You are going to fall in love with Imogen & Simon – we guarantee it! These high school sweethearts have the sweetest love story; a Christmas proposal with a grandmother’s ring, amazing good luck with COVID restrictions easing just in time for their wedding date to arrive, allowing for an exquisite gold and colour filled romantic wedding day. Imogen tells us how they came to be, and about their stunning wedding, captured by Who Shot The Photographer. Enjoy Imogen & Simon’s Magical Garden Wedding at Ginninderry Homestead…
You could say we had Chemistry from the moment we met…no, literally. We had Chemistry and Ancient History together in Year 11! You don’t really plan on marrying your high school sweetheart – or at least, we didn’t. We just expected that we would be together until it didn’t work anymore, or we stopped liking each other. Fortunately for us both, that moment never came and after 12 years together, Simon proposed on Christmas Day 2019 using my grandmother’s engagement ring. I’d given it to him some time prior for safekeeping until he felt ready to use it.
I absolutely love Christmas, so a proposal under the Christmas tree in our home and then being able to celebrate that afternoon with our close family was pretty perfect – warm, joyous and personal.
We’ll laugh when we should be sad…
We picked a date and a venue pretty quickly. We had a pretty good idea of what we wanted – a relaxed party with our nearest and dearest in a pretty setting before spending our honeymoon enjoying a white Christmas in Europe. Obviously, COVID hit and any international travel plans immediately went out the window, but we decided early on to keep our date and space and just have whatever kind of wedding that we were allowed to have on the day.
We forged ahead and embraced the added stress of planning a wedding during a pandemic – keeping our numbers modest, checking cancellation policies, planning outdoor spaces, calculating square footage and religiously refreshing the long-range weather forecasts and the NSW COVID restrictions. And somehow – whether by good luck or a little bit of magic – our wedding day fell in a window of time where not only could our wedding proceed, but we got to have it almost exactly as we had always hoped.
I want to be with you everywhere…
Our gentle flouting of tradition also came to play with our outfits. For me, I had never imagined myself in a white gown but I didn’t know exactly what my dress would be. I had talked about sequins and gold, but I hadn’t really developed any ideas. I guess I had hoped I’d just know when I found it – and fortunately, I did! When I bought my dress from Tina Holly Couture, I actually wasn’t even dress shopping for me. I just happened upon the dress and liked it instantly but they didn’t have my size. It ended up that they had one in my size out the back so I came back a couple of days later, tried that on and that was that.
Simon also wanted something a little less traditional and designed all the details of his suit through InStitchu, from things like colour and cut down to the details on the lining (which were such a cute surprise for me on the day!).
Our accessories were almost more important than our outfits – I actually had a stronger idea about what I wanted with the crown than I did about my dress and I did a lot of online stalking until I came across this one on eBay of all places. Simon picked his Peggy & Finn tie (and matching socks and undies of course!) and then I sent pictures to our florist so that they could coordinate our buttonholes and bouquets.
My earrings and bracelet were all from family, as were my rings. My wedding band was my Nan’s. My engagement ring was remodelled when it was resized and we added in diamonds from Simon’s grandmother’s eternity ring so now that ring is a symbol of our families joining together forever.
When you hold me, in your arms so tight, you let me know, everything’s alright…
We didn’t have a lot of interest in traditions for our wedding. We had a pretty clear picture of what was important to us and knew from the outset that we were going to be guided by what we wanted, not what was expected. We focused on the most important things for us – a relaxed and fun atmosphere, with good food, drinks and music. We had always wanted street food, casual seating and live music and we never really questioned that plan! The other non-negotiable for us was natural, candid photography. We were so lucky to find James from Who Shot The Photographer who fit this bill perfectly and captured the colour and emotion of our day so authentically.
Barton Flower Bar was already one of my favourite florists in Canberra, but when I met with them to discuss the brief I just knew they understood what I wanted and I could trust them to create something gorgeous. Given the venue was already a beautiful setting, I didn’t feel like we needed masses of florals but I love flowers a lot so still wanted to feel like there were lots! We used them strategically – the arbour, which was moved from our ceremony location to our reception area, and then our table centrepieces alternated between flowers and candles surrounded by greenery. The brief was bright, deep colours, not too structured and a little fun/whimsical. I feel like they nailed it! The best part was making sure that the flowers didn’t go to waste the next day, sending posies home with friends and family. One particular friend was complimenting the centrepieces all night so she was really thrilled when we dropped one off the next day!
When we visited Ginninderry Homestead, we both loved it straight away – it was so beautiful, peaceful and relaxed. We wanted to connect the indoor and outdoor spaces as much as possible, so we added the marquee and used a variety of seating options across the spaces – bar tables, normal seating and lounge suites. Add in fairy lights, candles and beautiful floristry from Barton Flower Bar and our whimsical, romantic, garden party dreams definitely came true!
Our reception was a big party, but our ceremony was really sentimental. We opted for a pretty short ceremony with not too much in the way of bells and whistles, but it was very emotionally open and heartfelt. We wrote our own vows, and they were really beautiful and meaningful. I think that if you only get to explain the depth of your love to your partner on one occasion, your wedding day is probably the moment to do it! We did have a reading – Neil Gaiman’s “All I Know About Love.” I walked down the aisle (accompanied by both my parents) to Nick Cave’s “The Ship Song.” It’s slow and emotional and beautiful. Then we exited to Fleetwood Mac’s “Everywhere” – a bit of a tone change to match our excited “just got wed” feels!
We had originally booked a photographer friend based out of Melbourne, but when COVID hit Victoria hard, she made the call that she could not guarantee her travel. Fortunately, we snagged James from Who Shot The Photographer at relatively short notice, because he’s usually pretty booked up! We love his adventure photography and how well he captures beautiful scenery/backdrops. Like most people, we’re both pretty awkward in front of the camera, but James was great at putting us at ease and capturing great shorts without uncomfortable posing. We also liked that he is an elopement/small wedding specialist – we figured whatever changes COVID might throw at us he’d be able to roll with it!
We were keen to involve friends and family where we could. Our celebrant was a high school friend – Courtney Kissel, our MC was another, and our cake and sweets were made by friends and family. For us, it felt like the people in our lives were a huge element of our story – they raised us from kids to adults and somehow kept us together along the way – and so our wedding was just as much of a celebration of our village as it was our love.
Our first dance was to Eric Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight” – probably one of the more classic moments of our day! We didn’t have a planned dance or anything – we just had a short slow dance moment together before splitting off and grabbing our parents. We prepped our wedding party to grab their partners when we grabbed our parents, and the dancefloor was officially opened!
It’s hard to go past the band as one of our favourite elements of the day. Having live music is something we really wanted to do, and I’m so glad that we did. We both love music (Simon in particular) and we spent a lot of time finding the right songs for the key moments of our day. But it was more than just playing a request list – the band, Something Like This, really read the room perfectly and just kept people dancing all night!
I’ll be the one to tuck you in at night…
While the day was very much about us, it was also just special for our friends and family to finally be able to be together after the challenge of 2020. We had all longed to be able to drink and dance and celebrate and to be able to finally do so really added to the magic of our day.
Thank you to Imogen & Simon for sharing their glorious day! And to Who Shot The Photographer for capturing it so beautifully.