Real wedding – Hilary & Ben, Dookie VIC

Real wedding – Hilary & Ben, Dookie VIC

Rules, what rules? Hilary and Ben designed their dream country-meets-boho wedding day around the things they loved and celebrated exactly as they pleased.


Set on Ben’s family farm in country Victoria, their day centered on the comfort and warmth of being surrounded by their loved ones and becoming husband and wife in a place that is rich history.


The long-term lovers  shook things up as they signed their marriage registry to the strains of ‘my milkshake brings all the boys to yard’, and at one point were captured riding atop camels!


The beautiful bride – Ivory Tribe’s very own makeup artist, Hilary of Hilary Holmes – was able to indulge her creative side in designing her heavenly gown and headpiece herself.


Captured by Jeannine Tan from Candid Captures Photography, this eye-popping party will leave you wanting more!





The meeting.

After both studying Science at the same university in Melbourne without meeting, we had both transferred to the country campus, where we then met. At the commencement ball in 2007, I slipped on the beer covered dance floor and into his arms!


Finding ‘the one’.

We always had an amazing connection, but I knew that Ben was the one after three years when I moved to London by myself for a year. I realised I couldn’t live without him!


The proposal.

After seven years (and many subtle and massive hints laughingly ignored), I knew Ben wasn’t going to propose – it’s not his style. So one Sunday night, snuggled on the couch, I’d had enough and told him we were getting married in six months…and we did!


The lead up.

One upside to being together for so long prior to the wedding was the extra time to collate and plan what kind of wedding would best suit us. Having our wedding on Ben’s family farm meant we were lucky enough to have the opportunity to plan and execute the exact wedding we wanted. Ben focused on the practicality of the day, whilst I enjoyed the creative side. At the time I was doing lots of country weddings with my work, so I was able to go through country vintage shops searching for treasures, which filled our wedding with character and warmth.


Style inspiration.

We wanted, above anything, to have a weekend that represented us perfectly. We wanted to create a unique time, not feel obliged to follow traditions, but rather show those we love – our love. Being in love with the country, we wanted a relaxed feel, but we also wanted to infuse ideas we had picked up on our travels. The end result was a combination of relaxed country/boho/vintage.


The dress.

Oh man, this was tough! Being curvy, I knew it was going to be hard finding the dress I coveted, for the price I wanted, in the size I needed! I had some teary moments at dress shops, sad I couldn’t find what I wanted. So I took matters into my own hands and designed the dress. My amazing dressmaker guided me on what I needed and sourced the material I liked. The end result was absolutely stunning – a fitted, butter gold bodice under a beaded tulle boho sheath. To complement the dress, I wanted a headpiece. I was on such a roll that I decided to design it for myself. I found the genius that is Melle San, an incredible jeweller from Paris, who created a stunning piece.


Favourite moments.

So many! The ceremony was pretty special, as was the moment our guests walked into the candlelit winery and were handed a champagne. From our emotional vows to our friends expressing what love means to them, it was all so special. Of course the camels that showed up to give our guests a ride, was an absolute highlight also!



We didn’t want to be super focused on traditions, so we made new ones! Rather than a cake we cut the yummy spit lamb!


The meaning of marriage.

Marriage didn’t change our lives, but it did change our bond. We have so much love for each other, it only solidified it. We know that privately and in front of those we love, we have committed to being by each others side for all the best and worst moments that life throws at us – and we couldn’t be more excited!


Wedding soundtrack.

Aisle: ‘Oh my sweet Carolina‘ by Ryan Adams
Signing: ‘Milkshake‘ by Kelis and ‘Harvest Moon‘ by Neil Young


Wedding day ‘disasters’.

Anyone who knows me, knows that my biggest fear is spiders! Being a winter wedding, it was chilly at night, so my father in law pushed up a huge pile of logs into a bonfire. Once lit, out poured hundreds of huntsmen… onto our guests! After a few swigs of our homemade rum and a few of our friends taking the opportunity to show off their spider-wrangling skills, our guests didn’t care. It was pretty funny and only lasted a short time.


Things that took you by surprise?

My stress levels! Because we designed, planned and set up our wedding ourselves – there was a lot going on! I was super organised with the running of it, however one thing I couldn’t control was how I handled it. I promised myself I was going to be relaxed and in control of my stress, but that went out the window the morning of the wedding! Thank goodness for my bridesmaids who kicked into gear and got me through!


Words of wisdom.

The most important thing to remember is to have a day that represents you both perfectly. Rather than feeling obliged to create a day suited to others, make it a moment that you can look back on and know that you wouldn’t change a thing.






Ceremony location: The 150 year old brick winery on Ben’s family property, near Benalla, Victoria.


Reception location: Known as the Rotunda, it was used to show cattle in its arena and the stables and used to house the horses. The huge wooden beams, dirt and hay floors and the old finishes are beautiful. It was an honour to have our reception in a place that has housed so much history.


Celebrant: The gorgeous Meriki Comito. She was such an important element to our day and helped us create a truly memorable ceremony.


Photography: The lovely Jeannine Tan from Candid Captures Photography, who we chose her for her insane ability to capture moments perfectly.


Styling: Me. Creating a wedding to perfectly accompany our amazing venues was something I really wanted to do. Being a creative, I thrived on it! I loved organising everything from the Moroccan rugs for our aisle, to the dry eucalypt hanging lighting above our reception.


Florist: I selected several bunches of stocks, roses, kale, baby’s breath and snapping dragons from a local flower farm called Avonlea in Murchison. The night before the wedding the bridesmaids and I gathered around and created our own bouquets! The rest were placed around the venues to create warmth.


Makeup: Being a makeup artist myself I would of loved to have done makeup for everyone, however I barely had enough time to do my own. I worked with a friend, Thom Grey. While I was having my hair done across, he applied makeup and I directed. He did an amazing job! Note: (Be sure to check out Hilary Holmes talent as a makeup artist and you can also see her work on Ivory Tribe).


Hair: The girls from Salon Euphoria in Geelong West came up for the big day. I loved my big brushed out curls!


The Dress: Elle Phillips from Newtown created my dream dress, and was a dream to work with.


Head wear: Melle San created the headpiece I had envisioned to a tee!


Jewellery/Accessories: After loving Ernest & Joe for ages, my present to the girls was a piece that reflected them perfectly. For two of my bridesmaids, I gave them the same square ring I already wear that wear that represents the three of us and our other best friend Bec, who devastatingly passed away a year prior to our wedding from brain cancer. We all wear our rings everyday and it means so much to us.


Shoes: ASOS


Rings: I designed my engagement and wedding band and then Ben & I went and picked out the diamonds we wanted to use. Then we went to Sean, who created them! It was such a fun process which resulted in some stunning pieces.


Bridesmaid’s dresses: A mix of vintage, Free People and Spell Designs


Groom’s suit: Jack London


Groom’s Shoes: RM Williams


Groomsmen suits: Their own.


Bow ties / ties: Jack London


Catering: I’ve known Howard, the head chef for Green Park in Melbourne for a while, so when we asked for his help, he happily agreed! With our brief in hand, he created the most ridiculous menu. On the weekend he was hugely instrumental in the success of it all. His jalapeño croquettes & salmon ceviche was out of this world!


Cake: We didn’t want anything fancy, and my auntie lovingly cooked a beautiful cake.


Stationery: In keeping with our theme of our interactive wedding, we wanted to start it all off with an interactive wedding invitation. Over the course of a year, Ben and I took our camera out on the farm and recorded random moments. You can see the seasons over the course of the video. We loved it.


Entertainment: Mustered Courage, an awesome bluegrass band came up from Melbourne. They were so good, my cousin booked them a few months later for her wedding in Jan Juc!


Honeymoon: NYC, Mexico and Las Vegas.