If there ever was an elopement that dreams are made of it would be filled with sparkly gowns, incredible flowers, a moody colour palette and a four-legged friend for many of us. And when dreams come true? magic happens, just as it did for Sara and Scott. These two were never going to have a classic white wedding, “We don’t really believe in traditions about weddings. A lot of our wedding and wedding day was pretty untraditional, which is just the way we like it.” With just three guests (including the couple’s favourite, Atticus) in a breathtaking location, even impending lockdown could not rain on this parade. Photographer Emma Nayler one of the few present (luckily for us, because this is a wedding where you need to dream over every shot).
Sara and Scott’s story begins at work, says Sara “We met at work as friends first, and it all really started with a cheese toastie. I was going through a really difficult time in my personal life, and I’d become very withdrawn and not myself. Scott and I had already previously been friendly at work and bonded over many geeky things. Scott had noticed that something wasn’t quite okay, and wanted to show that he was there for me.
One day during a lunch break, and knowing I’d not been eating as a result of stress, he went out and got all the delicious requirements to make an obnoxiously large cheese toastie. He used LOTS of butter, spices and cheeses, (it really helps that he’s an ex-french chef and knows that butter and cheese are the most delicious parts of life). And he silently came into my office, placed the toastie on my desk and said, “You don’t have to eat it if you don’t want to – but it’s there if you want it. But please consider having at least a bite.” And he left the office so I didn’t feel pressured or nervous to eat in front of him.
It was the most kindest and caring gesture, and I felt like he had really seen me and decided I was worthy of friends & love. He is the love I never believed I deserved, but he showed me how deserving I really am. We started talking a lot more after that toastie and it just naturally blossomed from there.”
The proposal story? Equally as beautiful. “Scott and I were really open and transparent about getting engaged and had already begun planning the elements of the wedding and fully planning the engagement party before he’d even purchased the ring. I knew when he had purchased the ring because I saw the designer was having a sale on Instagram, so I showed him my phone screen about the sale and so one Saturday morning when we were having a sleep-in, he bought the ring online right next to me!
The actual proposal was quite amusing, as we had gone out for Saturday breakfast one morning and then went for a stroll along Howard Smith Wharves. Scott got a little too nervous when we got down to the wharves, as there were tonnes of people around and he didn’t want to draw attention to us. (We’re both introverts). So we went home, and when I jumped into bed for the afternoon to watch some Netflix and have a rest, he proposed then.”
Scott wore a dark teal suit from Wil Valor. Says Sara “Scott’s 3 piece was very moody, and his suit was a handsome dark teal colour. His suit and everything he wore that day right down to his shoes was a complete bespoke design and tailor-made by Wil Valor in Brisbane.
Scott knew he wanted to have a suit custom made, so it did, “fit like a glove” for him. We looked at a few tailor-made options around Brisbane, but the more we researched, the more Wil Valor kept showing up as the best option for bespoke suits. Everything from start to finish about this process was a dream. The designers, the selection of fabrics, the fitters and every suit fitting was such a brilliant experience to work with and they are true experts in their field! I loved watching Scott get excited about his suit and seeing him select the colours and style that he did. I could tell how happy he was to have this made just for him and what it meant. It was really special.”
Sara’s inspiration for her gown? Starlight! Her gown was designed by Kyha Studios. “The non-negotiable for my dress was that it was to be COVERED in sparkles. I wanted to look like I’d been dipped in starlight! I was uncertain if I wanted to wear white initially and I was thinking about going for something like a dove grey or even dark gold.
But, when I found the Belmont gown from Chosen by Khya, I was sold completely. Hook, line and sinker. I didn’t even ask the price – I just said yes on the spot. I couldn’t imagine not wearing it! I did end up making some alterations to the original design, just to feel a little more “me”. (I got cuffs added to the wrists, and a white satin lining added to the full skirt and bodice). I wore an AEL Este pearl headband to tie in the sparkles of my dress nicely, too.
I’m very tall (6’2), and naturally taller than Scott. Whilst my height doesn’t bother either one of us in the very least, I didn’t want to exaggerate it and so I chose to wear a pair of white converse sneakers. I figured nobody sees my shoes under my dress and I wanted something comfortable on the day. ”
The couple met for a first look before their vows. “If you can and if it’s possible, try and sneak some time away for just the two of you either pre-ceremony (like a first look) or sometime after the ceremony to go and take a walk around the venue/areas to soak up the experience and process the meaning of the day for the two of you. Maybe even joke or five about how much your damn face hurts from smiling so much.”
The couple enlisted wedding stylist Event Stylist & Co to help them pull together their day. “We are by no means wedding professionals in any sense of the phrase, so we paid all the necessary vendors to work their magic for us. Each of them held their own strength for different and vitally important aspects of the day and without the four of them, the day just would not have happened the way it did!
Both Scott and I loved the idea of just because we’re eloping and having a truly intimate wedding, that doesn’t mean we needed to skimp on budget or the abundant styling that we really wanted to make it really special. I loved the idea that there would be no more than five people in attendance, but we could still have an overly moody and extra decadent styled event to make it the most special elopement for our closest, most cherished people in our lives.”
The couple’s dog Atticus was a must-have part of the day, “We knew from the very beginning that when planning the elopement – he needed to be involved. We do virtually everything with him, and he is our whole life. He comes to so many places with us and the thought of not having him there for such a huge occasion for Scott and I just was not an option. Thankfully Ngaire and Cherie totally understood that he was a huge part of our day, and they easily built him into every plan like he was just another human attending the day. It was really heartwarming to have people understand that dogs are also part of a family too.
Atticus wore his custom-made emerald green velvet harness, bow tie, and leash. Atticus is by all rights our child, so we knew that he needed to be with us on the day and part of this event too. He was a perfectly well-behaved little gentleman too.”
Sara and Scott held their wedding at The Valley Estate, which came highly recommended. “The Valley Estate was actually recommended to us by our fantastic stylist, Ngaire from Event Stylist & Co. She is close friends with Cherie, the owner of The Valley Estate, and she knew this venue would match in with our style and theme perfectly.
We had initially planned to get married/elope in NSW. But, thanks to Covid – three weeks out from our wedding, the state borders were slammed shut. We had a feeling that it was coming about 6 weeks out from the date though, so I asked Ngaire to source for backup venues in QLD as a just in case. And man, did she come in clutch for this venue! What a stellar choice and recommendation. It turned out to be more perfect than the previous venue, and it was like the universe showed us the right place.”
The flowers, as we are sure you will agree, were stand-out details of Sara & Scott’s day. The beauties styled by Florals & Co. Recalls Sara “I loved planning the flowers with Sarah. To see her get so excited about a moody floral palette that doesn’t come by very often – made me so happy to see her creative process and style shine through.
I gave Sarah the brief of “Dark, moody and worthy of Dracula” She did NOT disappoint. She is worth her weight in precious stones and gold, and I would work with her daily if I could I absolutely adored her so much. I also told her to go completely OTT with florals. I used the phrases, “if in doubt, double the amount” and “a metric f**k tonne of flowers” when describing how many florals I’d like to see for this elopement.
I only had one request for a specific flower, which was to have Ranunculus used in my bouquet and Scott’s buttonhole. They are my favourite flower of all time, and Sarah sourced for me a tonne of dark berry ones! Sarah came up with all the rest.”
Sara walked herself down the aisle to “Two Strong Hearts” covered by Ainslie Wills. “It’s eerily haunting and leaves goosebumps all over you. We loved it,” she remembers.
The couple was married by Just Jess Ceremonies – Jess Dowell. “Ngaire and Sarah had created the ceremony to take place inside the stripped-back Manor of the Estate. This gorgeous, huge gothic room was draped in an opulent and decadently decorated manner to make the room heart-stopping and picturesque. It was like it was pulled straight out of an editorial of a gothic wedding. My jaw dropped open when they opened the doors and I walked down the stairs to Scott and Atticus. It’s an overused phrase, I’m sure, but it was perfection.
We wanted the ceremony (and overall day) to be very chilled and intimate above anything else, and we were privileged and lucky to be gifted with the most attentive and proactive thinking wedding team who thought of quite literally, everything. They were on hand for anything we needed or asked about, and had planned everything down to a meticulous point.”
Both Sara and Scott note that reading their vows to one another was their favourite part of the day. “They both demonstrated our individual strengths and vulnerabilities, and safety and equality of each other. We spoke about how much we value and accept each other, just as we are now and how we will evolve together into the future. They were empowering, meaningful, and incredibly cherished.
“Til’ Death welcomes us like an old friend. Until the last star in the galaxy dies – you have me and I will be yours.”
Sara and Scot invited just two guests to join them (well three, if you count Atticus). “We loved having our two best friends there with us a witness, but also as our 2 biggest supporters” they tell.
They are both such a huge part of our lives, and we love them as our family. So having them with us to share the experience was truly wonderful and humbling for Sara’s best friend of 23 years, Melita, who wore a black velvet dress to tie in with the Dracula & moody vibes. Scott’s best friend, Michael wore a black suit. We didn’t even ask them to wear any specific colour – we told them to wear anything they wanted to wear; they both just knew the wedding was moody and chose to wear black, it was brilliantly uncoordinated but perfectly executed.”
Sara had previously worked with the couple’s photographer Emma, so choosing her for the wedding day was never in question. “She’s a great friend of mine (Sara), and I met her many years ago when I used to be in the wedding industry myself. She and I hit it off like a house on fire, and we’ve been friends ever since. She’s also completely dog-obsessed like I am, and she loves when dogs are a part of the wedding day or any photo session.
Emma is ridiculously talented, and I trust her entirely. She blew us out of the water with her images, and she just nailed the moody and gothic vibe and feel of the day. She never made us feel awkward or on show. She just captured stunning images of the day which we will always look back on and wish we could relive every single year on our anniversary.”
Sara and Scott were not able to have the reception they’d dreamt of, thanks to lockdowns, but what they did end up with? Even more magical if you ask us. “We got married smack bang in the middle of a lockdown and still made it work, even when wedding rules changed by the QLD Government at 4:45 am on the day of the wedding. Even though the changed rules meant that we weren’t allowed to have the reception at the venue any longer in the evening which made little sense (and could have been a massive bummer), our wedding team came up with a stellar plan B; and packed down the venue, drove it all back to our Airbnb and re-set our entire reception up again, like dreamlike introvert reception heaven. It wasn’t a change we expected at all, but it just… worked perfectly for us. There was no pressure to wrap up by a certain time – we could just chat away until the early hours of the morning and enjoy our very own slice of perfectly curated elopement. We drank a LOT of whisky that night and listened to some moody tunes.
Every single one of our vendors came in clutch for us, and they delivered what was the best elopement that we could have ever hoped for. Every one of them knew that the lockdown was so stressful, but they did everything in their collective power to bring their ‘A game’ and deliver a brilliantly unique, never-to-be-repeated, perfectly executed elopement for two geeks who really love their dog.” Scott added “Having our own personal chef for the day and evening was really amazing. Aaron even made Atticus his own fancy meal for dinner, which consisted of roasted chicken, crunchy kale, cranberries and beef. Atticus thought it was pretty bloody special.”
Sara and Scott’s advice to you? “If getting married in a lockdown/pandemic, be prepared to have plans change on a dime and with insanely short notice. But, just know that the day is quite literally about two people, not masses of people to please.
Ask your vendors about what their plan B, C or even D may be in case things have to change drastically – and agree on what your budget will be for this. Remember that it’s one day for the two of you in your own forever story, and going into financial stress or debt isn’t worth it.”
The biggest congratulations to you both Sara and Scott. How lucky we are to share your intimate, beautiful story! Thank you both and thank you to Emma Nayler for sharing today’s beautiful celebration.