Real Wedding – Bonnie & Joel, Crossley VIC  
Real Wedding – Bonnie & Joel, Crossley VIC  
Real Wedding – Bonnie & Joel, Crossley VIC  
Real Wedding – Bonnie & Joel, Crossley VIC  

Real Wedding – Bonnie & Joel, Crossley VIC  


Bonnie had a vision for their dream day firmly in place for a long time, a perfect blend of old-world charm meets contemporary style. So when Joel popped the question, she was able to focus on the divine details – from personalised fonts to charmingly curated decor. The result was a day epic in style and emotion.

With so many significant details, from the date itself to the ceremony location at Bonnie’s parents’ property, this was an occasion for the memory books. We love that after spending a fortnight teaching their grandparents to use Skype, they were visually walked down the aisle, followed by Bonnie and Joel’s beloved French bulldog Espy.

And of course, Bonnie’s gown was one she dreamed up over many years – a vision of French silk, elegant beading and a corseted bodice, realised through the combined talents of Judith Penak Couture and our very own D’Italia. Florals in rich rouge, elegant ivory and muted rust complement the deep chocolate bridesmaid gowns and bring a modern freshness to the timeless detailing.

There to capture every sweet moment of this darling day was photographer and videographer Lensure. Scroll on for the full love story.

The meeting.

Joel saw a photo of me on Instagram and rather than slide into my DMs, he tracked down my number through a distant mutual friend and text me! I had no idea who he was, as we hadn’t met before, and I didn’t know his social circle. I wasn’t interested in having a boyfriend at the time, but Joel was very persistent, and we officially became a couple six months later.


The ‘one’.

When Joel and I met, I was adamant that I did not want a boyfriend and that I was moving far, far away. However, rather than try to dissuade me from going, Joel encouraged me to move away even though it meant leaving him behind in the short term (we did long distance for three years) and he has selflessly supported me to pursue my dreams ever since, no questions asked. I don’t know many other people who would do the same and while I often try, I cannot put into words how grateful I am to have this level of support in a partner.

Joel’s kind, easygoing nature is forever bringing me back down to earth and reminding me of what is important in life. I truly believe that we balance each other out. I adore that Joel gets on with absolutely everyone and is incredibly quick to smile and laugh, making everyone feel at ease despite his tall and buff stature.


The proposal.

I am not easy to surprise (I am usually planning the surprises for other people!) so Joel had his work cut out for him. He said he had a job changing the lights at an Airbnb on Phillip Island a couple of weekends before Christmas 2020 and suggested we go for the weekend with our French bulldog, Espy. I said I had way too much to do to get ready for Christmas, but he suggested we’d go late in the afternoon and come home early the next day. I reluctantly agreed and spent the afternoon writing Christmas cards while Joel worked – dissuading any inklings I may have had. When it came time for dinner, Joel suggested taking Espy for a walk on the beach to the local pizzeria so I packed a picnic basket and off we went.

We got to the beach and it was right on golden hour, about 8pm, and there was no one in sight – honestly, you couldn’t have planned better conditions for a proposal. Then Joel pulled a ring box from the picnic basket (that I had packed!) and got down on one knee! He said, “Well babe…” and I started ugly crying – but I made him ask the full question, “Will you marry me?” It was so perfect – Joel, Espy and me with the beach to ourselves – and totally unexpected. I called in a favour with a close friend and we had our engagement photoshoot taken the following week in St Kilda.


Planning process.

I have been planning my wedding for many (many!) years and had an almost complete vision of how I wanted the day to look – so when Joel finally popped the question, it was simply a matter of finding the right suppliers who had the right products and could deliver on my expectations. Joel (as always!) was quite happy to go along for the ride but acted as a very reasonable sounding board for my moments of indecision (“This plate or this plate? This napkin or this napkin?”). I developed a comprehensive event list, run sheet and budget in Excel and ticked each item off throughout our 12-month engagement. Even if Excel is not your friend, I recommend downloading a template and working through it to gain visibility of purchases, hire items, costs, etc. – super helpful!


Style inspiration. 

Old world charm meets contemporary classic. As we had always wanted to get married on my parents’ property (a circa 1850s homestead), I knew our style had to be sympathetic to old-world charm but I also loved the edgy, contemporary styling that I had seen on Instagram. As ours was a DIY wedding, I was able to individually select all of the styling elements to meet the brief.

We went with classic black-tie attire and dressed the bridesmaids in chocolate brown dresses from L’Idee Woman. The flowers were the piece de resistance – bright neon red and latte flexed roses, deep burgundy peonies, beige and orchids and white gyp. I meticulously blended all of the styling elements – old farmhouse dining tables with ghost chairs, antique brass candlesticks and textured glass votive candleholders, amber glass vases and terrazzo slabs for centrepieces. The glassware was a gorgeous ombre amber hue – and included champagne coupes that I was also able to source and get engraved for bridal party and family gifts.

Another special touch was the name cards – I have unique handwriting that people often comment on so my graphic designer bridesmaid and I thought it would be fun to incorporate it into the wedding somehow. I handwrote the alphabet and Kelsey scanned it into the computer and then converted it into a font to use on each individual name card. The result was quirky and amazing!

Instagram was my biggest source of inspiration – I followed as many events and hire accounts as I could to find pieces I loved and where I could source them. My vision was very specific so I was able to filter through the overload of content to hone in on ideas that were relevant to us – but I can see how Instagram could be overwhelming for a bride who may not be as set on her dream wedding style and vibe. Ivory Tribe and the You & Me podcast were particularly useful, as they document so many different wedding styles.


The ceremony.

We loved every minute of our ceremony. It took place in the front yard of my parents’ property and the celebrant was my mother’s best friend of 40 years. While my grandparents could not be there, we spent the two weeks leading up to the wedding teaching them how to use Skype so that they could dial in and be with us on the day. One of my brothers walked them down the aisle on an iPad. My other brother walked our French bulldog, Espy, down the aisle – our furry page boy. We wrote our own vows and designed our wedding rings with the assistance of Simon West from Simon West Fine Jewellery. There were laughs, there were tears – it was just perfect.


The outfit. 

I have been planning my wedding dress for about ten years before becoming engaged, even before meeting Joel! I knew I would need it custom-made as the design was so specific. I always knew I didn’t want a white dress and I chose shell-coloured French silk as the underlay with a fitted beaded corset that continued into a fully beaded skirt (about ten kilos heavy!). I then had an overskirt of layered tulle with a two-metre train that I wore for the ceremony and removed for the reception.

I was lucky D’Italia had a cancellation in February 2021 or there would not have been enough time before the wedding to make my dream dress a reality – although my dressmaker did work 14-hour days over a week in October to finish it for me.


Favourite moments.

The whole day was amazing and exceeded our wildest dreams. While we can’t pinpoint a specific moment, the first dance was very special as one of my brothers, Elijah, had choreographed it for us (and taught Joel to dance!). Elijah also rehearsed an acoustic version of Old With You by Chuck Wicks (I’m a closet country music lover!) and performed it for our guests, with one of our close friends, Calvin, playing guitar.


Meaning of marriage.

I think the best way to explain this is by sharing our personalised wedding vowels. We both wrote our own but included the below as being important pillars of marriage to us.

“I promise to be present.

I promise that we will always work as a team.

I promise to always be faithful to you, to us, and to the life we are building together.

I promise to try to understand your weaknesses and to help you understand mine.

I promise to always look for the silver lining in every situation.

I promise to always treat you as my equal.

Most importantly, I promise to love you, to celebrate the small things, and to embrace obstacles and adventures equally.”


Wedding soundtrack.

Aisle: Simply The Best by Stephanie Rainey

Signing: I’ll Be There by The Jackson 5

Recessional: Only Wanna Be With You by Post Malone

Champagne tower: Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison

Reception entry: Higher Love by Kygo & Whitney Houston

First dance: You’re Still The One by Ben Rector


Funny stories or near disasters.

We have a great story from the night of the wedding – half the fairy lights didn’t work, despite being tested the day before when the marquee was set up! Joel and his father are electricians so this didn’t seem like the end of the world – between entrée and main, Joel’s dad climbed a ladder in his tux to see if he could get them working again (there are some hilarious photos) – but to no avail. In the end, we didn’t need all of the lights going, as it made for quite a cosy ambience for the dancefloor. And it’s a funny story now!


Planning surprises.

This is probably a standard response these days but Covid-19! When we set our date in early 2021, everyone was convinced that Covid was over. However, when we went back into lockdown in May and then again in July and August, wedding planning became significantly more stressful. We ended by changing the reception venue from my parents’ property to an old red brick church in the countryside so that we could accommodate more guests being an official venue for QR code purposes – which turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as it made the perfect backdrop for our reception photos at golden hour. That being said, we were incredibly fortunate to only set one date, no postponements, and have the perfect day with no restrictions.


Words of wisdom.

From the bride: I kept a journal in the three months leading up to the wedding to keep me in the moment, record my feelings and remember to enjoy the journey. I have been planning my wedding for most of my life so it was important to remind myself that this was actually happening and to embrace and enjoy every minute.

From the groom: Trust your partner and don’t ask (too many) questions. I wish I had been more engaged in the planning process – all of the seemingly insignificant details added up to become an incredibly special day that absolutely blew me away and we will remember forever.


Last words.

Our date was very special to us as my grandparents celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary two days prior (29 December 2021) and while they were not able to be there in person, we taught them how to use Skype in the fortnight leading up to the wedding so that they could watch our ceremony. We had always talked about a New Year’s Eve wedding and it turned out that our caterer (who was a non-negotiable) was only available that day in the entire 2021/2022 summer wedding season.




Love styling that combines timeless history with modern magic? Check out Anna and George’s stunning UK soiree on our blog, here.




I always wanted to plan a DIY wedding, as I had an exact vision of how I wanted our wedding day to look and being in PR, I love planning events. I trawled Instagram and Google for most of 2021 to find suppliers that had the décor and hire items to make my dream a reality – and honestly, we couldn’t have made a better decision. We really had a dream team working behind the scenes to ensure the day was perfect. Credit to all of the wedding vendors who continued to help couples get married in 2020 and 2021 – I can only begin to imagine the levels of stress they were facing.

A special thank you to my dressmaker, Judith Penak, who nailed my brief. It is so terrifying to put all of your faith into someone to make your wedding dress from scratch when you could so easily purchase something off the rack – but it is such a rewarding experience and an amazing story to tell. I will never be one of those brides who sells her wedding dress!

Another special thank you to Christina Atkinson at Cheese World, who I am convinced was more excited about our cheese tower than we were.

Our caterer, Dan Myers, was an absolute dream to work with and allowed us to make changes to the catering requirements right up until 48 hours before due to last-minute COVID cancellations. I used to waitress weddings for Dan and he was always going to be my caterer.

My makeup artist, Carla, and hair stylist, Kim, were a dream team – they had fun with us the morning of the wedding and helped to ease my nerves and we received so many compliments on the style and longevity of the hair and makeup. I was very specific about having classic, natural hair and makeup and both Carla and Kim listened to my requests and pulled the look off perfectly. All of our vendors were amazing, we were so fortunate to work with them to execute our perfect day.


Ceremony venue: Merri Lodge, Dennington (my family home, circa 1850s homestead)

Reception venue: St Brigid’s Church, Crossley

Celebrant/Officiant: Jennifer Buchanan (Bonnie’s mother’s best friend of 43 years)

Photography & videography: Lensure Weddings

Styling: DIY – I had a vision of how the ceremony and reception should look and my bridal party and family helped me to style and set up the day before.

Florist: Warrnambool Flower Trail

Hair: Kim Toogood Hair

Make-up: Carla Clifford (Renaissance Body & Beauty)

The dress: Custom made by Judith Penak Couture with fabrics sourced from France by D’Italia

Veil: D’Italia

Shoes: Camellia Pearl Pleated Bow Heel by Loeffler Randall

Rings: Custom made by Simon West Fine Jewellery

Bridesmaids’ dresses: Six different L’Idee Woman dresses in the Chocolate shade

Groom’s suit: Men’s Suit Warehouse

Suits & bow ties: Pitstop Menswear

Catering: Wyton Events & Catering

Bar: All wines were sourced from Blue Pyrenees Estate; espresso martinis for cocktail hour before midnight

Cake: Cheese tower from Warrnambool Cheese & Butter, served as an entree; gold foil caramel slice from Wildflour Matilda served for dessert

Stationery / Signage: Invitations, menus, place cards, signage and dance floor decal from Kreative Co (Kelsey Bicknell is one of my best friends and bridesmaids)

Entertainment: Perolas (vocals, harp, guitar and keyboard) for the ceremony and champagne tower; DJ Tom McKenzie for the reception

Transport: 1956 Chevrolet Bel Air (black and silver), driven by Shane Kelson

Décor: Table runners, napkins, vintage brass candlesticks, terrazzo stone tiles and amber glass vases from Cloth & Confetti Events; hurricane glass candle holders, gold table numbers, brass and leather sign frames and brass wishing well from The Small Things Co.

Hire: Marquee, lighting, tables, chairs and dance floor from Memphis Hire; Amber glassware and rose crockery from Place Settings Co.

Honeymoon: Europe (Italy, Spain and Greece) in September 2022; minimoon to Brisbane, Sunshine Coast and Byron Bay in January 2022

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