Real Wedding – Madalyn & Darcy, Hesse VIC
Stunning sweethearts Maddy and Darcy leant into French and Italian-inspired elegance, dreamy garden party romance and exquisite autumnal hues for their vision of a wedding day. The old-world warmth and lush gardens of Barunah Plains provide a picture-perfect backdrop for the story to unfold, all through the lens of the incredible Katie Harmsworth.
Beginning with a sweetly personal and entertainingly engaging ceremony by our very own Jo Betz, centred around beautifully heartfelt vows by the new Mr and Mrs, the tone was set for the day. Understated sentimental vibes balanced with effortlessly laid-back fun.
Maddy chose fashion superstars Kyha Studios for her dream day fits, including a princess gown with an edge; ethereal tulle skirt and artfully wrapped gossamer with dynamic contemporary lines imbued into the bodice. To hit the dance floor, she leaned into the glam in a soft sheath, carrying through the ceremony look in soft wrapped sleeves and neckline detailing.
Against the autumnal palette elevated with fresh injections of muted neon apricot and delicate peach, the overall effect is giving modern-day lux with a perfectly personal twist. We especially love the choice for the bridesmaids to carry individually chosen florals, adding variety whilst maintaining synchronicity.
To explore every sweet element, scroll on.
We’ve been together for 12 years now. We learnt in our early days that we should have met so many times before we actually did, which I love. I’m a big believer that what’s meant for you will always find you; many crossed paths and ‘same place, wrong time’ moments (we attended the same school but never knew each other, but we met through a mutual friend in the end. I attended a house party with them, and Darcy was actually one of the guys who lived there.
He’d had a bit to drink by this stage, and I remember thinking, wow, this guy is so intense, as he was coming on pretty strong despite my initial lack of interest. But I couldn’t help but laugh or smile with (or at) him into the night.
The night ended abruptly, and in those moments, I saw this intense guy step up for a friend in need; he was calm, level-headed and loyal – before he had to leave, he came over to me, took off a keyring from his keys to give me, telling me to have it so he had a reason to see me again. I got home, and he’d got my number from our friend and text me to check I’d got home okay, which was super sweet.
We knew quite early on; we’ve been through so many chapters and changes together. We have always been the person we want to tell our good news to or share our struggles with. It’s always felt very easy, very natural; we just clicked from the get-go.
We’d only been seeing each other for a month when my grandmother suddenly passed away; Darcy was such a strength for me and my family despite being thrown into meeting them all at once and under intense circumstances. He was so kind, caring and supportive – it’s these qualities I still love in him all these years later, a pure heart of gold.
It happened romantically, in classic Darcy fashion! He planned a beautiful little getaway for a few days at Lancemore Lindenderry in Red Hill on the Mornington Peninsula for the two of us. He only told me a few days prior but held back on where exactly we were destined for.
We arrived and checked into the beautiful suite he’d booked that overlooked the tennis courts, lake, and stunning gardens.
I adore gardens and being in nature, so before lunch, we took a little stroll through the grounds (Darcy was nervously trying to pick a spot, he told me after, with a few people walking in every time he thought of doing it). Then, he got down on one knee in a private spot near a rose garden section and asked me to marry him. Naturally, it was a yes from me, and we shared a lovely few moments crying and kissing before heading off to enjoy champagne on the balcony of our room and then onto lunch at Sorrento Hotel, where we celebrated further over cocktails.
He had a replica ring of one I’d mentioned years earlier and had organised to head home via Melbourne the next day, where we designed our dream ring together. I love that we got to create something together that represents us and our love; it was a very special time.
I worked with Laura from Weddings of Desire to bring our dream day to life. Her signature traditional and elegant aesthetic was one I knew I wanted to collaborate with even prior to being engaged. I had met Laura a few years earlier through a friend and loved her bubbly, passionate energy. She was truly just as excited as me when I’d suggest personal touches we wanted to incorporate; it was a dream to create and work with her; she is so talented with her vision.
I had a strong idea of showcasing our personalities throughout, and Laura made beautiful suggestions on suppliers who would fit the brief. We had an incredible supplier base, and it truly makes the process so easy and effective. One huge plus of getting a planner is the priority/connections with in-demand suppliers! They know they deliver to a great standard, and this removes a lot of stress of trusting them to come through on your big day.
We had recently been to Europe prior to the planning process starting, and this highly influenced our tone for the day; we incorporated gorgeous Italian-styled scalloped umbrellas for the canapes along with oysters for our guests. We adored the pebbles and creeping ivy of our venue that reminded us of the gorgeous gardens in Italy and France we had visited, and we chose our ceremony location to ensure this was part of our backdrop. Wildflos were also able to incorporate gorgeous urns into our reception backdrop to further our European touches, along with extra-long ivory candles from Hall of Flames to make it romantic and intimate for our guests when the sun set in our clear roofed marquee. We also incorporated a separate lounge area (where cake and doughnuts were served and guests could watch the dancefloor and have conversations, not yelling over music) with gorgeous French provincial chairs and tables from Memphis Hire.
I had a mood board for colours, key elements I wanted to focus on, such as a backdrop behind the bridal party table and floral varieties, and general mood I wanted to achieve with aspects such as long candles. This made it easy to communicate between all suppliers and ensure cohesiveness when it came to things like stationery and florals.
Laura worked her magic into the execution, and it was honestly phenomenal.
Due to having Laura on the team, we were very blessed to have a dream lead-up. The process was quite stress-free, leaving plenty of room for us to plan other aspects, such as a recovery day on Sunday by the pool, with lawn games and catering from DAL Catering and 63 Degrees. Luna Hire were onsite early with the sweetest personalised coffee cart; Lauren of Luna Hire made custom coffee cups and included a motif of our last name and wedding date, which was super fun and much appreciated by guests after a big night prior.
A friend also helped arrange Shapes biscuit boxes with our last name on them for guests to snack on; they were a hit (shout out to Shari and Zoran of Cotton On Group, who got me a sold-out flavour, my husband’s favourite!). I loved making small personal details throughout our weekend that reflected our personalities.
Despite being a super organised person, things still came up within the final two weeks; it’s inevitable, always last-minute decisions or things that need adapting.
We arrived at the property on the Friday morning to enjoy a rehearsal with immediate family and our bridal party, along with our celebrant. It was an ultimate buzz feeling, seeing months of planning and years of dreaming come to life – the marquee was being built when we arrived, and it felt so surreal to see, knowing that time tomorrow we’d be celebrating with our loved ones in it.
We had some drinks together as a bridal party and workshopped some fun entrances into the reception each pair would do – it was so funny and a pure core memory for me.
We fell in love with the luxury and elegance of Italy and France and knew we wanted a modern, elegant black tie meets romantic garden party feel. Our venue really showcases that, so we worked it to our advantage, choosing key spots that highlighted the gardens, pebble walkways and ivy-covered homestead walls.
We also wanted to showcase the season, Autumn, and its tonal beauty in the overall style, especially as it incorporates many of my favourite colours.
Blogs and articles on things I hadn’t even thought of were such an amazing resource, from how far in advance to book suppliers or guides on when to have invites out by, how to best tackle the dreaded seating chart, to even writing our vows and picking music for key moments.
The wedding world is new territory for most of us, even if you’ve been a bridesmaid or a guest at a wedding before; if you haven’t been through it yourself, you can’t fully grasp how much effort is involved planning-wise! It was nice to have these resources to know what to expect and what was realistic. Ivory Tribe was definitely a go-to for me!
Pinterest was a great way to store and source any inspiration I’d find, but I was cautious about what’s realistic versus what’s online. Sometimes, too much inspo can cloud your judgement on creating a day that’s truly personal for you and your fiancé. Personally, my brief was to be subtly different; I don’t like just replicating what’s already been done over and over.
We had so many super special moments throughout the day, including surprising our mothers to be witnesses on our marriage certificate. We wanted each of our loved ones to play an important role on the day as they have in the lead-up to our marriage. Naturally, both mums cried at the gorgeous moment, and these are some of the photos I’ll cherish most of the day.
We had chosen to write our vows privately, along with the whole of the ceremony our gorgeous celebrant Jo created; it made it all the more special hearing it for the first time in that moment with our loved ones. We couldn’t wipe the smile off our faces the whole time.
Aurora of Unplugged Entertainment learnt two acoustic songs for our special day and created the most magical atmosphere for my bridesmaids and me and my dad to walk down the aisle to. There were a lot of happy tears, especially from my husband; it was beautiful to turn down the aisle and see that kind of response. I had chosen Truly, Madly, Deeply by York Lore for my bridesmaids’ song; this was the first song we listened to after Darcy proposed and holds such special memories for us (its original singer was also one of my parents’ favourites and one I’d grown up adoring). I had picked a favourite song from my adolescence for myself and my dad to walk to, however, in an acoustic format of a varied version, and it was everything I’d dreamed of.
Aesthetically, Laura (WOD) and Nat (Wildflos) had suggested a modern take on the arch as our floral piece of the ceremony. I was always eager to do things differently or that hadn’t been done before, so I agreed, and wow, did they come through.
I selected a different floral variety for each bridesmaid bouquet to give them a personal touch despite having matching Bec and Bridge gowns for them all. Each floral style was also intertwined throughout all floral installs for both the ceremony and the reception. I have had these pressed and framed as a sweet thank-you gift to each of my girls.
My bouquet even had a feather that represented my late grandmother on it, making my bouquet even more special to hold throughout the day.
I was extremely privileged to have the girls at Kyha Studios create my dream dress experience and customise aspects of my dresses to suit my vision.
They cared so genuinely about supporting me to create my dream look, to even offered to make a veil in the same tone as my champagne pink tulle gown I wore first, and involved Head of Retail, Erica, in allowing me to alter my second gown to have detached tulle sleeves (party dress needed movement for this dancefloor lover!) along with little additions such as buttons onto my white second gown, Ziva.
I shopped around the main designers in Melbourne but ultimately couldn’t fault the service and the range Kyha had; their edgy bride ideology aligned so perfectly with my personal style – traditional with a modern twist.
I went in open to multiple styles. In the end, I had my princess moment in a pinky champagne tulle number with a corset style upper that twisted across, called Miro, followed by a fitted white strapless gown with boning through the bodice and tulle, paired with tulle sleeves to tie back into my first dress.
As pink is my favourite colour, I opted for a pastel pink Prada pump for both day and night. It paired so well with the champagne tones of my dress and our florals.
They were definitely a more modern style, but I loved that against my tulle layers; I had a vision and went with what felt more me, which is my advice when making any wedding decisions.
My dad wore pink on his own wedding day 35 years ago, and it’s a colour both myself and my mum share as a favourite, so the dress really spoke to me from the start.
I accessorised with my grandmother’s bracelet, which was my something old, borrowed, and blue as it had sapphires in it – the same stone as my mother’s wedding ring.
It was truly the most magical day of my life; reminiscing about a favourite moment is a beautiful yet challenging task!
Ultimately, walking down the aisle with my dad was something I’ll never ever forget. Seeing Darcy there among our closest people is something I will cherish as a core memory for the rest of my days.
Hearing Darcy’s vows was also a favourite; he put so much love and effort into them. I remember being so wound up in his words I forgot everyone else was there watching me cry!
The first look I did with Dad and my bridesmaids was super special – only my mum, sister (maid of honour), and Laura knew my dress, so it was great to see them light up with the final look; they also didn’t know my second dress so it was ultimate vibes running hand in hand into our reception in my second dress to greet everyone again. So fun!
Meaning of marriage.
Darcy and I have been building a life together for 12 years now; we have a business together, have finished renovating our home in Newtown, have our beautiful Staffy dog together, have travelled overseas together – this was just making it all officially official. Sharing a last name to really unify us was something we both always wanted.
Aisle (bridesmaids): Truly, Madly, Deeply by Yoke Lore, performed live by Aurora of Unplugged Entertainment
Aisle (bride): Jae Hill’s acoustic cover of Turning Page (originally by Sleeping at Last), also performed by Aurora.
Signing: Beyond by Leon Bridges and You Are The Best Thing by Ray LaMontagne
Recessional: Signed, Sealed, Delivered, Jackson Breit version
Reception entry (wedding party): September by Earth Wind & Fire, You Make My Dreams (Come True) by Daryl Hall, Celebration by Kool & The Gang, Boogie Wonderland by Earth, Wind & Fire
Reception entry (bride and groom): Don’t Stop till You Get Enough by Michael Jackson whilst our guests swung napkins, and some even stood on chairs; we love a good party vibe!
Father / daughter, mother / son dance: Hold My Girl (acoustic version) by George Ezra
First dance: You’re Still the One by Bailey Rushlow
Funny stories or near disasters.
There’s always something, isn’t there?!
A connecting heritage walk bridge on the property that connected our ceremony and canapes area to where the marquee was going to be built got swept away by floods a few months prior. Sometimes, you just need to take a deep breath, realise it’s out of your control and move on!
A cool room broke down the night prior, so our hardworking catering team had to go back and forth to the cool room down at the marquee.
The original acoustic duo cancelled five weeks prior despite being booked for about seven months as they had double booked. Thankfully, Laura came up with a game plan and alternatives before breaking the news to me; I am so thankful for her and Aurora, who could accommodate us and learn two songs in a smaller time frame! It all works out in the end!
How horrible doing seating charts can be?!
How quickly 12 months goes! I felt like we had all the time in the world, and suddenly, we were four months out! Really take the time to enjoy the lead-up; if you don’t do well under pressure, outsource or give yourself plentyyy of time to plan and use resources to support you – Excel spreadsheets are heaven-sent!
Words of wisdom.
No one else knows the plan! So, if things are exactly 110%, just breathe and know that no one else knows what was meant to happen anyway.
Don’t rush the day; it’s over so quickly! I used to brush over this advice when people told it to me, like, ‘Yeah, I’m a super present person, I won’t’, but wow, I can’t emphasise this enough!
Do what’s best for you and your fiancé; you’ll get plenty of advice and family input. It’s your day, and you don’t have to follow traditions or please anyone but yourselves
My mum wore a stunning layered pale lilac dress on the day; she had worn a purple dress for her going away/second dress at her own wedding, so it was special to recreate this for my day.
Our dress code was black tie.
We had a whiskey bar for our guests with a special gift from my father – a giant five-litre whiskey bottle he’d been keeping for the first wedding; it was a gift to him on a special occasion approximately 35 years prior and a common love my husband and him share. May explain why we got to bed at 3am…
For an alternate style take on the beautiful Barunah Plains, check out Alex and Olivia’s gorgeously modern soiree, here on the blog.
MADDY & DARCY’S VENDORS
Ceremony venue: Barunah Plains, Hesse
Celebrant: The lovely Jo Betz was our celebrant. We have already arranged for her to renew our vows in ten years! It wouldn’t be the same being anyone else; she’s so amazing!
Photography: Katie Harmsworth, aka the best in the biz.
Videography: Annette and Dani – two wonderful ladies who brought my editorial-style video dreams to reality! They were super fun on the day!!
Styling: Weddings of Desire. Everyone needs a Laura in their lives.
Florist: Florals were created by Nat and her team at Wild Flos
Make-up: Rebeccah and Chantel of Blondie Salon. These girls have been painting my face for years, and there is a reason they have done so many weddings: INCREDIBLE.
The dresses & veil: Kyha Studios. Erica, Nina, Olivia, Adrianna and the entire Kyha team were INCREDIBLE. So welcoming, so accommodating, so helpful and genuinely made my dress experience memorable.
Shoes: Prada (Bride) Aquila (Groom)
Bridesmaid’s dresses: Bec + Bridge
Suits & bow ties / ties: The boys all wore suits from Eddy Elias, including my handsome dad. They also altered in-house, and the attention to detail was impressive.
Catering & bar: Smith and Co Catering provided our feast-style sit-down menu. We love how food brings people together, and the idea of gathering to share was a big want for us; my guests still talk about those bao buns!
Cake / Cake topper: Our cake came courtesy of Sonia and Jasmine of LoveIt Cakes, a beautiful mother-daughter team. Each tier was a different flavour, and they helped me surprise Darcy with a figurine of our beloved dog ‘taste testing’ the cake at the back. They went to so much effort to nail the contrasting texture finish of the fondant; I loved it! And so did our guests, who ate the whole thing over our wedding weekend celebrations.
Entertainment: Acoustic duo was Aurora from Unplugged Entertainment. They learnt two songs for our special day, and it was pure magic! Barely a dry eye to be found! Thank you again, Aurora, for creating such a beautiful atmosphere.
DJ Tommy O’Dwyer (www.djtommyo.com) ensured the energy was high, and we partied into the early hours of Sunday!
Honeymoon: Vakkaru, Maldives