Real Wedding – Stephanie & Andrew, Echuca VIC
Globe trotting teachers, Stephanie and Andrew seamlessly planned their wedding day from Germany, a far cry from their wedding venue in the country town of Echuca, Victoria. With the help of family and friends, the couple created a spectacular riverside wedding with chic vintage and bohemian vibes.
Tearing up the dance floor was a particular highlight for Stephanie and Andrew, and thank-goodness happy snapper, Sheree Dubois, was there to document all the incredible dance moves!
Andrew and I met at University in Ballarat 9 years ago. I still remember the first time I saw him; he was walking across the bridge on his way to class and I just knew I would see him again, but I didn’t know why. We were on a rollercoaster from day one and we would see each other all the time through the same circle of friends.
After 4 years at University and a couple of years teaching we set off to backpack around South America and America before moving to Germany for two years to teach at an International School. We flew straight into Brazil for the start of our six month adventure and I’ve never been so frightened. I had come from a small town and I was way out of my depth. Andrew proved to be my pillar of support and I started to feel so balanced and safe with him. I didn’t know at the time but he was the one continually pushing me outside my comfort zone, showing me different ways of seeing things and guiding me through experiences I never thought I would have. I remember being in Argentina, Patagonia, on a 12 hour hike to Mt Fitzroy. I wanted to quit and sit down … I was tired, sore and had blisters. Andrew pushed me to continue hiking to the top and when I did I sat down by the bright blue lake, surrounded by snow-covered mountains, knowing he was the one. It wasn’t this one event that had made me realise but a time when I reflected on everything we had been through together and the connection we had developed, I knew we could get through anything.
It was just before the Christmas holidays in Germany and Andrew decided to take me to Salzburg in Austria after school on a Friday. It had been snowing and he had planned to take me on a horse drawn cart to Salzburg Castle for a fancy dinner to get down on the one knee. Except, he got too excited and it all happened the night before at the festive Christmas markets. With fairy lights, Christmas carols, gluwein and oversized decorated Christmas trees, it was snowing, I had forgotten my gloves and my hands were freezing. Andrew got frustrated when I stopped to buy some gloves at one of the stores, I put it down to the fact that he was hungry and he set off to get a bratwurst sausage. I now know he was upset because he would have to pull the glove off to put the ring on my finger. Andrew returned and we walked through the markets to the open ice skating rink. Drinking my glühwein and singing along to carols I noticed Andrew disappeared, I had thought it was my bad singing. He was gone for what felt like a really long time. When he arrived back all enthused he asked me to come watch the man playing violin under an enormous Christmas tree. There he got down on his knee and asked me to marry him. I couldn’t stop crying, I mean I was howling. I couldn’t even get my words out to say yes. Finally I did and when he asked me to turn around a local Austrian girl working at the bratwurst van had filmed his proposal.
Andrew and I were living in Germany throughout the planning stage of our wedding. We were very specific and knew what we wanted which made the process so much easier. I kept a strict running budget, as we wanted our wedding to be budget friendly and affordable for us. I think valuing what the groom also wants is really important, as it is their day too. We were having the wedding in Echuca/Moama, which is where Andrew grew up. He didn’t care too much about the flowers, the look of the invites or table cards however, I really valued his opinion on the topics he was excited to talk about, such as the band, the reception set up, his whiskey bar or the ceremony outline. I looked up local weddings using photographer websites, vimeo and blogs to read about their weddings and suppliers. I didn’t have a hair or makeup trial but completely trusted both girls through their pictures online and word of mouth. Some people thought I was crazy, but with the style I wanted it worked for me.
It’s funny; we didn’t have a set style or a colour pallet that we wanted for our wedding. We choose everything based on what we liked, our sense of style and what we thought looked great. Everything just came together and I think this happened because we stayed true to who we were and what we wanted. I had no idea what my bridesmaids were going to choose to wear nor did I know that Andrew’s choice in outfit would match so perfectly. In my experience, I don’t think you can worry too much if your dress is going to match the style of your wedding or cater the groom’s outfit to the bridesmaids. I know this is what most people decide to do, but we really did the opposite!
My family and I hand picked all the pampas from the side of the road; my mum and I treated it and hung it in the garage while I picked the succulents from the backyard. My sister’s husband made most of the furniture we had at the wedding, the tipi tent and the furniture for the ‘Whiskey & Cigar Bar’, ‘Boomie’s Lounge’ and ‘Ants & Rhett’s bar’ were from my sisters styling business. I am obsessed with dream catchers and took an image of it to make my table cards on an excel spreadsheet. My friend is an amazing acrylic writer and she proved to be most handy doing all the signage. We took three trailer loads up to the venue, our families decided our wedding was an opportunity to have a holiday on the river. We stayed at the venue for the week and I gave everyone little jobs to complete. We really have to thank our family and friends who worked so tirelessly to pull off this event and then pack it all up. We couldn’t have done it without them!
I knew the type of dress that would suit my body shape and I started pinning them on pinterest. There was a definite trend and I continued researching online collections. I tried on a few dresses in Germany, but none of them were exactly what I wanted. I wanted sleeves, sweetheart neckline, tight fit to the knee and a beautiful train. After so much research, I finally found Saasha in the Anna Campbell collection and it met every set of criteria I had. I tracked down stockists in Europe and was able to try it on while on holidays in Denmark and again with my mum in Ireland. I contacted the Melbourne store and organised the purchase through email. Once I had arrived home from Germany I took the dress to Lorraine Pola, an amazing dressmaker. She really helped sculpt my dress to fit my body perfectly. I had the dress taken in around the knee, two splits in the silk underline and the belt stitched on. I kept persisting until my dress fit me exactly as I wanted and working with such a beautifully made dress, Lorraine always found a way to achieve it.
This is a hard one to answer because there were so many special moments. Those that come to mind straight away were Andrew’s speech, our first dance and my dad seeing me for the first time as a bride. The day goes by so quickly and three weeks before the wedding we decided to have it filmed, which was one of the best decisions we made. I know it threw our budget out slightly however, it’s by far the most exciting and memorable video to watch. I remember being so thrilled when I saw it and I couldn’t stop crying and laughing. Just seeing how much fun our guests had and the special moments we shared together. We put so much into our wedding and its great to be able to sit back and watch it. Our families also had so much to do with our wedding and I think it’s nice for them to be able to watch it knowing that they helped make our wedding feel like a festival of continual fun. The day goes by so quickly and although it’s your event, you miss so much. It was great watching the speeches back because Andrew and I at times, on the day, were so overwhelmed that we almost forgot what was said exactly!
The meaning of marriage.
Marriage to me is a commitment to love and support each other while sharing the rollercoaster life throws at you. To me it is a bond that you share with only one special person, a person who pushes you to be the best you can be, who believes in you and your ability to conquer anything you put your mind to.
Aisle – Latch by Jack Garrett (Acoustic version)
Signing of the registry – Junk of the Heart (Happy) by Moby, Honey & The Kooks,
Walking out – Lovely Day by Bill Withers
First Dance – Everywhere by Fleetwood Mac (Live)
Funny stories/near disasters
Andrew and I decided that our parents and bridal party would walk into our reception to a song that we had chosen for them, either a reflection of their personality or ours. This ended up taking off to a whole new level when each couple busted out their moves on the way into the marquee. We couldn’t get them to stop dancing! Andrew and I walked in to Fleetwood Mac and went straight into our first dance on the dance floor. We had asked our bridal party to literally run down the marquee and get our guests to come and join us by the dance floor. I still remember turning around and seeing 114 people running at us, clapping, smiling and signing to our favourite song. It still gives me shivers! We then proceeded into 10 minutes of ‘boggie time’ with all our guests on the dance floor. We played some family favourites and sing alongs. This gave our guests an opportunity to get up and have a dance with us before heading into speeches and our sit down meal.
Also, on the Murray you can never predict what is going to happen or who is going to ski by. On the morning of our wedding a large house boat pulled up right across the river from the venue, I remember feeling so devastated when they refused to move as it would be in the back ground of all my ceremony shots. My photographer was great and shot on angles where the houseboat could not be seen. It got better, during the ceremony while I was saying my vows a ski boat passed by with a young man on the back who yelled ‘DON’T DO IT’ which echoed down the river. Our celebrant recovered by making light of the situation with a witty joke. All our guests were laughing, as were Andrew and I and it still makes me laugh today. On the day of the wedding I thought to myself if these two ‘surprises’ were the worst thing that was going to happen on our wedding day, we didn’t have much to worry about. You have to let go and just enjoy it!
Words of wisdom.
Andrew and I planned a wedding that we wanted and I think that’s so important because at the end of the day it’s a reflection of your personality and your love story; one that all your guests are there to witness. We didn’t worry ‘will our guests like this’, ‘will that look tacky’, ‘will my aunty and uncle’s be unimpressed with the band’. We created our special wedding day and guess what, everyone loved it!
I let my bridesmaids choose what they wanted to wear as they all have different body shapes and their own individual style. I thought it was important for them to display that and most of all be comfortable and feel great in what they were wearing. I could see their confidence booming on our wedding day and because of that they were more relaxed and this therefore helped me relax. I wasn’t worried about them and I trusted them, which is why I choose them to stand beside me on my special day.
A decision we made early on was to surround ourselves with good people who interact positively about our big day. Family and friends will offer great advice and their thoughts on how a wedding day should go however, we stuck to our vision and didn’t let anyone sway our ideas.
As all couples will tell you, the day goes by so quick. And it really does! I have seen a cool shot of a couple sitting on top of their caravan bar, cuddling and being in each other’s arms taking in the serenity and watching their guests below them dance and have fun. I wish we had of done something like that, because you put everything into planning your wedding day, you have all the people you love and care about in the one place and it just goes like a flash. It’s nice to just take 10 minutes, watch and be proud of what you have achieved together.
Love a couple that celebrat their wedding day in their own way? Check out Sally and Darren’s boho party.
STEPHANIE AND ANDREW’S TRIBE
Ceremony & Reception venue / location: Bright on the Murray
Celebrant: Ruth Turpin
Photography & Videography: Sheree Dubois Photography
Styling: Jessica Farrell
Florist: Wallingford Flowers
Make Up: Megan Everett Makeup Artist
The Dress: Anna Campbell
Shoes: Jo Mercer
Rings: Designed and made specifically in Dubai
Bridesmaids dresses: Chosen themselves
Grooms & Groomsmen suit: Pitstop Mens Wear
Grooms Shoes: Doc Martens
Bow ties / ties: Bowzie
Catering: Bright on the Murray
Caravan Bar: The Wandering Gypsy Caravan Bar
Signage: Sarah Sullivan
Entertainment: Baker Boys Band