Alyssa & Thomas’s enchanted pastel dream wedding was captured by 3L Photography and saw the couple dance into their perfect day surrounded by their nearest and dearest. Due to COVID restrictions, the couple had two weddings! And who better to tell us about their love story than the bride herself!
Thomas and I met as casual acquaintances at Sydney University Cheerleading. Thomas throws people in the air and I get thrown into the air! However, as we cheered for different teams at the time and I was already dating someone else, our relationship didn’t progress at this stage.
Fast forward 5 years and Thomas invited me to a casual lunch catchup. Thomas was going to cheerleading training straight after lunch so he was wearing his training gear, basically a t-shirt and some very short shorts. I learned soon after that Thomas’ outfit choice was his biggest regret, because in his words “she wasn’t just the most beautiful girl I had ever seen, she was the first girl I ever went WOW to.” The lunch went splendidly, the conversation just flowed and I realised that we had more in common than I initially thought. Soon after this, Thomas initiated a second date, and asked me to be his girlfriend – the rest is history!
Thomas asked my father for permission to marry me in January 2021. Thomas had my dream proposal planned at the Taronga Zoo Wildlife Retreat, where he had already arranged for a professional photographer. Unfortunately, the second wave of COVID meant these plans could no longer go ahead, so the entire thing was cancelled as all of Sydney went into a strict lockdown. Devastated, Thomas knew he still wanted to propose despite the proposal plans being ruined. In July, he took me to Yaralla House near Concord Hospital. We were just enjoying a stroll, when we reached a long staircase with a beautiful view, and Thomas dropped to one knee to pop the question. It was perfect. We took some selfies of ourselves and the ring!
In November of that year, we were able to rebook the Taronga Zoo Wildlife Retreat and Thomas got to propose for a second time, with many photos of the special moment. I think it’s pretty special that this guy wanted to propose to me not just once, but twice, and was so determined to have all my dreams for the proposal still become a reality.
We actually got legally married at the Chippendale Registry during a time when COVID restrictions were still in place. This was a small, intimate ceremony where we were allowed to invite just 8 of our closest family members, and everyone had to wear masks. The reason we did this was so quickly because I actually received the opportunity to study Medicine at the University of Queensland in late 2021. We both knew we wanted to be together and that we wanted to make the move interstate from Sydney to Brisbane as a married couple, so we seized the opportunity and made it official as soon as we could. It was so special because after the ceremony, our immediate family members finally got to meet properly and we all had a picnic in a park nearby. I wore a short white dress and did my own hair and makeup. My mum brought me the most beautiful white bouquet of roses to hold and gave Thomas a matching white boutonnière. I have never seen our parents more thrilled for both of us and we both agreed that this was exactly what we wanted.
However, Thomas still knew that I had dreamed of having a big fairytale wedding ever since I was a little girl and was determined to see this through. He suggested that we hold a bigger celebration with all our family and friends one year later. Thomas joked that we had gotten engaged twice, and now we were going to be married twice as well!
Thomas knew that my dream wedding was going to be at a destination location, as I could never imagine myself getting married in the city. My dream location was Hunter Valley and after doing some research I created a shortlist of 10 venues I wanted to visit. Before we moved to Brisbane, we drove to the Hunter Valley to visit some open days at the venue. At the top of our list was ‘The White Barn’. As soon as we arrived at the venue I knew it was absolutely perfect and that I wouldn’t have to look at any other wedding venues we had on our list. I loved every detail about the venue, all the small details that made the exterior and interior so stunning.
Roses have always had a special meaning to me. As a young girl, I always loved red roses and hoped to receive some on Valentine’s Day. I think what made it extra special was that my dad would buy me a single red rose when I was a really young girl before I started having my own Valentines. Because of this, I had to have roses in my bouquet. While red wouldn’t really suit the colour scheme, pastel colours including pink, blue and white, made up a spectacular colour palette that captured everything I hoped for in my perfect bouquet of roses. Dee from Brilliant Buds Flowers and Gifts used some photos we sent as inspiration to create the most perfect bouquets for myself and my bridesmaids. I also got a special bouquet to throw at the reception, so I didn’t have to throw my bouquet or steal one from one of the bridesmaids! The special aspect of my bouquet was that it also included blue roses. These were not only my “something blue” but also were designed to match Thomas’ sky blue suit. While roses don’t naturally come in blue, Dee found creative ways of using a dye on the roses to make them the perfect shade of blue I was hoping for. The flowers turned out so great and one of my friends ended up preserving them for me afterward so I have a keepsake forever!
Before choosing a song, Thomas and I were both certain we wanted an instrumental track. The idea behind this was that we didn’t want the lyrics of the music to take away from the magic of the moment – we wanted people to recognise the song but not necessarily sing along to it, but instead focus on the actual events occurring. We spent a long time on YouTube looking up different instrumental songs before coming across Brooklyn Duo, a couple that makes music videos on piano and cello.
I knew that for my bridesmaids, I wanted to use the song “Can’t help falling in love,” a more updated version than the original Elvis Presley version that is equally as beautiful. I first heard this version of the song in the movie “Crazy Rich Asians” during the wedding scene and fell in love with the harmonious notes and melody. Brooklyn Duo had a perfect version of this song and it fits perfectly with our outdoor theme and made for an amazing entrance.
I had a different song for walking down the aisle with my dad. Since I was little, my favourite song to play on the piano was Canon in D. There was something about it, even though so common and possibly cliched, it just melts my heart in ways I cannot describe. I always knew it would be the song I walked down the aisle to at my wedding and it became a reality. Similar to the instrumental song for my bridesmaids, Brooklyn Duo also created a perfect rendition of Canon in D, so that was the song I chose to walk down to. Anytime I hear this song I am reminded of that moment and the indescribable emotions I felt at the time.
Since we were using instrumental songs we chose to have a DJ rather than live music at our wedding ceremony and reception. Our DJ – Funky Fiesta Entertainment – did a magnificent job and we were very thrilled with this decision as it was perfect for us.
Our ceremony was outside The White Barn on a perfect summer’s day. The colour scheme was lots of white, some blue and pink, which looked so delicate and beautiful against the grassy, farm-like backdrop, and we had a floral arbor framing our ceremony outside the white barn. We wanted to have Christian elements in our wedding ceremony that weren’t too overwhelming or uncomfortable for our non-religious guests. We kept this in mind, and our celebrant Afaf Girgis helped us create a hybrid mix where we had some Christian elements mixed with some more contemporary aspects. The feeling we wanted to have was that we would honour our beliefs (this was especially important for my family) while still being respectful of everyone who attended. Because of this, we chose a Bible reading that was not too religious in nature, but more focused on love (1 Corinthians 13:4-5) We also chose a reading called “These Hands” which speaks about the promises that our wedding rings would hold for us. These were particularly special and we felt like it was the best of both worlds for all our guests and family. Our song choices at the ceremony were not too religious as we wanted to ensure that the songs would be familiar to all our guests regardless of their upbringing or their beliefs.
We had our little puppy Milo as our page boy! He carried our rings down the aisle in a basket, which my parents spent a lot of time training him to do! It was so special, as he’s my first dog ever and something I wanted for a very long time. We got him during the first year of our marriage and he’s definitely brought us so much joy in all that time we’ve spent with him! He is the most friendly dog you could ever imagine, he loves all humans and all dogs, maybe a little too much!! He got very distracted walking down the aisle because he wanted to give all the guests kisses on their legs but he still did a great job and made it down to the end with the rings intact. We are so proud of him!
Thomas cried a bit at the altar when I walked down the aisle – I secretly knew he would, but this was also captured on our wedding video and it was just so beautiful to watch. Thomas is such a strong guy and knowing he was comfortable enough to be vulnerable and show a softer side on our wedding day made me feel so loved and cherished.
Our friends are cheerleaders and put us both in the air (yes, even Thomas!) for group photos after the ceremony! I honestly can’t believe they lifted me in my wedding dress and especially my high heels but it seems anything is possible! They were also very organised and coordinated themselves in a group so they were already prepared for a group photo and just needed the two of us to join them.
Laurie from 3L Photography was incredible. She took control of the day from the moment she arrived at our venue. She kept Thomas and I away from each other in separate rooms so we wouldn’t see each other until the ceremony, helped to ensure things started running smoothly and honestly took all my stress and worries away. Laurie made sure to capture every little detail which was exactly what I hoped for, she made me feel so calm and collected even though deep down I think I was a nervous wreck! She was so organised and on top of everything because she works frequently at the White Barn with the owner (Sue) so the two of them know each other like family. It really made such a difference. She also got our wedding photos to us so quickly, within a month after the wedding. We are thrilled with how the photos turned out, they are so professional and of great quality. She went above and beyond what she needed to as a photographer, and really made our day one we’ll remember for the rest of our lives.
Thomas wore a special custom-made suit by Mitch Graham. Mitch was the choreographer of our wedding dances (both father-daughter and our first dance) and runs a milestone group specialising in all things couple-related. He designs first dances for weddings, custom suits, and bespoke jewellery, and even helps couples buy their first homes together as he is also an amazing real estate agent! We became very close friends with Mitch as we did lessons with him for the 6 months leading up to our wedding. During this time, we got to see his suit studio and knew straight away that we wanted to order Thomas’ suit from Mitch. We had a very specific colour palette in mind, a light blue, and Mitch made this possible. It was such an exciting experience to be involved with choosing unique aspects of the suit, comparing colour swatches, and coming up with something we absolutely loved. Thomas’ suit was very high quality and Mitch made sure it was tailored perfectly to fit, even after Thomas managed to rupture his left bicep a few months before the wedding which meant his suit size ended up fluctuating quite a bit! Mitch was very accommodating and we cannot speak more highly of him. Thomas looked dashing in his sky-blue suit!!
I set aside one weekend to go shopping in Sydney with my mum to buy my perfect wedding dress. It was always part of my childhood dream to have my mum involved in the process, as her input and opinion are so important to me. I organised appointments at around 10 dress shops for 3 days straight. On the first day, we went to 3 shops. The dresses were all beautiful, but nothing was perfect. On the second day, the first shop we went to was Perfect Day Bridal in Willoughby. The lady serving us was especially attentive in listening to the kind of dress I hoped to find and really tailored her dress choices to the styles she thought would look most flattering on my specific body type. The first dress I tried on there literally took my breath away, and my jaw hit the ground. I’m not really one to cry easily but looking at myself in the mirror wearing this dress almost had me in tears. It didn’t even take much more than a look I shared with my mum for us both to know it was the one. Something about the way it sparkled when I moved, caught the light in all kinds of luminescent places, and how its detailed embroidery suited the Hunter Valley vineyard theme so well just made it so perfect. It was a fitted ivory dress with a long train and organza overlay. We secured the dress there and then, along with a stunning Swarovski-covered crystal veil from the same store. We cancelled all the remaining 6 dress appointments we had booked and took the rest of the weekend off to spend some quality mother-daughter time together! While I have heard of a lot of brides walking away from the dress they chose either regretting their decision or questioning it, I didn’t experience any of this. For the next 6 months, I knew my dress was perfect and I really couldn’t wait to wear it. When it finally arrived, Joseph from Amarige Bridal helped me with alterations and did a phenomenal job. His handiwork is truly incredible, he was so gentle and knowledgeable about the fabric and I was thrilled with the end result after it was tailored. I absolutely loved trying the dress on, wearing it on the day, and now even admiring it in my wardrobe!
The theme of our wedding was an enchanted forest, set in the beautiful landscape of Hunter Valley. We had canapés on the balcony for our guests while we took wedding party photos at the beautiful venue. The reception was held inside the white barn itself which was already pre-decorated and stunning from wall to wall. The venue came with everything we could possibly ask for, and this was by far the best decision we made with regard to our wedding day.
Our stationary vendor pulled out last minute as she wasn’t able to get access to her printers around Christmas/New Year’s time. As a result, Thomas got his creative juices flowing and decided he’d just DIY this all himself – using Canva to create a welcome sign, seating chart, menus, and table numbers. I am honestly so impressed with what he came up with, all using the colour theme I’d prepared and also keeping it in line with the “Enchanted Forest” theme I was hoping for. He framed the welcome sign and seating chart and printed everything off professionally on quality paper. Thomas did such an incredible job! Before he did any of this I didn’t know he had it in him to create such amazing work! A few of my family members commented on how great the signs looked and it was such a pleasure to tell them that Thomas made it all himself.
Our friend Tiffany also designed our invitations as well as our wedding website. She was a key component in helping my “Enchanted Forest” theme come to life! She created mood boards on Pinterest to help me get an idea of the colour scheme that might best fit the theme. I am just so lucky to have such talented and creative friends!!
It was just incredible to have my dad involved so much on the day. He walked me down the aisle, did a speech, and a father-daughter dance with me. He was just so involved throughout the whole wedding planning process as well, ensuring everything ran smoothly on the day. My dad is my favourite person in the world (other than Thomas) and just raised me so well. I owe him so much and having him say in his speech that this was his proudest moment ever in life was just the most beautiful thing I could have ever imagined. I’m also his only daughter and first child so I think the whole experience was really memorable for him – he couldn’t stop smiling the whole day and even speaks of it afterward so fondly.
Our first dance was by far my favourite part of the whole wedding! It was something I planned months in advance (but really thought about years in advance!). The song we chose was “Rewrite The Stars” from The Greatest Showman soundtrack. The reason why we chose this song was that it was the first song we sang a duet to (one of the activities we started during the COVID lockdown). We engaged Mitch Graham (the same vendor who made Thomas’ suit, and my wedding band) to help with choreographing our wedding dance. We had weekly lessons with him over a course of about 6 months in total, where he taught us to waltz. He also taught us little snippets of New Vogue, a style of ballroom dancing. He was also the reason that I decided to take up ballroom dancing as a new hobby!!
I have a ballet background in dance, so naturally, I was so excited to finally be able to showcase some of my dancing as most of our family and friends had never actually had the opportunity to see! As a cheerleader, I also knew Thomas would be able to do some PHENOMENAL lifts that would really take everyone’s breath away at the reception. Unfortunately, Thomas ruptured his left bicep about 3 months before the wedding and had to get surgery to repair it. This meant he was unable to go to the gym or train for those 3 months. To my disbelief, he managed to get enough strength to do some basic acrobatic and cheerleading lifts in our dance, even some with one arm! While it limited some of the skills we were able to include, our audience was so impressed! This included some lifts like the classic Dirty Dancing lift, as well as a lift called “the angel” and another one called “the double windmill.” Having a second dress to change into with shorts underneath made this all possible as I wouldn’t have been able to move as freely in my first dress. We got so many compliments on our dance and a few of my friends cried from how beautiful it was!
I bought my reception dress in Brisbane from a lovely lady at Laneway Bridal. The unique aspect of my reception dress is that I designed it myself. I sent some inspirational photos to Laneway Bridal in the hope that they could recreate something similar for me, something easy to move in that reflected light when I spun. The dress was tailored specifically to my measurements and required absolutely no alterations. I went in to try it on, and it was literally like a cinderella fit. I was so happy with how this dress turned out and I got so many compliments on it. It especially looked stunning in photos. I loved the contrast between my two dresses – the first one being a lot more fitted and figure-hugging to flatter my body, whereas the second dress swayed in the wind and really made me feel like a true princess. It was like a dream come true to wear these two dresses and well worth the investment! Both made for some incredible photos.
My favourite part of wedding planning was meeting Mitch Graham. We learned our first dances with him, he designed Thomas’ suit, he designed my wedding band, and he became one of our closest friends. He inspired me to start ballroom dancing and made me love it. I have always wanted to do ballroom but never had the opportunity to, and Mitch helped me realise how much I really did want to do it and now I’ve never looked back. We know Mitch will be a lifelong friend of both Thomas and me, and we look forward to achieving new milestones with him like buying our first house and so much more! His business is unique and special and I’ve never come across anything like it before, but I really believe the wedding industry needs more people like him who don’t just stop when the first dance is over but is involved with every aspect of the wedding planning as well as all the events that await a newlywed couple in the months and years to come afterward.
A little note to add, I also had a first dance with my father that Mitch also choreographed for us. It was much simpler than my dance with Thomas (no lifts for sure!) but still equally as beautiful. I chose the song “Cinderella” by Steven Curtis Chapman for my father-daughter dance, again a song that I knew from primary school that I wanted to be my first dance with my father. The lyrics say it all. It is just such a beautiful song about a father watching his little girl grow up, helping her practice for prom, and eventually giving her away to her future husband (which is exactly what happened to us too!). It was my dad’s first time ever dancing so he practiced a lot to keep up with me, and I am so proud of the work he put in to make it look good. It couldn’t have been more perfect.
There were honestly so many amazing photos, but most of my favourites were some of the lifts from our dance, as well as a couple of lifts we did after the reception. Laurie (our photographer) pulled Thomas and me aside to have a few photos on our own and also quality time on our own, away from the rest of the crowd. It was really special to just spend 10 minutes together, enjoying each other’s presence and really being able to soak in the events of the day. It’s hard to remember things when it all goes so quickly but this little moment really cemented things for me and helped me to remember the true reason why I was there – to celebrate the love Thomas and I have for each other! These moments were so perfect and I think that the photos really show that raw emotion as it was just the two of us, with the person I feel most comfortable with.
Since the cheerleaders made up the majority of our friendship circles, the vibe at our reception was highly energetic, vibrant, and cheerful. Our friends brought so much positivity to the wedding atmosphere that made it overall such a perfect feel. All our guests had a HUGE smile on their faces the entire day, from the moment I arrived in a limo to the ceremony, right until the end when we had a sparkler exit. People were also talking about how amazing our wedding was and what a great time they had in the weeks and months following, which was the best possible outcome we could have ever expected or wanted!
I’ve sung praises about Laurie our photographer already, but I would say that the vendor that stood out to me on the day was Sue from The White Barn. She has been in the business for so long and her venue is so well thought out and perfect for weddings that it was just perfect in every single way. She reassured me throughout the day and let us come in the day before to set up the venue and rehearse a few small details including a practice of our dance on the dancefloor. Sue took great care of our guests, they all commented on how well looked after they felt and she has such great connections with other great vendors that made her stand out. As I mentioned earlier, the White Barn was the first and only venue we visited because, after one visit alone, I was 100% certain that this is where I wanted to get married.
In addition to Sue, I’d say Laurie (our photographer) and Travis (the videographer from Hidden Leaf Productions) were other standouts because they all knew each other so well and had clearly worked together many times, making them so comfortable with each other. They knew where to stand, never got in each other’s way, and got along so well. It felt like we were part of a big welcoming family. They got all the perfect shots for us at the White Barn because they were so familiar with the location. I think going to the open day at the White Barn and having Laurie there to meet in person really added to our experience and we couldn’t be happier.
Thank you to Alyssa & Tom for sharing their stunning wedding with us, and to 3L Photography for the gorgeous images!
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