Real Wedding – Daniel & Cara, Dunkeld VIC
For a sweet micro wedding dotted with darling details, look no further than Cara and Dan’s stunning celebration. Choosing to exchange their I Do’s at the same location that Dan proposed two years earlier added the perfect touch of magic to an already incredible day.
This truly was a sun-soaked celebration of family, love and connection. With only a small group of their nearest and dearest surrounding them, emotions took centre stage against the sweeping mountain backdrop of the Royal Mail Hotel in Dunkeld.
Dan’s tears as he caught sight of Cara was a breathtaking moment, and her smile as she glided towards him was pure radiance. Her gorgeously glam gown by Maticevski was an exquisite combination of contemporary chic and soft, romantic flourishes, reflecting the styling choices of the day.
A micro wedding doesn’t mean minimal style, and Cara and Dan chose classic black and lushly textured ivory with splashes of rich green to accent their day. One of our fave photographers, Ali Bailey, was there to capture every moment of their story in incredible images.
Scroll on for a beautiful dose of low key, loved up romance.
Daniel and I met in November 2015, after we had both just moved back home to Geelong from Melbourne. We met on Tinder (we are one of several Tinder success stories within our friendship group), where Daniel made the first move and started a conversation, but unbeknown to him, I had decided to be a little smarty pants. So he said to me, ‘can I have a little guess about who you are and what you do?’ I said, ‘of course, go for it’, thinking here we go, this will be interesting. At the time, all my Tinder photos were of me travelling; I had just resigned from working as a flight attendant and was about to go back to studying at University. Daniel started an elaborate rant about how I was from England, travelling and working here in Australia, and my reply was ‘Mmmm nope, lived in Geelong my whole life’. Although it wasn’t exactly the flirtatious reply Daniel was anticipating, it led and to a magical conversation that turned into him asking me out for brekky at King of the Castle. Daniel would say I haven’t stopped talking since – we were both hooked.
Daniel and I both have different answers to this one.
Cara: It was my birthday, and my birthday fell on a Monday. Daniel and I had been together for about two months at this point. We got up in the morning, did the whole happy birthday thing, and I was like, ‘oh, you’re going to be late for work’, and he turned around and said ‘No, we are going out for birthday brekky’. He had moved his day around, so we could start the morning together. I will never forget how I felt in that moment.
Daniel: I don’t have a particular moment, more so lots of smaller ones coupled with a burning desire to spend more and more time together, because our relationship was so easy. No strings, no bullshit, just smiles. Life has its way of throwing challenges at you just when you think you’re on top, and 18 months into our relationship Cara was faced with a significant family crisis. I knew that the only way I could support Cara was to give 100%, and turning away was never an option.
Daniel proposed on my birthday weekend, so because of this, I was caught off guard. He took me for a weekend away at the Royal Mail Hotel, where I had said a couple of years prior that I really wanted to go. The whole thing was a complete surprise; all I was told was to pack a bag and to be ready at 9.30am sharp.
He had booked this little bluestone cottage for us to stay in on the property, and we had the most decadent lunch with matched wines.
After our five hour lunch, we went back to our little private cottage to have more wine and sit in front of the fire. I walked into the bedroom and then walked back into the lounge, and he was like, I’m cold, give me a cuddle. He was whispering all these lovely things in my ear, then pushed me away and got down on one knee. I couldn’t even see the ring through my tears, and I think I said no, no, no, first (as I’m sure every girl does) – then I said yes, and he slid the ring on my finger. He said, ‘do you know what that is?’ and I said no. He told me that it was my Grandmother’s diamond and my Grandmother’s gold.
He went on to tell me how she gave him her engagement ring when he asked her for my hand (yes, Grandma was asked before my dad) and how they re-designed it together. I was so very close to my Grandma, who is no longer with us, but to carry her with me every day, I’m forever grateful. She will always be a part of our love story.
The planning process was not what I thought it would be. Daniel really let me take the wheel with this one, and I did all of the research and communication with suppliers, but we made big decisions together. COVID made a few things tricky, but all of our suppliers were really helpful and flexible. Once we decided on a small wedding, I booked all the suppliers that we were 100% sure on; we didn’t take long to make decisions. If people or suppliers didn’t reply to email or answer phone calls, I just moved on and found someone who wanted to engage with me. I was a big believer that it should be a smooth, easy process, and if booking someone was tricky or getting information out of them was hard, then what was it going to be like closer to the day – I really need to trust everyone involved.
Daniel and I really wanted our wedding to represent who we were as a couple, so our inspiration was drawn from that. From there, we decided we wanted country glam. We wanted every element to reflect us, from location to flowers and champagne. We didn’t want a colour theme, and we didn’t want 100 guests – so we didn’t have them.
I found inspiration via real weddings to be the best, and I really enjoyed reading articles about real weddings.
White, green, champagne and our nearest and dearest. What was truly special about our ceremony was that we were about 350m from where Daniel proposed to me. Where he once declared his love for me two years earlier, in front of those same mountains, we said ‘I do’.
Another small touch was that our florist on the day was the florist from which Daniel had always bought me flowers. They created our arbour, without too much instruction. The first brunch of flowers he brought me were white and green, and it was really important for our arbour to represent those flowers.
My search for the perfect outfit didn’t take long; I always knew what I wanted. I wanted Toni Maticevski. I had tried on some styles in Melbourne, but nothing was meeting the mark, and I knew when I found the dress, my mum would cry. We happened to be out grabbing coffee on Pakington Street in Geelong one Saturday morning, and I said, ‘oh, let’s pop into Tinky’, knowing full well they had just received their latest drop of Maticevski. The first dress I tried, that dress was the one. Mum cried, and it felt perfect.
Cara: walking down the aisle towards Dan and seeing him stand at the end with tears in his eyes. Also, hearing the vows he’d written and was trying to read out, with more tears!
Daniel: Seeing Cara step through the front door of the homestead to make her way towards me. It took my breath away, and it still does every time I think about it.
Meaning of marriage.
It’s about sharing the good, the bad, and the joyful moments together. Having someone there who you know is always in your corner, will always have your back, and someone to share a home with forever.
Funny stories or near disasters.
Unexpectedly, my Maid of Honour’s gown didn’t arrive in time because the business she got it from did not allow sufficient postage time. But luckily enough, her backup outfit was perfect, and now we couldn’t imagine it any other way.
I think I was expecting it to be harder than it was. I thought it would be hard to coordinate everything and everyone. But what really took me by surprise was how hospitable everyone was. Everyone just kept saying yes, and yes to things they didn’t necessarily have to. People’s willingness to help (my suppliers) and go above and beyond was a great surprise.
Words of wisdom.
Follow your gut; if you want to elope, elope. If you want to have a big wedding, have a big wedding. Don’t let anyone tell you how to do your day. Eloping and only telling the 13 people who were coming was hard, but it was important to us. Do what you want.
The day passed so quickly; make sure you enjoy it.
Because we only had a small wedding, it was still important for us to celebrate our wedding with friends and family. On our four-month anniversary, we had a ‘Wedding Party’ with about 90 guests. I wore my wedding dress again but chopped it into a mini. We drank and danced the night away – it was so much fun.
Micro is the buzzword of the wedding industry in these pandemic times. But what is a micro-wedding all about? We’ve got the goss on what to think about if you’re considering a sweet little soiree for your I Do’s, right here on the blog.
CARA & DANIEL’S VENDORS
Ceremony venue: Mt Sturgeon Homestead at the Royal Mail Hotel.
Celebrant: Tanya O’Brian, who was the complete package. She made us feel at home. I couldn’t recommend her more.
Photography: Ali Bailey. Pure magic. The talent this woman has is beyond. I am so grateful I found her in my hunt for the perfect photographer.
Florist: Peony & Weasel Flower Co. In my eyes, the best florist in Geelong and I have built such a special relationship with all the girls who work in there.
Hair & make-up: Hilary Holmes Make Up. The energy of this incredible woman, making everyone woman in the room feel a million dollars.
Bridesmaid’s dresses: Kookai
Suits & bow ties / ties: Eddy Elias Menswear
Stationery / Signage: Cara (I created our invites / stationery)
Honeymoon: Orpheus Island. A huge shout of to the Team on Orpheus Island, the best Honeymoon spot in Australia.