Real Wedding – Joel & Elise, Ocean Grove VIC
Real Wedding – Joel & Elise, Ocean Grove VIC
Real Wedding – Joel & Elise, Ocean Grove VIC
Real Wedding – Joel & Elise, Ocean Grove VIC

Real Wedding – Joel & Elise, Ocean Grove VIC


If the ocean plays a huge part in your lives, why not hold your wedding in a stunning venue overlooking a breathtakingly beautiful coastland? For Elise and Joel, creating a relaxed, ultra-fun-laden celebration in beachside surrounds was true perfection and an elevated reflection of their signature style.

Against the chic coastal-brutalist style of The Dunes, these two stunning souls merely added enhancements to create a visual vibe. Simple accents of soft golden yellow and pops of ocean blue lifted the monochromatic palette, harmonising with the minimalist elegance of The Dune interiors.

Joel went for old-world statement cool in his black velvet jacket, while Elise is a fresh, effortless princess in her Ella Moda gown from the discerningly tasteful team at Bluebell Bridal. All-over handmade flower embellishment creates a contemporary effect against a timeless silhouette.

With every sunlight drenched moment captured with uplifting effect by Meg Read Photography and Lightbox Media, this is one celebration big on the best feels.



The meeting.

We went on our first date on a cold winters night in Elwood, where Joel ordered Elise the wrong pizza and six years later, the rest is history! (She still won’t let him live that one down…)


The ‘one’.

Elise was in Bali at the same time as Joel and his friends. After a few nights out at Motel Mexicola and days by the pool, we knew this was the real deal!


The proposal.

We were on a family holiday (all 14 of us!) in Bali and had two nights away on our own, in a special cliff top ocean view room in Bingin. Joel had been out for a surf and I’d just been for a massage and was refusing to get out of my bathers and towel to go to dinner (at the early time of 5pm) so proceeded to sit under the fan enjoying my happy hour cocktails. All whilst the photographer poor Joel had hired was waiting down on the beach to shoot the whole thing. It was a good 30 minutes before I finally agreed to get ready for dinner so got changed (no makeup, wet hair, no shoes) and Joel said ‘come here for a sec’ on the balcony and then dropped to his knee. We had so much fun celebrating just the two of us, then surprised our family the next day and continued to surprise family and friends when we caught up back home.


Planning process.

We went to 15 weddings last year so we knew what we wanted (and didn’t want) – good food, good drinks and a fun dance floor! We only checked out two venues – At The Heads and The Dunes and when we saw The Dunes space overlooking out onto the ocean, we knew this was the venue for us.

The Dunes staff and Steph, the wedding manager, were all amazing from day dot. Steph made everything run so smoothly and no question or task was ever too much. They all really went above and beyond to make our day so special and ‘ours’.

We wrote list after list but any time we got stressed we both just reminded ourselves that all we care about is marrying each other and also the big party to be had!

We had a rehearsal the afternoon before the big day and then relaxed at the dunes with drinks and dinner with our bridal party which was a lovely way to ease into the festivities.


Style inspiration.

Minimal, simple yet classy. Although our invites, Elise’s shoes and our cake were blue, we mainly kept with black and white styling on the day through our menus, name tags, white flowers and candles.

I follow Ivory Tribe and read so many of the blogs which were super helpful! I often found myself clicking on links and finding inspiration that way. I tried not to get too caught up in Pinterest and picture perfect weddings on social media but I did draw a lot of inspo from Instagram and previous weddings with a similar vibe.


The ceremony.

We both love the beach. Joel grew up surfing and going on beach holidays and Elise grew up by the beach in Ocean Grove, doing nippers. So, the ocean, sand and ceremony overlooking the beach meant a lot to us and our families. Although we are spoilt for choice with so many beautiful wineries across the Bellarine Peninsula, the beach is where we feel most at home so it naturally made sense to have it there.


The outfits.

We are both quite casual – active or surf wear people – so finding an outfit for the most important day of our lives was a little daunting at first! Joel nailed his all black suede jacket and suit from Arthur Galan one Saturday afternoon on Chapel Street and surprised me with it after he’d purchased it!

I (Elise) went dress shopping with my mum and sister in Melbourne however didn’t feel any of the dresses I tried on were really ‘me’ or suited my style. I had one last appointment at Bluebell Bridal at 4pm and my sister Jess nudged me to attend even though I was tired and over it. I’m so glad I did because when I put on the ‘Paris’ (or as we called it – Daisy) Ella Moda dress, I knew it was the one. I felt like a princess. Covered in beautiful hand made flowers, it was like this dress was made for me! My sister Jess was jumping with joy out of her chair and my Mum loved it too. We went back a few more times for a few fittings and the girls at Bluebell Bridal were so accommodating and lovely to deal with. The whole experience was fun and I only picked it up two days before the wedding!


Favourite moments.

Elise: seeing Joel at the end of the aisle was my favourite moment and hearing his vows for the first time. Also when we got sunset photos and it was just us and our beautiful photographer Meg Read and videographer and us out at sunset, on the beach, getting photos and dancing around whilst all our favourite people were back inside enjoying dinner and a drink together.

The dance floor all night was pretty awesome too, looking around seeing all your nearest and dearest busting out a move was pretty surreal and something we will both cherish forever!

Joel: Having our nephews walk down the aisle first, before Elise and the bridesmaids was a special moment, along with Elise’s sister conducting the ceremony. We tried to include as much of our family as possible – and thankfully it all went to plan! Also our first dance was a really special moment together (and practicing in the kitchen for a few nights beforehand!).


Meaning of marriage.

Marriage means that we will always be each other’s biggest cheerleaders. We will always be there for each other at the end of the day no matter what.


Wedding soundtrack.

Aisle songs: Marry Me by Train and How Long Will I Love You by Ellie Goulding

Reception entry: Gimme Gimme Gimme by Abba (picture everyone swinging their napkins in the air cheering and singing)

First dance song: There will be time by Mumford & Sons


Funny stories (or near disasters).

Funnily enough, for Elise, who is a major stress head, everything went to plan and it was a super relaxed morning and laid-back, fun-filled day and evening!


Planning surprises.

The cost of everything! Remembering all the little things. Also, the guest list and seating chart…


Words of wisdom.

Don’t sweat the small stuff (easier said than done) but no one will notice on the day. Enjoy the process, try to make it fun and bring it back to what the day is all about – marrying your love.



For more ocean vista inspiration, Jess and Dave’s Sorrento celebration proves you can combine the unrestrained beauty a beach wedding with timeless elegance, in a sophisticated soiree.




Ceremony location: Mick’s Steps, Ocean Grove beach, Ocean Grove

Reception venue: The Dunes, Ocean Grove. Every single staff member at The Dunes made us feel so welcomed and really recognised and embraced that this was one of the most important times in our lives. Steph Evans (The Dunes wedding manager) went above and beyond and made the whole planning process seem easy. The service, care, food, drink and every single thing the Dunes did exceeded all expectations, they went above and beyond. Steph helped make our wedding dreams become a reality!

Celebrant: Jess Hills. Jess is Elise’s sister and a well established celebrant across the Bellarine Peninsula and Melbourne. It was an honour to have her standing up there beside us as she has seen our love grown since day dot. Jess has a way with words and the ceremony was just perfect and exactly what we wanted – light hearted but warm and fuzzy.

Photography: Meg Read. Meg is the best in the biz! She has shot both Elise’s best friends weddings and is so talented that we actually chose our wedding date based around her availability. Meg’s talent to naturally capture beautiful moments and her laid-back, calming nature is what drew us to her.

Videography: Lightbox Media

Styling: The bride did it all herself (with the help of Steph at The Dunes setting it up on the day – thanks Steph!)

Florist: Moss Florist, Ocean Grove. These girls nailed the brief. Minimalist, dreamy, cosmos for the table settings and bridesmaids bouquets and my bouquet had pops of yellow.

Hair: Jaz Little

Make-up: Jemma Hair and Makeup. A local Geelong girl who is so talented at what she does! She made us all feel like our best selves and highlighted our facial features on the day.

The dress: Ella Moda at Bluebell Bridal Melbourne

Veil: Bluebell Bridal

Shoes: Basque

Rings: Charles Rose for Elise’s rings and Joel got his passed down from his grandpa.

Bridesmaid’s dresses: SDNY’s.

Suits: Groom – Arthur Galan. Groomsmen – Peter Jackson.

Bow ties / ties: Peter Jackson.

Catering & bar: The Dunes

Cake / Cake topper: Julia Makes Cakes. Julia nailed our blue, love heart cake and it was so delicious too!! It was white, raspberry mud with a tim tam choc second tier.

Stationery / Signage & decor: Elise did herself. Candles and candle holders and menus Elise created herself and flowers were from Moss.

Entertainment: Chook and Moluck DJS

Honeymoon: Thailand

Crop The Image

Actual Size

Recommended Size

Cropped Size