Inspired by both the Australian country and American Western, Ariana and Matt’s chic wedding brought people from all across the globe to Melbourne. This beautiful wedding was the perfect blend of Australian and American features, from silk to sun, blue to bushland and plenty of cowboy hats. With Vanessa Norris Photography capturing the day and the Collingwood Children’s Farm as their setting, Ariana and Matt created their dream wedding.
Drawn together by fate, Ariana and Matt met while they were both attending Columbia University in New York. “Ariana grew up in Houston in the US, and Matt grew up in Australia. Our first kiss was after a sorority Valentine’s Day Crush Party, where the hosts secretly invited a few of their classmates’ crushes. The kiss was fated; as unfortunately, Ariana hadn’t invited Matt, and Matt had been invited by someone else.”
It was during a trip from Ariana’s parents to Australia that Matt planned to propose. Matt, Ariana, and her parents, Yean and Burton, had travelled to Tropical North Queensland for a holiday when Matt popped the question during a sweet game. “We had spent a lot of time at the beach throughout the relationship and would play an ongoing game where we each would try to find the prettiest shell. Ariana’s usual response to the presentation of a shell was a swift no and a swat of my hand, knocking the shell back into the sand. On an isolated beach by ourselves on the trip, I asked Ariana what she thought of this shell and presented her with a ring instead.”
Their venue for the day was the Collingwood Children’s Farm in Melbourne, which they decorated with native florals to highlight the bushland for the ceremony. Ariana had also wanted highlights of peach and chartreuse to come through in the bouquets to add another burst of bright colour. “We loved the area and especially loved walking along the path through the farm next to the river in the evening. The farm is both picturesque and unique in ways, given that it’s a traditional farm (with goats, sheep, ducks, horses, and guinea pigs running around at different times of the day), sitting in the shadow of the young, growing Johnston St nightlife. It’s a bit of countryside bushland nestled on the river in a modern, inner-city suburb. You feel a bit greedy having it all there until you remember that the people in Sydney have it all. The Farm Cafe managed the day, dinner and drinks perfectly for us.”
Included in their wedding party, Ariana and Matt mainly had family. Ariana had asked her sister, Jacqueline, to officiate the wedding. Even though she wasn’t licenced, it didn’t matter – since they had already legally married in a New York town hall in 2019. Matt’s brother and sister, Tim and Gabby, were also in the wedding party and later took control of the MCing roles together.
Ariana walked across the meadow with her dad, Burton, on her arm as the melodies of “Open” by Rhye filled the air. This moment is actually Matt’s favourite from the day and his favourite photograph. “It was such a surreal yet perfect moment. I was standing there in this picturesque setting, standing with our families and friends seeing Ariana in her wedding dress for the first time. It’s cliché to say, but you can imagine that moment a thousand times in your life, especially in the months leading up to the wedding. Still, Ariana looked more magnificent than anything in my imagination. It was a wonderful and unforgettable sensation.”
The ceremony took place under a beautiful old gum tree that overlooked the Yarra River. Not wanting a super long ceremony, Jaqueline led the guests through the story of Ariana and Matt’s relationship. She spoke about their time together at university, about living together in New York and then eventually their move to Australia.
One of Ariana’s favourite moments from the day was the peaceful atmosphere during the ceremony and when she got to “look out towards the guests during the ceremony and see friends from all parts of our lives together.”
Matt wore an incredible custom navy suit from Melbourne designer Reigner. The embroidered jacket consisted of gems and coloured stitching with both Australian country and American western influences. The designs included prickly pears, broncos, spiders, flowering gums and a fern eucalyptus forest on the back of the jacket.
Ariana’s ceremony outfit was a beautiful silk midi dress with stunning off-the-shoulder balloon sleeves and a shirred bodice. She finished her look by pulling her hair back in a loose ponytail with a silk bow. Her bouquet was made up of the same colourful native flowers peppered throughout the ceremony and contrasted beautifully with her silk dress.
Vanessa Norris was the photographer for the day, and without her, we wouldn’t be able to marvel at the incredible atmosphere of Ariana and Matt’s country-chic wedding. “She was fantastic as a photographer. It sounded like a small detail at the time, but Vanessa organised the groupings and timings for the family and friends’ photos in such an efficient and easy-to-understand way in advance. There wasn’t much time in the schedule between the ceremony and the reception to stand around and have a drink with friends in the beautiful setting, so Vanessa saving us those 15 minutes with her planning was really appreciated. Everyone knew where to be and what was expected when they heard Vanessa calling them over. Also, it was such a busy day for us and Vanessa had such a relaxed, happy attitude on the day.”
Instead of spending lots of time DIYing elements of the wedding, Ariana and Matt decided they would rather spend that time travelling with friends and family the week of the wedding. Luckily, the Farm Cafe offered a full-package wedding for them. Matt and Ariana supplied the alcohol themselves, picking out the beer, wine and spirits they wanted, but the Farm Cafe took care of everything else. “The Farm Cafe let us supply spirits and garnishes, which they turned into mixed drinks and served towards the end of the night just as people started to think about the end of the night.”
As part of that wedding package, Alice Gazzard was their very own Event Planner from The Farm Café. “Alice responded with a wide, sincere smile and softly spoken solution to all of the stupid questions, last-minute changes, mistakes and random thoughts across months of planning and the wedding day. If Michael Jordan were at the wedding, he would have commented that nothing fazed Alice. We never got the full story, and of course, Alice didn’t mention anything, but I believe she hurt her hand late in the night, which she cleaned and bandaged herself, then returned to work with a smile.”
Once dinner had been served and devoured, Ariana slipped into her reception outfit – which was this chic electric blue silk mini dress. Paired with the mini dress, she also wore some cream silk gloves that her mum had worn at her own wedding.
Instead of having just one first dance, Ariana and Matt included their parents in this tradition. Ariana and her dad danced to “Nothing Can Change This Love” by Same Cooker for the first dance. For the second dance, Matt and his mum swayed to “The Great Pretender” by The Platter. And for the grand finale, Ariana and Matt had their first dance to “In The Air” by LAB.
To finish off their planning, Ariana and Matt want to leave some sage advice for future couples. “Obviously, relax and be flexible about the day. The unknown, unexpected parts can be the most fun if you’re open to it. Tick off the tasks as early as possible. We were advised by many people not to leave tasks and actions until the week of the wedding, but we still had a million things to do in the week leading up to the wedding, some of which could have been done earlier. We would pass on that advice. Things you leave to the last few days before the wedding might not get done because new tasks will pop up. And the audio probably won’t work at some point!”
The Polka Dot Team wants to send lots and lots of congratulations to Ariana and Matt on this gorgeous, chic wedding! And a huge thanks to Vanessa Norris for capturing this beautiful day.