Dani and Gerard, who tied the knot in the beautiful Hunter Valley, had one vision in mind for how they wanted to spend their day. “We made sure to have fun, our one goal was to not be sober by the end of it because we had heard from so many friends they didn’t have time to drink or have fun with each other. We achieved that goal and I can honestly say it was the best day of my life so far.”

And well, if that wasn’t a rave review to entice you to settle in for their stories, then let us tempt you with the beautiful imagery by Nicole Butler. The plethora of stunning Australian native flowers, the sunset portraits, the incredible speeches and oh, the story of how Dani and Gerard made their day completely theirs, oh yes, it’s a good way to spend your morning!

It was a complete twist of fate that led Dani and Gerard to meet, way back in the days of Myspace, when Gerard took a chance. Dani fills us in on how the story unfolded. “MySpace around 2008 before Facebook lol. Gerard added me as a friend randomly with no mutual friends and my immediate thought was stranger danger as I was only 16 but we chatted for a year or so before meeting up.

When we first officially met, Gerard came to my parent’s house where just me and my siblings were home. When Gerard got there, because we hit it off so well I asked my siblings to leave. We had our first kiss that night and dated off and on for a couple years before parting ways. We hadn’t spoken for roughly four years when he popped into my thoughts one night and I messaged him on Facebook. We started seeing each other as friends and our connection was stronger than when we first met as we had grown and matured a lot more on our own. We moved in after four months of dating and got engaged after two years.”

Gerard asked Dani to marry him on a special weekend away. “Gerard booked a fancy schmancy bed ‘n breakfast in the Blue Mountains (about 3 hours from where we live) as a late Valentines/early birthday present in February 2018. I fully expected him to propose but after we went to the glow worms cave where the setting would have been perfect for a proposal and he didn’t propose I acted like an utter brat.

I came to my senses and told myself to not ruin the weekend and when getting ready and with a half face of make up on the next morning Gerard asked me to look at the view from our Mountain View balcony. Being annoyed I stomped out while complaining about being interrupted while getting ready. I was taking in the view when I heard a loud thump behind me and I turned to find Gerard on one knee, tears in his eyes and he asked me to marry him. Me being in complete shock and immediately seeing the huge gaps in the balcony straight down to bushes and imagining him dropping the ring,

I snatched it from him and ran inside and put it on my own finger. Gerard, still on one knee on the balcony asked “guess that’s a yes then?” I screamed back “yessssss come inside!”. It was the biggest shock of my life because Gerard normally can’t surprise me with anything because I always find out. I had even packed the ring unknowingly for him because it was hidden in a pair of socks I put in his bag.”

Of Gerard’s look, Dani explains “Gerard wore a dark grey suit jacket and pants, a white button up shirt and forest green tie to match the bridesmaids. All from Rundle Tailoring in Newcastle. He chose to wear this as the colours complimented the style of the wedding and he and his groomsmen wanted a simplistic style of suit.”

Dani found her stunning lace gown at Final Touch Bridal. “The top half was sheer lace so some skin could be seen underneath. I am not the smallest size and never thought I’d have any sheer parts on my dress but when I initially put it on at Final Touch Bridal on the Central Coast I instantly fell in love and even had a tear in my eye because I knew it was the one. I had never felt more beautiful in my life and I had to have it.” She added a special heirloom ring to complete her look. “I wore my grandmother’s ring that she passed down to me a few years ago. This is one of my favourite pieces of jewellery and I showed her on the day that I was wearing it because I love it so much.”

Dani and Gerard wanted their day to be stress-free, so they enlisted the help of wedding planners Hunter Events NSW. Dani gives this team all the rave reviews.  “All our vendors were spectacular but especially Hunter Events. Louise and Charlotte and the Hunter Events team having to deal with COVID and basically reorganize everything with us all over again, they made everything a breeze. I don’t know what we would have done without them.”

Dani and Gerard chose beautiful Hunter Valley winery venue Circa 1876 for their big day. “We chose Circa 1876 because the styling speaks for itself and we didn’t need to decorate it at all to have the style of wedding we wanted” explains Dani. “The ceremony was at the back of the restaurant and the reception in the restaurant. Our accommodation where we all got ready the morning of, and stayed the night of the wedding was at The Convent which is on the same grounds.”

Dani walked down the aisle on the arm of her father to Elle Goulding’s version of Elton John’s “Your Song”.

Dani and Gerard chose Julie Muir Celebrant to perform their ceremony, which they kept true to themselves, with a hint of fun tradition. Says Dani “The ceremony was amazing, our celebrant Julie Muir wrote it to absolute perfection. We gave permission for a few swear words here and there to lighten the mood a little. We didn’t have any readings but we did have a wine box where we put our favourite bottle of wine (2018 Margan Cres Hill Barbera) and a copy of our vows in a box and we will open it and share the bottle of wine and read our vows on our first anniversary. Our ceremony was light hearted and hilarious and Julie had everyone laughing (including us) constantly.”

Dani was beyond thrilled with their choice of photographer Nicole, she raves “Nicole is one of the best there is. I had seen her work all over Instagram and when she had photographed friends and her pictures just always stood out to me. Because we planned to get married in August 2020 but when COVID changed our plans and we moved our date to a year later in August 2021 we thought our shot with Nicole (fully expecting her to be booked out) and she was available so I booked her instantly!

She kept in touch to discuss my expectations and plans and communicated so well and I never had any doubt. A few days before the wedding we discussed everything again in more details and my god did she deliver. She arrived while I was getting my hair and make up done and got straight into everything, capturing all the little details and running between us getting ready and the boys getting ready. She was incredibly professional and still was so much fun and made us all feel so comfortable and at ease. She captures some of the most breathtaking photos I’ve ever seen and I recommend her to everyone I talk to.”

This was a wedding filled with beautiful Australian natives, Ivy Lane Florist filling every part of the day with endless blooms.  “Ivy Lane Florist was a godsend! ” exclaims Dani. “We were a pain in the butt and didn’t know what we wanted but had inspiration photos. We settled on Australian natives including big maroon proteas in the bouquets and lots of greenery. They were very heavy bouquets so got quite an arm workout but they were so worth it.  Our centrepieces were made up of big twisted willow and floating candles in vases and boxes of assorted flowers to match our bouquets. The arrangement that was on the arbour at the ceremony was a huge version of our bouquets and was stunning.”

The speeches remain one of Dani’s ultimate highlights. “We had quite a few speeches planned so we broke them up to be in between the food service. Every speech was absolutely beautiful. Some were funny and some were emotional.

My best friend Kate stole the show when she first got up saying ‘wow! What an emotional night. Even the cake is in tiers’ and the whole room erupted into laughter. She ended her hilarious speech in a lovely smooth tone “Gerard and Dani, I want you to stare into each other’s eyes and remember that you are now staring at the person most likely to murder you” which had everyone roaring with laughter, even my Nan was gobsmacked.”

“I said from the beginning I wanted it to feel like a big party for everyone and I think we achieved that. My absolute favourite detail was sneaking out of dinner to get more pictures as the sun went down with my new husband and just having some fun with it.”

“Our first dance was quite awkward” laughs Dani. “We don’t dance together at all and neither of us know how to dance properly. It was a beautiful moment though and the emotion was captured in some stunning photos. The song was “Beautiful Crazy (acoustic)” by Luke Combs as chosen by Gerard. He called me one day and told me to listen to it because he heard it on the radio and instantly thought of me.”

Beautiful congratulations, celebration and toast to you both Dani and Gerard! Thank you for sharing the stories of your day with us. Thank you to Nicole Butler for today’s beautiful images!