“The most important aspect of our wedding is our Aboriginal culture” says today’s beautiful bride Lauren, who alongside her beloved Billy, chose a stunning Central Coast country venue, to honour not only the love for each other but their history and life together.  “From the moment we started discussing our wedding and what was important to us both, culture was first and foremost. We wanted our wedding to represent our respect and knowledge for our culture, us a man and woman, as a couple, and as a family. ”

Their original culture wove its way through every element of the day, beautifully captured by Hills & Homebound. From the groom’s chosen attire for the day to the indigenous inspired grazing table – even the cake, (lemon myrtle & bush honey, orange & wattleseed and vanilla) paying homage to it. The result? A day that both was intense in its cultural beauty and relaxed in the way it embraced it, and the community.  Says Lauren “It was important our wedding was relaxed, informal and intimate, inclusive, fun, warm and relaxing. We didn’t want to feel a distance or distinction between us and our guests. We wanted to feel free to move about the venue without a tight timeline to run too, allowing us and our guests to really immerse ourselves in any special moments. For us, the special moments in life are the unplanned ones.”

It was over a shared love of fitness, that these two first connected. In Lauren’s words “We met at the gym we were training at. We became training partners and both had a strong focus on our health and it was a mutual connection. From the beginning, we identified a lot of connections through family and friends that we never knew existed. Bill is a proud Bundjalung and man and Lauren a proud Bundjalung woman, our families both from Grafton in NSW.”

Photo by Plate Events

Lauren’s dress was goosebump worthy. “It was an opened backed lace overlay fitted dress with a scalloped train. This dress was the first dress I chose and fitted like a glove. The fittings and alterations were so stress-free and easy which also made the experience feel like the dress was made for me. For me, it was simple but elegant and I felt so comfortable and beautiful.

Putting the dress on gave me goosebumps and it really was the perfect dress for me. I felt so incredibly glamourous without feeling too over the top for my own personal style.” As for Bill? Lauren shares “Bill wore a traditional Aboriginal lap lap and red kangaroo skin. He was also painted in ochre and had a spear and coolaman when he entered the ceremony space from the surrounding bushes.”

A flexible space was important to Lauren and Billy, they finally settled on Central Coast property Bidja Estate. “We wanted to keep the ceremony and reception in the one location. We also wanted a venue where the bridal party could stay and get ready” explains the bride. “Bidja Estate is located on beautiful Darkinjung land, with bush, space and privacy. We love the bush and being surrounded by tall, towering trees. The bride, bridesmaids, bride’s parents and our kids all stayed the night before the wedding. The groom and his brothers all came to the venue the morning of the wedding and got ready in a separate dwelling, and also used the bush at the venue to do a traditional smoking ceremony before being painted up in the ochre.

Bidja Estate has an old stable shed that is simple, rustic and has charm and character. There are several spaces you could hold a ceremony but we were immediately drawn to a very private space nestled peacefully amongst the bush in a beautiful opening. You cross a creek bed before walking up a small hill to the opening, where the guests were all waiting. Surrounded by tall trees and gorgeous natural greenery we both knew that what the perfect location for our ceremony, with a breathtaking, intimate backdrop.”

The bride’s hairpiece honoured the bush. “Both of us wore handmade headpieces,” explains Lauren. “The groom’s made with emu feathers, echidna quills, kangaroo skin, seashells and kangaroo paws. My crown was made with eucalyptus leaves, echidna quills, gum nuts and emu feathers.  I also wore woven earrings made with emu feathers and gum nuts.”

For flowers, Lauren and Bill chose Plate Events Lauren sharing “We wanted to style the venue with native flowers with blues, reds, purples and greens and blue foliage. The flowers for the wedding party were also with the same styling theme. We wanted the flowers to compliment the natural bush setting we were married in. We have dried some of the flowers to keep as a special keepsake.”

For the walk down the aisle, Lauren recalls “We chose the have a didgeridoo played by one of the brothers, Allan, when the wedding party walked down to the aisle to the arbour. Mathew also had a traditional smoking ceremony when the guests arrived and as myself and bridesmaids walked down the aisle.”

Photo by Plate Events

“It was important to us to have a ceremony with a strong cultural and spiritual connection to one another and our guests” explains Lauren. “After the guests had entered the ceremony space, the didgeridoo was played and the groomsmen came from the bushes where they had painted up in ochre. We had Raymond Minniecon, as our celebrant who made sure he tied together with our culture and spiritual connections. The space was smoked before the guests arrived, as were the guests and the wedding party. A smoking ceremony involves smouldering native plants to produce smoke and which has cleansing properties and keeps away bad spirits.
The ceremony was simple and short and a Welcome to Country was done by our Uncle, and Darkinjung Elder, Barry Duncan. We wrote our own vows and had our mob share special verses as part of the ceremony. We also did a traditional gift exchange, Lauren giving Bill a Bumble Bee stone of protection and Bill gifting Lauren with a beautiful coolaman.”

These two loved working with their photographer. “Jacob is a customer from work who has a passion for photography. His girlfriend Lizzy is one of the educators at our children preschool, and both have become our friends. Jake offered to capture our wedding to use his photography equipment, and it was a simple decision. Jake and Lizzy did an amazing job capturing the style of candid photos we love.”

Plate Events created an indigenous style grazing table, featuring delights like Fried Emu Tacos with Native-Spiced Soured Cream, Grilled Crocodile Skewers with Sunrise Lime Marinade, Vegetable Spring Rolls with Kakadu Plum Dipping Sauce, Fish n’ Chips w/ Lemon Wedge & Lemon Myrtle Tartare Sauce and Popcorn Prawns with Wild Lime, Chilli & Ginger Dipping Sauce.

Photo by Plate Events

Photo by Plate Events

The wedding cake was a three-tier lemon myrtle & bush honey, orange & wattleseed and vanilla cake made by Plate Events. Lauren loved “The simplicity of how our culture was included in the entire day. Everything down to our food we incorporated culture. The food was just amazing and allowed everyone to try some traditional food and celebrate our culture. We also used as many Aboriginal businesses as possible and also wanted all our vendors to be relaxed and easy-going, and that’s exactly what our day was, relaxing and stress-free.”

The first dance was one of Lauren’s most treasured moment of the day. “We listen to music all day at home, and our first dance was a special song for us “In case you didn’t know” by Brett Young. Our first dance felt like there was no one watching, it was a special moment, where we both sung to one another and danced without a care in the world. Toward the end of the song we were joined by our jarjums (kids) and some of the guests.”

So much tradition was kept throughout the day, even after the ceremony concluded, says Lauren. “After the ceremony, the aunties washed off the ochre from the wedding party, and our children were also painted in ochre.”

A big congratulations Lauren and Billy! Thank you for sharing your day with us. Thanks also to Hills & Homebound for today’s beautiful images.