Take a trip with us to the Yarra Valley, home of the beautiful Dominique Portet Winery where Ashley and Mitchell held a heartfelt ceremony and the most impeccably styled reception. The couple incorporated sentiment, DIY, large wild blooms, French styling and the most amazing French menu to achieve to achieve the day of their dreams, plus the relaxed and connected vibe they were after. This was a day filled with love and celebration, especially after their wedding was postponed (thanks Covid) and having a turbulent time in the lead up to their new wedding date, due to some difficult family news. With an absolute dream team of understanding and talented vendors by their side, they created something extra special. And there snapping all the details and loved up moments? Award-winning photographer, Ashleigh Haase.
Before we deep dive into this gorgeous wedding, let’s hear how the proposal went down! Ashley and Mitchell, who met through family connections, were on a Christmas holiday in Port Douglas when Mitchell popped the question on top of a viewing tower in the Daintree Rainforest. “It wasn’t at all what he had planned, which was a sunset beach proposal,” reveals Ashley. “However, he underestimated my feelings on romantic ‘dusk’ sunset walks on the beach, which for two nights in a row sounded exactly like, ‘Don’t be crazy, I don’t want to be eaten by a crocodile!’. Little did I know the poor man was just trying to propose – whoops!”
On her wedding day, Ashley wore her grandmother’s bracelet and earrings, and attached a locket with a photo of her grandparents to her bridal bouquet. “It was extremely hard for me to accept them not being part of the day, both having past in recent years. It was important to me that I kept their memory alive throughout the day and these little reminders helped me achieve that.”
For her wedding dress, Ashley knew exactly what she wanted but couldn’t find it off the rack. The team at Raffaele Ciuca Bridal came to her rescue with the perfect square neckline she was after, then the sleeves were added. “Fate had it that the only adjustment I needed was on the sleeves, everything else fit perfectly,” she says.
Mitchell’s suit was from Menzclub, who provided him with an easy experience – getting the suit took a grand total of 30 minutes! “We didn’t even go into the store expecting to purchase that day,” explains Ashley. “But the team were so helpful and quick to suit him up in what was honestly the perfect outfit. Even pinning his pants ready for hemming!”
The couple tied the knot at Dominique Portet, which is Ashley’s favourite winery in the Yarra Valley. While wedding planning, Ashley nervously asked them if they’d host her wedding (as they don’t openly host them) and they agreed due to the couple’s more intimate numbers (65 guests). “In more recent years, I had travelled to Paris quite a few times for work, falling in love with the French way of life. Being it was already my favourite winery, combined with my new found appreciation for French everything, it just made so much sense.”
Ashley’s dad walked her down the aisle. Unfortunately, her mother was unable to be at the wedding due to having major surgery the day prior, otherwise both parents would have accompanied her. They walked down to a live acoustic version of ‘Amazed’.
The couple has a short and sweet ceremony as they had secretly (and unexpectedly) eloped three days prior! “My mother was not given the best news two weeks before the wedding, and on the Tuesday (the wedding was planned for the Friday) we were told she needed surgery the day before the wedding,” explains Ashley.
The family got together in three hours and Ashley and Mitchell had a legals-only ceremony (thanks to Melbourne Celebrant Julie) on Mordialloc Beach, serendipitously right where Ashley’s grandparents first met.
This made their planned wedding ceremony at Dominique Portet very relaxed, and they loved hearing Julie tell their story to the crowd. “Being a postponed Covid wedding, we had completely forgotten this was happening and found the moment really special.” Ashley’s mother is now out of treatment and doing really well.
Ashley’s maid of honour was her best friend of nearly 20 years. She wore a champagne, satin halter midi dress from Hello Molly.
Capturing all the beautiful moments on the day was photographer Ashleigh Haase, who the couple say was lovely, relaxed and funny, and everything you could wish for.
Ashley took on a lot of DIY when it came to the styling elements of her wedding. “Two weeks out from the wedding, my mother and I handmade 600 heart-shaped chocolates for the bonbonnieres. It was a big task, but a lovely piece of the day that I was able to share with her.”
She also styled the room, and designed and hired and/or purchased all of the decor and stationery. “This is a process I truly enjoyed, having had some previous styling and project management experience,” Ashley says. “If I didn’t have that prior experience, there is not a chance I would have taken this on – weddings are extremely stressful for many reasons. Unless you have a lot of spare time, or some relevant experience, then I recommend removing one of the biggest stresses (for planning AND execution on the day) and investing in a wedding planner.”
The wedding florals were by The Little Flower Shoppe and the brief was French, wild and classic. They took on this task one week before the wedding, due to a change in florists, and Ashley says they were the kindest, most supportive humans they could have asked for. The flowers had a huge impact to the overall look and vibe of the wedding too. “The only thing that had me cry on my wedding day (other than walking down the aisle) was walking into that reception room and seeing it filled with the most beautiful flowers I had ever seen,” says Ashley. “I’ll never forget that moment.”
The couple raved about their wedding food, giving massive credit to the team at Dominique Portet. “Being a French restaurant (one of the best in Australia) we knew the food may be a bit different to your typical wedding,” says Ashley. “For this reason, we chose the ‘feasting’ option which delivered the food on platters, rather than plated. We loved how this encouraged our guests to try new things.” The couple even had many guests get up from their seats during dinner simply to say it was one of the best meals of their lives.
Mitchell shares that having nearly everyone he loves in the same space felt like a new level of special in a post-lockdown world.
Another special detail? Ice cream by Vanilla & Co! Ashley and Mitchell loved the surprised looks on their guests’ faces when the food just kept on coming with the arrival of a full-sized ice cream cart.
For their first dance, the couple chose ‘The Best’ by Bailey Rushlow, which is a rendition of one of Ashley’s father’s favourite songs – ‘Simply the Best’ by Tina Turner.
Ashley’s advice for those currently planning a wedding? Roll with the changes. “Things will not go to plan on the day and that’s okay. The most special parts of our wedding were nothing close to our original plan and that’s what makes it so memorable.”
Thank you Ashley and Mitchell for sharing your amazing day with us! What a treat to pore over your incredible French styling and hear your story. We’d also like to say a big thank you to the wonderful Ashleigh Haase for sharing these gorgeous images with us.