When the bride and groom both have a long, personal history with beaches and beautiful gardens, it was no surprise to their guests when Rachel and Hugh announced their pastel beach wedding with a garden party-style reception! They filled the day with plenty of pinks, purples, and blues to match the theme, as well as little nods to their relationship—like their matching Untitled Goose Game cake toppers. With the unmatched talents of Luke John Photography, they captured their dreamy wedding without compromising on comfort.

Rachel and Hugh are a Tinder success story with an unlikely start. “Neither of us were looking for a relationship when we matched, but thought we could be friends. Things just blossomed from there – life became better when we were together, and things fell into place for us.”

They’d been talking about marriage for so long that Rachel was getting impatient and took things into her own hands. “The week of the proposal, I’d commented about a nice ring I’d seen, and Hugh said he already had a ring for me. Hope bubbled up, but I tried to play it cool; I didn’t want to assume it would happen. That weekend came quickly. I made myself a dress to wear for the races and everything. We even had matching rainbow hair – unintentional for the event and timing but nonetheless,” she explained. “All through dinner, he was a little off; he stared and called me pretty – which I feel I need to add isn’t unusual for him, haha – but he seemed distracted. I just told myself it had been a long week. We got dinner and ice cream and sat on the wall at Glenelg talking.

I asked if he wanted to walk or stay where we were, and after a moment of silence where he seemed to panic, I told him we could stay; it was fine. We continued being the sappy couple, and I said that He was the love of the rest of my life. He said I was the love of the rest of his life, too, and then he asked me, ‘Should we make it official?’ I kind of short-circuited in my brain and said, ‘What?’ and he said, ‘I said, should we make it official?” and pulled the ring box from his jacket pocket. I couldn’t believe it was really happening.

I don’t remember saying much. He showed me the ring, and it was rose gold, with a pear-cut gem that wasn’t a diamond but also wasn’t pink like I’d expected. The twisted band with little silver-like flowers took my breath away, and I started crying. I said yes, of course. And we embraced tightly for what felt like forever and then the giddiness crept in for both of us. After a while, we went back up to our hotel room, and we danced slowly to “La Vie en Rose” and “Fly Me To The Moon” – songs we had dubbed ours, which would be our first dance songs at our wedding. It had been awkward and goofy, but it was so us. It just encapsulated everything about him that I love, everything about us that has grown in the past almost four years (at the time).”

From the beginning, Rachel knew she didn’t want a traditional white dress for her wedding – she’d always had her heart set on wearing something pink, versatile and dreamy. The weekend after she and Hugh got engaged, the Adelaide Wedding Expo came to town, so the couple took a trip down to brainstorm. That’s where Rachel met Penny from ARA Experience. “ARA Experience was exactly what I was looking for. The opportunity to create a custom gown and have someone walk through the process and steps with you to create your dream dress. She was very excited about the prospect of a pink dress. I have a strong interest in fashion and had some specific elements that I knew I wanted to include – such as I knew that I wanted a detachable larger waterfall-style skirt with the option of a shorter dress underneath to have that versatility and re-wearability that I was seeking.

I spoke with Penny, and she was very excited after the first consult. I let myself try traditional wedding dresses at a couple of shops, but I knew in my heart that I would be going back to the ARA experience for my dream dress. Penny and her team were absolutely amazing. The whole process took a lot of the stress off of me wanting something really custom and complex. Every fitting, mock-up, and discussion really left me feeling confident and excited about my dress. We found the perfect shade of pink and layered it with this beautiful Moscato colour underneath to give it depth. Penny had this beautiful floral lace. We ended up making the top detachable with the sleeves in this beautiful pink tulle, and that gave me even more versatility, and the sleeves were perfect. I could go on forever about how astonished and in love I am with my dress. It was everything I’d imagined for my wedding day, and Penny and her team still exceeded all of the things I had dreamt of.”

Similarly, with Hugh, he knew he wouldn’t wear the classic black tux for their wedding. Instead, he chose something in his favourite colour – purple! “A lot of our wedding wasn’t traditional, especially when it came to colour, so the purple was a perfect choice to match the pink my wife wore. I had it custom-made by Oscar Hunt in Norwood, SA, and that was a good experience overall. The attention to detail and variety of options made it an easy but also difficult task. In the end, I went with a mostly linen suit, with the exception of the vest being half linen. I’d gotten into wearing linen shirts because I overheat really bad, so linen was no brainer to pick for the suit, especially for a beach wedding. The fit and finish at the end was awesome, and the couple of extra details that were added made it super sweet; like the date of our wedding on the inside of the jacket collar. The little touches like that make it feel much more unique.”

In their wedding party, Rachel and Hugh had their two best friends, Cienna and Kate, as their People of Honour and their sisters. “Our party being made mostly of females made finding outfits really easy as they were all very content to wear the same dress. Thanks to my sister-in-law, we actually found the perfect blue dresses at City Chic, and I fell in love because they were light and flowy; they gave beach party energy. The one major thing we had to make a change to was my niece’s dress as she was 10. I ended up buying a fifth dress in the smaller size and basically pulled it apart and recreated it in her size. That ended up working so well, as the entourage looked fantastic in the same fabrics and styled dress. Our little nephew looked very cute in his shirt, which matched the shade of blue as well.”

To find the perfect ceremony spot on Semaphore Beach, Rachel and Hugh took their time driving up and down. They knew they wanted the ceremony on sand rather than the foreshore but knew that would make it less accessible to their guests, so they spent a lot of time looking at ways to ease that challenge. “We invested in some second-hand carpet squares that were just 30 cm x 30 cm or something, and on the day, they were laid out into a path that led people to where our aisle was set up. The aisle itself was just a run of artificial grass turf, and we hired chairs and set up our Arbour down there as well.”

For their wedding flowers, Rachel wanted to keep to the pastel beachy vibes of the day with some pre-dried preserved flowers. “It was really important to me that whatever we used could be preserved and last a long time without losing any of its beauty. I ordered from some wholesale websites and some independent sellers on Etsy to mostly gather the specific colours of hydrangeas. I really love the way the blossoms look, and one of the blossoms stems that arrived actually kind of in a heart shape when I pulled it out of the box, and that became the basis for my bouquet,” she explained. “I really wanted to stick to pinks, purples and blues, really leaning into that pastel beach aesthetic that we were going for, and I wanted to just make sure that everything was balanced really nicely.”

To kick off the ceremony, Hugh walked down the aisle with his mum, nephew, sister and best friend. They danced down the turf to “Summer” by Calvin Harris. After a brief introduction, Rachel and her wedding party walked down the aisle to a cover of “Love Like You” by Caleb Hyles. “My dad walked me down half of the aisle, and my brother walked me along the turf to hand me over to my new husband.”

Their ceremony was exactly as they dreamed – beautiful, pastel and beachy. “It was absolutely beautiful. I remember coming around the corner for the first time and seeing everyone and my future husband standing out in his purple suit; it was just beautiful. Everyone had respected our request to wear whites or beiges really fitting in with that beach aesthetic. Family was given the option to wear a light blue if they wished, and it really just took my breath away coming around the corner. Especially seeing my husband and the way we both were overcome with emotion when our eyes met.”

Aside from some wind, it was perfect. Their celebrant, Jen Attard, ensured the entire planning process went smoothly, and the couple loved how organised she was. “She really made the process of getting married a lot easier and less stressful.” Rachel described. “We had a very close family friend of Hugh’s read from an old hymn titled “Oh Perfect Love”, and then she’d actually got back up later in the ceremony and read a hand blessing, which took both of us by surprise and was incredibly touching and meaningful and unexpected.”

The ring Rachel gave Hugh was actually his late father’s wedding band, left to Hugh when he passed. “We thought it would be a lovely way to ensure his dad was always with him,” Rachel shared. “I had bought Hugh his own engagement ring, so it worked nicely that he was able to have his own ring as well as his dad’s.”

A unique element they included in their ceremony was a sand ceremony, where they were meant to combine pink and purple sand but had some supply issues. Instead, they used the sand from the beach, pouring it together to unite them and adding their colourful sand when they got home. “We’ve made sure to leave some room so that in the future, any children we have can add their own sand and we can all just be represented in this beautiful heart-shaped jar.”

As an after-ceremony treat, a cocktail hour was set up for guests to enjoy on the foreshore. “We had a nice period where Hugh and I were able to duck off to the beach and get some beautiful photos done, and it really provided a good atmosphere for people to relax and socialise.”

Rachel DIY’d a lot of the elements for the wedding, from the handmade paper for their invitations (full of seeds to be planted!) to the dried flower arrangements to their wedding favours. These adorable health kits included a water bottle, panadol, a snack and some hydralyte. “I really wanted to find a way to incorporate as much of our personalities without increasing the costs too much.”

Their reception was at Glanville Hall, only a five-minute drive from the beach, with an indoor-outdoor garden party set up. “There were blankets, picnic chairs, rugs, lawn games, and a dance floor, and it was just a really beautiful setup. As it turned into evening and then night, we had fairy lights, and the lamps lit everything up. There was a wonderful Woody pizza van and all the food that we had over the course of the night was just outstanding. The staff were fantastic, and everything was as calm and relaxed as we’d hoped for.”

For Rachel and Hugh, the top five things that made their pastel beach wedding so special were:

“1. Our Best Friends – I cannot imagine how we (me) would have coped without their support. Cienna and Kate were incredibly helpful, supportive and encouraging when I got overwhelmed.

2. The Clothing – We requested that our guests wear white or beige to our wedding as we were wearing colours. Our families had the option to wear light blue, but seeing everyone take the time to follow this request made everything feel so much more magical and look absolutely stunning.

3. Our Little Geese – Hugh and I are big fans of games, and we really bonded over playing the Untitled Goose Game in co-op a few years ago. We furthered this connection by getting complimenting goose tattoos and incorporating them into our wedding as little cake toppers and cufflinks for Hugh.

4. The Photo Booth – We hired a photo booth from Ever After Entertainment so our guests could make their own memories and take their own silly snaps throughout the night; it was so wonderful because Hugh and I were gifted an album at the end of the night with copies of everyone’s photos, so we got to see everyone enjoying themselves and having fun!

5. The Food – as part of our chill vibe we wanted for the reception, having a grazing style buffet meal service with wood fire pizza was absolutely fantastic. It ensured dietary requirements could be met easily and allowed guests and us to enjoy eating as we desired rather than a traditional sit-down meal.”

Some advice the happy couple would like to leave for future married couples is this: “Make sure you and your partner are completely transparent with your needs, wants, desires and expectations of the day. Clear communication is super valuable to help ensure you both are able to have the wonderful day you both deserve. Having said that, Do the things you want to do to celebrate! Don’t be afraid of other people’s opinions on the way you and your partner are going to celebrate your love! The people who care about you both the most will understand and respect your choices and decisions, so go forward together, ready to express yourselves on a day that you will remember for years to come!”

Their first dance was to a cover of “La Vie en Rose” by AnnaPantsu, followed by “Fly Me To The Moon” by Frank Sinatra. After they’d swayed together, it was time to open the dance floor. Their DJ played “Something Just Like This” by The Chainsmokers to do just that. “We decided we weren’t going to try and learn choreography or anything; we aren’t very coordinated, haha! It was a sweet moment, full of nerves, as everyone gathered around to watch.”

Not only did they have a first dance, but Rachel and Hugh also planned a ‘last dance’ for the end of the night. “We did one when there were a few guests left, letting them watch before they left as we embraced and took in the day, dancing to “My Home” by AWIN. Once everyone left, we had one more dance together, with only the photographer, DJ and venue staff present. We danced to “Mirrors”, covered by Jonah Baker. It was such a sweet moment that still makes me emotional just thinking about it.”

Congratulations, Rachel and Hugh, on putting together this beautiful pastel beach wedding! And thanks to Luke John Photography for capturing and sharing it with us.