On this gorgeous spring day in the Yarra Valley, you’ll find Rachael and Adam’s country glamour wedding. After Rachael found her dream dress, everything else fell right into place. The day had a huge family focus, with good food, even better people and the best of times.

Their wedding took place in the Yarra Valley in Victoria, with Tanya Challice travelling up from Tasmania to capture the day with her beautiful photography. “She has a very soft and sweet nature but is very warm and funny. She was ready for anything and captured our day perfectly.”

Even though Rachael and Adam met online, they don’t think of it like that – matching online is what led to them meeting in person. “We did ‘match’ online, but we like to think of our first date as the night we officially met,” Rachael explained. “Adam picked me up for our first date & we drove to dinner in Melbourne. I was so distracted by how handsome Adam was that I kept giving him the wrong directions! Once we made our way inside for dinner, we had a really lovely time. We sat the whole way through, not knowing if the other felt the same – that this felt so great! We made our way to a dessert bar after dinner, and it was here that Adam walked up behind me and gave me a cuddle while I was choosing what delicious treat to eat… It felt so natural and we felt instantly connected. It was here we both knew we were onto something really special!”

“I was 32 weeks pregnant with our baby boy, and we had just attended an evening 3D ultrasound, a gift from Adam’s Mum. We went on to a local wood-fired pizza restaurant for dinner and sat excitedly discussing how much we were looking forward to meeting our boy. After this, Adam suggested we make an impromptu stop over at one of our favourite local spots, the Woronora River Bridge & local park. We often took our 2 kelpies, Billy and Duke down to walk along this area,” she described. “After grabbing the dogs, we made our way down to a dark and beautifully quiet water’s edge. The night was so still, except for the distant humming of the cars on the overpass bridge and the quiet lapping of the water on the banks of the river. We sat on some rocks looking up at the bridge – all the many lights gleaming and shining throughout the night sky. Halfway through a conversation, Adam got down on one knee & asked me to marry him! Even though I didn’t know it was coming, I felt like it was an oddly familiar feeling, that I just knew it was going to happen, or “meant to be”! Of course, I said yes! And it capped off a beautiful night of seeing our little boy and sharing the quiet moment together with him in my tummy. It felt like we were the only ones in the world at that point.”

Rachael knew she didn’t want to wear a ‘traditional’ white wedding dress for her wedding, stating, “My mother and grandmother also wore non-traditional, coloured dresses on their special days, so maybe it was just an impromptu tradition I wanted to uphold?” She originally wanted to find a vintage dress, but after searching, she found nothing that took her breath away until her good friend Gill stumbled across this stunning dress from Rachel Gilbert. Covered in multicoloured jewels that created little flower patterns – it was a florist’s DREAM dress! “I rang Rachel Gilbert, and they told me only 10 dresses of this style had been produced, so it was very hard to get hands-on these. After explaining my situation and ringing around every store in Sydney and Melbourne, I finally managed to track one down in my potential size after one woman didn’t turn up to try it on! (Thank you, Lady!). Of course, I had to see it in person – but due to the high demand for this dress, they were only able to hold it until the following morning after I promised I would be there at 10 am sharp to try it on! So, I rang one of my closest girlfriends & asked her to join me in looking at the dress in the Melbourne Emporium store the following morning. We got there, with my son Louie in tow, and I tried on the dress… It was even more stunning in person than online!! I was so in love with it, but how could I say ‘yes to the dress’ when it was only the very first one I had tried on!! Surely I wasn’t meant to find my wedding dress in one go!?”

Spoiler alert: Rachael definitely tried on her dream dress on the first go. After trying on a few others, everything paled in comparison. “Throughout the process of purchasing the dress, I did have very minor second thoughts about choosing such a different dress. Maybe I should have been choosing something more traditional? Or longer? Would it look ‘bridal’ enough? But I am SO SO happy I chose this dress. It surpassed all of my wildest dreams and expectations of what I would feel and look like on the day,” she explained. “In the back of my mind, I was also wanting to champion any women out there who maybe wanted to wear something different on their wedding day, but didn’t have the confidence to, or had been told not to. Or maybe they didn’t want to wear white, but felt like they ‘had’ to because that is what is ‘done’. I am so in love with my dress even until this day. I love its glamour and ‘old Hollywood’ feel, which is what I truly always envisioned in my wedding dress.”

“A nice highlight before the wedding was getting my haircut with Max and Wolfe, my two eldest sons, at San Antonio Barber Shop as this already started the excitement of getting ready and the buzz of what was to come!” As the wedding was an intimate affair, Rachael and Adam chose not to have a wedding party, instead opting to dress their children in complimentary outfits. Their three boys wore tan slacks and white shirts, dark brown suspenders and leather boots, cream cardigans and floral bowties (that matched Adam’s pocket square). Andi wore a floor-length white tulle gown embroidered with multicoloured flowers to match Rachael’s dress, and a pair of white high-top Converse covered in love hearts (to fit her personality!).

At their local Country Outfitters store, Rach and Adam chose a mid-blue textured blazer with a crisp white shirt and tan slacks. “Adam is a handsome, laid-back, non-fussed country boy at heart! So his outfit had to reflect all of this! The blue in his jacket offset the blue jewels in my dress – but he didn’t know this at the time!” Finishing off the look, he wore his RM Williams belt buckle and a pair of Signature Craftsman RM Williams leather boots. “These boots are some of RM’s finest boots, with the ‘Signature Craftsman’ label only being given when the maker has 30+ years of boot-making expertise & the boots are made from start to finish by the 1 maker. This topped off the whole relaxed but polished look Adam was looking for. And I have to say, I had never seen him look more handsome than on our wedding day!”

Both Adam and Rachael wore their Grandmother’s rings on their big day. “Adam had his Grandmother Erika’s wedding ring pinned to his buttonhole. As she had just that year passed away, this was a really sentimental thing for Adam to honour her memory, that she was with him throughout the day,” Rachael described. “I wore my Grandmother Gwen’s red garnet ring on the day, which is the most spectacular shade of red, and a really special ring to my Grandmother. I was so honoured she allowed me to wear it on the day. I was able to look down to it every now and then and feel like she was there with me as she was too unwell to make the journey across to Yarra Junction on the day.”

“I was certainly nervous in the lead up of Rach arriving… it was a very special moment to see Andi, my daughter, walk down first looking so beautiful,” Adam recalled. “This certainly brought a tear to my eye and a rush of all sorts of feels! I expected to feel this when I saw Rach walk out, but instead, I was filled with calmness and the feeling of that moment being just right.”

Rachael walked down the aisle with her dad as their 3-piece band, faced by Raleigh Williams, sang a slowed-down acoustic version of “Love Is In The Air” by John Paul Young. “I first came across her angelic vocals at a friend’s wedding years and years ago! I was so happy she was able to sing for us on our day. The original is such a boppy, catchy & “kitschy” song! But having it slowed down and stripped back, you were able to hear all of the beautiful lyrics that really spoke about the day and how Adam and I felt! Raleigh sang it perfectly & made it such a special moment.”

Nine of the 40-person guest list were children, and it was important to Rachael and Adam that they were close by without being too rowdy. “At the suggestion of our celebrant Nat, we placed the kids on a cowhide rug at the base of the ceremony stage and gave them all a lollipop! This kept them well and truly occupied for the duration of the ceremony!”

Their ceremony started at midday, led by their celebrant, Nat Sproal. “We were so thrilled she was able to hold our ceremony. She included our guests in conversation, made jokes & made Adam and I feel so relaxed and at ease. She provided her service by giving us a survey to fill out prior to the wedding, and then she took this and put her epic writing skills to the test by creating a wonderfully rich passage of content that was a total surprise to us on the day. It made our reactions so authentic and real, and really made the whole ceremony relaxed, comfortable, loving and genuine, which was everything we wanted. Adam and I even made some “ninja vows”, which are light-hearted ‘vows’ we make to each other for our future. We wrote them for each other and gave them to Nat prior; then we read them out to each other on the day as a total surprise! It was so much fun, and I can personally say I have never felt so relaxed or at ease in any situation ever! We had so much fun.”

A special reading in the ceremony came from Max, Adam’s eldest son. “It was a total surprise & I had no idea it was happening, which made that moment so so special! Obviously, there was not a dry eye in the house!!! It was such a beautiful moment!”

To our amazing bonus Mother,

I love the special bond we share,

and love you like the mother you have always been to me.

You may not have given us the gift of life,

but life has given us the gift of you.

We thank you for loving us as your own.

Love Max, Andi & Wolfe.

The venue for the day was the beautiful Bulong Estate in the Yarra Valley of Victoria. They were initially drawn to the venue because of its intimate and unique personal services. “One of the many reasons we chose Bulong Estate were the spectacular views which were absolutely breathtaking! You felt like you were sitting in your own private piece of the world, with rolling hills, a sweeping view of the ranges in the background & a real feeling of relaxed calmness in the venue itself. I always personally said I would never want a ‘winery wedding’, but after seeing Bulong in person & feeling that instantaneous warmness about the venue and grounds, it really was a no-brainer for us. We both felt the venue really reflected so many things about what we love: great scenery, natural beauty, and the country feel we both felt very at home with.”

The photographer for the day was Tanya Challice, who Rachael and Adam couldn’t have loved more. “She took on the whole day as a solo photographer, and we really pushed her to the limits, but she never complained once and no ask was ever too great. We are so incredibly happy with our photos and the shots she was able to capture! We really love candid & black and white shots, so Tanya was an absolute wizard at capturing not only us but our guests in the most perfect way.”

What made the day extra special for Rachael and Adam was the fact that so many of their guests travelled from interstate to attend the wedding. “Out of our 40 guests, only 15 lived in Victoria. So, there was a massive effort for most of our attending guests to make the journey down to Victoria, which we greatly appreciated. We planned to have our wedding in Victoria in the hope that my Grandmother Gwen & Grandfather Charlie could attend. While Charlie could be there on the day, unfortunately, Gwen’s health had deteriorated to the point where she could not physically travel on the day. We really wanted to make the whole day as family-orientated as possible, as we had so many nieces and nephews in attendance.”

The flowers were designed by Rachael and Gillian Pollard. “Being a florist myself & having worked with Gill in events for years, I was always going to find it very hard to decide on what colours to go with. It was a running joke between Gill and I, that every time we took on a new job and had a different colour scheme to work with, I would say “Yes, this is what I would love to have for my wedding flowers!”. Then the following week, we would have another wedding in totally different colours, and I would say the same thing!”

Luckily for them – Rachael’s dress narrowed and set the tone for all the decorations. “Gill and I made the trip to the Melbourne Flower Markets on the Thursday before the wedding and personally selected and chose every bunch! I was so happy to be able to do this as it’s not something many brides would get the opportunity to do. It made the whole process so enjoyable getting to see what was seasonally available and what looked the best on the week of the wedding. Then, all was left to Gill and her very capable hands to create what we all enjoyed on the day! She was able to create such a special feel in all of our flowers & arrangements. I trusted her completely with how everything would come together on the day. I’m so glad I didn’t know what everything would look like. It made it so special on the day to rock up as a guest and enjoy everything, having seen it for the first time!”

As their country glamour wedding was an afternoon event, there was no first dance. “It felt very out of place for us to have at our lunchtime wedding! This further goes into our ethos for the day of not doing things or having something just because it’s traditionally “done” at a wedding.”

For Rachael and Adam, their top five things that made their wedding special were:

1. Getting Married! You can get really caught up in all the planning and organising for the day, but the main reason you are both there is to tie the knot!! This for us was the best part of the day, and we could really enjoy it as we had such a wonderful team of people. We felt so relaxed and at ease with every decision and choice, we were able to enjoy all aspects of the day.

2. Having our children witness us tying the knot!

3. Our venue/views and the weather were 2 big things that really stood out and made the day as spectacular as it was. I don’t think we could have asked for a better day than what we had! We were so blessed the sun was shining on us and our guests the whole day, and not only that, the air had a warm spring glow to it that just felt like it warmed everything up and made the air feel electric.

4. Having such an intimate wedding list of only 40 people made the entire day feel so close and special. We shared our day with those nearest and dearest to us.

5. One of the perks of having our wedding at lunchtime was the fact we still got to enjoy the evening together at the end of the day.

One of the central events of the day was the family lunch – and an important part of lunch is the food! “It was very important for us to have good food and lots of it! We were so happy with the service we received from not only the Bulong estate staff, but also the Essential Caterers team provided the most delicious and hearty meals we could have imagined! We had share plates served to our guests as we wanted to make it feel like a big family feast that was inclusive of everyone, no matter if you were related or just meeting each other for the first time on the day. This created a really inclusive atmosphere and all of our guests loved this.”

One of the best things about their wedding? Their dream team of vendors! “We were so lucky to have so many fantastic people assisting us in our day who were all available on our day! Which in itself is a miracle considering we planned our day in 3 months. We really felt the stars aligned and we were meant to find all the people we did.”

Both Rachael and Adam have a German Heritage, so they included a German tradition where the Groom would pour the schnapps and the Bride would pour the apple juice. “We absolutely cherish this interaction with our guests. We got to go around the two long tables after lunch and personally greet and chat with each person and offer them schnapps or apple juice. We served this collection of crystal glass shot glasses we sourced from antique shops. Not only was it a massive kick for us, but it was a really fun and interactive thing for our guests, who got so much enjoyment out of learning about the tradition and seeing us, as newlyweds, addressing each person on our day.”

Even though he doesn’t love the spotlight, Adam shined throughout the day and relished in seeing their dream wedding come to life. “I’m not usually one who loves the spotlight, but given it was very intimate, Nat was so familiar and the day was so beautiful, it almost felt like we weren’t there for our wedding, but rather having an awesome day hanging out with all the people we love. What was such a joy for me and something I will always remember is my son Max being so happy – every time I looked over at him he was smiling from ear to ear and fist-pumping the air! I’m very lucky to have had the day we did, to have my family there, and to have married my beautiful wife.”

When styling the wedding, a lot of the decor was sourced from vintage shops and used as the point of difference. “My favourite items were the crystal and glass shot glasses we found to serve schnapps to our guests after lunch. This glassware was a stunning set and made a great feature to our day,” Rachael said. “We also hand-made our guest bonbonniere; we gave our guests small jars of our own homegrown honey, which came directly from our own bees on our farm in Windellama, NSW. It was a lovely thing to be able to provide our guests and definitely a personal touch from our home in NSW.”

The benefits of a lunchtime wedding? Being able to say goodbye to your guests and still have time to head off on your adventure! “After being able to personally farewell all our guests, we were able to go out for dinner in the Yarra Valley, which was one of the first dates we went on when we first met! Sitting down for a quiet dinner, we were able to recap on the day’s events and excitedly tell each other stories from our own experiences on the day,” they described. “This was a major highlight for us, as it extended our day out and we weren’t crashing at the end of the day in a drunken haze! We stayed in a quiet little cottage where we drank wine, ate chocolate and enjoyed our spa bath, while recapping the day.”

Thanks to Tanya for capturing the glamour of this beautiful wedding and submitting it for us to share! A huge congratulations to Rachael and Adam on your amazing country wedding!