It is customary for one of the Polka Dot team to “introduce” our Polka Dot You couples before their feature (a tradition we have really grown to love), however for Denise & Andrew’s Relaxed & Rustic DIY Wedding Day captured, oh so beautifully, by We Are All Stardust, I really do think Denise said it all. Without further ado, enjoy their love story!

When a young, city girl (me!) leaves her home in Malaysia to study at a university in Western Australia, it would be an understatement to say there may be a little culture shock. I flew over to study at Murdoch University and lived in the student village with the Aussie locals. Andrew was also studying at Murdoch and a mutual friend introduced us and we found ourselves in the same place a few times.

One fateful night, I was planning to go out with some friends and we hurried off to the train station only to see the train leaving, we had just missed it. As I looked up, a figure ran onto the station platform, cursing as he had also missed the train – it was Andrew. We realised we knew each other and we started talking. We caught the next train together and the talk just didn’t stop. In the city, we went our separate ways, but Andrew’s mate said that he saw sparks between us. Andrew quickly texted our mutual friend and requested my number, and the night became far more interesting. We caught up and danced all night. We both seemed so natural, comfortable and it was easy to talk. We saw each other the next day and then a couple of days after that. Andrew, the serial monogamist who fully intended to stay single, had a major dilemma. He had been bitten by the love bug and her name was Denise.

Andrew didn’t have a life plan as I did but he had principles that he worked to. Those who know me know that I have a distinct, detailed life plan. We already knew that they were going to get married, so the proposal was a negotiated one that was part of the schedule. We are going to have kids at this age, so we have to be married by this time, need a year and a half lead-up time, so the proposal will happen on this date, and it happened. It wasn’t as clinical as that, it was very romantic. Iceland, glacier lagoon in the background, Jökulsárlón. I said some nice words and Andrew, who saves his nice words for these special occasions, made it very special.

I designed our own invitations, did my own and my bridesmaids’ hair and my sister-in-law did my make-up for me. It really was very much a DIY extravaganza.

True to the groom’s style, he wore his best blundies (Blundstone boots) with tan chinos and a light blue suit jacket. The highlight would be his native banksia tie from Peggy & Finn, which he and the groomsmen wore.

I got my dress made by a dressmaker I came across on Etsy called Vicky Mermaid Bridal from China. It was an interesting experience where I got elements from different dresses she made and combined them for mine. It had a sheer high neckline, a sleeveless A-line dress with a lace sweetheart bodice, keyhole back and tulle skirt. I loved it as it was basically tailored-made/customised from scratch for me. My sister and childhood best friend were bridesmaids along with three of the groom’s best friends.

I really wanted native flowers with a pop of colour. We had proteas, kangaroo paws, billy buttons, roses and even lucky enough to have a few peonies! All the florals were created by Sea of Love Floral Studio.

Our wedding was boho, rustic and relaxed, set in the picturesque karri forest of Donnelly River Village. We chose this venue as we really wanted a location that would have both the reception and ceremony at the same location, and also have accommodation on-site for all guests. That way we would really have a captured audience and we/they did not need to worry about transport/driving. We first had a look at the place when I told Andrew to do a quick detour on our way home, and when we saw the place, we fell in love with it. It had all the rustic historical charm we loved. We are not into too fancy details, and saw the place as a real blank canvas that we could really make our own. What was a plus was that we could organise our own catering and drinks! Icing on the cake was that there was no phone/Internet reception there, so it would really be an unplugged wedding!

The real did love the fact that our ceremony, reception and accommodation were all at one location. We loved that everyone could just relax, not worrying about transport, the party didn’t end at a set time, and the night before we went ‘visiting’ to the different cottages of our guests.

We walked down the aisle to John Legend’s ‘All of You’, which was the perfect song for us (and we walked out of the ceremony to the chorus of ‘Alive’ by Empire The Sun).

We wanted our ceremony to be relaxed and just full of love. It had been raining the day before, but it felt like the skies cleared up just for us. The ceremony location was a clearing in the middle of the karri forest and there were many tears in the crowd.

There were many DIY projects for the wedding. First, for the ceremony, we made our wedding arbour on our own with harvested timbre poles, seats were hay bales covered with cloth, we got a hessian aisle runner, and flowers along the aisle sat on timbre stumps we harvested ourselves too. Our signing table was a pallet table which we made ourselves. And I hand-drew our ‘Welcome’ sign myself too! The whole ceremony was ‘set-up’ by the groom, groomsmen and many good mates.

All our vendors were fantastic! Everyone loved our photos and video, and had nothing but good things to say about the food, but one that really stood out was our celebrant, Alan Kidd. He made us feel very comfortable when we met him and got us to talk about our relationship with him. His delivery on the day, conducting our ceremony was very smooth and relaxed, and also entertaining! We had many guests come up to us to commend him!

Our photographer was amazing! Nat from We Are All Stardust was the first vendor I booked before anything else! I have a strong interest in photography, so knew this was an area I was quite serious on, and when I found Nat’s work, I fell in love with it straight away and knew I had to book her! She was very casual and understanding, and made us all feel relaxed (especially those who were not the most comfortable in front of the camera!). We were so so happy with our photos from the day.

One of our favourite memories from our day was that the wildlife there was very tame. We had kangaroos, emus and birds all around us!

For the reception in the old ‘workers’ club’, I bought all the fairy lights and festoon lighting myself, and hand drew all the signage. We had a “crafternoon” with our friends and built pallet furniture which was used throughout, and my mother-in-law sourced other stools for seating and collected jars and had small candles on them. At my in-law’s place (which was a farm), we also collected heaps of eucalypt foliage that we used to decorate the reception venue. We even had our own bar with a walk-in fridge. My mother-in-law set out this beautiful grazing table and we made our own photobooth backdrop using sequin fabric and polly pipes! The day before the wedding was a fun day with friends and family setting everything up together. The reception was a cocktail-style which suited our more relaxed style and we loved being able to mingle with everyone.

What we found so special about our wedding was the DIY nature and with lots of people helping out, we really loved that everyone was invested in the day, not just because they were attending our wedding, but because they could see the fruits of their labour.

My favourite photograph from the day was one of us during speeches where it really captured the emotion of the moment – I was smiling but also teary-eyed.

Though there were some minor hiccups, the day still felt perfect for us. We both felt absolutely euphoric and on Cloud 9! And we surprisingly didn’t even drink much!

As for advice to future marrieds to be, whatever happens on the day and if things don’t go according to plan, remember the true reason you are there – each other. Everything else is just a bonus!

Denise & Andrew’s wildly romantic wedding film was captured by Castle Media.

Denise & Andrew, thank you for letting us remember your stunning wedding along with you, and to Nat from We Are All Stardust for the gorgeous images.