Real Wedding – Maddie & Ryan, Berry NSW
Maddie and Ryan’s love story began with her phone number on the back of his bar bill – and it wasn’t long after that Maddie just knew he was her one.
Their dream day may have been a long time coming (thanks, covid), but gosh, this is one sweet celebration that was worth the wait. Aiming to create a vision of natural romance and timeless style, Maddie and Ryan leant into the breathtaking bush scape of their venue for inspiration. Creamy white florals, clean, soft lines and pops of muted coral create captivating contrast against the lush green gardens.
We love Maddie’s Byron gown by Lovers Society, an all-over lace strapless gown combining modern romance with contemporary lines.
But for Maddie and Ryan, it was the feeling of heading back down the aisle together as newlyweds that they’ll relive over and over. The electric emotion and joy-filled vibes carried over to their portrait shots; every loved-up glance captured with visual impact by Luminous Moments.
Dip into this delightful day by scrolling on now.
When I was 21 and completing my first degree in 2016, I worked as a bartender at a bar/restaurant called Hugos, in Manly. It was a Friday night and Ryan had been out at a work event with a friend/colleague. For some reason, they decided to detour on their way home and stop via Hugos for a drink.
I was working that night and had actually started to pack up the bar, when these two guys walked in, wanting to work their way through the cocktail menu. The two of them ended up sitting there for a few hours, so naturally, Ryan and I got chatting. After some time, he built up the courage to ask if I was single and for my number. Ryan had also just ordered another round of four espresso martinis. Without hesitation, I glanced at him with a straight face, walked off to get the receipt and brought it back with my number on the back of it. So, he got the bill and my number at the same time.
Two days later, he sent me a text and we organised our first date.
On our wedding day, I found out that he had kept the receipt and framed it for us!
I knew Ryan was the one very early on, approximately three-four months into our relationship. I had just been away on a holiday to Sri Lanka with my family for two weeks and when I got home, I went to visit Ryan at his apartment. I have a very vivid memory of that day, it’s etched into my memory. I remember simply sitting and talking with him in the sun and thinking, “I’m going to marry this man.” I realised I never wanted to return home from work, holidays, or anything, without coming back to him.
The night before Ryan proposed, we went out for dinner with two of our closest friends. At the time, one of them was working at a jewellery store so I had been asking her about diamonds and engagement rings ALL night (completely unaware of what was to come the next day of course).
Ryan was so nervous. He made his way through several drinks faster than I had ever witnessed before, to the point that I actually had a go at him on the way home in the car: “I don’t understand why you had to drink so much tonight, honestly it was just meant to be a casual dinner?!”
Ryan held his tongue and the next morning we drove to Freshwater Beach. He told me that we were going for breakfast with friends, however, detoured to a beautiful clearing on a cliff that overlooks Freshwater Beach. Five minutes prior, two of his friends had ‘planted’ the ring box in the rock face and then hid among the bushes to watch. Ryan pointed to a house in the distance to distract me, so when I finally turned around he had the box opened in front of me. I have never been so shocked and excited in my life.
The best part is, that I said “YES!” before he had even asked the question.
The planning process wasn’t easy. You could even say we planned three weddings.
Ryan proposed on the 8th of June 2019 and we got married on the 21st of May 2022, so the engagement was just short of three years! We vividly remember saying to each other at the start, ‘we don’t want a long engagement.’
We knew we wanted to extend the day by having a destination wedding over the course of a weekend. So, our eyes and hearts were instantly set on Berry. Our favourite winery, Two Figs, is there too.
We initially had another local wedding venue lined up, however, this was not a viable option once the pandemic hit. Cue postponement number one, from Sat 21st of November 2020. Sat 16th of October 2021 became date number two, but now at Willow Farm. Sat 21st of May 2022 was finally our lucky date!
It took a while to book in, re-book and re-organise all of our suppliers each time, however, the longer the pandemic went on, the more common it became to postpone and adapt to the new covid requirements.
Thankfully, by the time we got married, there were no restrictions at all!
We wanted the elements and details of our wedding to look and feel natural, romantic and timeless. Classic black suits, beautiful creamy white flowers, editorial-style photography and fashion that wouldn’t date.
We wanted to compliment the natural beauty and charm of Willow Farm, whilst being careful that the details weren’t rustic.
Looking at other real weddings was our go-to!
The Facebook group Wedchat by Wedshed was a dream for getting real-wedding inspiration. Members who had recently got married often posted photos from their day, plus recommendations of their top suppliers. Last-minute checklist items, advice and tips for brides to be in the lead-up, information about wedding-related admin such as name changing, the re-selling of pre-owned wedding items. These are all the things I found most interesting and valuable from the posts in the group.
It was helpful following influencers on Instagram who were engaged and shared their wedding planning journey and the details of their day.
Firstly, looking at the weather forecast in the lead-up to the wedding, we were prepared for the fact that it was going to rain most of the day. When I woke up at 5am to start hair and make-up, it was pouring. I walked outside under the veranda and thought “if we get the ceremony in the sun, I’ll be a happy woman. That’s all I want.” Amazingly, the clouds cleared and we even spotted a rainbow.
We managed to have the entire ceremony outdoors without a drop of rain. Then, within ten minutes of walking down the aisle as a married couple, the rain started. The timing could not have been more perfect and I can confirm, I was in fact the HAPPIEST woman.
Weather aside, the ceremony was so special because our celebrant worked with us to ensure it was personable, intimate and most importantly, felt like us. What I mean by that, is the ceremony had sincere, serious moments when needed, and the other parts demonstrated our love for each other as a couple, but also the gratitude and love we have for our family and friends, who support our relationship. For the majority of the ceremony, Ryan and I didn’t stand apart. We held each other facing outwards, whilst watching and listening to our celebrant speak, because it was bloody cold and because it felt like the most natural thing to do.
A special moment in the ceremony was the ring warming. When our celebrant asked for the rings, Ryan’s groomsman (who carried them to the ceremony) handed each of the rings to our mums. They held the rings and ‘warmed’ them for us for the duration of the ceremony. It was a subtle but meaningful way to have them involved.
It took several shopping attempts and lots of try-ons to find my wedding dress. I didn’t have any rules when trying on dresses, aside from staying below the budget! (I didn’t want to fall in love with a dress I couldn’t afford.) I tried on so many different styles and gradually gravitated towards dresses with a v-neckline or off-the-shoulder, a train and a statement in the pattern of the fabric. The Byron gown by Lovers Society was an instantaneous yes. As cliché as it sounds, I fell in love with the style and just knew it was worth revisiting.
Ryan visited the Brent Wilson store in Sydney CBD with his groomsmen. They chose their own suit linings to match their own taste but collectively agreed on a black fabric for the suits. Ryan (admittedly with a bit of persuasion from me) opted for a classic black suit and tie, patent black shoes, silver cuff links and a statement Tissot watch.
Ryan: When Maddie came into my eye-line and she started walking down the aisle with her dad. Also, once we were married and had walked down the aisle together and I was able to give her a giant hug.
Maddie: The first was getting ready with my bridesmaids and parents the morning of. That time was so precious. I’ll never forget the nerves, excitement, happiness and emotion all bundled up into several hours of fun and organised chaos. The second was walking around the corner, reaching the aisle and finally seeing Ryan. The expression I saw on his face was one I had never seen before. Even though I vaguely remember looking around at other people, my memory is purely looking at him.
Meaning of marriage.
Marriage is a privilege. It means choosing to spend the rest of your life with the person you love most, growing together, learning together, being each other’s biggest cheerleaders during the good times, and being a support during the tough times. Even when challenges arise you figure them out together and keep fighting for each other. Most importantly, marriage means loving your husband/wife unconditionally, forever.
Aisle (bridesmaids): Golden by Cody Simpson
Aisle (bride): Warming by Xavier Dunn
Signing: Beyond by Leon Bridges
Recessional: Move On Up by Curtis Mayfield
Reception entry: Sweet Lovin’ Radio Edit by Sigala ft Bryn Christopher
First dance: Falling Like the Stars by James Arthur
Funny stories or near disasters.
One week prior to the wedding, we received a message that we could no longer put the Sperry tent up in the allocated grass area due to weeks and weeks of rain-producing mud pits. That specific area on the property was not useable at all, yet it was the only spot we had planned to put it. For context, this is because this particular area has access to the power and water supply points.
After numerous conversations with Willow Farm’s owner and our life-saver Erin from South Coast Party Hire, we all decided the best option was to put the tent on another patch of grass on the property. This sounds fairly straightforward, however, with a giant 26 x 14-metre tent and no power or water supply in that spot, we had to re-organise the ENTIRE set-up and logistics, five days out from the day.
Two generators were hired last minute, a marquee was set up for the caterers instead of the purpose-built caterer’s kitchen on site, the grass was mowed and manicured, bog mats were put down over the driveway, and water leads were extended for the bathrooms, festoon lights were put up and Plan B came to life.
Without our amazing suppliers helping us to re-organise everything, we quite literally would not have had our wedding! (And all I can say, is thank god for generators)
Ryan: I was so excited to get married, that at the crucial moment to say ‘I do’, I instead just said a loud ‘yes.’ Everyone burst out laughing since I had gotten the easiest part of the ceremony wrong. When our celebrant asked Maddie the same question, she stared at me with a cheeky look and said ‘yes’. It was so simple, yet in the moment so easy to get wrong!
Where do we start? Three postponements, a venue change, a photographer change, a global pandemic and two generators later – sometimes it felt like there were more surprises than plans!
Words of wisdom.
Don’t forget to look after each other along the way. This probably sounds like a ‘well.. duh?!’ moment.
But what we mean by this, is it can be easy to get caught up in the planning and detail of everything, when really, at the end of the day, the purpose of it all is to demonstrate your love and commitment to each other, in front of the people you love. That’s all that matters. The rest will eventually fall into place.
Having a fabulous photographer not only illustrates your memories to perfection, but given they’ll be spending the day with you, needs to be someone who makes you feel your most at-ease, relaxed selves. But where to find this rare treasure? We have some of the most talented folk in the wed snap business, on our directory, here.
MADDIE & RYAN’S VENDORS
We found all of our suppliers via internet searches, blogs or Instagram! Specifically, Hello May, WedShed, Pinterest, Wedded Wonderland, The Bridal Journey and inspiration via Instagram influencers like Chantelle Stanton and Harmony Butcher.
Also a trick – I followed lots of wedding photographers. You can always trust them to tag all the suppliers in a wedding/photo you like!
Ceremony & reception venue: Willow Farm, Berry
Celebrant: Married By Jess, Jess Peake. The night we met, Ryan was with a great friend – Sam. Sam’s older sister ended up being our celebrant. She made the ceremony feel so intimate, warm and loving!
Photography: Luminous Moments, Jamie Johns. Choosing Jamie from Luminous Moments was honestly one of the best decisions we made! She was so warm, friendly and bubbly and made us feel super comfortable. And of course, the photos are AMAZING! She was so organised and perfectly captured the natural, candid shots that we were after.
Videography: Peter Danks. My Maid of Honour (Lauren) and MC (Izzy) are two of my best friends from my high-school days. They organised a videographer for us as a wedding present, which was the most thoughtful, beautiful gift. Izzy is a producer, so asked one of her friends and colleagues – Pete – to shoot our wedding. He was fantastic and the video made us cry – he did a stellar job.
Styling & florist: Be Designed, Gemaya. Gemaya designed and made all the flower arrangements and bouquets for our wedding. She also organised most of the hire items (Via South Coast Party Hire) to create a beautiful, consistent flow of colour and style throughout the ceremony and the Sperry tent for the reception.
Hair: Blow Bar on Queen. Our hair stylist (Natalie) was supplied through this gorgeous local Berry salon.
Make -up: Natasha Bowling. Natasha is a true artist. She is so skilled at doing bridal make-up. Myself and all the girls felt and looked beautiful. Importantly, she was also great company on the morning of the wedding, which is important considering we spent close to seven hours together!
The Dress & veil: Lovers Society from The Bridal Atelier, Double Bay. A stunning bridal store with really helpful, lovely stylists. I knew I had found my dress when I tried on the Byron Gown. I fell in love with it!
Shoes: Pretty Little Thing
Jewellery: Rings – Nicholas Haywood. The team here are super knowledgeable and looked after us so well. Bride earrings – Enesea Jewellery. Stunning, hand-made pearl jewellery. I am completely obsessed with this brand.
Bridesmaid’s dresses: Shona Joy
Suits: Brent Wilson
Bow ties: Otaa
Catering: Duck Duck Goose Catering
Bar: Henry Clive
Cake: Leah Butcher, Ryan’s Sister. She made a vanilla mud cake with white chocolate and limoncello ganache.
Stationery / Signage: Be Designed
Entertainment: XY DJ
Transport: Kennedy’s Bus & Coach (South Nowra)
Hire: South Coast Party Hire
Honeymoon: Bannisters By The Sea, Mollymook