When Amanda and Rhys’ guests went to work on a beautiful May day, they had no idea how the day would unfold. Amanda and Rhys, who had originally planned to celebrate their marriage in Uluru one year earlier,  cancelled their original party. Instead, on May 31st 2021, they sent two large buses to pick up their guests and whisked them away to a candlelit  pine forest ceremony just outside of Darwin.

For the couple, who describe their day as “Unique, romantic, FUN and boozy” it was planning it together, side by side, that truly meant the most. “We planned the whole thing 50/50 and it was great to see it all come together!” Amanda remembers “We had planned our wedding in Uluru for March 2020 and had to pull the pin ONE week before as Covid hit hard for the first time. So we went through that rollercoaster together, pulled up our boots and RE-PLANNED the entire thing together but a little closer to home!” Wait until you read their story, all captured beautifully by George F Photography.

Mutual friends brought Amanda and Rhys together, the pair sharing their first date over at a Jebediah concert, not that it went quite as Rhys planned, retells Amanda. “Our first date was at a Jebediah concert, where self-proclaimed music know-it-all Rhys, said how much he “loves this song from the Chilli Peppers” only for me to correct him that it was a Pearl Jam song. Not a great start, but it’s been six years of bliss ever since!”

Rhys’ wedding day look was a combo of pieces from MJ Bale, Hugo Boss and RM Williams, says Amanda “Rhys wore MJ Bale pants, suspenders and a Hugo Boss jacket and RM Williams custom boots to suit the outback.
He also wore a tie clip on his pocket with a photo of his dad on it who passed away several years ago.”

Amanda had not one, but two looks for the day, both collaborations with local designer Matilda Alegria. She explains “I chose to collaborate with a local Northern Territory designer, Matilda Alegria. She’s known for amazing bespoke pieces and she reached out the second I got engaged! Plus, keeping it local is very important to me. I love to support local small businesses in the Top End. I opted to go BIG for the main gown and then change into a more ‘party friendly’ gown for the reception.
The first look was a 2 piece set. The bodysuit was hand appliquéd to my body using an assortment of flowers and vines and the full skirt had ‘Mumma Bear’ sewn on the inside seam in blue in memory of my mum I lost two years ago.
The second gown had a modern cut out on the side and hugged my body perfectly. In contrast to the first gown, it was high neck and slim-fitting.

Working with a local designer was amazing, we had many fittings and laughs (and cries when we had to postpone) but we got there and both of us couldn’t have been happier with the turnout.”

Wanting to utterly enchant their guests, Amanda and Rhys held their ceremony deep in the forest of  Howard Springs Pine Forest. The setting styled up a treat thanks to styling co Territory Nights. “Our guests had NO idea where they were going, they had to meet in the city to be collected by two large coaches and arrived at an incredible setup. Most people are still telling us they had no idea this spot existed in Darwin! Including locals of decades, and that’s exactly what we wanted.

I’m a celebrant, so I tend to see the same (gorgeous) places and venues every weekend. But Rhys and I wanted something different for ours. We spent hours walking around and exploring the best spots for our ceremony, we knew we wanted to create a magic space with a pop-up bar, a live soloist and a lounge area. Territory Nights stylists made this happen for us. The Pine Forest was so unique, we skipped the famous Darwin sunset and stayed in the romantic forest until the sun went down.”

Amanda’s favourite part of the day? Oh, so many. “The ceremony as a whole. Walking towards Rhys in that INCREDIBLE set up in the Pine Forest. Nothing but our favourite people, candles, flowers, champagne and our love. Our guests not knowing where they were going and hearing how that experience was for them afterwards was just magic.

My dad and stepdad BOTH walked me down the aisle (yep, they get along!) I walked through the forest and down the aisle to The Blower’s Daughter by Damien Rice covered by our live soloist, Ange Coles who made it hauntingly beautiful.” Rhys adding “My favourite moment was the first look of Amanda as she walked around the corner of that aisle and just feeling so lucky and happy.”

Amanda’s mother and Rhys’ father have both passed away, but they were a focus for how these two celebrated the day, says Amanda “It was special to us paying homage to my mum and Rhys’ dad, we felt emotional celebrating the day without them there, we were incredibly close to them.”

The ceremony was both Amanda and Rhys’ ultimate favourite part of their day. “THIS WAS SPECIAL” raves the bride. “My friend who is a celebrant flew up from Perth, Beth Parker Celebrant and we wanted the ceremony to be FUN, inclusive and engaging.
We did a shot of Sambuca mid-ceremony (my late mum’s fave drink) and said a few words about her and took a swig of Rhys’ late dad’s favourite beer, HOWEVER, Rhys surprised me and us all by taking off his RM Williams boot and doing a shoey of his dad’s beer in his honour! Haha not the norm, but for us in every way.
We also chose our witnesses ‘on the spot’ to surprise who we chose and it was incredible (lots of tears). The ceremony was so important to us and is our favourite part. Our personalised vows, the fun inclusion of having our guests choose who goes first by a ‘hand up’ vote and the shot we took for our late parents.”

“Beth Parker Marriage Celebrant was EPIC, being married by your friend is so special, she knew us and knew our parents and how important it was for us to include them in our day.”

Amanda and Rhys have nothing but good things to say about their choice of photographer. “George F are amazing. So calming and natural to work with. He captured what we did naturally, without asking us to pose or do anything we wouldn’t normally do. He just made the whole process so seamless and fun.”

Amanda carried a bouquet of coffee coloured roses, with the help of floral stylists Magnolia Flower Merchants.  “Once again, really wanting something a little unique, I chose roses to pay homage to my late mum who loved them so much but added my touch to make them all coffee coloured instead of the normal red. It’s still one of our favourite details of the day. Magnolia Flower Merchants made it so special and listened to what we wanted right from the start. Magnolia Flower Merchants & Territory Nights made the whole set-up look incredibly DREAMY. They are by far the BEST in the biz.”

Amanda has plenty of brilliant advice if you’re yet to tie the knot. She advises ” Don’t sweat the small stuff! No one will remember if you forgot one detail on the tables, or if one song was off cue. Just ENJOY it.
The ceremony is so important and can be so fun, don’t just think it’s the boring bit before the party! Escape for 10 minutes with your love during the reception (no, not for that! haha ;)) but just to look at each other and take it all in, it took a lot of work and prep to get you here, stop and enjoy it.”

And then it was time to party! The couple hiring out a favourite local bar, Charlies of Darwin,  for their reception. “Charlies of Darwin is the coolest Gin Bar” remarks the bride. “We know the owner, Bec and we distilled our very own gin several weeks out with her for our special day. It included Pine from the Pine Forest where we got married. Such a special touch. We wanted fun little touches (like distilling our gin for the night for our guests) and having them find their table number by a champagne wall with their name on it.”

Like every other part of Amanda and Rhys’ day, their first dance was utterly romantic, the couple choosing the sounds of Louis Armstrong’s “La Vie En Rose” to play as they danced, “We had a sparkler for each guest and they formed a circle around us outside whilst we danced to it. We did not want anything choreographed in any way, we just wanted to hold each other and dance and take it all in.”

Amanda and Rhys hired North Australia Media to capture this beautiful film of their day unfolding.

The biggest of congratulations to you both Amanda and Rhys! What an incredible day and an honour to share it. Thank you both and thank you to George F Photography for sharing the celebration with us.