Pouring rain seems to be somewhat of a theme of weddings these days in Australia, and when it bucketed down on Ciara and Mark’s beautiful country wedding? Well they just embraced it. And if an intimate wedding is your cup of tea, then let us tell you, your guests putting up umbrellas as you say your vows? The most intimate moment of all.

Kirsten Cunningham Photography captured Ciara and Mark’s story, a story that embraced its beautiful country locale (a nod to The Country Issue!), that is less about tradition and formality, than it was about making sure every moment was relaxed and love filled. Says Ciara “The priority was for everyone to be comfortable and to minimize stress as much as possible. We just wanted to have fun and celebrate our relationship”.

The two first crossed paths at work, telling “Classic chef/waitress story. We were friends before we got together so our relationship has always had a base as best friends.” Mark creating a momentous proposal overlooking Sydney harbour, “Mark had planned an elaborate proposal! He snuck into the city while I was getting a haircut and left an overnight bag for us at the Shangri La in Circular Quay.

We had a ‘date day’ planned as far as I was aware so headed into the city and went to the pub! Mark then convinced me to go and find a cocktail bar he had heard of above Observatory Hill Park. He insisted we stop at the pavilion there for selfies so he could act the tourist and he proposed to me there! He then surprised me with champagne and seafood at the Oyster Bar in Circular Quay and again with a room at the Shangri La. It was awesome!”

Mark worked with Woolcott St to create a custom three piece suit for the day, shares Ciara “He had a particular look in mind ‘think Peaky Blinders’ – a vest was a priority. We went out there together on Valentines day to meet with them and pick the fabrics for Mark’s ideal suit! They were amazing and even threw in a free shirt!”

Ciara wore a sparkling long sleeve beaded Karen Willis Holmes gown. She tells “The priority was to feel confident in myself and comfortable. The Perry gown did all of that for me. The team there were lovely, particularly Sue the seamstress who took good care of me. I went with my mum and sister to try dresses on just as we were coming out of lockdown so it was a pretty low-key affair!”

The couple went minimal with flowers, opting for just bouquets and buttonholes created by Fine Flowers Katoomba. “Mark has pretty severe allergies and Ciara loves natives so we opted for Australian natives for the bouquets and button holes. We chose not to have any other flowers for decoration as we didn’t think it was needed (the venue is gorgeous without) and didn’t want Mark to be fighting his allergies all day.”

Ciara walked down the aisle with her father, to Maple Creek Music playing Fleetwood Mac’s “Everywhere”.

Sweet Ella, Mark’s daughter, was an important guest. “We wanted to make sure  Ella was as involved as possible. She was our flower girl and we made sure she was included in the ceremony – we wanted to make sure she knew she is included in everything we look forward to for the future”.

The couple were married at the beautiful country venue of Collits’ Inn. “We went with them as we wanted the ceremony and reception to be in the same place.” They explain “They also were so friendly and welcoming during our visit and were super accommodating and relaxed. They really fit in with our ‘stress free’ aims. It was such a bonus to be able to have the venue for the entire weekend – we got there the night before and had such a good (early) night eating, singing & dancing together. We both stayed on site so had no worries about travel/running late or any of those logistics!
It was important to us we could be outdoors and Collits’ Inn was definitely the place for that – they also had a great ‘wet weather’ plan which was a relief after all the La Nina we’ve been having.

We  had a lovely time visiting Collits’ Inn in the lead up to our wedding for the food and wine tasting. We sat down with Chris and Cheryl who live on the property and basically had a lovely lunch together and spoke about the day but also got to know each other. It was a beautiful day and the more time we could spend there the better.”

All We Need is Love – Victoria officiated the ceremony, made all the more atmosphere with the addition of plenty of umbrellas! “Victoria, our celebrant wrote the most beautiful ceremony for us – she really nailed the brief.

We wanted the ceremony to be intimate and reflect how much we respect and love each other and what we were looking forward to in spending our days together as a married couple. Our celebrant, Victoria was amazing and really helped facilitate this. We wrote our own vows and really wanted the focus to be on our future together (rather than having a summation of the ‘how we met story’ and what we want for each other and our family going forward.”

Looking for a country wedding photographer? Well take this rave review of Ciara & Mark’s photographer Kirsten Cunningham and run with it! “Kirsten was just the best! Everyone commented on how awesome and fun she was! She was so fun to work with and made everyone feel so relaxed whilst also giving us enough direction so that the photos came out amazing! We really appreciated that she got photos of all our guests – we have shots of everyone who was there on the day which is so special to us.”

“Vincent (father of the bride) included a joke in his speech – as is Irish tradition – it was a cracker”.

Ciara & Mark’s greatest advice? Stay true to yourself! “Everyone’s different – just do what makes you happy and try not to let others’ opinions on what the day should look like sway your choices if you can. Keep the focus on each other as much as you can – the whole point is to celebrate you!”

The newlyweds wanted their dance floor to be fun and relaxed, so they kicked it off with Tina Turner’s “The Best”. “Neither of us are strong dancers so we wanted everyone to join us on the dance floor and just had fun with it. We didn’t and never really take ourselves too seriously so we just did a bit of a sway and got everyone involved as the song picked up.”

Congratulations to you both Ciara and Mark. Thank you both for sharing your wedding day with us and to Kirsten Cunningham Photography, thank you for sharing today’s beautiful story in images.