Ailsa and Michael wanted a day that not only reflected their laid back outlook on life (bad karaoke and all) but also their culture, everything that was important to them. “Our wedding was an outdoors, country, ochre vibe. We are not religious so we wanted a mixture of the normal standard customs required by the state government, plus a spiritual Aboriginal ceremony” remarks Ailsa. “It was very laid back & informal. We both wanted to achieve a connection to this Earth.”
So in the middle of the Queensland countryside, surrounded by Aboriginal art, personal touches and their very favourite people, they celebrated, and Atomic Butterfly was there to capture it all. It was just the laid back dream of a day they’d wanted.
After meeting online in 2015 “We both come from busy professional lives & felt online was a great way to meet” the pair finally met in person when Ailsa showed off her work as a professional artist to Michael. “It wasn’t the usual first date. We met at my house (Ailsa) and I was showing him the Aboriginal art that I create. We expressed common interests in comedy, history & philosophy. Michael told me all his adventures being a Medic in the Royal Australian Airforce.” The story only blossomed from there, with a December 2018 proposal. “We got engaged in December 2018, on top of a private hotel in Thailand, overlooking the ocean.”
Michael wore a three-piece suit of navy and grey from Tarocash. “Michael loved the fabric, the price and the notion of he can re-wear these outfits for other occasions,” explained Ailsa.
Ailsa, who required cleavage on her wedding gown, chose the form-fitting “Palm” gown by Grace Loves Lace, having it altered with spaghetti straps to form a halter neckline.
The first look between Ailsa and her father remains one of her most treasured memories of the day “There are many stories but one that sticks out is my father seeing me in my bridal gown for the first time. I am the first daughter he got to walk down the aisle. My father is an elder and is unwell at the moment. For him to still be here on Earth was very special.
My father is a tough old fella, but he melted when he saw me. There is so much trauma being an Aboriginal person in modern Australia. But this moment is a moment that no one can take away. Thank you Rachel from Atomic Butterfly Photography for capturing the moment. That image will be there forever.”
The floral arrangements on the day were styled by Olive Blooms. Says Ailsa “Oliver who owns this business was amazing. She does wonders. I have known Oliver for around 20 years and seeing her past work made me feel like she would do a special job. We had a lot of native Australian plants and flowers. The main bouquet was grand. The bridal party had plants and flowers hanging out of rose gold lanterns from Dusk. The men had button flowers with the same flowers. As well as the father of the bride.”
The couple chose the country venue Branell Homestead for their wedding, decorating it themselves. Ailsa noted “We choose to have accommodation, pre-wedding preparation, ceremony and reception at Branell Homestead in Laidley, Queensland. The venue is only a 40 drive from Brisbane so this place was perfect. Perfect landscapes and we wished to marry on Yuggera country. We wanted a place to be underneath the stars and to make sure we had fresh county air.”
Aboriginal culture was a core foundation of how Ailsa and Michael planned their day. The couple asked performers from Tribal Experiences to help their ceremony incorporate the specific rituals. Says Ailsa “We walked down the aisle to traditional Aboriginal music. Through didgeridoo, native songs sang by the traditional owners of Yuggera Country, we followed them walk down the path while the main elder was holding a smoking bush for the smoking/cleansing ceremony. We ended at the altar with everyone being smoked out.” Ailsa notes it as one of her favourite parts of the day. “We both felt loved. The nervousness left and we focused on the smoking ceremony and focused on being in the moment.”
“Our Aboriginal ceremony incorporated into the standard Queensland legal wedding. We are not religious at all so having my ancient culture and having science involved made our day more special. Being on Yuggera country we had to pay respects to the elders, wildlife and flora of the landscapes.”
“Writing our vows has to be the highlight. We are not traditional at all when it comes to weddings in general, but writing our thoughts and feelings was awesome.”
Ailsa and Michael’s wedding party was carefully chosen. “Kristie was our maid of honour and she wore a mustard dress. It is a convertible dress I found on Etsy at Radiant Rooster. Lizzy my bridesmaid was in a burnt orange dress by the same maker. Both colours represent this ancient land and my connection to my culture and heritage. Both dresses were perfect, the girls converted the dresses to fit their body means. Josh our best man and Adam our groomsmen wear matching outfits from Tarocash. Their vests were a navy blue colour. Star Wars socks from Zing.”
Ailsa and Michael have only good things to say about their choice of photographer. “Rachel was great. Easy laid out plan on the day and easy-going at the wedding. She has a funny easy going personality and she is great for direction. Her assistants were amazing!! Funny and loveable. I remember in the middle of the shoot, I was sweating everything out and she was always delightful.”
Ailsa has the best advice when it comes to planning your wedding day. “Relax. Don’t stress!! Mistakes will happen. Bad luck will happen. Michael and I had so much sadness in our lives while planning, with Michael being on military duties, many suicides in our community, to illness. Life around us stressed us during the wedding planning process.
The night before the wedding I had a nervous breakdown to the point I couldn’t move, all you need is to look into a mirror and say five grateful things you have. I did and when the day happened, hiccups did happen but Michael and I didn’t care – we just loved each other too much. Don’t be pressured into guests’ requests. Don’t be pressured by society’s standards on a “perfect wedding”. Your journey and your wedding are unique. Get support if you’re struggling with mental health, talk to anyone. Don’t let stress build up. It will be a perfect day either way.”
Ailsa, an artist under her brand of Wulkuraka Designs, made sure she incorporated her talent into the wedding day decor. “I am an Aboriginal Artist (Wulkuraka Designs). I did all the background, like paintings, emu eggs, and emu feather displays. We had a sign with our location, names and the latitude and longitude of the ceremony.”
Guests celebrated the newlyweds over a casual dinner, just as Ailsa and Michael had dreamt. Ailsa tells, “I wanted a venue that we could supply the food ourselves. We wanted that control. We were lucky to have the accommodation, ceremony and reception at the same place. No travelling, no hassle. That was the outcome we wanted.”
The first dance was as in the moment as the rest of this day, the couple choosing “Falling in love with you” by UB40. “We love the style and the love behind it” explains Ailsa. “We wanted to dance to a beat as we are both “not so great” dancers. Our first dance was a mess and that is fabulous. Michael and I are quite known to be the goofy couple so the dance matched our personality. We did not practice. We wanted to be “in the moment” and it was great.” The night ended with a dance-off, bad karaoke and all the golden memories.
Congratulations to you both Ailsa and Michael. What an honour to be able to share your wedding day and its stories. Thank you for sharing your day with us and for sharing the images Atomic Butterfly!