Isn’t there something just so special about weddings at home? For Natalie and Chris, and at home wedding wasn’t even their first choice and yet, they realised, when COVID threw their original plans into chaos, that there was nowhere they’d rather tie the knot. “We wanted it to feel relaxed and casual but a little bit whimsical. Like a family BBQ but fancier and with a lot more fairy lights.”
And they DIY’d almost every detail – right down to the incredible, the breathtaking gown the bride wore (wait until you see it!) to the ceremony backdrop, the reception decor of fairy lights and paper lanterns- even their own playlist! Luckily though they opted for the talented Luke Going Photography to document their day, so we can share every stunning detail!
But let’s set the scene, with the tale of how the pair met. “Ours is an increasingly common tale, we were strangers who met on Tinder. It wasn’t until later we realised in true tiny Brisbane style, that we actually had a mutual friend, Ben Breitenstein who was also the celebrant at our wedding.” It was in New Zealand that Chris decided to ask Natalie to marry him. “Chris proposed to Natalie whilst they were on holiday together in New Zealand. We had only been together a year and it was our first holiday together. We had just arrived at our tiny cabin at Lake Tekapo and had taken a walk up a hill to watch the sunset. As the mountains turned from pink to purple Chris suggested he take a selfie, but he would need to run back to the cabin for his phone. Natalie knew something was up immediately, Chris is never the one to suggest a selfie. Chris returned from the cabin with the ring and Natalie said yes immediately.”
The gown Natalie wore, truly something special- especially as she made it herself! “I made my own dress. It was an emotional rollercoaster, but worth all the anguish. On the day, I loved it, it turned out exactly as I dreamed and I felt like a fairy queen like I’d stepped out of an Ida Rentoul Outhwaite illustration, dark and ethereal.
The veil and hair accessories were the perfect finishing touch. The veil was my grandmother’s and my sister and I beaded it with the leftover beads from my dress. The tiara is actually two hairclips from a cheap chain jewellery store, that I modified, I couldn’t believe my luck, they’re such a perfect match for the dress! I wore glitter jelly wedges, which were perfect for dancing on the lawn and made me feel like Cinderella.” Read more about Natalie’s dress journey on her Instagram account here.
And Chris? He started with a suit from Peter Jacksons. Telling “I wore a classic black wool merino suit, from Peter Jackson, a white shirt from M J Bale and a slim black tie with a rose pattern from Politix. My shoes were black Italian calf leather from Aquila. And I made my own pocket square, with a bit of help from Natalie from Liberty of London silk chiffon.”
“We had our first look photoshoot before the ceremony on our front porch and then drove to a park near our house for the rest of the photos. Getting the photo shoot out of the way early meant we had more time for our guests. We got ready at home, but in separate rooms, so we didn’t actually see each other until the “first look” Luke captured on the front porch. Chris’ reaction was so heartfelt. It takes me right back to the moment every time I look at the photos.”
Everything about this wedding was DIY. “We tried to DIUY as much as we could. We did all the planning and styling ourselves and kept it very simple” explains Chris. “Natalie sewed some velvet cushions for the chairs in the same shade as the shed, and that was about it. We kept everything for the ceremony timber, and the reception was all white, pink and mint, with gold accents. We spray painted our old outdoor furniture white, purchased some new furniture, picked up some things for free on “Buy Nothing” groups, found a few treasures at Reverse Garbage and hired a few extra chairs.”
Even the ceremony backdrop was handmade! “We painted the tin shed, which was the backdrop for the ceremony, in a soft shade of mint (the same colour as our kitchen!) and Natalie’s Dad built us a custom heptagon arbour, a real labour of love with beautiful lapped joints.”
Natalie and Chris planned the wedding to take place in their backyard, which believe it or not, was not their first choice. “We had originally intended to get married in 2020, we had an inner-city venue booked and were days away from walking down the aisle when covid hit. Given the opportunity to rethink our dream day we let go of expectations and asked ourselves what really mattered. Good friends, good food, good beer. So we went back to basics and planned a completely DIY wedding (right down to the beer!).”
Aren’t Natalie’s blooms beautiful? They matched her vision perfectly, thanks to The Perfect Party Co. Natalie shares “Our florist Amey from Perfect Party Co. is incredible! I sent her pictures of my dress and the ceremony space and she came back with a plan. The only request I made was that my bouquet was loose with lots of different varieties, I wanted an elevated version of “I wandered through a field of flowers and collected this”. And Amey delivered, she perfectly captured the other-worldly, ethereal, vintage vibes I was going for.”
These two have nothing but good things to say about their choice of wedding photographer. “Luke Going! What an artist! We absolutely LOVE the photos. Luke is a true professional and it shows in his work, he has an incredible eye, he follows the light and the results are stunning. He is also the most chill dude, a calming presence, who immediately put everyone at ease. We had a lot of fun on the photo shoot and that shows in the photos. For moments like our first look and the ceremony, Luke has a way of being present without you feeling his presence, he captures all the precious moments without impacting them. In those moments we were able to have genuine connections.”
The two included very special details in their wedding attire, but you won’t see them in the photos. The newlyweds telling “Natalie’s brother lives in New York and was unable to make it to the wedding” explains Chris. “Luke is a scientist, artist and jeweller, (Luke Maninov) Natalie wore a ring from his Tokyo Efflorescence collection and earrings which were a wedding gift from his “Beneath The Surface” collection. Natalie sewed a pendant she wears daily into Chris’ suit, that reads “more than yesterday, less than tomorrow” in Italian.
Natalie wore a brooch and locket that belonged to her grandmother, along with her veil. She also had “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” in her jewellery.”
Advice from Natalie and Chris to you? “Natalie read this great bit of advice early on “no one will remember the colour of the napkins” and it became a bit of a mantra, there are so many tiny decisions to be made when planning your own wedding, and at the end of the day, what’s most important are the people you share the day with, and how you feel. Decide what’s important to you and prioritise that. Try to visualise how the day will feel, and let that direct your decisions.
For us it was Good friends, Good food, Good Beer, the rest is optional.
Having a mood board was a great help, refer to it often and don’t be afraid to renegotiate it if it’s not working.
We were lucky that we were hosting at home, so we trialled a lot of the elements ahead of time – the marquees went up 3 times before the day. Spend some time in the space and try to imagine how the day will flow.”
The stunning floral beautify continued to the ceremony backdrop. “I loved what Amey did with the ceremony space” says Natalie. “She took our simple backdrop garden bed and gave it extra life with bright cut blooms. She also took cuttings from the trees in our backyard and worked them into the arrangement on the arbour and the large arrangement on the ground at our feet. She completely transformed our humble side yard and shed into a bright, beautiful ceremony space. Amey is an absolute delight to work with! So much positive energy!”
“The big thing that was the most fun was brewing our own beer, our good friend Josh is a gypsy brewer (and an absolute hero who helped with so much of the wedding set up and pull down). A couple of months before the wedding we got together at his place and brewed two custom beers, a Wheat Beer with Raspberries, and a hoppy Pale Ale. He lent us his Keg set up and our guests were able to pull their own beer on the night. A major success!
To transform our backyard we bought two 3mx6m marquees, strung up 300m of fairy lights, and decorated them with white paper lanterns, with LED candles hot-glued inside. We bought 30m of tulle curtaining to provide a backdrop for the marquees and hide any part of our yard that wasn’t wedding-ready.
For music, we hired a PA and did our own playlists. We had a polaroid camera for guests and lots of extra film, plus a giant Jenga set. We made out own confetti cones and wishing well, used a blank spiral-bound book for our guest book, made what felt like hundreds of paper decorations, and even took a panel out of the fencing under our house so we could build our own bar. We borrowed fridges and freezers, plus all the crockery, cutlery and serving ware.”
Natalie walked down the aisle with her dad to Ryan Adams “I Love You But I Don’t Know What To Say”. She reminisces “It felt like walking into a sea of love.”
Chris and Natalie were married by Benjamin Breitenstein. Chris remembering “The ceremony was so emotional! Natalie cried the whole way through. We had a very simple short ceremony, with just us and our celebrant. Our celebrant (and friend), Ben Breitenstein told a little bit of our love story, keeping it light with funny anecdotes, and then we shared the vows that we had written for each other and we exchanged rings. We had a big, long dramatic kiss and walked back down the aisle while our friends and family showered us in confetti. It was such a fun joyous moment and set the tone for the rest of the night.”
The bride’s favourite detail of the day? “The wooden arbour. Dad took such pride and put so much love into making it for us and it truly is a thing of beauty. It made the day feel so much more special and created the perfect backdrop for the ceremony.”
Says Natalie “I loved the things we collaborated on, making the lanterns and paper decorations, making beer together, working on the playlists and discovering old favourites and new. And the feeling on the day that WE did it. The day was a huge success and WE made it happen.”
Natalie and Chris chose Happy Soul Bowl to serve up dinner. Says Chris “The food truck was also fantastic, Ron and Jannie of Happy Soul Bowl were a pleasure to deal with and great fun to have at the wedding, the food was abundant and delicious. They catered for Gluten Free & Vegan! Plus their van is adorable. Highly recommend! We then did our own charcuterie, plus an epic candy table, and a coffee station with vintage china.”
The sweet wedding cake? Created by Little Vegan & Co.. “The cake company, Little Vegan & Co. were brilliant. They’re the sweetest loveliest company to deal with, very kind and empathetic after the reschedule. And the cake was stunning! We ordered a vegan vanilla and raspberry cake with lemon buttercream icing and it was delicious!”
The first dance? Under fairy lights, in the newlywed’s backyard. How’s that for perfection? “We danced to Barry White “Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love, Babe”. It was after dark and our guests held sparklers while we danced on the lawn under the fairy lights. We completely winged it, making up ridiculous dance moves and having a blast.” And then? It was time to dance! “I loved the dance party we had on the lawn, under the fairy lights, dancing with my new husband!” remembers Natalie. “It was so much fun to dance with my sister, my niece and especially my Mum, twirling about in my dress and feeling on top of the world.”
A big thank you and congratulations to the newlyweds! Thank you for taking the time to share your beautiful story with us. Thanks also go to Luke Going Photography for sharing today’s beautiful images,