Real Wedding – Laura & Damien, Coldstream VIC
With a meet cute that involves meeting in Canada before travelling together through Europe, Laura and Damien’s sumptuously styled soiree was bound to be as full of effervescent fun as it is extreme elegance. With aesthetics that elevate the surrounds to perfection, and smiles that add infectious bliss to every moment, this day is epic in every sense.
A classic black and white vision, stylist Weddings by Desire and Flowers St Germain add an out-of-the-box feel with abundant white florals, giving a gorgeously overgrown feel while remaining true to timeless style. Touches of deep velvety teal add a contrasting accent through the bridesmaid’s gowns and decor moments for a tasteful uniqueness.
But of course, it’s the new Mr and Mrs who simply glow with radiant enthusiasm. Laura wears a stunning gown by Jane Hill, removing the train and veil and literally letting her hair down to hit the dance floor, while Damien looks every bit the sophisticated gent in his P. Johnson suit.
There to capture every gloriously gorgeous moment are superstar photographer Ali Bailey and videographer Ellena Louise. Scroll on for a sweet endorphin hit.
In March 2015, Damien was working abroad at a Heli Ski lodge in the Canadian mountains, and I was sailing the west coast of North America on Princess Cruises, as a professional dancer. Our paths crossed for the first time in Victoria, Vancouver Island. I was dry docked on the ship for two weeks and Damien travelled to meet a friend from his hometown. This friend happened to be my roommate on the ship. There was an instant Aussie spark between us and after a few drinks at the pub, we got chatting about my upcoming solo trip to Europe in a few months. Damien, looking for any excuse to continue his worldly adventure, cheekily offering to travel with me as he was keen to see Europe as well. The night ended and we both went our separate ways.
Fast forward to September that year, we met up for the second time in Paris, the city of love. Neither of us knew how this travel buddy thing was going to work but it didn’t take long for us to become an item and we ended up spending every moment with each other for the next two months. Falling madly in love while exploring 13 countries, we unknowingly were setting a foundation for a strong and incredibly exciting future together.
As soon as we both arrived in Paris, we knew this was something special. Our relationship and feelings for each other accelerated quickly, after living in each other’s pockets for two months. Everything was so easy from the beginning, and we were always (and still are) on the same page. During our travels, we got to know each other so well and there was nothing we didn’t love about each other.
On our first holiday post pandemic, we sailed from Brisbane to The Whitsundays on a 54ft yacht. Three quarters through our trip we had the perfect day from start to finish. Waking up on the boat just off Hayman Island, we sailed ourselves to a small island that had any amazing long reef. We set up for a scuba dive, drifting along the coral shelf, seeing some of the most incredible wildlife and coral. We then sailed around the corner and found a nice cove to anchor for the night, called Butterfly Bay. We took the dingy to shore to explore the island and watch the sunset over the boat with a seltzer and a beer. It wasn’t long after sitting down and chatting about how perfect the day was and what a great life we have together, that Damien popped the question which was instantly met with a very emotional and teary, YES!
We both loved the planning process as it was something that we could do and build together. I currently work in events, so I was pretty obsessed with creating the most perfect wedding, but Damien was just as involved and was actually the one who chose Coombe as our venue. We booked the venue first about 14 months out and it was non-stop from then. Most weekends involved ticking off at least one job and I kept tabs on budgets, quotes, invoices, supplier details on a very extensive spreadsheet. There really was nothing we didn’t love about the planning process.
We toyed with the idea of getting married overseas, as travel was the foundation of our relationship, but decided to stay local so we could have all our closest family and friends attend, including my 99-year-old Nan. As soon as we did a walk through at Coombe, Damien knew it was our venue. The history, beautiful gardens and colour palette was exactly what we were looking for. We wanted our wedding to be timeless, formal, and elegant.
We found a lot of inspiration via Ivory Tribe! Every time we needed to tick another supplier off our to-do list, I always checked out who other couples had used on Ivory Tribe. It was a great way to find local suppliers especially if they had done similar styles of weddings to what we were wanting. And Instagram, of course. We loved using suppliers tagged photos to see real weddings of couples who had used their services.
We had decided pretty early on that we wanted to do a ‘first look’ and we couldn’t recommend this enough. We understand that it’s less traditional, but we were able to spend more time with each other on our special day. We also got incredible photos around the gardens and at the ceremony spot, and when our fur baby, Alaska, turned up, she was able to be featured in our photos as well. This also gave us an opportunity to say a few words around the circle to all our bridal members prior to ceremony, to thank them individually for our friendship and for standing by our sides on our special day.
Our celebrant, Kate Adkins, was absolutely incredible. She made us feel really at ease throughout the whole process and on the day. Executing the story of how we met was really important to us and Kate nailed it. We also had my Uncle deliver a reading and a blessing of marriage, which was very special. Looking back, our favourite part of the whole ceremony (which was also the most daunting part) was the vows. Standing up there, in front of all our family and friends, making promises and commitments to each other, is something we will never forget.
Shopping for the perfect wedding dress, with my bridesmaids and mum, was the most amazing day full of laughter and excitement with seven very loud women walking in and out of bridal shops. And then, when I came out in the Jane Hill Huntleigh dress, everyone just went silent, and it was like time stood still for a moment. We knew we had found the one.
Damien’s tuxedo was tailor made from P Johnson and fitted him perfectly. The whole process was stress-free and really put Damien at ease before the big day.
A few small things we did that made our day extra special was having both our grandma’s rings attached to my bouquet. This was a special way to involve those we love and also signified my something blue and something old. My mum decorated a pair of white sneakers with crystals and a “just married” label for me to change into later in the night. We also received beautiful gifts from some of our bridal party that we wore on the day.
Damien: Looking back at all our guests following us after the ceremony along the path. The sunset moment together, photos by the pool, listening to speeches and dancing on the groomsmen shoulders to Freed from Desire.
Laura: Listening to Damien’s incredible vows. Walking into the reception full of all our closest friends and family cheering us on. An overwhelming feeling of pure love and happiness for us by all our guests is something I will never forget. Walking down the aisle and of course, our first dance.
Meaning of marriage.
Just like Damien said in his vows, “Life is simply one great adventure; best spent with someone special who loves an adventure too. To plan with, to enjoy with, and to share with. Always learning and always growing, together.”
Aisle (bride): Next Thing You Know by Jordan Davis
Aisle (bridesmaids): How Would You Feel (Paean) by Ed Sheeran
Signing: Dressed Up in White by CAL
Recessional: Make My Dreams Come True by Daryl Hall & John Oates (Acoustic Version)
Reception entry: Dancing in The Moonlight by Jubel, NEIMY and Power of Love by Huey Lewis & The News
First dance: Can’t Take My Eyes Off You by John Lloyd Young
Father / daughter dance: Just the Way You Are by Billy Joel
Funny stories (or near disasters).
Thankfully we had no disasters, but the weather was definitely playing games with us the week leading into the wedding. It was actually flooding in Healesville and our venue manager had worded us up that we may need to move the ceremony inside. Laura, from Weddings of Desire, worked with our florist to come up with a backup plan and we even had a backup plan for our backup plan. Thankfully we never had to use them but my advice to other couples would be, always have a backup plan!
Everyone told us that it was going to be the best day of our lives but it’s hard to imagine what that actually feels like. We were both blown away with the amount of love and joy we received from our guests. The whole day was perfect from start to finish and it exceeded our expectations, tenfold.
Word of wisdom.
Make it your own! There are no rules as to how a wedding should run and the day should reflect you as a couple. We had a combination of some traditional moments and some un-traditional moments. Do what feels right for you.
There’s something about a Yarra Valley celebration, that we simply adore, and Ash and Bec’s wonderful wedding was no exception. Consider this a stylish soiree with a whole lot of romance, that must be seen.
LAURA AND DAMIEN’S SUPPLIERS
Ceremony and reception venue: Coombe Yarra Valley
Celebrant: Kate Adkins
Photography: Ali Bailey
Videography: Ellena Louise
Styling: Weddings of Desire
Florist: Flowers St Germain
Bridal make-up: Tonic | Giuliana Corallo
Bridesmaid hair & make-up: Tonic | Eloise Hogan
The dress & veil: Jane Hill
Shoes: Harlo, Alexandra – White Pearl Bridal Block Heels
Bridal pyjamas: Le Rose Sleepwear
Rings: Sarah & Sebastian
Engagement ring: Custom made ‘Toi et Moi’ ring
Bridesmaid’s dresses: Custom-made by our dear friend, Michelle Lothian
Hack: Create a fancy bridesmaid itinerary on canvas with inspo photos, information, schedule times etc.
Groomslady: Club London
Bow ties / ties: Otaa. Hack: I wanted the boys to have real bowties but didn’t trust they would know how to tie them in the morning of the wedding, so I added a press stud at the back of each bowtie and made sure they were all tied prior to the wedding. This way the boys still had nice full bowties without the pressure of having to tie themselves.
Catering & bar: Coombe Yarra Valley. Recommendation: Order a midnight snack for your guest. Our mini souvlakis aka k’babys were an absolute hit!
Cake / Cake topper: Lil Cookies Cake. Hack: We purchased generic bride and groom figurines and used paint to change their colourings.
Stationery / Signage: Ivory & Stone
Entertainment: Ceremony, Canapes and Early Dinner – Garth Ploog and Liam Brown. Reception/ Party – DJ Emma Storey, Emmanuella Costaras, Jarrod Brereton & Gerald Speranza. Hack: Bring out disposable cameras just after mains – our guests had the best time taking selfies.
Transport: Bridal Party: Enrik Limousines
Guests: Mckenzies Tourist Services
Dog Sitter: I Do Paws
Guest Book: Large Coombe Wine Bottle (6 Litres) with Swing Tags. Our plan is to cellar the special wine for 5-10 years and enjoy with our bridal party on an anniversary.
Wishing well: Custom Made Coombe Wooden Box.
Save the dates: Paperless Post
Invitations: (Online only) With Joy
Honeymoon: Sailed for seven days on a charter yacht in the Whitsundays.