One of my favourite things about winter is the utterly buttery golden light of the season. And that golden light almost stole the show at Rachael and Macaulay’s wedding, because combined with the beautiful wattle and even cut lemons that featured throughout the day, that light added a sense of warmth and dreaminess to a day these two planned to be warm, relaxed and utterly cosy.

“We tried to incorporate things that make us happy and comfortable” explains Rachael, “we made sure that we were able to keep warm with fires and patio heaters, we provided fleece blankets and the wonderful food and beverage manager Josh was able to create mulled wine to take away that little chill that settled as the sun went down. We made sure to include comfort foods and gave our guests and ourselves plenty of relaxation time throughout the day, with comfortable relaxation areas in the form of couches around the fires and plenty of seating and open areas to congregate and chat.”

And that golden light (and those lemons! Magnificently captured today by KLD Photography and so worthy of your morning cuppa!

The couple met back in 2014 when they were both in Tumut, a town Rachael had moved to as she began her nursing career. She tells “I met Mac’s mum first as a patient of mine, she had recommended seeing Mac in a professional sense to get a remedial massage done for my sore feet and back. After a few appointments Mac and I were very comfortable talking to each other and I had mentioned I didn’t have many friends in town (much older population generally), Mac had ironically told me to “go make friends then”, so I added him on Facebook and ended up catching up with him and a few of his friends, we realised pretty quickly that we not only got along very well but developed a close friendship.

In 2015 I had to move 10 hours away to continue nursing and it was within 2 months that we both decided we missed each other and planned a few trips back and forth, a few trips turned into monthly meet-ups, monthly meet-ups turned into a wonderful relationship that survived 3.5 years of long drives, hours of flying and one 8 week trip to NZ before Mac finally caved and moved in with me in Wollongong in 2017.

In 2020, Mac decided it was time to propose, booking Rachael’s favourite restaurant for her birthday for a degustation feast. He decided he wanted to do it differently by the end of the night and it wasn’t until months later, upon planning a romantic weekend to Canberra with their favourite hotel and an Italian restaurant, that he finally made it happen. “I only got told to pack something nice to wear for dinner,  despite my instance on trying to ascertain the location of our trip (I’m not a huge fan of surprises)” remembers Rachael. “Mac managed to keep me in suspense. We had a lovely dinner and of course, right before dessert Mac got down on one knee and didn’t even get the chance to ask “will you marry me” or say anything before I was pulling him up off the ground saying yes! It was done so fast that no one noticed despite the restaurant being very full, well except maybe for the guy sitting alone at the table behind us, to which we later found out he had been stood up!”

A special surprise on the day was a gift from Rachael to Macaulay. “I gifted Mac with a beautiful silver pocket watch with our initials and wedding date engraved with the thought that it may become an item we pass on to future generations.”

The groom and groomsmen all wore suits from Rodger Bartholomew. Says the bride “The groom was dressed in a three-piece light grey and charcoal with emerald green ties with brown shoes and belts.
We went with grey to introduce warmth instead of traditional black suits, we had the suits mismatched with vests to draw attention and bring dimension to Mac’s suit and try to keep away from the black tie formal that often goes with weddings.”

“My jewellery was loaned to me by my wonderful mother-in-law” explains Rachael. “This included a beautiful double-stranded Mikimoto pearl necklace and pearl drop earrings. The necklace was incredibly special being that it was almost 100 years old and set off my dress perfectly.”

Rachael hired Georgie Johnson Creative to style the wedding party’s hair and makeup, telling  “I am so sorry for how much your face hurt by the end of getting ready, we spent so much time laughing and having fun that the six hours we spent getting ready was almost not enough time, but you managed to pull a rabbit out of a hat and get not only myself ready but my two bridesmaids / MOH’s as well for both hair and makeup and was even able to do a makeup touch up for my mother in law too (!)amongst a lot of not-so-serious faces and “I’m going to wet myself from laughing too much”. She created a soft relaxed hairstyle and a perfect natural wedding makeup look that suited the day and the overall vibe perfectly.”

Rachael chose a beautiful lace Tania Olsen Designs gown, sharing “My dress was an A-line gown in ivory, strapless with a sweetheart neckline by Tanya Olsen with alterations and additional arm loops by Lynette of Jerrabomba Alterations. I couldn’t thank Lynette enough for squeezing me in her books at the last minute (she literally saved my dress and wedding after my initial seamstress pulled out two months before the wedding due to health issues).

This dress was not even close to what I originally had in mind as my ideal dress, after visiting 6 different bridal shops, looking online and just not being happy with anything I tried, I booked an appointment with Kim at South Coast Brides. Lucky for me she was having a trunk show, after trying on six dresses of what I thought I was looking for and not loving what I saw Kim threw me in a wild card and surprise surprise, she was right! it was wonderful, and it was great to be able to try on a dress that I didn’t have to “imagine” it being done up. As a larger size lady, trying on clothes sucks and trying on wedding dresses wasn’t great until I got to South Coast Brides, they routinely stock their dresses in extended sizes and to top it off my dress and veil (that I never ended up using) was under $1000.”

The couple chose their venue, The Oaks Ranch, for the indoor and outdoor options, plus the accommodation for their guests. Explains Rachael  “Given we were getting married in winter, indoor and enclosed wet weather options were a huge bonus!
The large open alfresco space perfectly fit our 58 guests comfortably, we had the clear plastic roller blinds pulled down later in the evening to block the cool wind and had patio heaters and fires going in every available fireplace, all of this made for the most magical atmosphere, cozy and very romantic.

The Oaks had just recently been renovated but kept its rustic Mediterranean feel with white rendered walls, arched doorways and bringing in all the calmness of the vast outdoors with greenery, and natural building materials with a modern twist.
The accommodation on site included 2 nights stay as part of our wedding package, the heated bathroom floors were a godsend to warm up cold tired feet after dancing and being on my feet late into the evening.

Jess the events co-ordinator went above and beyond to make our day run smoothly, she is a little pocket rocket who just gets things done, from making sure I was caffeinated in the morning to making sure an extra dining setting and chair was found when we realised we had miscounted our guests. The food and beverage manager Josh was phenomenal, making sure the wedding party had snacks from the happy hour as well as packing up leftovers of wedding cake and desserts into platters to send home for my Mum in Canberra who unfortunately couldn’t make it due to catching COVID four days before the wedding!”

“We had a few non-traditional elements, we chose to have flower men who were armed with iridescent bum bags full of dried rose petals and eco confetti cannons, given the song “Come and get your love” and told to hype up the crowd and break the tension for the wedding party. They did a fabulous job and had everyone laughing and smiling.”

Rachael chose “Marry Me” by Train to play as she walked down the aisle by herself. The moment is also Macaulay’s favourite, “I remember standing under the arbour with my best man and groomsman by my side, waiting for Rachael to start making her way down the aisle. Once I saw Rachael appear around the corner I couldn’t contain my happiness (or my tears of joy), that this amazing woman would be my wife for the rest of our lives. I couldn’t think of a better person to grow old with.
She is my favourite human.”

The couple married under the direction of Marry Me Chris Lee. “Chris was not only was he our celebrant, but he MC also and DJ’d and ran the photo booth. He was a one-man force to be reckoned with, from controlling the masses to helping us plan our ceremony and helping us plan out the entire reception timeline he was professional and reassuring. we wouldn’t have had such a seamless day without him.

Our ceremony was able to be held outdoors in the warm winter sunshine under the big gum trees. We wanted our ceremony to be light and a little bit fun.  We had written and read our vows and had also chosen to include a community vow, asking all our family and friends to promise to stand beside us and support us through our marriage and whatever our lives may deal us.”

“The best part of our day was that we got to marry each other. Marrying your best friend is the most special part, getting to write your vows and tell your other half in front of all your friends and family exactly how much they mean to you and how you intend to be their other half forever was the most special part to me.”

“We chose to exit our ceremony with eco confetti cannons and danced our way back down the aisle pausing for a big kiss at the end before heading off to sign our marriage certificates (we chose to do this at the end of the ceremony instead of in the middle, another non-traditional moment).

The biggest DIY and the most time-consuming was our confetti cannons. The Oaks ranch highly values eco-friendly celebrations and we were tasked with finding confetti options that were not only biodegradable but safe if consumed by the copious native wildlife that likes to visit The Oaks. It was a team effort with the dried rose petals coming from Shepparton (Zoe one of my MOH’s grandmother had dried and collected them for me) and dried eucalyptus leaves that were then hole punched into various shapes by not only myself but my sisters, nephews and by Mac. We ordered the confetti cannons online from a party supplier and then used our ‘eco-confetti’ to pack them and seal them up, of course, we brought an extra few as a trial and error and were thrilled with the results!”

Rahcael’s flowers – full of lemons (!) and succulents were all left up to The Wild Rose Florist Moruya. “When we had a consult about wedding flowers, I discussed wanting to bring in succulents, and citrus with a strong theme of native Australian flowers” explains Rachael. “We let Neisha make magic with that and she produced the most magical dreamy florals and greenery for the arbour and my bouquet was large vibrant and heavy as anything!

Neisha managed to incorporate seasonal citrus in the form of lemons and leaves, a few beautiful succulents and a whole lot of wattle and native flowers that bloom as the cooler seasons hit. It was important to me to have natives and to bring in sensory elements through smell and texture. Our tables were decorated with leftover cuttings from the arbour creation, bits of wattle and citrus leaves, and eucalyptus leaves helped create and bright and fresh scent in the reception area. Our arbour stood proud and allowed us to capture the most beautiful golden hour pictures.”

“We had an easy time selecting our wedding party, Zoe, Deb, Shane, Zac and Dale all held special places in our lives having been in them for a very long time or an important part of our adult lives, their support and positive attitudes made our day feel like a big party with our friends” notes Rachael. “Nothing was too much trouble and they did a fantastic job of being the hype people we needed on our day. Mac and I wanted our day to be about us having fun with our friends and close family, I have a stressful job at the best of times and love nothing more than to just chill out relaxing with friends, and that is exactly how my day started, kicking Mac out of the bridal suite at 7 am, I got out of bed and barely moved from the chairs and couches in the living room and provided with caffeine and food, I spent 90% of my morning laughing with friends, getting pampered with my feet up on the coffee table!”

The couple adored working with their photographer, these golden sunset shots among their very favourites. “We had the very talented and amazing Kristie from KLD wedding photography, she was a pint-sized Swiss army knife when it came to capturing every moment of our day. We had her for nearly 12 hours of coverage on the day, and boy did she cover everything!

Kristie flitted around seamlessly blending in when she needed to and standing out and pulling us along as we needed it. Leading up to the day she sent text messages checking in and made sure to capture all the moments we wanted and those we didn’t know we needed (including an impromptu maternity shoot with the groom and his best man whilst they got ready). Kristie was an extra ray of sunshine on our big day, fixing a dress fall here, straightening a tie there, breaking out the worm on the dance floor over there… She was true to her shooting style and leans more into relaxed, unposed, natural photos. We had over 800 images to trawl through when we got our online album back and I was completely surprised to get a sneak peek of photos the same night of the wedding! Not only did she leave the venue after 10 pm, but she also drove almost two hours home and then backed up our photos and sent us a few of her favourites right then and there at midnight.

We chose not to have a videography service as well as photography, we were the most hesitant about that decision and thought we would regret it, but Kristie’s passion and amazing coverage even as a solo photographer was nothing short of amazing.”

Rachael’s advice? “Plan a break into your day, between the ceremony, photos and reception. Set aside 15-20 minutes after photos and before your ceremony to sit down with your new husband/ wife and maybe even your wedding party and just relax, acknowledge each other, that you are now married and just enjoy that time together for a few minutes. It makes all the difference and renews you from the already very long day of socialising!

The most underrated and my favourite part of our day was the 15 minutes of time Mac and I decided to take between photos and reception. We had allowed 15 – 20 minutes with ourselves and our wedding party in front of the indoor fire to chill, warm up and have something to eat and drink. This allowed our MC time to usher everyone into the alfresco space for the wedding party entrance.”

Food and plenty of it were high on the priority list for these two, who asked Mr Bold Catering to cook up a storm for their guests. “These guys were just sensational, they brought together a share style menu that encompassed what we consider to be the ultimate comfort food plus an awesome grazing table, making sure to save us some to snack on in our little 20 minute chill time.

We prioritised comfort food that made us happy, we went with American-style BBQ share platters with briskets, jerk chicken, mac and cheese balls, steamed greens and salads to share. We chose to have only 1 sit-down meal instead of the usual alternating plate formal dining. Our grazing table during happy hour was considered an “entree” and dessert was a smorgasbord you served yourself, which also included wedding cake slices with small bite-sized sweets. We served spiced mulled wine and allowed our guests the option to buy their spirits if they didn’t drink beer or wine.

Amber from Ambers Creative Cakes made the most delicious dessert spread and set it up on a beautiful display that she also provided.”

“Mac and I live on the south coast and all but four of our guests had to travel more than 2.5 hours to celebrate with us, controversially we made the tough decision not to invite all of our extended family (aunts, uncles, cousins etc) and instead we chose to cull our 100+ guest list by looking through our messages and call logs of who we have and haven’t spoken to in the last six months. I’m sure there were more than a few disappointed family members and friends but in the long run, our day was about us and celebrating the people that prioritise us in their lives.”

For the newlyweds dance floor debut, they chose  “Best Part of Me” by Ed Sheeran (eating YEBBA). Says Rachael “Our first dance was unrehearsed, we decided to just sway and spin at the moment. Mac is a bit of a romantic and we do enjoy a spontaneous dance in the kitchen, even if it leads to an accidental dislocation of my knee (one of the reasons we chose not to do a rehearsed dance, I was waiting to have a partial knee reconstruction).”

A big beautiful congratulations to you both Rachael & Macaulay! Thank you for sharing your beautiful wedding with us and thank you to KLD Photography for sharing today’s stunning images!