Sarah & Gerrard
Sarah and Gerrard were both drawn to the idea of getting married in Tasmania. They both wanted their wedding to feel down to earth, warm and welcoming, and loved the sense of adventure that came with recruiting all their guests down for the occasion, who were all spread out down the east cost of Australia. The beauty, history and charm of their venue, Brickendon Estate, along with its farm animals, offered the perfect canvas for the couple to create a rustic/vintage style wedding. The pair tied the knot on March 7, 2020. The day was captured by Cassie Sullivan Weddings and Wonderlust Films. Below, Sarah shares their love story, how they planned an interstate wedding, and all the details behind their sentimental touches and inclusions.
Gerrard and I had begun chatting in July 2015 via a dating site called Plenty of Fish. We chatted for a number of weeks before we decided to meet in person. After a string of disappointing dating experiences I had really low expectations, so much so that I had actually cancelled our first scheduled meeting at short notice in favour of heading home after work to relax on the couch! Our meeting rescheduled for the following Sunday evening. At that time, the idea of going out on a grey, drizzly and cold Melbourne winter night after a draining day at work to make awkward small talk with a stranger that I may not have had connection with felt incredibly painful. I remember quite vividly complaining to my friend at work that if I was going to make the effort then he had “BETTER make me laugh!”
Feeling bad, I didn’t want to cancel again and luckily, parking limits near to our meeting place gave me a good excuse to keep it short and sweet. Forgetting my coat and running late, I rushed from the car park across the road to a small intimate bar along Brunswick St in called Baxter’s, Gerrard’s suggested meeting place. As I walked up to the bar I saw a tall, lightly bearded guy patiently waiting outside in the cold. To my immediate relief at his composure and assumed sanity, it was Gerrard. Warm and friendly, he gave me a hug hello and opened the door for me to go inside.
I immediately felt comfortable and enjoyed his company inside the dimly lit, ambient bar and had lost sight of time. When I realised that I only had 10 minutes left on my parking metre and had to leave in a rush, Gerrard called me out on it, saying something like, ”Suuuure you do! You planned for this didn’t you!” Deciding it was best to call it a night anyway, Gerrard, a gentlemen, walked me back to my car and hugged me goodbye.
The next day at work, I wondered if I would hear back from him. I received a text that afternoon saying that he had really enjoyed meeting me the night before, and then admitted that he was almost about to cancel on me too as he wasn’t feeling up to the risk of a dud date but was really glad he didn’t.
There were many elements that were important for us to have for our wedding day, in addition to the travel expenses we were required to spend having it in Tasmania (as we were both living up in Brisbane). I didn’t want the budget of our catering, musician, beverages, bus hire for the guests etc to be overridden by a dress that I knew I would only wear once, so I decided to let go of the idea of spending big on the “dream dress” I was tempted to buy and to see what I could find in a pre-loved one instead.
My chosen wedding dress was created by Made with Love and I purchased it via the website Still White. Funnily enough, the first and only dress that I tried on was only in the next suburb from us and fit perfectly as the seller was a similar height to myself. Only cups needed to be inserted and a bustle added. Even more surreal, the seller and her husband were also married in Tasmania, at a venue that had been on our list to check out.
My mum and bridesmaids (who included my sister) all live in Melbourne, so I had a close friend of mine (who I went to school with in Melbourne and was now also living in Brisbane) come along with me to try on the dress, video chatting with my mum and each of my bridesmaids separately so they could give me their verdict… They all loved it! It was a nice feeling to walk into the person’s house who I was purchasing the dress from to see her husband nursing their little baby girl on the couch. I fell in love with the idea of wearing a dress that already had a happy story woven into its fabric, and for me to weave mine in too, and to eventually pass it on.
Gerrard had proposed to me with an engagement ring he had made that mirrored the shape of his mum’s wedding and eternity ring set, along with those two rings. I wore one of her rings, along with my grandma’s engagement ring on the day.
Instead of getting a separate wedding ring made, we had decided to embellish the engagement ring that Gerrard had made for me so my engagement and wedding ring would be in one. During the design process I was only able to imagine what the design would look like with the extra jewels stuck on with Blu Tack, so as you can imagine, it was very difficult to visualise the final product.
When the ring was ready to pick up, Gerrard was adamant that I was not allowed to see the final product until he put it on my finger at the ceremony, and so we did the same for his wedding ring. It was incredibly painful to wait that long to be able to see it, but it was nice to have that element of surprise on the day.
My bridemaids were my sister and my two best friends Ash (maid of honour) and Celeste who I had been friends since prep in primary school. Gerrard had his brother Warrick as his best man and two long time friends Rohan and Katie as his groomsmen/lady.
Gerrard and his groomsmen/lady purchased their attire from Peter Jackson who were very helpful in working with our ideas and pulling the look together. The pants and shirt almost fit Katie perfectly with some slight alterations, but she had to get the jacket significantly altered. We were thankful to have a friend who worked in fashion design that took care of the measurements for Katie so she could go and get it altered.
The boys purchased their shoes from ASOS and I loved the richness of the brown against the navy blue pants, but poor Katie had to go on a bit of a mission as they didn’t have her size or a female shoe alternative. She ended up finding a men’s shoe in a similar colour that fitted her quite well.
We were both very keen on the idea of suspenders, with a lighter coloured jacket to dark pants. As Gerrard had always had a thing for wearing happy socks, I was keen to integrate his humour and personality into the attire, and we went for a matching bow tie as well.
I have always found the charm of live acoustic music during a wedding ceremony to feel incredibly moving, ambient and a facilitator for connection, and I felt quite strongly that this was something that we couldn’t compromise on for the day.
I love peonies, dahlias, roses and natives but knew some of these wouldn’t have been available so I went for what was in season Tassie. After raiding Pinterest and sharing images with our talented florist Lacee from Flowers By Lace, using her expertise and eye for colour she created bouquets that were more beautiful than I had imagined them to be.
Our flower girl Scarlet, daughter of my bridesmaid Celeste, has cerebral palsy and had been going through intensive early intervention to help support her growth and development, with one of her primary goals being able to communicate and gain the strength and ability to walk. I work in the area of disability and am passionate about helping others to reach their full potential and be the best they can be. I wanted to present Scar for the beautiful person that she is, away from any labels that can often distract away from a person’s capabilities, and I guess reflecting on this now, I wanted our ceremony to have soul and to reflect what inspires me every day in my work, people defying the odds and limitations to achieve their goals to the best of their capabilities.
I had also felt inspired by the transformation Celeste (initially the least maternal one of our friendship group and now super mum) and her husband Dan had made since having Scar, going through the fear of the unknown to becoming Scar’s biggest advocates to help her live a full life with access to every opportunity available to her. I draw a lot of my inspiration from observing the way people thrive through challenging circumstances and make the most of it. We loved that such a special family moment was able to be witnessed and experienced by our guests on the day, and that we had the opportunity to provide the landscape.
I walked down the aisle to ‘Hysteric’ by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The acoustic version of this song had been gently moving for me. While I never believed in the idea of needing someone to “complete” you to feel whole as a person, the lyrical sentiment “you suddenly complete me” I guess, really resonated for us, because life suddenly became much easier, and within myself I felt more like myself, accepted and balanced, after we got together. Our musician, Tony Mak, had learnt the song, among two others, especially for the wedding and did an incredible job of setting the tone for the ceremony.
We both wrote our own vows and Gerrard, after teasing me for a long time about how he was going to make fun of me (we banter a lot), surprised me by writing the most beautiful, heart-felt vows that will be remembered forever. If I wasn’t so adrenalised by realising that I forgotten the bloody rings just before I went to walk down the aisle, I would have “ugly-cried” (Gerrard’s goal) for sure! I was on such a high though, wish we could relive that moment again and again!
As soon as we first visited Brickendon Estate, we knew it was the venue for us. We had visited five venues beforehand and nothing really resonated like this one. We fell in love with the charm and the history of place (a world-heritage listed farm estate built by convicts and still owned by a family line), the farm animals and the dogs following us around while we checked out the venue, and also the beautiful historic cottages that we could use to accommodate our close family and bridal party. Even more importantly, we loved the warmth and the easy going, relaxed vibe that was immediately felt while Louise showed us around the venue. Louise’s daughter Eliza who supported us in the last few months leading up to the wedding and then on the day, went above and beyond to first help us navigate wedding planning via the web as we didn’t have the opportunity to see the venue again until the week before our wedding, and then was very patient and accommodating in helping us pull it altogether on the day. Our guests loved the adventure of travelling to Tasmania and spending time at this gorgeous venue and it provided the perfect backdrop for our wedding photos that we will cherish forever.
Our wedding photographer was Cassie Sullivan. I found stumbled across Cassie’s photography on the web and I was drawn to the beauty, soul and honesty expressed in her images, which is how I wanted our day to be remembered. Cassie was highly professional and a pleasure to work with. She was so calm and chilled out on the day, the kind of person you want around when there is so much happening around you. She is an absolute artist and going through images of our wedding makes me feel like we are transported back into those moments, reliving it all over again.
Our venue was a blank canvas and we had to coordinate hiring a lot of our equipment and purchasing the finer details. Being an engineer and highly creative, Gerrard used our wedding as an excuse to buy a CNC machine and designed and created all of our wedding signs. We assembled our own table decors, made our own wedding favours which were cooking spices (having a passion for cooking I couldn’t not do it!) with the help of a couple of our friends. We designed, with the assistance of Enklo Printing, most of our own stationery. We used left over jars from my best friend’s wedding, which were transported in the back of their car over to Tassie for the flowers and candles as part of our table décor.
If the logistics were in our favour we would have tried to gather as many pre-loved items as possible to use as wedding décor, however due to shipping costs we had to purchase and gather a lot from discount stores and Kmart when we arrived in the week leading up to our wedding.
I loved the idea of using fresh culinary herbs as table runners to further contribute to the rustic/farmhouse feel, so Lacee, working within our budget, organised herbs and natives that we could assemble during set up, along with some extra florals to use in our glass jars for colour and soft ambience. They all worked beautifully with the candlelight during the reception.
It was important to us to honour the memory of Gerrard’s mum, each of my grandparents and other close relatives at our wedding. I grew up deeply inspired by the love and humour between my grandparents they were my role models in knowing when I had found the right relationship for myself. I had always imagined that they would have been there to celebrate my wedding with me and I was heart broken that my grandma had only just missed out, passing away from a fall three weeks before our wedding.
The last six weeks of our wedding was a time that was a bit of a mind mess (for use of a politer word), meshed with grief and celebration while I travelled back and forth between Melbourne and Brisbane to spend time with Grandma, for her funeral, and for my Brisbane and Melbourne Hen’s celebrations.
Only nine months into our relationship we had found out that Gerrard’s mum was diagnosed with terminal cancer and a very short life expectancy, which motivated our move from Melbourne to their family farm in Brisbane, a move that was a significant leap so early in our relationship. My granddad passed away only a few short months after. We created a memorial section complemented with candlelight and florals, and included photos of Gerrard’s mum Lyn and my grandparents during our getting ready photography. A little surreal, we had my uncle pull out the day before our wedding and our bridal team accidentally set up a seat for him next to my mum (my grandma’s daughter). Deciding to keep the table setting as it was, I had a leftover picture of my grandparents and placed in the centre of the setting, next to mum and our bridal table. I knew that they weren’t going to miss being there with us.
I also organised for a colleague to do a “photo shoot” of our dogs so that we could incorporate them into the day somehow. Our dogs would have definitely been apart of the bridal party otherwise.
Tassie had really blown us away with its standout vendors, we were impressed by the friendliness, talent, generosity and professionalism by everyone we had on “our team”.
Special mentions to Meg Culhane for being so helpful in the beginning with giving us pointers to assist with wedding planning and being so calm and organised on the day. Swinging Gate Vineyard for giving us a few helpful tips during our first trip to Tassie, and for going above and beyond in service with helping to supply us with plenty of wine, and to also Van Dieman Brewery for their flexibility and great service. To Tony Mak for doing such an amazing job with music. To Cassie Sullivan Weddings and Samuel Brooks from Wonderlust Films for being fun to hang out with, extremely talented in what they do, and to each give us a product that we will one day get to share with our own kids and grandkids (hopefully). To our DJ, DJ Dan, for being the nicest DJ ever in town, who had everyone up dancing and who rounded up our last few guests to ensure that they didn’t miss the bus. To Marlo from Matson Catering for being so super generous with her time and incredibly helpful through a lot of my overwhelm in organising the finer details. To Jess and Jess from Mint, Relax, Revive and Olivia Jones Makeup Artistry for being so calm and easy going on the day and helping to make the morning fun. To Melinda from Event Avenue for being incredibly patient with me and helpful in helping me to pull my ideas together for what to hire. To Flowers by Lace for her talent and friendly nature. And a massive thank you to Eliza from Brickendon Estate for being so supportive and flexible with helping us to pull it all together in the last few days leading up to the wedding.
The whole process of wedding planning was incredibly stressful. For one, there was the challenge of planning a wedding remotely with all the guests travelling from three different states, and most of our bridal part lived in Melbourne (including my bridesmaids), and trying to work out the attire for our groomslady, who lived in Melbourne. I was also studying my final year at uni and running my own business so it was an enormous juggling act to try and manage it all, along with moving house. In the final six weeks of the wedding my grandma had a fall and fractured her hip, and then sadly passed away. There was also the looming COVID-19 pandemic, and I was worried about how that was going to impact our plans, especially when we had guests genuinely concerned about the availability of toilet paper during their visit (very, very fortunately, we made it JUST IN TIME!).
Funnily enough, after all of these stressors, I was the most chilled out that I had been in the whole process on the day, and the day and the weather was perfect. It went better than we could have imagined, the only hiccup to reflect on was me realising that I had forgotten the rings just before I went to walk down the aisle. If we could go back and relive the day all over again, we would! It was absolutely the happiest day of our lives!
For our first dance, we chose ‘I Am So in Love With You’ by Ball Park Music.
I had often romancitised about the song I would dance to at my future wedding to, long before I had even met Gerrard, and often these fantasies involved smashing out a little dance number like Chubby Checker’s ‘Let’s Twist Again’.
When he proposed it didn’t take me long to share many of my evolving ideas with him, which much to my disappointment but not to my surprise, he hated many of them (but was definitely not opposed to learning a dance). While there is a lot of music that we both enjoy together, there is a broad musical spectrum and Gerrard deviates towards the end that favours heavy metal and as I call it, “screamo” while I am at the other end, favouring softer folk and acoustics. While I had been working hard fine tuning our play list for our engagement party, Gerrard sent me a text to say he added this song that I hadn’t heard before by one of our mutual loves, a Brisbane band called Ball Park Music. We just didn’t have time to go into any great practice for a dance, so we went with this song, something that I think quite accurately reflects how we feel about each other.
My advice to anyone who is as concerned about trying to make everyone feel happy as I had been in the planning process, I know how anxiety-provoking it can be! It’s a big lesson for personal growth however to learn how to take a step back and remember what’s the most important for you both and keep that as the central focus, because the day is about you guys celebrating your love in your way, with the people who love and care the most about you near (and far), question when that isn’t being honoured to regain perspective! Also, make sure you prioritise self-care to care for your mental wellbeing so that you can make the most of it and enjoy this exciting time together!
Sarah and Gerrard’s wedding video by Wonderlust Films