Sometimes a bride comes along who is exceptional at putting “pen to paper” and this is the case with lovely Ellisha. So I won’t even try to compete with how beautifully she tells the story of her and Dean’s wedding day. Captured by Kristie Carrick, please enjoy this couple’s love story, and their dreamy vintage wedding in the Blue Mountains, as told by Ellisha…

A little background about getting to our wedding…

7 years since our first official date, a two-year planned engagement turned into 3 years with 4 date changes including a venue change due to the pandemic. Although we felt it was important to remember that we did survive and did finally get married regardless of the challenges, and the roller coaster of emotions that came with it, we didn’t want our wedding to focus on this. When we finally got to have our wedding day it was amazing in every way and we felt the love all around. From near, from afar, in spirit, in our thoughts, and in our hearts. Best day ever!

Our story unofficially started over 10 years before our first date. We had crossed paths many times around town. I worked at the local hardware store and Dean was the fireman next door! In the last few years before the hardware closed down he started dropping by more often to pick up supplies of paint & general hardware. Dean recalls sometimes he didn’t even need it! It was the realization that the hardware store would be closing down soon that made him think he had to act soon…

We have our friend to thank for helping Dean make his move. Dean recalls he was leaving the store one day and Toni came racing out with a slip of paper containing my number (with my permission)… “You’ve been stalking her for 10 years you may as well have her phone number now before it’s too late” she said. Dean’s first thoughts were “it’s probably closer to 12 years…but all he can manage to say is “are you sure it’s okay?”

He remembers that I did follow him around a lot, and I would always say hello and see if he needed anything, and I would wave to him on the fire truck when they had a call out, so maybe there was something to that. The hardware closed down shortly after and I was temporarily unemployed for the first time in my life and freaking out about that a little. One night I received a message from Dean wishing me well for my future career, saying I will be missed, and I’d be awesome at whatever I do, and if I ever want to hang out “just as friends” to give him a call. After a month of talking and texting, we finally agreed to go on an official date.

In 2017 we went on our first overseas trip together to Europe. Dean recalls, “Late in the trip I’m dragging Ellisha around the streets of Koper, Slovenia looking for a jewellery store that once existed. I am having trouble finding it and we hear a busker singing and playing an acoustic version of a familiar Passenger song called “Let Her Go”, a song I played to Ellisha in the car delaying the end of our first official date. Just adjacent I find the store I’m looking for. We were lucky enough to find a beautiful locally crafted diamond engagement ring.”

Although I tried on the ring and it had my approval, I wanted a proper proposal, so I gave it to Dean for safe keeping for the remainder of the trip. He tells me about his proposal idea to get a sketchbook and fill it with drawings of all the places we’ve visited and things we’ve done together. An illustrated story about us. I welled up listening to him telling me this, thinking this boy really gets me, he knows what’s important to me, and we’ve just spent nearly 3 weeks together on an overseas trip in a foreign country and I still want to be around him. A proposal like that would be pretty damn hard to say no to… and then I waited… for over a year!

On a trip to Port Douglas in celebration of a big birthday a little over a year later, I had arranged a picnic hamper lunch from a local caterer, Magic Mouthfuls. We found a lovely spot by the river and after eating an amazing assortment of fresh salads and tasty treats, Dean says “since you gave me a present I have a gift for you.”

Out comes a stunning leather-bound sketchbook with the Florence insignia embossed into its cover. Inside are the cards I wrote him each month when we first started dating followed by a series of sketches. On the last page stuck in with cello tape the engagement ring from Slovenia! We celebrated that evening with a sunset catamaran cruise on the reef.

Our wedding vibe was cocktail with a vintage twist! We wanted to make it feel comfortable, fun, and relaxed like the backyard BBQs we had hosted with friends, only more classy and with some vintage styling and 5o’s fashion. We didn’t want a lot of ‘expected’ formalities and instead choose the parts that were most important to us and made it our own.

We both knew spending time with our guests on the day was important to us, as we had all not been together in such a long time. We knew it was our day, but we wanted the attention to be about “Our Story”, and how our guests fitted into that story, not so much about us being the centre of attention. A few months out (still in lockdown) my excitement about the upcoming wedding was waning, so I started an Instagram page for myself, the guests, and vendors to start to get everyone pumped again. It created a little prelude about what to expect on the day.

I hand-illustrated our invitations, creating a personal, relaxed, and vintage atmosphere from the onset. The stationary/signs/place cards / Our love story poster and a trivia game at the reception were all things I made… (with Dean’s input). I love the attention to the little details. It was all in the details when it came to the wedding stationery. From the original ‘Save the Date’, to the official invitation, ‘Welcome’ postcards for our overnight guests, and the place cards, all included my own illustrations and details in the design that were inspired by our travels. A hydrangea motive appeared throughout and I choose it both because it was the potted flower that adorned the balconies from our Croatian travels and also added that vintage heirloom vibe, along with the soft blue and purples for that bit of colour.

My aunty arranged one of my grandmother’s rings that included a blue stone to be worn on the day, and my mum gifted me my Nanna’s vintage hanky, which came in handy during speeches.

As I am a major “Friends”  fan I had the “Friends Wedding Episodes” playing in the background while we got ready in the morning. I was ready at 2 pm! Well, I had my dress on by 2 pm. I couldn’t wait a moment longer to put it on.

The Dress was what started it all!

I always wanted to wear either an original vintage 50s gown or a 1950s style. My love for 1950’s fashion led me to Forever Vintage in Sydney Balmain (since relocated to Woollahra). My maids of honour and my mum accompanied me. I didn’t go intending to find a dress, we didn’t even have a venue at this point, and we were still 20 months out till our original date, so it was actually a little pre-emptive going to look at dresses, but I was taking the opportunity while I had all my crew together. In hindsight, it was really good to have had this experience with all my closest people, and an experience that would not have happened in the 20 months after due to the pandemic, border closures, and the first of lockdowns that started shortly after.

About 4 weeks before the wedding – after many months of the dress being in storage through lockdown – I was a little nervous and excited about going to see it. The minute I put it back on I was so happy. It was still the dress! My stylist Casey said I was the most consistent bride she’d ever had. Good thing I’m patient and not one to change my mind. Whilst we didn’t know who owned my wedding dress before, we did know it was a genuine 1950s gown designed by the sought-after William Cahill of Beverly Hills.

Known for his attention to detail, timeless grace, and exceptional craftsmanship Cahill actually started out designing and engineering World War II bomber aircrafts. After the war, he and his brother saw a business opportunity with lots of soldiers returning home to marry their sweethearts and Cahill’s incredible artistic talent shifted from designing airplanes to designing wedding gowns. Who’d have thought? I loved hearing this story from my stylist Casey at Forever Vintage.

The bodice of my dress was a combination of tulle and lace. Structured but delicate at the same time. The tea-length skirt featured multiple layers of tulle which were hand cut to length during my final fitting which I referred to as “the cutting of the tulle!” I opted for rose gold details in the accessories and shoes to add a little bling. My wedding ring is also a rose gold diamond v-band that fitted around my engagement ring from Penrith Jewellery Workshop.

A little shout-out to Liv Lundelius who was my original makeup artist. She introduced me to low-tox makeup and unfortunately with our fourth date change she was already booked but meeting her was wonderful and was so worth the journey. A skincare detox lead me to find this local gem from Scrubbed Body Care. It helped my skin get to its best pre-wedding state and I’m still using it.

And I have to mention Rough Idea Designs who have some beautiful handmade pieces that make great gifts and held my rings and jewellery on the big day. Also Forever Press for my bridal diary and vow books. Gifted by my amazing best friend Kristy. And Made By Others who created the “Keep your S**T together” hanky. Gorgeous little shop in Moss Vale with some beautiful gifts for wedding parties or even wedding couples.

I had two maids of honour – my two best friends from school (Kristy) and from uni (Roshan). Both are very important people in my life. Kristy’s daughter my niece and her son, my nephew were to be our flower girl and page boy, with Dean’s son as his best man, and my brother as one of our witnesses. With borders still closed, even after waiting it out an extra year in hope, my QLD maid of honour and my niece and nephew couldn’t be here to share the day.

In an afternoon messaging session my friend Toni, I asked her daughter (now 20) to be my grown-up flower girl. When she was 5 years old and I worked at the hardware she asked me one day, if I was ever going to get married, because she wanted to be my flower girl. She was so excited when I asked her to be my grown-up flower woman. This just came about organically, and it was lovely to include her in the ceremony of the day. Another close friend from uni did an amazing job helping execute a virtual part of my “He’s Her Lobster Themed” Hens, so on the day as a thank you I nominated her ‘Friend of Honour” and we all got ready together with hair and makeup.

Not having some of my closest people with me in person on the day was one of the hardest parts of the whole process, and the worst part about this pandemic as too many of us know. Making the decision to still proceed knowing there was this high chance of some of our best friends and family not being there was something that caused the most stress. We had to just be confident that we were doing the right thing for us, and we kept that communication open.

When we actually made that final call, we had talked it through, it was very emotional, and there were definitely tears. The morning of the wedding I received a small note and gift that I kept with me throughout the day to remind me of our friendship and its strength, and that even though they couldn’t be there they understood it was our time to do this and gave us support to have the best day ever.  I feel very lucky and blessed to have these people in my life.

The Carrington held both our ceremony and reception. We opted for a local venue, and we also stayed on-site for photos so our guests barely noticed we were gone. We had to plan our numbers around restrictions at the time and the venue was very accommodating in helping us create as close to our original vision as possible. We had a slightly larger ceremony with the extended family and friends and then a smaller reception of 40 people including ourselves.

The Carrington provided the perfect backdrop for our vintage theme. Their events team was great, very approachable, and professional. They helped with timings for the day, and whilst we selected a package, we were able to customise everything to suit our theme. We had to walk through the public spaces of the hotel, and our ceremony was to be held in the public lounge area as the wet weather option, they did a great job of creating privacy with screens and the whole setup made it feel like we were the only ones there. It was actually really humbling to have strangers congratulate and compliment us prior to walking down the aisle and then again after as we went for photos.

Dean and I choose our ceremony and aisle song together. There were a few ones we liked, but we both said a song with lyrics would probably make us lose it, so instead, we choose an instrumental. “The Epilogue” from Lala Land. A surprise favourite movie that we shared. It’s a long song, so it gave plenty of time to build suspense leading up to my walk down the aisle. We also had 30 minutes of songs picked out while the guests arrived and took their seats, including Taylor Swift, Mumford and Sons, Passenger, and Dire straights.  The celebrant had to cut one or two as I may have been the most punctual bride ever and was ready to walk down the aisle 10 minutes before the scheduled 4 pm commencement!

It’s good to try and slow down and take in each moment of the day. Our photographer also said ‘literally’ slowing down your actions/movements makes for awesome photos. So walk slowly, but with intention down that aisle. Mum & Dad walked me down the aisle together. I was conscious of this advice and can relive and recall so many moments of the day because of it. It was advice I had read from numerous couples in previous real weddings and it was good advice as the day really does fly by once it kicks off.

We opted for a short and sweet ceremony with our celebrant Tina Marie from Love in the Mountains who told the guests a little bit of our story before we exchanged our personalised vows to each other.

Comfort was key. And to fit with the vintage theme  Dean decided on a navy blue coloured suit and vest from Formal Image Parramatta. His son wore a matching one, which was both for our wedding and a gift for his 21st. We got a little worried as the suits were ordered just days before lockdown, and weren’t sure if we were going to have them ready, but everything came together and we collected the suits a few weeks prior.

Not long after we got engaged, I entered a competition on Instagram with two local businesses Blue Mountains Eco Confetti and Blushing Rose. They were gifting a crocheted bouquet holder and hand-punched eco confetti. I was surprised and excited when I won! I  continued to follow these two businesses. Month after month of rains came, and Amanda from Blue Mountains Eco Confetti had put up a story quite distraught because the weather meant no dry gum leaves for confetti, and she would have to refund and stop any new orders because she simply could not continue. By this stage our wedding had been postponed…again… so I messaged offering back the 20 packets I had won, including some dried gums I had in vases to help in some way fulfil an upcoming order. Amanda came and collected them. A short break and rebranding of her business meant she got a second wind.

The intent for our wedding was to have the ceremony outside on the lawn. On the day when the weather meant we had to move indoors, for a moment I thought ‘oh no’ the confetti won’t fulfil its destiny! I turned to our coordinator and photographer and said “is there any way we can do a group shot with the confetti on the outside stairs straight after the ceremony?” I was determined we would see those lovingly hand-punched gum leaf hearts get hurled into the air one way or another to support Amanda’s business and journey. The result was a spectacular photo, one that was worth freezing for. I became my something blue! My favourite photo has to be that one of group one on the stairs with the confetti. And our favourite couple portrait is on the loveseat.

When it came to choosing my florals I knew Lisa from Wilde Ivy would be my go-to. The brief I gave her was vintage inspired, nothing that takes away from the dress silhouette, and something soft and romantic. She absolutely nailed it!

I’d seen once or twice a floral hoop appear among Polka Dot Wedding posts, and thought it fitted well with the vintage, relaxed vibe for the bridal party. The final results for my maid of honour and flower woman were stunning and fun. It was adding those special touches that helped solidify the theme and tied everything together.

I loved my flowers, as did everyone. Note to others, if you want to preserve your flowers then get the professionals like Embedded Blooms onto it. My only regret was not making this arrangement prior. Our wedding was followed by months of rain and the highest humidity I can remember. We returned from our honeymoon to a mouldy bouquet! I have organised to recreate the florals for an anniversary gift and have them preserved with Embedded Blooms.

Our photographer Kristie Carrick was a wonder woman on the day, and a photographic ninja! She made us both feel relaxed and was very accommodating for a ‘quick’ one on one session so both Dean and I could return to the celebrations and our guests. He’s not big on photos, but Kristie did well to have him looking natural and dapper.

I found Kristie via Instagram and was instantly captivated by her images. When she sent me her package folio the design and words used to describe her approach by telling our ‘story’ through photos had me feeling we were onto a good fit. When it came to the portrait session Dean’s brief was, ‘just do a third of what you normally do!’

It was the stories from the day and photos that came afterward that were so special and meaningful to us. Kristie captured lots of natural candid shots, we enjoyed looking back through them.

Mum and I made the wedding cake. The base layer was a GF carrot cake (Dean’s favourite) with cream cheese icing. The other tiers were actually fake! It was more for a visual than anything. A simple three tiers topped with our E & D and our Piran houses from our travels. It helped that I studied graphic design and majored in illustration at university, and have always loved making, baking, and creating.

Our cookie favours were inspired by our travels and special memory of our favourite little seaside town Piran. The original ceramic houses were purchased from an artisan store in Piran on our second trip to Slovenia. I got talking to the owner and told her of our engagement and my ring that came from Koper (the next town over) and that the houses would make beautiful wedding cake toppers. She kindly gifted us with an extra house and told me that it would be so we would think of Piran and remember the times and adventures we had there on our wedding day. We used the originals on the cake and it was amazing to have Nisa from Mud & Sugar recreate these as cookies to share that special memory with our family and friends. They were just as delicious as they were beautiful!

Dean and I selected our favourite photos and I made them into a “Love Story Timeline” that was displayed at our reception on a large antique mirror.

I love a well-executed tablespace, and the table details were executed perfectly by the venue with the pieces provided. ( I may have made maps and numbered every place card to make it easy for the venue team… )  I got a sneak peek as they were setting up the evening before. It was my happy place before the day started the next morning.

We hired pieces from Penny Lane Studios for the tables and the mirror stand to go with the vintage bottles from our collections. Nicole was a gem and a pleasure to work with offering her expertise and kindness.

The Finnish and Croatian Flags from each of our family backgrounds were included and draped over our chairs at the reception. Vintage bottles Dean’s father had collected while working on the railways were used for the florals on the tables. And the table numbers were from the Finnish log-tossing game of Finska! A game we introduced to many of our guests at gatherings prior.

We included a handwritten message to each of our guests inside their place cards. Making all our guests feel like part of our day and thanking them for being part of our story. I’m so glad we (I) took the time to do this, it turned out it was easier than I thought once started. It was a good reflection that we really did have our most important people with us. Mine was the only card without a message, so my brother left me a note I found later the next day. It said ‘Now you have to live with a boy!’

We also played a game of trivia at the reception with 21 questions about Dean & me to get all our guests interacting with each other, just like when we introduced everyone to the competitive Finnish Log toss game of Finska at our annual BBQ. We wanted our different worlds of work, our friend groups, and family to come together over a common experience.

Our first dance song was to “I Don’t Know How” by Best Coast. This song was something different. I had put it on a mix tape I made Dean early on when we were dating. It started slow and then kicked off which we thought was a fun and unexpected change of pace and a good way to get everyone on the dance floor.

Adam our DJ from the Vintage Stylus was awesome.  The setup fitted perfectly in both the room (on stage in the ballroom) and with our theme. We talked to Adam beforehand about having our guests BYO vinyls from their own collections to spin on the night, and he was totally on board with this idea. It resulted in some fun photo ops with my uncle and godfather. Adam compiled an amazing soundtrack to the night and delivered it with expertise and passion.

Some of the highlights from the night were my maid of honour’s speech – she made us cry! The speeches in general were amazing. The ‘Chicken Dance’ ala New Girl during the reception, organised by my wedding party for the DJ to play, was so fun.

Almost all of our guests, even the local ones, stayed the night and we all caught up over breakfast the next morning. There were some very random conversations that morning but was so lovely to see everyone the next morning as the new Mr Dean & Mrs Ellisha, and a great way to gather more memories with each other.

And my advice for others planning their day… Don’t be late, so you can take your time once you’re there.

Don’t stress about the weather, it’ll do what it wants, rain, hail, or shine! Do make sure there is always a wet weather/windy weather/ freezing ice or 40-degree heatwave back up plan, especially if you decide to get married in the Blue Mountains!

If things get tough in the planning stages, take some time out, and schedule wedding-free breaks. Every second from the time you get engaged doesn’t have to be about the wedding.  Make sure to communicate with your partner, friends, and family about how you’d like them to help/be included. Being honest and clear about things that are stressing you or your partner and stopping and understanding why these things are upsetting will help you find solutions to move on.

I always said to Dean as a bride I would be particular, but not precious. Everyone close to me knows I like to be organised and I take pride and joy in the attention to little details. I may even border on being a perfectionist at times, but I made sure I wasn’t going to get upset or stressed if something didn’t go exactly according to plan, and I adapted in creative ways. No matter how organised you are something will change on the day.

And lastly, make it yours! Put your energy (and dollars) into the things that are most important to you both, and that only reflects you and your own ‘love story’. By asking about everything you choose, does this fit into our story? This question will help make decisions easier and quicker. It will make for consistency across your wedding day and a less stressful and more memorable experience for everyone, something you won’t regret.

And thank you to Polka Dot Wedding, for providing inspiring beautiful real weddings, and achievable weddings. I even got a message on our wedding day. It was beautiful and overwhelming in the best way. And for others sharing their experiences good and bad that helped get us (mostly me) up the other side of the hill when we hit the dips throughout.