Centaine and Ashley’s wedding day did not just win us over because of Centaine’s polka dot, embroidered wedding gown that’s perfection for The Polka Dot Issue (that comes complete with sequins mind you). No, it won us over, because as much as it is about their story in and of itself, it is also about friendship. The couple, who planned not just a wedding, but a ceremony, to honour their friendship, wanted a day, that was, as Centaine says “Very intimate, laid back elopement done our way. Nature, love, friends and happiness.”

The couple’s intimate group were joined by photographer Freedom Garvey-Warr. Centaine and Ashley said their vows deep in the forest, complete with four-legged friend Luna present before they toasted with their friends and a glorious bottle of champagne.

It was love at first sight when Centaine and Ashley’s paths first crossed as they competed for the University of Queensland in Waterpolo at the Uni games 2009. Sometime later, Ashley popped the question on a holiday to Tassie’s Cradle Mountain. In Centaine’s words “We were travelling Tasmania and were staying in a lovely secluded hotel in the middle of Cradle Mountain National Park. Ash suggested we hike Mount Rufus to have a picnic (18k round trip). We made it to the top, covered in snow and as I was unpacking our picnic, I turned around and Ash was down on one knee and asked me to marry him. He was so nervous he knocked over the bottle of wine we had with us so my first reaction was “oh no!”. I bet quickly rectified this to “yes!!”

Ashley wore a navy suit from Dom Bagnato. Centaine telling “He wanted a navy suit that was lovely but stood out a little. We went shopping together and found the one in Myer of all places! It fit perfectly and it was navy with a slight maroon check on it. Very classic with a little twist.” He finished his look with a Peggy & Finn bowtie.

Star of the show? The couple’s dog, Luna. “Our dog had to be a part of it. We planned around her to ensure she could come.” Centaine’s beautiful bouquet was filled with Australian natives, sourced from The Protea Farm. She tells ” I wanted Australian natives because they are beautifully coloured and represent the local landscape. The Protea Farm supplied the bunches and Liesl wrapped the stems in ribbon for me. The colours melded perfectly with my dress and I still have them dried in a vase!”

Centaine walked down the aisle, to Bright Eyes “First Day Of My Life” accompanied, of course, by Luna. Ashley’s favourite memory of the day? “Turning around when Cent walked down the aisle. That feeling of elation that continued all day.”

The couple wed deep in the forest of  Wildcroft Cottages. “We wanted something in the Margaret River region that was natural and intimate. We had initially planned our whole wedding at Chows Table/House of Card’s winery but because of COVID-19, we postponed that by a year (very long story but it ended up being cancelled because of COVID-19 in 2021 as well :(). When we decided to just elope, we contacted Freedom, our photographer for some recommendations. She knew of Wildcroft Cottages and suggested we get in contact with them.

It was perfect. We loved the pine forest and heritage houses on the property. They created the most intimate and cosy vibe and beautifully framed the day. Best of all, we were able to have our dog, Luna with us and she had free space to roam. After our ceremony, we had a cheese platter and one champagne before a late lunch at Rustico.”

The ceremony was beautiful, intimate and just as these two dreamt it. They tell “We wanted our ceremony to be about us and our friends. We had no readings but we did write our vows to ensure they stayed true to us and our values. Both Ash and I shed a tear throughout our vows.”

Centaine’s incredible gown (complete with polka dots) was a dress by designers Temperley London. “I’m not a white lace person and I knew I wanted long sleeves. I rarely wear dresses and even less often wear white. I wanted something with colour and style that was unique to me and memorable. I saw the dress online and knew it was perfect but was nervous to buy it without trying it on. However, after I went to a couple of wedding stores in which I felt extremely uncomfortable with the dresses, I came home and just bought it. It was the best decision!”

The couple opted not to have a wedding party, instead involving their friends, who were present as their only guests, as “best people” on the day. Centaine explains “We didn’t have a wedding party due to the size of our wedding but we had 6 close friends come with us. Unfortunately, our family were unable to come from Brisbane but we made the most of the day anyway.

Our best people were Michael and Liesl who witnessed our marriage. We’ve known them for over 10 years and met through water polo also. We had Alex and Jill who we met in Perth but Alex is my sister’s husband’s best friend (so when they got married, we were MoH and Best Man!). Finally, we also had Sam and Jenna who we’ve known for a long time, actually first meeting Sam in Japan in 2011.”

“Don’t stress too much, what will be, will be and no one will remember the colour of the napkins or style of the chair” advises the bride. “They will remember the heartfelt and genuine moments that they are lucky enough to share with you.”

One of the special parts of the day for the newlyweds? “Because our family and friends couldn’t travel to attend, Liesl and Michael arranged for a video to be made for us with special messages from all our of friends and family. It started both of us with happy/sad tears again but made the experience that much better.”

“Freedom was amazing” raves Centaine of the couple’s chosen photographer. “She knew exactly where to be to get the right photo and how to direct us and our friends in a way that worked seamlessly into the day. She helped us when we didn’t know what to do due to covid and was always there to give us advice about us anything we needed. She made the day special and ensured we took time to just be with each other. Despite changing from a full package to an elopement package, Freedom was flexible, kind, understanding and empathetic. I couldn’t recommend her highly enough!”

And the day did not end there, tells the bride.  “We didn’t have the first dance because of the style of wedding. However, we had chosen “Into my Arms” by Nick Cave if we were to have one. Instead, we listened to it once we came home and danced around the living room.”

A big congratulations to the newlyweds! Thank you for sharing your beautiful day with us. Thank you also to Freedom Garvey-Warr for sharing today’s stunning images.