Lulu and Shaun wanted a wedding that paid respect to WA, with a focus on the region of Margaret River. They drank locally produced wine, including Howard Parks Flint Rock Shiraz and Marchand & Burch Villages Chardonnay, as well as beer and cider from Little Creatures Brewery, and used Jete Grand Vintage Sparkling in their champagne tower. They ate locally grown food, cooked by Supper Road in a satellite kitchen that popped up in the carport of their venue. All the flowers were native to the area too. There to capture the beauty of their day was Blake Heywood Photography. Below, Lulu shares stories from her extremely hot but gorgeous wedding day!
We were married on a private property called Incognito Escape in Gracetown, Margaret River, Western Australia in December 2019. We chose Margs for the location of our wedding as it exhibits the best of WA; beautiful coastlines on one side of Caves Road and rolling hills of wineries on the other. What more could you want?
The actual wedding day was full of little details, from personalised menus, to customised bridesmaids outfits, one to suit each girl’s personal style. It was not a religious ceremony but I carried a common prayer book from 1902 that was my great great grandmothers and my “something old”. One of my pairs of shoes was hand painted with blue Geraldton wax flowers by Elizabeth from ELK Prints.
Our invitations along with all the event decor was designed and hand painted by Elizabeth Kelly from ELK Prints, a local Sydney artist. She is extremely talented and creative, she even managed to include two little crayfish in our wedding monogram, another WA reference. Elizabeth hand painted my wedding shoes that were recycled from my 21st birthday many… many years before, making them my something blue! Working with Elizabeth was an honour, she went above and beyond to delivery a reasonably priced and quality products as well as personalise it beyond my own imagination.
My dress was designed and hand made by Aek from Edward and Simpson Bridal, in Queens Park, Sydney. I had tried on what felt like a hundred dresses in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney, but found it difficult being so petite to find something that did not require a large amount of alterations, normally resulting in losing the train (I love a good train).
In our first meeting I asked Aek how many fittings it would normally take to make a gown… He responded “as many as we need for a perfect fit”. From that moment I knew Aek was the guy for me! He totally understood my style and helped me to realise the importance of designing a wedding dress that “looked like me” instead of just following trends. His attention to detail and technical skills are exceptional, the gown was constructed with a full corset to ensure the neckline held its place, it was very comfortable, I did not want to take it off!
For my bridesmaids, I had Tessa (returning from London) and Rosie (who lived locally in Perth), my two best friends from high school, along with Zoe (visiting from Brisbane) my bestie from primary school. It had always been a simple choice for me, they were the three constants in my life. Living in Sydney, they were always just a phone call away, but it was extra special to have them all together for the four day weekend in Margs.
Shaun had Galps his best mate and best man, and his two brothers Michael and Ryan, all of who lived locally in Perth.
Shaun did a beautiful job designing my engagement ring, it was well researched, so I wanted to give him something special on the day in return. I had been hunting for months for a special watch, and eventually came across a vintage omega from the 1960s, it was in pretty perfect condition. I asked his best man to give it to him the morning of. He now wears it on every special occasion, from birthdays to anniversaries.
I had previously worked as the showroom manager for Oscar Hunt Tailors, a made-to-measure tailoring house in Sydney. They have a beautiful product and great service, so we decided to get all four suits and tuxedo shirts made by them. All of the groomsmen were quite tall, so a well-fitting suit makes a world of difference.
Shaun wanted to have a small point of difference in his suit, and decided on a grosgrain shawl lapel tuxedo with a textured bib shirt, which suited his shape and personality perfectly. He finished it off with a handmade ivory linen bow tie and pocket square that tied in nicely with my gown. The three groomsmen had grosgrain peak lapels and classic tuxedo shirts, with black bow-ties, a more simple and timeless look.
The location of the wedding was secret. Guests were collected from their chosen accommodation and arrived at the private property on the headland of Gracetown. We chose the location for the opportunity of catching a WA sunset over the water, something our guests from the eastern states don’t get to experience often.
We chose black tie as the dress code. We liked the comparison of blokes in tuxedos and girls in gowns, being bussed down a red dirt road to an unknown location. The ceremony and reception were held on the same property. The headland is surrounded by greenery and apart from the neighbouring property all you can see is the ocean and the low lying bush land, it’s pretty special.
Shaun and I had visited the property over 12 months prior on a “location scout” trip. It was the middle of winter and the wind was blowing about 40 km/hr. We were standing on the unprotected headland being smashed by the elements and trying to visualise a black-tie wedding on a warm summer’s day… While the spot was pretty spectacular, we were worried about the weather as Margs can be windy all year round.
Feeling confused about our options driving back down the red dirt road, we were discussing the venue versus other wineries when the song ‘Sweet Thing’ by Van Morrison came on the radio. It’s quite a strange reaction but Shaun broke out in intense goosebumps (something that only happens when he gets overwhelmed with emotion). The song and the moment brought both of us to tears, picturing getting married on that headland to that song, just seemed right.
We ended up Googling what the lyrics meant… Van spoke about his wife, the love of his life and the feeling of coming home to her after a long absence on the road, and looking forward to growing old with her. It was a no-brainer. Ironically all of Shaun’s siblings have walked down the aisle to a Van Morrison song… Ryan, his little brother has only a few left to pick from.
While the photos don’t show it, it was actually the hottest day in Margaret River in December… EVER…ON…RECORD… (of all time!). It was 38 degrees when I walked down the aisle. We were worried about the wind for 18 months and did not even think about the heat. Margs is not normally hot that time of year. So we were just focused on not cooking our guests. A few umbrellas and some cold water bottles kept them going… But the ceremony was short and sweet to get the guests out of the sun and onto a cold bevvie.
Shaun flew in our puppy Baker without me having a clue. I walked down the aisle and he was standing there with his bow tie waiting patiently for me. I could not believe it, I had no idea. I thought he was home in Sydney with our dog sitter. The whole ceremony all I could think about was that Baker was here!
Our celebrant Andrew Pickering was amazing! He was funny and polished, as well as thoughtful, personalising the whole ceremony to reflect us as a couple perfectly.
We also wanted to involve all the children who were invited in the ceremony. Making a rule early on that we would only invite children if we had a relationship with them personally, so there was only a small number.
My little cousins held my veil and train as I walked down the aisle (to avoid the red dirt). My other cousin researched the traditional owners of the land and delivered a beautifully written acknowledgement of the country.
Shaun’s nephews were the ring bearers and his nieces did a reading… a slightly customised version of ‘Oh the Places You Will Go’ by Dr Seuss. We love to travel so it was fitting and beautifully spoken.
In all, I would just say the ceremony was simple, with a touch of humour and a little bit of romance.
One of the funniest moments that was not in my run-sheet happened on our way back down the aisle. The original plan was to run through the confetti tunnel around the house and back out the other side to “sabrage” two bottles for the champagne tower and dig into the cheese table.
However, being budget conscious I purchased dried jasmine from an online store instead of going for the traditional rose petals or confetti. I thought it would be better for the environment as well as smell pretty. When smacked in the face with piles of the stuff (catching some in my mouth) the dried edges caught all through my hair as well as falling into my scooped neckline sticking to my sweaty body. So we raced into the bathroom, stripped my gown off and about 2kg of the stuff fell out onto the floor. It was all over me making me super itchy. I had to get completely nude as the girls washed me down with cold wet towels, and picked it out of my hair like a monkey collecting lice. By the time we got to the sabrage the champagne was warm, but I found the situation hilarious.
Blake from Blake Heywood Photography, a personal friend of ours, did our wedding photography flying all the way from Sydney. He has a beautiful style that manages to not only capture the moment but capture the feeling. From the morning swim at Gracetown Beach with the boys to the last song on the dance floor (‘You’re the Voice’ by John Farnham), Blake did not put down his camera. He went above and beyond, from fluffing my veil, to tying all the bowties! Blake has a calm and professional nature and it was an honour to have him as part of our wedding.
We think the photos encapsulate what a joyous day it was, being the end of the year, everyone was super excited to be there, all dressed up and in fine form to give it a good run! While this is just a short overview of our big day, we hope it gives an insight into what was the happiest day of our lives.
It was hard to physically DIY anything for the wedding as we were living in Sydney at the time and would have to transport it over to WA. However, I feel the whole wedding was a DIY wedding. It was a blank canvas, everything was shipped in from Perth or sourced locally in Margs. We looked into engaging a stylist to run the setup of the day, but being a creative myself I felt with a little bit of preparation (aka a shitload of planning) I could have everything mapped out to hand over to a few friends to sort on the day. My brother was the MC as well as the coordinator and I gave him a run-sheet of what needed to happen, and with a little help from our friends he got the job done.
One of the biggest highlights was the speeches. We set a five minute time cap on all of the speakers, and it is amazing how much they managed to cram in. They were sentimental and hilarious at the same time.
I had asked my great aunt to be our flower girl. I loved the idea of including her in the bridal party, walking down the aisle with us. I wanted her to represent the generation who could not be there. However she passed away a few weeks prior to the wedding which was very sad. I requested if I could
wear something of hers on the day, and her family shared a horseshoe from her wedding day that I wore while making a speech which included a toast to her and my grandparents who had also passed away.
For our first dance which involved a few lifts and dips, I changed into a silk slip and my mother’s wedding dress from 1980, which was a great surprise for her.
We both love a good dance, with our kitchen doubling as a dance floor one to two evenings a week. I have had some ballroom training in the past and was eager to do an over the top show piece with lots of lifts and dips. However, Shaun is more of a freestyler, and ballroom like with most men is a bit of a challenge.
Our teacher, Ian Hunter, made a good point that the dance was about sharing a special moment as our first dance together as “husband and wife” and not about putting on a performance. We both needed to be comfortable and recreating ‘Had the Time of My Life’ from Dirty Dancing probably would not sit within Shaun’s “comfort zone”.
Shaun picked ‘At Last’ by Etta James. Being eight years older than me, it was quite a sentimental song for him as he had been hoping to find “the one” for a while. We did a slow waltz that was quite romantic and did involve a lot of dips and lifts. We had practised heavily with our teacher Ian as well as in our cramped kitchen in Newtown, Sydney. On the night we did our best performance ever, we were both very relaxed and really enjoyed the moment.
My advice for soon to be newlyweds? Set some rules from the start and stick to them, for example, we had a huge guest list of 250 people to begin with, we asked ourselves the following questions to reduce it down to 100 which is what the venue capacity would allow:
1. Do we like them?
2. Would we go out to dinner with them one on one?
3. Do we want these people to be a part of our future together?
Also, personalise it! Weddings can be so generic these days, it should reflect you as a couple, you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do just because it is a tradition, get creative.