Real Wedding – Alison & William, South Yarra VIC
Alison and William’s sunshine-kissed soiree is the perfect example of DIY done right. Modelling their styling on a European summer affair, filled with kaleidoscopic colour and accents of dreamy earthen decor: rustic limestone pieces and soft terracotta vase ware. The overall effect is one of classic sophistication infused with uplifting sun-drenched feels.
Choosing Gardens House to host their dream day vision adds a touch of Tuscan style, while the blissful botanic gardens bring lush greenery and a sense of dreamy romance. Kicking things off with a lighthearted, perfectly personal ceremony by Kate Mac ensured the vibes are right from the very beginning.
As the sun sets for the first time on the newlyweds, they and their guests enjoy an alfresco meal under the fairy lights, a stunning next chapter in this effervescent celebration. We especially love Alison’s sweet Rebecca Vallance reception frock, a fun-filled concoction of fringing and sequins, perfect to dance the night away in the arms of her new husband to the gorgeous sounds of our friends Paper Hearts.
Elsa Campbell captures this stunning story in exquisite style; scroll on to see every sumptuous frame.
We met the good old-fashioned way – through a dating app! For our first date, we went to the National Gallery of Victoria for one of their Friday night events. The first date never really ended. Drinks turned into dinner, which turned into brunch, then dinner again – and here we are five years later!
I think we both knew fairly early on that we were each other’s forever person. A couple of weeks into dating, I went back to my hometown for a week, and we were calling and messaging each other every day. I remember wondering how I could miss someone that I had only known for two weeks. When I returned, I think we had both realised that this was the real deal, and things were fairly serious from that point onwards.
After a long slog of Melbourne lockdown, with no end in sight, Will decided that a local proposal was the way to go. During our typical weekend walk with our dog around the local park, we stopped at a quiet area by the lake, and he got down on one knee to pop the question. One of my good friends is a jeweller (Saphira Diamonds), and she had been working with Will in the preceding months to design the perfect ring. It was all a completely wonderful surprise!
We were in the middle of a home renovation whilst also trying to plan the wedding, so things were left relatively to the last minute. We were fortunate to get a booking at the beautiful Gardens House in the Botanical Gardens. We then began locking in vendors such as our celebrant, photographer, videographer and musicians. We opted to DIY many aspects of the wedding, including stationary, styling and flowers – we even made the bar ourselves! This was a huge undertaking, but I was fortunate to have a lot of help from friends and family in the days and weeks leading up to the wedding.
The wedding was super fun and colourful, with a summer Tuscan vibe. We really wanted the day to feel less like a wedding and more like a big summertime dinner party. This tied in perfectly with our venue, Gardens House, which looks a bit like a little Tuscan villa. We filled the table with rustic vases (which we sourced from op-shops) overflowing with colourful flowers and scatters of summer fruits and limestone.
I definitely found the most inspiration from real weddings, particularly those on Ivory Tribe, which I started following not long after getting engaged. It was also a really helpful resource for finding our vendors! I also started following a lot of stylists and florists on Instagram, which helped me form a clearer view of what I wanted the day to look like.
Our ceremony was fairly light-hearted and modern, with only a couple of traditional elements. One of the highlights was the intro our celebrant gave for each of our bridal party at the beginning of the ceremony. Our guests really loved this as they got to know a bit about each of the people standing beside us and why we had chosen to include them in our day. We also decided to write our own vows out by hand, which is something we can keep and remember for years to come.
I left the dress process to the very last minute!
For the ceremony, I wanted something classic and timeless but still unique. After visiting all the well-known designers without success, with just three weeks to go, I stumbled upon a little bridal shop called Eternal Weddings. They had a sample dress from a French designer that I just fell in love with, and they kindly let me purchase it off the rack. It had a classic silhouette in a unique textured fabric that I hadn’t seen before.
For my reception dress, I knew I wanted something lightweight and super fun, so I opted for a sequined and feathered dress from Rachel Gilbert, which I managed to pick up second-hand!
Will had his tuxedo custom-made at P. Johnson, whom he has been going to for many years.
There was a moment during dinner when we were sitting together at the table, looking around at all our friends and family and felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude to have them all in the same place at the same time.
Meaning of marriage.
I think these days, marriage is often the icing on top of the cake that comes after a strong foundation has already been built. We had already created a home together, travelled the world and formed a family with our fur baby. For us, our marriage was a symbolic way of formalising our commitment to each other and celebrating our love with all our nearest and dearest.
Aisle: God Only Knows by The Beach Boys
Recessional: Signed, Sealed, Delivered by Stevie Wonder
Reception entry: You can call me Al by Paul Simon
First dance: You’ve Got a Friend in Me (acoustic version) by Randy Newman
Funny stories or near disasters.
I had decided to DIY my flowers and had purchased them a few days before the wedding from the markets. The day before the wedding, it was time to arrange them all into vases and create the bouquets. Unfortunately, I quickly realised this was going to take a lot longer than I anticipated, and I was never going to make it! Fortunately, I was able to call in backup from family, and we all worked together to get it done until late in the evening.
One thing we didn’t anticipate was the enormous amount of decision-making involved in planning a wedding. We thought that planning a fairly small and modest wedding would be simple, but it was a lot more mentally taxing than we expected. I am fortunate that my husband and I could be equally involved in the wedding planning, so at least the mental load was shared.
Words of wisdom.
If you have the time (and the energy), there is so much you can do yourself! Of course, the professionals will probably do a better job and remove a huge amount of stress, but if you don’t have an unlimited budget, this is a great way to get your dream wedding for less. My main piece of advice on doing this, however, is to front-end as much as you can and hire yourself an on-the-day wedding coordinator. For me, this was money well spent as it meant I was confident my vision was going to be executed the way I wanted on the day, and I wouldn’t have to burden friends and family with the set-up.
A wedding is really just one day – that’s something I lost track of at certain points. It can feel so overwhelming when you are in the depths of wedding planning, but the details that are keeping you up at night now will not matter to you at all when you are sitting next to the love of your life and surrounded by your favourite people in the world.
Also – while seeking out inspiration online is really helpful with forming a vision of your perfect day, remember that everybody is working with different budgets and time frames. Try not to compare your own wedding with what you see online.
For another aesthetic treat, check out Maddy and Darcy’s European-influenced celebration; complete with breathtaking florals and a sweetly stunning setting. This is one to dream of, over a glass (or two) of French champagne!
ALISON & WILLIAM’S VENDORS
Ceremony & reception venue: Gardens House, South Yarra Wonderful venue, especially for outdoor weddings. It is a good, affordable option for smaller wedding sizes.
Celebrant: Kate Mac. Kate really took the time to get to know us, which resulted in her writing a beautifully personal ceremony. Our guests were engaged and really enjoyed her ceremony.
Photography: Elsa Campbell. As evidenced by these amazing photos, Elsa is simply the best. Not only does she produce beautiful photos, but she also has a fun and relaxed vibe that really helps set the mood for the day and reduce stress.
Videography: Ryan Lee Adams. Ryan is a true artist, and his work is heartfelt and beautiful. Will originally wasn’t set on having a videographer as he was worried having a film camera around might ruin the mood, but that was not at all the case. Ryan is a quiet observer, focusing more on capturing candid moments. We have watched the video hundreds of times already and will treasure it forever.
Styling & florals: DIY. We sourced flowers from the wholesale flower market in Epping. The market is not open to the public, and you can only access the market via a private tour with C the market. Jan, who runs the tours, was excellent and escorted us around the market, helping us get the best quality for our budget. We ended up with an abundance of stunning flowers for under budget. I would highly recommend this option!
Hair: Renee from Mapel and Co
Make-Up: Victoria Makeup Artistry
Veil: Veil second hand with a bow attached that my mother wore to her wedding
Shoes: Loeffler Randall
Rings: Saphira Diamonds. Both my engagement ring and our wedding bands were made by Saphira Diamonds. Adrianna provides a completely personalised approach to ring design and offers expert advice on diamond selection.
Bridesmaid’s dresses: Zimmermann (purchased second-hand)
Suits: P. Johnson
Catering: Atlantic Group
Cake: Get Caked by Lisa. Lisa was so easy to work with and made us a delicious and beautiful cake decorated with flowers to match our tables. Her cakes come all pre-portioned, making it much easier and more efficient for the venue to distribute.
Stationery / Signage: DIY. Stationary designed on Canva and printed at Vista Print. The signs were all handmade and painted.
Entertainment: Paper Hearts. Paper Hearts provided the perfect atmosphere for the night. They also created an acoustic version of our first dance, which they recorded a version of so we could practice ahead of time.
Honeymoon: Six months in Egypt, Jordan, UK and Europe
On the day wedding coordinator: Outside the Altar (Jacalyn Bocchi). Jackie was a lifesaver and very reasonably priced. I realised in the lead-up to the wedding that I was going to need to have someone on the day to set up all my DIY styling, decor and flowers. But she ended up being so much more than that! She ensured the whole day ran smoothly and to schedule and provided the perfect interface between us and the vendors.
Dance Coach: Cannon Dance House. We were on the fence until quite late about doing a choreographed first dance, but I am so glad we decided to do one. Hannah from Cannon Dance House fitted us in for three last-minute dance sessions two weeks out from the wedding, and we managed to put together a pretty special routine.