It was always meant to be for Eleanor and Elizabeth – these two, who met a just age fifteen turned out to be high school sweethearts and now newlyweds! Their wedding,(at a zoo!), complete with animals!) was so beautifully captured by Smith + Archer and perfectly reflected their life together. Family-friendly, their lunchtime celebration was toddler friendly, the pair embracing the stage of their lives that involves tiny tots and welcoming kids into their day, alongside a few unexpected four-legged creatures.

The venue, as it turns out, is also so appropriate, because it is nearby the location where EP (Elizabeth) popped the question! Eleanor filling us in on their story.  “EP proposed near Healesville Sanctuary in 2016. When we go for drives, EP often pulls over to admire the view, and I would always joke that she was either proposing or about to murder me in a random place. So, of course, she pulled over on the side of the road to look at some ferns… but I had a terrible cold and was just being grumpy; I didn’t make my regular joke. She said “you know I love you,” I said yeah, yeah – turned around and there she was kneeling in the mud!”

Elizabeth wore a beautiful suit from Shane Ave. She shares  “Choosing all the fabrics was hectic as our little toddler was trying to climb stairs all around us. I rarely buy suits and wanted one ethically made and not too “girly”. Those criteria led to Shane Ave, one of the few Aussie places like that. They did great detail, all very helpful. It’s certainly one I could wear again – but I work in the non-profit sector so it just sits in my closet after all!”

Eleanor worked with Linda Jane Doble on her gown, noting  “I got to choose the fabrics and design it – picking fabrics with a baby in the shop was a fun challenge, she kept crawling away under the sample tables. I wanted a flowing princess dress but not over the top – I was already a mum. I went for detailed lace on the top and a blush skirt as I didn’t just want white. I wear an insulin pump for type 1 diabetes and it was great to have Jane put a two-way pocket in the dress for me! I added the sleeves to show off more of the pretty lace. I got my shoulder tattoo in preparation for the wedding as a sort of second bouquet.” She finished the look with heirloom earrings and a necklace from both of her grandmothers.


Eleanor and Elizabeth met before the ceremony for a first look. “All our vendors were lovely, and we chose mums running their own businesses which were nice. Ali, our photographer, took many lovely photos and kindly stayed back to capture the dancing which got pretty lively for a lunchtime event.”

You know how much we love the stories that lead up to the day, well these to have a good one to share! “A week before the wedding Julia took us out for our pre-wedding party (not hens night, doesn’t really make sense for us), at which Eleanor did a LOT of screaming and cheering at the burlesque show. A couple of days later she utterly lost her voice! Much of the final planning was done with Eleanor typing her comments into group messages due to acute laryngitis, which thankfully ebbed away in the 24 hours before the wedding.

Julia forced Eleanor to steam her head every hour which worked! Also a lot of honey whiskey, which certainly helped even if it didn’t actually help.”

Eleanor and Elizabeth chose Healesville Sanctuary for both their ceremony and reception, noting  “We love all the zoos in Melbourne, and Healesville Sanctuary is beautiful. Shortly after our proposal we went to the Sanctuary, and they have Ibis (bin chickens) roaming free – we bumped into one, who then started walking away with great purpose. We naturally followed it, including through a crowd of people, and it led us to the events meadow with a banner advertising weddings! Seemed a good suggestion, and after mulling various pop-up ideas elsewhere (waaaay too much work with a toddler!) we chose the Sanctuary; it has great outdoor and indoor space and AMAZING food. Food is very important to our sense of family, hospitality and love for our friends.”

Eleanor and Elizabeth chose to walk down the aisle together to The Eurythmics “Right By Your Side”. They remember “We walked each other down the aisle. We’d been together over a decade and walked into the next phase together – holding Frankie as she was quite overwhelmed!”

“The wonderful Jenny of Joyful Ceremonies was our celebrant. The feel was absolutely a celebration of our lives and our community being around us. It was fun, at one point Jenny covered the all-important Mawwage quote from Princess Bride, parents did readings and we read our own vows celebrating our ongoing commitments.”

These two are not afraid to admit that wedding planning was not their favourite thing. “Wedding planning was pretty stressful; during that period we also moved house with a toddler who was not yet in childcare.

After getting engaged we had a baby, and might never have gotten around to organising the wedding without our best human Julia pushing us along – thanks, Julia! Pretty impressive how involved she was, given she was living overseas the whole time. She arrived two weeks before the wedding with an amazing to-do list. Every night she’d said “ok, tonight we review the list”, and every night Frankie would refuse to sleep, so instead we’d all drive down the Williamstown foreshore for two hours and say “sorry, tomorrow yeah?” Blessings Julia.”

“Our wedding party was all the siblings (1 for EP (Elizabeth), 3 for Eleanor) plus our lifelong friends who are pretty much family. Eleanor’s mum also walked the aisle to carry our daughter Frankie – who totally refused to leave us, so Eleanor carried Frankie in the end.
We (not really we. Our wise best human Julia!) chose a colour palette – burnt orange for dresses, tan/brown for pants, white for shirts. Everyone was asked to choose their own outfits within that range, and they did – everyone came looking wonderful and feeling good”

Those flowers? Styled by Queen of Stems. “All natives for the bush/rustic theme, lots of bright reds and colours. The venue provided the arbour and table settings, our florist Queen of Stems did bouquet, flower crown, buttonholes and cake toppers to match.”

Advice from the brides to you? “It’s a cliche but do think about what you want from the day. Decide what to care about – you can’t afford to pay the fancy $$ for all the things that “should” be in a wedding. We cared about location, food, ethical clothes. We DIY’d makeup and hair, we used our own car (got it cleaned of toddler grot!), and chose a venue with lots of inclusions (ceremony and food, decorations, table settings) so less add ons, fewer vendors to deal with

If you’re already parents, choose an all-inclusive venue! You don’t have time to DIY the whole thing, and it most likely won’t be much cheaper in the end.”

The brides knew their limits, doing just a little DIY. “Eleanor’s wonderful cousin Melissa is a semi-professional baker and made our awesome chocolate cake.
We tried to make gum leaf confetti which was exhausting, so EP’s sister Claire ended up making most of it thank goodness
We loaned the venue equipment for a kids’ corner – chalkboard and chalk, toys, toddler/baby toys – to entertain the MANY children welcomed at our wedding. Our seating spreadsheet included markers noting everyone who needed a highchair (12!)
Eleanor and Julia did Eleanor’s hair and makeup. Julia also did EP’s very last-minute makeup – by anticipating EP would suddenly want a tiny bit and having it ready!”

Oh, and there are definitely benefits to having a wedding at a zoo! “The Sanctuary brought a snake and lace monitor to the meadow after the ceremony which was pretty cool, and guests visited the sanctuary in the breaks.”

Guests celebrated the newlyweds with a gourmet, sit down lunch, Eleanor and Elizabeth remarking “The food was wonderful, and we loved the kid’s corner, seeing so many parents enjoying themselves and feeling really welcome. We chose a lunchtime wedding so all the parents, including ourselves, could be there and not worry about babysitters and bedtimes. It was wonderful when parents would come by and say “we’re at a wedding! With our kids!!!”


“We didn’t really plan the first dance” remember Eleanor and Elizabeth. “We danced briefly when the music started after lunch and then our toddler ran in and grabbed us after about 20 seconds! Got some nice “first dance” photos in the 20 seconds though.
We wanted to dance with family and friends, which we did, including Greek dances to the joy of Eleanor’s Greek family.”

Congratulations Eleanor and Elizabeth! Your day was so much fun to share! Thank you for sharing your stories and to Smith + Archer for sharing today’s wedding with us.