photo taken, really thought ‘man, this guy may have his work cut out for him trying to get some nice pictures’. We couldn’t have been more wrong. Omar delivered such beautiful, natural pictures. So many of them just show true emotional and capture the day to a tee…laughing, crying and true happiness. We attribute so much of this to Omar and his demeanour. We felt so comfortable from the word go and I think that alongside his obvious talent are his true gifts.”
“Don’t sweat the small stuff” shares Toby. “At the end of the day, it won’t matter. Focus on atmosphere & emotion – make it a day to remember through joy & love, not the napkins matching the flowers.”
As for how these two came to be engaged? Bitsy tells us “It’s not an overly traditional story. Toby and I had already discussed the idea of marriage, even in the years before ‘officially’ being together. That may sound a little crazy to some people but I guess we just knew, it just took us a while to get there. Our decision to get married was more of a discussion than a proposal. It was October and we were talking about marriage. I mentioned the significance of March 26 being my parent’s and grandparent’s wedding anniversary and that I have always wanted to be married on this date. We soon realised that waiting more than 18 months until the following March was a little long so we decided to just dive in. The choice to elope was a quick and easy decision for us, and as it turns out we couldn’t have had more than 5 people even if we had wanted to.”
Toby chiming in “It wasn’t so much a proposal as an agreement. I know that sounds far too businesslike, but the reality is we just knew.
I chased Bitsy halfway around the world within weeks of our relationship ‘starting’ (rekindling), & the moment she walked into my arms at Vancouver Airport I knew I was never letting her go again.”
The couple enjoyed an utterly romantic picnic, set up in a little cabin, for their private “reception”. It blew groom Toby away. “When New Zealand was ruled out with only a little more than a week before our chosen date, I essentially resigned myself to a domestic holiday with a significant meal on our wedding day. I truly didn’t believe it could be done – not to the level Bitsy was shooting for.
I was so wrong. The day was perfect. Bitsy, with the incredible help of Gee, Omar & Merren, still gave us a day to remember forever, without even a hint of the preceding turmoil.”
No first dance for these two, but plenty of music anyway. “We didn’t have the first dance. Seeing this was an elopement during COVID lockdown we were the only people at our ‘reception’. We did listen to a lot of music, though. ‘True Lovers’ by Holy Holy has always been our song though, and it did feature during the ‘first look’ and later that evening.”
A big congratulations on your marriage Bitsy and Toby! We are so absolutely honoured to have been able to share your day! Thank you both and thank you to By the Wilde for sharing today’s celebration with us.