I am a little overwhelmed with where to begin with Hannah and Paul’s wedding; you see, Hannah, founder of paper flower business Miss Poppins & Me, was always going to lend her DIY touch when it came to a wedding, but while I’d already long fallen head over heels for the bright and beautiful aesthetic of this day (yellow wedding dress anyone?) what really made me fall in love with these two, was the immense amount of sentimental detail they wove into every moment of their day. “We decided to call our wedding ‘Operation Kaleidoscope’ and make it a fun, colourful and eclectic indoor picnic wedding celebration” explains Hannah. “We drew the inspiration for our bright and bold colour scheme from our favourite tv show “The Mysterious Benedict Society” with its quirky retro world and colour palette.”

With Phoebe Powell Hannah and Paul acknowledged everything they loved during their wedding – from their ceremony backdrop inspired by their love of Bluey to the symbolic joining of Lego houses, not to mention, of course, the endless handmade paper flowers and details Hannah and Paul added throughout the day. And even the date? Was special, notes Hannah “We were married on Friday 22nd July 2022 at Christmas Hills Hall, Victoria. We had to be married on the 22nd as we started dating on the 22nd and engaged on the 22nd. We always celebrate our monthaversary in some way, so this date held significance and Paul only wanted to remember one date.”

With a first dance at their wedding a swing dance, naturally, Hannah and Paul’s story began in the dance floor! “Paul and I met three years ago while swing dancing at the Melbourne Lindy Exchange – he says he complimented me on my attire (and was very proud of that). I only remember dancing with someone who loved to chat. We slowly got to know each other over a year at many Swing Patrol events and classes across Melbourne, so a year later when Paul professed he liked me, I quickly shot him down. I didn’t want to date another swing dancer in case it didn’t work out. However, for the following month, we ended up hanging out A LOT!

The more we talked, the less confident I was about my decision, so right before Christmas 2019 I told him I liked him and then flew off to visit my family in Queensland the very next day. Upon my return, he was dressed to impress me at the airport and has been sweeping me up with his natural charm, confidence and ridiculousness ever since, so that when he proposed in May 2021 on a ‘casual’ bush walk, I couldn’t resist but say YES. Together, we make the little moments precious, normal things ridiculous and enjoy feeling safe and secure together, no matter the storms we pass through.

It was a Saturday (aptly, the 22nd!) of May that Paul asked Hannah to marry him, he reminisces “We were on the Lyrebird track at Badger Weir in the Yarra Valley coming back to the car park from the weir. We stopped where the creek joins together after splitting around a little island.

A family was on the spot with a pregnant mother, father and small child. After they finally wandered off, I turned to Hannah, she sorted her backpack out and then I took both her hands, looked into her eyes and asked her if she would marry me and she immediately said yes. I pulled out the ring box I had concealed in my camera bag and presented her with a ring. This was custom made for me to give to Hannah by Tim at Silver Mist Studio in Healesville and had a purple emerald cut sapphire in a vintage style setting to match some of Hannah’s favourite jewellery.”

Hannah chose the most delightful yellow frock from Ted Baker for the wedding. “Having been a wedding coordinator in the past, I had seen a lot of brides struggling to keep their white dress clean all day, especially if it had a train that ended up trailing in the mud. It looked so stressful, so I decided early on that I needed a tea dress that gave me freedom of movement with minimal stress and in anything but white as I am a messy eater and we were going to have a picnic wedding. Spending months searching on Etsy and asking all my vintage friends for the ideal dress, I went with Paul one day to an outlet shopping centre, which is not my cup of tea. He was specifically looking for jeans at RM Williams but the store was closed for a 15 min break so we had some time to kill. Suddenly the shop next door looked appealing. Not a brand shopper, I didn’t know much about Ted Baker but the colours and decor attracted me. While looking around, a yellow dress caught my attention and as soon as I tried it on, it was true love and it fitted perfectly. Paul danced with me in the shop just to make sure it would work, and everything was just right that it felt too good to be true. Yes, there were tears, but after 15 minutes of thinking and pondering, we ended up buying the Jilliie Tie Neck Midi Dress for under $250. To make it feel more me, I ended up buying some crystal buttons and changing them over and tying the bow to make it look vintage. I struggled to find a vintage jacket to wear with it, but the search was in vain as our wedding day ended up being the warmest and sunniest winter day.

For my jewellery, we went back to the antique shop (Mailing Road Antiques Centre) where I found a vintage marcasite watch on one of our earlier dates and found a marcasite brooch and earrings from the same stall, all on my birthday! For my hat, it was a lot harder and I was searching for months on Etsy and asked lots of friends online. However, I ended up finding a bunch of damaged vintage hats on Facebook Marketplace with one perfect hat in the bundle. The seller was so sweet that after I mentioned what I was going to use the hat for, she ended up giving it to me for free and it was true love as soon as I put it on.

For shoes, there was no question – I needed flat shoes to be comfortable dancing in, so I chose my favourite brand Charlie Stone Shoes. To make a statement with my yellow dress, I settled on the Toscana red flats. Unfortunately, there were major shipping issues, but their customer support was the best I’ve ever dealt with and they made sure I had shoes on time.”

Paul wore a charcoal suit and that tie? Rainbow! He tells “I had firm ideas on what I wanted to wear – a suit from MJ Bale and boots from RM Williams. My old pair of RM’s had been worn out after years of dancing and were what I was wearing when I met Hannah, so a new shiny pair seemed appropriate for our wedding. I had shopped at MJ Bale before and they had looked after me well, so they were my first choice for a wedding suit. I picked the greenest suit I could get in my size as it’s my favourite colour and the team in Chapel Street looked after me well.

To finish the outfit I needed a pair of braces which were a bit of a saga to find before we encountered Declic in the Emporium who had the most brilliant pair of colourful striped braces and excellent customer service. The striped tie was a vintage gift from Hannah and the colours tied in amazingly well with the braces.”

The first look and resulting photo locations were as much a part of the day as the wedding itself says Hannah. “We decided to do a first look before the wedding ceremony so that we could relax and be present for the rest of the day. So, Paul and I met at Badger Weir which was where he proposed to me the year prior.

We then drove off to the main street in Healesville as we had spent most weekends while we were dating walking up and down and visiting the shops. We visited our favourite shops on the day – Verso Books where we posed with our favourite books, Gewürzhaus spice shop as we are now addicted to their delicious herbs and spices, and My Little Kitchen with our beloved keep cups as they are one of our favourite cafes in town and also our wedding caterer.”

Of their wedding party, Paul tells “My brother Matt was my best man because he was one of the most constant good parts of my life and we get along well as brothers. For minimal fuss and expense, we raided his wardrobe for his wedding outfit. Being the well-dressed man that he is, it was easy to find a suitable Joe Black navy suit and a purple Ted Baker shirt which is my wife’s favourite colour. His MCM Studio tie was from his wedding day and he found a brilliant pair of colourful socks to complete the outfit.”
And for Hannah? ” For me, I wanted one of my best friends Jodie. We had met 8 years prior at Bible study and she introduced me to the Melbourne swing dancing scene, had been my church companion for years, I’d been there for her as her bridesmaid and we would catch up lots as we only lived a 20-minute walk away. I knew that I could trust her completely to make me feel comfortable and relaxed on my wedding day in a creative and caring way – she of course lived up to all of that and more. Struggling to find a true vintage dress for her that suited the wedding, I turned to an Australian vintage reproduction brand that I had longingly admired- Retrospec’d. The Lana Savannah took my fancy as I love floral prints and bright rich colours. I bought one for me and Jodie as I wanted one as a keepsake, but upon trying hers on, Jodie said don’t be ridiculous and just keep hers (which I have worn several times already). I managed to find her vintage pearls to accessorise it and she found the most gorgeous shoes on Facebook Marketplace.”

The flowers, of course, were made by Hannah herself. “My favourite flowers are roses, so much so that I created a business sculpting paper roses for weddings and anniversaries, called Miss Poppins & Me. I wanted to make my wedding flowers, and unlike a lot of other paper florists who got into this by making flowers for their weddings, I spent years making flowers for everyone else.

Inspired by our wedding name, Operation Kaleidoscope, we soon decided that the colour scheme must be a bright and bold rainbow of our favourite colours. Fortunately, I had a vast array of these colours available in my collection of Italian crepe paper in my studio, so every morning before work for about five months, I set to work creating 90 single-stemmed roses, two rose bouquets, six mini rose boutonnieres and a mini rose hair clip. We then used the single-stemmed roses as table decorations that then turned into thank-you gifts for all our guests to take home at the end of the day. It was a lot of fun to be able to create flowers to suit that, and not have to worry about season availability or keeping them alive.”

Hiring a photographer that they felt comfortable with was key for these two, says Hannah. “I fell in love with Phoebe’s work through Frankie magazine and had been following her for years on Instagram, so I felt very excited when we were in contact with her. We knew after our first online meeting that she was the one for us and didn’t even consider anybody else. On the day, as soon as she arrived I knew I could relax and just be myself with her. Phoebe knew how to guide us through to get the best photos and where to be when we were in motion. She really matched our quirky personalities and even dressed up to suit our colourful wedding theme. We are so thankful for her creativity and attention to detail.”

“We also got our wedding party to sneak in and buy our favourite Portuguese custard tarts from Kitchen & Butcher for us to devour for morning tea, and our driver Ray met us at the cafe in his beautiful 1948 dark green Ford. We then stopped by one of our favourite stargazing spots in the Yarra Valley (Ray even bumped into a truck-driving friend while parked and we sneakily snapped a photo with his truck!) before heading to a lemon stand near our venue to get our final photos before the wedding. It was such a relaxed but meaningful morning walking down memory lane together.”

The charming country space, Christmas Hills Hall turned out to be the perfect all-in-one venue for Hannah & Paul. Explains Hannah “To keep life simpler for everyone (especially the interstate guests), we wanted everything to be at one venue so that everything was relaxed and flowed smoothly. With all the Melbourne lockdowns during our wedding preparations, even just visiting venues that were willing to take bookings was hard. We knew we wanted something in the Yarra Valley, as that was where we spent most of our dating life, but also not an obvious wedding venue.

When we were finally able to start visiting sites in person, we soon realised what we were looking for a venue with windows looking out to the countryside, heating, wooden floors, a kitchen and everything undercover. When we discovered Christmas Hills Hall, we knew we had our place. There were delightful rural views and two big rooms to hold the ceremony, dancing and reception. The icing on the cake was that for weddings, the venue gives a 3-day hire providing us with ample time for set up, the wedding and pack down.”

Hannah wanted to break tradition with the processional, but Paul really wanted feel all the motion of the moment, so instead, the pair compromised. “Instead I got to break another tradition and walked the aisle solo” remembers Hannah. “For our processional, we decided on one of our favourite songs called “Banks” by NEEDTOBREATHE, which is basically about how as a couple we want to hold each other close but never hold us back, like the banks of a river. In keeping with the river theme, we made the ‘aisle’ to be like a winding river. We had most of our guests sitting on picnic blankets and cushions for the ceremony, so we placed them in a way to create this shaped aisle. I have since been told that I may have been one of the fastest brides walking down the aisle, but I couldn’t help walking in time with the music on one of the happiest days of my life.”

Can you believe the bright and beautiful ceremony backdrop was inspired by Bluey? “Another important detail was that we wanted to include our favourite show, Bluey, into our special day. Ideally, it would have been amazing to go to Bunnings to get our wedding photos taken to recreate one of our favourite episodes called “Hammerbarn”, but alas it was not logistically possible. So, we brought Bunnings to us. I collected an array of paint chips from Bunnings and created a paint wall backdrop from Hammerbarn by glueing each chip onto panels of corflute and we attached it to a photography backdrop stand on the day. It created the perfect colourful sensation we wanted for our ceremony and the ideal backdrop for photographs with friends later in the day.”

“The couple chose Pastor Joel Hawting to officiate their ceremony. “We wanted a heartfelt but playful ceremony that all ages could enjoy. It began with our Pastor Joel reenacting the marriage quotes from our beloved film “The Princess Bride”. The room erupted with laughter when he started speaking.
As we wanted everything to be meaningful, we each chose our favourite Bible verses to be read out by our talented 8-year-old niece, Genevieve, which were Psalms 37:4-5,7a (Hannah’s favourite) and Micah 6:8 (Paul’s favourite). Our Pastor gave a message about trusting and waiting in God. We wrote our vows to reflect our personalities and passions, eg coffee vs tea. We took the time to have our first communion together while our guests helped rearrange the room for dancing because we started our relationship on the dancefloor, so it was only right to start our marriage in the same way!”

Best way to celebrate being newlyweds? Dance of course! ” One of the first things we had organised for our wedding was our Spotify Playlist (find it here). We had fun deciding on uplifting, fun songs that we loved and that anyone could dance to.

We started dancing straight after our ceremony while we had our guests full attention, we eased into ‘Solid as a Rock’ by Ella Fitzgerald so we could have a warm-up dance. Partway through the song we made a theatrical change with Paul making a slight costume reveal (hello braces!) and broke out our actual first dance song, which was the lively “Pencil Full of Lead” by Paolo Nutini. We wanted something that made us smile, and it sure hit the spot – even if we couldn’t breathe by the end.

We then had DJ Rusty introduce himself and take over proceedings starting with a snowball, where dancers on the floor pick up a new partner from the sidelines every time the DJ yells ‘SNOWBALL’. To make sure we catered for all dancing abilities, we chose “Praise You” by Fatboy Slim, so I’m sure you can picture the fun-filled chaos that ensued. Later on, we got our swing dancing friends up to dance one of our favourite group dances called the Shim Sham, which DJ Rusty led.”

The guests were fed throughout the cosy reception by My Little Kitchen.  “The food was delicious” remembers Hannah. “The pour-over coffee was brilliant- all 11 litres that the guests went through! There was hardly anything left. The staff were lovely. For a small team of three on a big day, they did a wonderful job.” Hannah added this golden piece of advice. “If you’re having a cocktail-style reception, organise 2-3 people to bring you food. My amazing bridesmaid made sure I was fed, but I think if I had more people bringing me food I would have been able to try out more things. However, our caterer was amazing and kept a secret stash of food for us to take on the first few nights of our honeymoon – highly recommend organising that with your caterer and driver for an easy getaway!”

Paul’s mum made the right-on-brand, bright and beautiful wedding cakes. “As is a tradition for my generation of cousins and siblings, we had our wedding cakes made by my Mum” explains Paul. “She’s been making them for decades. We started with a simple request which became surprisingly complex in the end with three separate multicoloured and flavoured cakes.”

“Instead of having a wedding registry, we asked all our guests to contribute a song to our anniversary playlist. We had printed off illustrations of cassettes for everyone to write their song choices on and have now stored them in a cassette case. We’ve compiled the eclectic selection of songs into a Spotify playlist for us to listen to every wedding anniversary.”

How did Hannah and Paul turn Lego into a special wedding moment? “One of the first gifts Paul ever gave me when he was trying to woo me was a little Lego car” explains Hannah. “It was a nostalgic moment for me as I was reminded of playing with Lego as a child. He rekindled my love for Lego that day (and rather helped me start falling in love with him too).

Shortly after we started dating, Melbourne went into lockdown, so we decided to make our first big purchase together and bought a Lego Bookshop to pass the time. This turned out to be a series of wonderful date nights at home as we took turns following the instructions and creating our first home together.

As there are two buildings in this construction and we didn’t live together, we decided that we would each take a home that represented us best (I took the one with a teapot, and Paul took the one with a coffee cup). We agreed that if/when we got married, we would reunite the buildings then. So, on our wedding day, we thought it was the perfect moment to reconnect the buildings together in front of our friends and family, with the assistance of our sisters bringing in the buildings for our Lego ceremony.”

When asked to advise other couples planning a wedding, Paul says “When you start planning, accept that there may be trouble from friends and family, especially concerning the guest list.” Hannah adds her advice “Protect your day to make it yours – do things to make it less stressful, infuse your personality into as much as possible, break traditions and just be yourself.”

Hannah and Paul, what a treat to be able to share your wedding day. Thank you both for sharing your stories and thank you to  Phoebe Powell for sharing today’s beautiful images with us.