When we get a wedding and discover the dress code is “bright & furry” we know it’s for us. Today’s stars Nina (who described them of this day as “colourful madness with a hint of Rock ‘n Roll surrounded by Aussie bushland and some random wild goats”), and Liam embraced the “doing it your way” motto we have around here with every little bit of their souls. The pair opted to hire out a local glamping retreat in the bush, filling it with colour, handmade details and an intimate group of their favourite people.

Says Nina “We chose to elope and Covid did us a favour in a sense. We both don’t like being the centre of attention and the thought of the logistics of having to accommodate our families who are both overseas in different countries was just too much. It was bittersweet not having blood family there. We made sure to acknowledge them without getting into too much detail as I believe I would’ve become too emotional.” And look, from Nina’s incredible colourful wedding dress, the dinner set under the stars and the photos captured by Oli of Briars Atlas, what’s not to love?

The pair met after they’d both moved to Australia (Nina from Germany and Liam from Ireland). “As part of our Visa requirements and to be able to extend our stay we had to participate in some form of farm work” explains Nina. “Liam with a Dairy farming background took on a job as a Dairy Hand in Tasmania’s northwest top. Nothing but grass and cows. Myself (Nina) with a nursing background trying to make do always looking for a challenge booked a flight to Burney. Cows are cute right? Milking can’t be that hard…. Far out, that’s another story.

Liam and I stayed at the same accommodation, literally the size of a shoe box. Being the only European dairy hands at that time we connected. But it was the courage of the Dutch that helped Liam finally ask me out on a date (at 4 am after a long night of working up to it) my response? To sleep it off and ask again tomorrow – a testament to the no BS partner he was about to snag! He kissed me and said “At least that’s done”. On the day Liam left Tassie, he told me he wanted to be more than friends – yes it happened during the daylight hours this time, and no Dutch courage was involved by this point.
Our relationship began with barefoot beach walks (actually, Liam refused to take off his shoes because he was too cold in the middle of winter in Tassie. This had me stunned as he’s a full-blooded Irish dude, plus how can you not take your shoes off at a beach?!) at a time in our lives that was easy and free. Since then we have achieved so much, overcome so many hurdles and done it all together, as a genuine team.”

It was after the couple’s son was born in 2018 that Liam decided to ask Nina to marry him. “Once we settled into our little life and things seemed pretty good as we were happy with not getting married but my god how that all changed. On August 1, 2018, when Little Leo rocketed into our lives and showed us how much we were missing. Having a baby is hard for every first-time parent. But Nina had her struggles on top of the usual lack of sleep and life adjustment. It was during this time I decided to do anything I could to make things as good as I could. This meant becoming a family. To go full bore and make Nina my wife. This was an uncomfortable thought for me as I thought I might never marry. But now here today I realise that I should have gotten my sh*t together years ago and done this and made us a complete family unit.”

Nina adds “I had a pretty good idea that things might change when Liam suggested talking to our local jeweller. After 10 years and happy not getting married I had mentioned to Liam I would love a “rock” and leave it at that. However, changing my name was something we had discussed as the boys shared the same name already leaving me having to explain being Leo’s Mum at any appointment required.

On November 3rd 2020. A public holiday. We went for a drive to Stony Crossing a place Liam likes and has been meaning to show me for ages. We packed up Leo (who recently turned two) a picnic and our puppies. Stony Crossing is this beautiful bushland on the south bank of the Wakool River 35km from us. We had a beautiful time splashing in the water, playing with the dogs, and skipping stones. As we sat on our blanket Liam pulled out this ring and said, ‘I think it’s time you’d change your name and make it official’. He handed the ring to Leo and he put it on my finger. We both got emotional, Leo looked confused and I said I’d like that very much….”

“I just loved how casual it was” reminisces Nina. “I also loved how I got given the space to be me. To get up in the morning and have a coffee at the local cafe before starting to set up our wedding table. How everything just fell into place and to be with some of the best.”

Nina’s incredible bright and colourful floor-length gown was made of Nerida Hansen fabric. She tells the tale. “I’m a lover of colour and knew whatever is considered a ‘traditional dress’ wasn’t for me. If I had it my way, I’d probably wear a suit and top hat. After a conversation with Liam, he did say he’d love for me to wear a dress. It didn’t have to be white or ‘traditional’ but he’d love to see me wearing a dress. Fair enough. After all, relationships are about compromise, right?

I started looking for a dressmaker, as being a size 22 does come with its challenges, and living regional does too. I found Laura (being suggested by a friend) who lives 2 hours away. She wasn’t taking any jobs at the time but got excited about my ideas. She did an incredible job drawing up a pattern from scratch of pictures I had provided as inspiration.

The fabric I bought them online at Nerida Hansen Fabrics. Spoiled for choice, I went with a dark navy base with colourful brush strokes at random. They reminded me of Tulips which are my favourite flower. And brush strokes as well as I own an Art supply store and being a creative person, perfect match. To finish my look I ordered a teal-coloured faux fur coat, big pink leather dangle earrings and pink boots. The overall experience was beautiful as I got exactly what I had hoped for.”

To kick it all off, Liam and the couple’s son Leo, did a private first look by the river with Nina. “The most special ‘thing’ was Leo” notes Nina. “He is our greatest achievement and to have him there was incredible. I hope he will be able to look back and feel the love.”

Says Nina of Liam’s attire, “Liam wore olive green Chinos, a floral shirt, a navy blue fat knit cardigan and brown boots. It was important to him to be comfortable and to wear something he could wear again. Everything was purchased locally.” Liam adds “As Nina compromised on her outfit, I felt unsure about the cardigan but with some encouragement wore it. Compromise, right? Nina has been wearing it since.”

That incredible backdrop? Made by the couple themselves! “We built and painted our back drop. So we felt pretty comfortable with that and it made the perfect contrast to the bush around us” remarks Nina. “It was beautiful to be surrounded by the noise of the birds and the rustle of the leaves in the wind.”

The couple walked into their wedding today to the sound of “Killer Queen” by Queen.

“I wasn’t going to have a wedding band but use the engagement ring” explains Nina. “Liam suggested me use my grandparent’s wedding bands which my grandma fused after my grandpa passed away. After her passing, she gifted them to me. To make it more personal we engraved their wedding date as well as ours.” Nina and Liam were wed by Corinda Grant, “a total legend and funny as hell.”

The couple skipped the tradition of a first dance, instead making the most of their talented friend Sophie who played her acoustic guitar while the couple were signing their papers and dining. They chose “What I Like About You” by The Romantics to play for their recessional.

The setup and decor were all done by the couple themselves, naturally as Nina owns her own colour filled business The Dandy Lion Studio. Shares Nina “We did it all! For flowers, we used random bunches of flowers that I had ordered the week before. Bright and colourful. I collected a heap of random vessels and set my table.
No bouquets for me or the girls.A couple of rustic trestle tables a bunch of wooden chairs that we had in our shed (still do) and random rugs we picked up at second-hand shops. We curated our day.”

The couple had exclusive use of Koondrook Retreat for their wedding, says Nina. “We chose the Koondrook Retreat as it felt like the perfect venue. It only recently opened and we were their first wedding party. Wanting a winter wedding and loving the outdoors, it just made sense.

There are six glamping cabins surrounded by forest and a creek as well as the river. We booked the whole place for 2 nights. The vendors were super accommodating and set up festoon lights and provided enough firewood to keep the fire going all night.”

Nina and Liam chose Oli of Briars Atlas to photograph their wedding. “What a legend. As we knew our families weren’t going to be present, we wanted someone that can capture the day, the moments, the small stuff. No staging no fluff. While being part of this small intimate elopement. It was really hard to find someone. A dear friend suggested Oli, and my oh my. Once I saw his work I was almost nervous asking for his details and availability. Again, Covid worked in our favour and he indeed was available. I’d like to think we have become friends and couldn’t have asked for someone more funny, genuine and caring. Helps that we share a passion for pigs and found out that our snouted friends are related by the blood which makes us somewhat related, right?

Liam, not a fan of being photographed himself, but being able to appreciate photography met Oli via Zoom. After that he was like, I like that guy…. After our wedding, he did say Oli did a fantastic job by making him feel so comfortable he almost didn’t notice.”

Dinner was catered by Long Paddock Food Store says Nina. “The chef and owner of the local Cafe provided us with some delicious home-cooked, hearty dishes on the night. As well as grazing boxes for the day. If you ever come into our neck of the woods check out ‘The Long Paddock’.”

Nina & Liam, what an absolute honour to be able to share your wedding. Thank you both so much and thank you to Briars Atlas for sharing today’s beautiful celebration with us.