When Emma and Harry’s guests arrived at the surf club venue to celebrate the happy couple’s engagement, what they were greeted with, was the surprise that they were actually attending Emma and Harry’s reception! The couple pulled off a surprise wedding in just twelve weeks, marrying in the depths of a stunning forest, with just 20 of their favourite people present.
“We were so lucky to work with some of the most incredible vendors in Newcastle”, explains Emma. “Harry and I had always said that we wanted to elope and get married somewhere remote overseas. Of course, Covid completely changed those plans, and instead, we ended up planning a surprise wedding in 12 weeks, in our hometown, and it could not have been more perfect!
Harry and I were after a laid back, relaxed day with big party vibes. We decided to get married in a secret ceremony, in the beautiful Watagans State Forest with 20 of our closest family and friends a few hours before our big “engagement party”… turned surprise wedding reception party began!”
And well, the surprise engagement party turned reception is just the beginning of how these two did their day their way. The beautiful photographs by Zac Graham Photography all the evidence you need. Rainbow bright wedding flowers, pizza and cheese for dinner and walking down the aisle by one very special VIP guest.
Emma describes her and Harry’s meeting as “A true Aussie love story, we met one night at our local pub!” The beach set the scene for Harry to ask Emma to marry him. “Harry proposed while we were walking our dog Maple on Redhead Beach one sunny Friday (which is my favourite place in Newy)!”
Harry let the flowers do the talking, donning a cream jacket from Rundle Tailoring. Says Emma “Harry wore a creamy/tan coloured suit jacket, black chino pants and a white shirt – all from the amazing Rundle Tailoring. He wanted something plain, as he also wanted a colourful buttonhole to match with the crazy rainbow floral scheme Em had come up with!”
Em kept her look local, with accessories from Australian designers. “I wore some incredible handmade heels from a local Australian designer Forever Soles. As soon as I saw them on Insta I fell in love- I actually bought my shoes before the dress! They have the most incredible hand-stitched pearl flowers all over them- and we’re SO incredible comfy that I didn’t even need my converses at the reception!
My jewellery on the day was designed by the incredible local Newcastle girls at Kate & Kole. Simple but large statement freshwater pearl drop earrings, and a delicate rose gold necklace with a pendant that had “H” engraved on one side, and “E” engraved on the other!”
Em found her gorgeous lace Lily Grace Bridal gown at Lily Grace Bridal. “I wore an older style, heavy crochet lace gown from Made with Love. It was actually a sample dress from Lily Grace Bridal Studio. It was so perfect and I fell in love straight away – I always wanted a lace dress with a little hint of vintage! I fell in love with the Made with Love tulle wings- I wasn’t a veil or headpiece girl but wanted something special- it was the perfect fit!”
Emma was accompanied down the aisle by beautiful Maple, she explains “My beautiful “dog of honour” Maple walked me down the aisle. My amazing friend Taz played “I won’t give up” by Jason Mraz on her acoustic guitar!
My favourite memory is walking down towards the ceremony with our puppy Maple, seeing 20 of our closest family and friends gathered in this incredibly beautiful forest with the most beautiful rainbow florals- and Harry standing at the end of the aisle waiting for me. It was so beautiful, so overwhelming, so much love, I’ll never forget it.”
Emma and Harry wed in the depths of Watagan’s Pine Forest. “We had always wanted to get married outdoors, and once we saw it we fell in love.”
The couple chose Jaya Bargwanna to bring their ceremony to life. “We wanted an intimate, funny, casual but still all the feels ceremony- that wasn’t too long! And thanks to our awesome celebrant Jaya- it’s exactly what we got. She hit the nail on the head. It was so intimate with such a small ceremony- everyone laughed, cried, and joined in. We both loved it. We flicked so many traditions- and just did the day our way!”
The bright and beautiful rainbow floral arrangements were a stand out feature of the day, and all the work of Studio Tallou. Says Emma “Ohhh, the wedding flowers. I’m still obsessed with them. Harry and I both love bright colours (our favourite colour is both yellow), and Em’s fave flower has always been the sunflower! We both said right from the start that we wanted a bright and colourful wedding. And the incredible angels at Studio Tallou went above and beyond to create the rainbow florals of my dreams!!!! I sent them a few inspo pics on Pinterest – but rainbow-bright coloured wedding inspo pics aren’t that common!!!
I had envisioned a larger style bouquet, and also a more natural style arbour that looked as if it was growing from the ground, to embrace the natural beauty of the forest we were in. And what a stunning job they did. It was so unique and so perfect. I will be forever grateful to the girls at Studio Tallou! My favourite part of planning was planning the florals and bananas rainbow colour scheme – I love flowers so much!!!”
These two give all the credit to their amazing vendor dream team. “We planned our wedding in 11 weeks – and I still can’t believe we pulled it off! Every vendor we used was incredible to work with – particularly as we planned our wedding in such a short time frame (11 weeks). Every vendor was so supportive, quick at responding, and always on board with whatever crazy idea or suggestion or annoying question I had! LOVE our local Newy vendors!!! Feel so lucky and grateful for them all!!!”
“I will never be able to get over the magic that the girls at Studio Tallou created for our ceremony set up in the middle of the forest. The rainbow florals of my dreams. Our dog Maple walked me down the aisle. Jaya, our amazing celebrant ensured that our ceremony fit both our personalities perfectly. A sprinkling of rain and umbrellas only added to the beauty and gave it a whimsical, magical feeling!”
Emma and Harry have only good things to say about their photographer Zac. “Zac Graham… just wow. We will never be able to thank Zac enough. He is an incredible human, matched with an incredible talent for photography. Zac has the most beautiful nature. He is fun, relaxed, and easy-going – and puts anyone at ease around a camera. He is exactly the type of photographer you’d dream about having at your wedding, and was the perfect fit for Harry and me!!!
As the sunset, guests headed to Dixon Park Surf Club for a cocktail reception. Tells the bride “The Surf Club has amazing views and a huge balcony over Newy’s beaches! It was such an easy choice, it was the perfect blank canvas venue! They were amazing to work with, and very reasonably priced for our tight budget! Plus I loved that we could choose our catering! We had a relaxed, cocktail-style set up with an amazing grazing table- and a whole heap of woodfired pizzas!”
Emma gives you this advice. “Stay true to yourself and your partner with what you truly want your day to look like. At the end of the day, it’s about you two celebrating your marriage together! And HAVE SO MUCH FUN!”
The biggest of congratulations to you both Emma and Harry! What a joy to be able to share such a love-filled wedding. Thank you and thank you to Zac Graham Photography for sharing this celebration with us.