Sammy and Bon had instant chemistry when they first met – and have been infatuated with each other ever since. Their marriage started with this beautiful elopement and only continued with a week of celebratory events with their friends and family. Verity Stubbs from Ginger + Mint Photographer was one of the few vendors that attended the elopement and absolutely nailed the photography – you can practically feel the love and joy pouring from these stills.

Their story began on the sidelines of a footy field where Sammy was a Team Runner, and Bon was a player but was sitting out due to an injury (a running theme with these two!). Luckily for them both, this injury led to their first meeting. “We were able to chat on the side of the field and, truthfully, instantly felt a great connection that started as a friendship. We both recall immediately feeling completely comfortable and happy in each other’s presence and having a similar sense of humour and conversation that flowed so easily. Over time, the friendship became closer – there was an undeniable chemistry, and then it just reached a point where it was just obvious that it was just so much more than a friendship. Once we let our walls down and started to actually test the waters of something more than a friendship, we both remember just feeling complete and utter infatuation with each other, which is still the case!”

For their engagement, Sammy planned a trip down memory lane – starting with a weekend getaway. “I surprised Bon at the Lake House in Daylesford. The Lake House is very special to us – it is where Bonnie first surprised me with a weekend getaway in the first year of our relationship. It was a perfect day; we started the day with a gorgeous breakfast spread at the Lake House dining room, and then I took Bon for a walk around the lake. She had absolutely no idea what was coming, and I found a quiet and secluded patch of grass by the side of the lake and got down on one knee, a big surprise. We then had a degustation lunch with both of our families to celebrate, and it was a really happy day for everyone, which made it even more special for us.”

In a romantic twist – that’s not where their engagements ended, as Bon surprised Sammy a few months later. “We were in an escape room, and Sammy had no idea what was coming. (This is difficult because she’s usually like Sherlock Holmes – can’t get anything past her!). One of the final clues was a piece of paper with backward writing. If you held it up to a mirror, it spelled, “Will you marry me?”. Sammy was so absorbed in escaping the room that she couldn’t make sense of it and thought it had something to do with the room, totally missing the point (HA!). Then I gently re-directed her and said you still have one clue to solve! Sammy felt straight away from the look in my eye that it wasn’t anything to do with the escape room but that I was asking her back! Such a happy memory.”

The wedding festivities kicked off with their elopement at the stunning Coombs Hill Barn in Merrijig. Surrounded by the Victoria High Country and its scenic mountainscapes and lush bushland. “Coombs Hill Barn is just a really special place – this majestic, opulent barn in a secluded setting on 100 acres of land. The views from the barn are breathtaking as it is surrounded by valley views and mountain vistas like Mt Buller and Mt Timbertop. It barely needed any styling as the beautifully restored barn and the scenery created the atmosphere we hoped for – stunning views, natural beauty and a luxurious feel.”

The day itself had an interesting start – not even their wedding ceremony could stop Bon from her streak of random injuries. “Just before we were due to get ready for the ceremony, Bon was preparing a cheese and charcuterie board for our team of vendors (Yolande, Verity and Len – celebrant, photographer and videographer – we feel weird calling them vendors because they honestly felt like friends and guests!). Bonnie was opening up a new knife out of its packaging and accidentally deeply sliced the webbing of her hand between her thumb and index finger,” Sammy recounted. “We tried to stay calm whilst Bonnie was bleeding all over the place. The irony is that I would usually have a medical kit in my car boot as I work in medicine, but of course, we had unloaded that to fill the car with wedding necessities and ended up using a face mask to wrap a compressive dressing around Bon’s hand. Our celebrant, Yolande, came to the rescue and rushed to the local pharmacy to come up with a temporary fix to get Bonnie through the ceremony with not a drop of blood on my white suit! The next morning, our first morning after being married, we spent in the Mansfield emergency department for 4 hours waiting to get stitches – so romantic!”

Opting for outfits that complemented (while also contrasting) each other, they went for a white suit and a black gown combination. Bonnie wanted a modern look, so she had Sonia Cappellazzo at Cappellazzo Couture design a one-sleeved black gown – Sonia worked her magic and delivered! “My dress felt timeless and classy, and I loved the breathable, stretchy material she used”.

Meanwhile, Sammy had Sonia tailor this elegant white suit with a white bodice/corset to match. “I loved the customised cut and fabric as it felt modern and unique. This was more in keeping with my usual personal style, and I chose white to complement Bonnie’s outfit,” Sammy explained. “We adore Sonia Cappellazzo and are so grateful to her for creating magic for us – she is so warm and genuine and made us feel so comfortable at every fitting we went to. She listened to what we wanted and guided us with what she felt was best. We both didn’t want the traditional white wedding dresses or aesthetics and wanted our outfits to complement each other. We were so happy with the final looks and can’t thank Sonia and her team enough!”

As a meaningful touch, Sammy and Bon wore bracelets that Sammy had inherited from her mum, Nada, who is sadly no longer with us. “Putting these pieces on whilst getting ready for the ceremony brought on emotions about the significance and importance of the day and how much our family mean to us.”

They had a first look before the ceremony to help with nerves and allow themselves to be fully in the moment later. “Our celebrant Yolande suggested we do a first look so we could sort of get some of the emotions out of the way (as Bon was panicked about being a blubbering mess!),” Sammy described. “This was an excellent idea and added a moment for us to settle the nerves, have champagne together and enjoy the special moment, taking it all in before the ceremony.”

The intimate, rustic setting of the barn provided the perfect background for their romantic ceremony, lit by the soft glow of the sun setting behind the mountains. The only people at the ceremony were Sammy, Bon and their vendors. “This meant less nerves, and we were able to feel completely swept up in the moment without distraction.”

Flowers Vasette in Fitzroy provided these gorgeous citrus-toned, summery flowers to complement the rustic barn and earthy tones of the surrounding bush. “Special mention to Bonnie’s Sister, Ellie – El came up with a lot of the overall visual concept of flowers, styling, etc.; we’re so appreciative of her time and energy.”

“Our ceremony wasn’t traditional. As it was just the two of us, we walked each other down the hill from the barn to the gorgeous edge of a hill, where we looked down into a valley. We picked the song “Lovesick” by Banks, a song we both adore and reminds us of each other. Bon couldn’t contain her emotions as we were walking down; the tears were flowing, and it felt so meaningful that we were supporting each other as we walked to the most beautiful moment in our lives.”

The ceremony was a pure celebration of their love and commitment, with vows written from scratch and their amazing celebrant, Yolande from Better Together Celebrations, guiding the way. “She made a big effort to get to know us before the day, and every part of our ceremony was personalised (other than the legal bits); it felt non-traditional, unique, and most importantly, we felt we were both completely lost in the moment without the pressure of an audience. Bonnie was worried about her tendency to get overly emotional, so Yolande wrote a really cute opening about our cheeky, cute nicknames for each other… a perfect light-hearted way to make us laugh and feel more at ease.”

Their top three favourite memories from their marriage celebrations included:

1. “There is nothing that topped the moment of hearing each other’s vowels and being pronounced married. It is really the highlight of our lives.”

2. “The first look was full of emotion and tears; it was just complete and utter love.”

3. “We also will never forget relaxing in the barn a few hours after the ceremony, feeling elated at what had just transpired and thinking it was just the best moment!”

Sammy and Bon wanted to give a special thanks to their ‘A team’ of vendors: Yolande Szery (Better Together Celebrations), Verity Stubbs (Ginger + Mint Photography) & Ellena (Ellena Louise Films). “They each made our wedding day feel so special and made us feel important! We will always feel grateful to them for the role that they played on our day,” they emphasised. “Verity and Ellena doubled as our witnesses for the marriage, and they felt like friends rather than vendors! They each told us afterwards that they shed a tear during our ceremony and said it was one of the most intimate and authentic wedding ceremonies they had experienced.”

Once officially married, they danced in the golden glow of the setting sun to “Next To Me” by Rufus.

Their photographer, Verity, perfectly captured the pure love and joy of the day that Sammy and Bon can now look back on and share with their friends and families. “A total professional yet felt more like a friend on the day, we were so glad that Verity was a part of our wedding. She is highly skilled, and her photos capture our day perfectly,” they explained. “She is so friendly, funny and energetic, and put us at absolute ease. We were a bit worried about being unnatural in front of the camera, but she had us smiling and laughing naturally and felt so comfortable. She was also super flexible with everything – the late timing of the ceremony, and it finished probably later than expected. Verity never made us feel like an inconvenience and was nothing but happy our whole experience with her.”

Two days after the elopement, they invited immediate family to stay on the property for a big BBQ lunch. They filled the day with lots of food, laughter and love, sharing the joy with the ones they love the most. “We surprised the family with photos that we had printed from the actual wedding so they could picture the ceremony and really celebrate the moment with us.”

The final celebration took place at Delatite Winery, where they invited a small group of friends for lunch. Setup with two long rustic wooden tables, umbrellas to retreat from the summer sun, and mini bonbonnieres of XO café Patron Tequila bottles for their guests. “We continued the celebrations back at the Coombs Hill Barn, where we put on a party with flowing cocktails, a wide variety of cakes and desserts, Lebanese drums and DJ beats! We partied a little too hard with our siblings and best friends until the sun rose, but oh, it was so worth it with the views from the balcony deck looking out over Merrijig’s gorgeous mountainous views.”

The advice Sammy and Bon want to leave you with: “Forget tradition, have a wedding that feels genuine and true to you as a couple, even if it means a smaller (or larger) wedding, and less of the typical bells and whistles that weddings often involve. Spend time on your vowels, because they are actually the most meaningful and memorable part of the day, even though there is so much else to think about and do.”

Thanks so much to Ginger + Mint Photography for sending this over to us! And congratulations to Sammy and Bon on your romantic and radiant elopement!