Real Wedding – Madelene & Pete, Swan Hill VIC
Real Wedding – Madelene & Pete, Swan Hill VIC
Real Wedding – Madelene & Pete, Swan Hill VIC

Real Wedding – Madelene & Pete, Swan Hill VIC


Madelene and Pete started the year with a bang when they wed on New Year’s Eve along the magical Murray River.

Creating a relaxed and fun party vibe, they went with a less-is-more approach and instead concentrated on bringing together their loved ones to celebrate a once in a lifetime moment with them.

They kept things fresh and elegant along with an abundance of guest experiences to keep them amused – think alcoholic icy poles, a paddle steamer ride and Polaroid photos as place cards as well as touching thank you notes for every one. It was these little touches that made the day truly personal and intimate.

Showcasing the fabulous talents of this region, White Vine Photography captured every moment, and boy is it a dream!


The meeting.

We met on a Sunday night in September 2012 at the Geebung Hotel in Hawthorn – I was out with girlfriends celebrating our friend’s return home from Spain. Pete was there with his footy mates celebrating a football grand final win. We met at the bar and hit it off instantly! We exchanged numbers and Pete said he would text me the following day. The minute I got home I received a text from him… and the rest is history!


The ‘one’.

For me, there was no exact moment. It was a series of moments that all added up to us knowing that this was it. Being with each other has always just felt right and like we are exactly where we are meant to be. I think that’s what it’s all about!


The proposal.

Pete planned a weekend away and surprised me with a Bed and Breakfast stay in Rye, Victoria.

I was supposed to be working that weekend, but he organised with one of my nursing friends to swap shifts with me so that she could have a mid-week getaway, meaning I had the whole weekend off! I thought I had won the jackpot! On the Saturday morning, I was happily enjoying my homemade Dutch pancakes, meanwhile, Pete was rushing me out the door to go to the beach.

We went down to Sorrento back beach, wandered along and all of sudden he was down on one knee asking me to marry him. In total shock, all I could do was ask “what are you doing”, told him to get up and threw in a big “YES!”. Sorrento back beach holds a special place in Pete’s family’s heart, with his Gran’s ashes being scattered there. This was a very special moment and one that we will both treasure for years to come.

Afterwards, we went to Polperro winery and celebrated! We decided to keep the news just between us for the weekend as my family live in Swan Hill and we wanted to tell everyone close to us in person. Pete then suggested that we go out for dinner in the city to celebrate, and on arrival both our families were there! It was the most wonderful surprise and the perfect way to celebrate our engagement with our nearest and dearest.


The process.

The first thing that I did when we got engaged was purchase the Ivory Tribe Bride Business book and bought two tickets for my Mum and I to attend the Bride Business event. This was the perfect way to get to know the art of planning a wedding! The Ivory Tribe team were so friendly, supportive and motivating and it provided me with the perfect platform to begin the process.


Style inspiration.

Our NYE wedding idea came from my parents having attended a NYE wedding a few years earlier. Pete and I looked and each other and thought “wow, how cool would that be!”. The past few NYE’s have been very quiet for us and we just knew how awesome it would be to spend the evening with all of our favourite people.

With lots of family from overseas, we also saw this as a great opportunity to have everybody come for Christmas and share this together too! A relaxed, fun, party vibe was also a must and fitted in perfectly!

Throughout the whole planning process, we went for a less-is-more approach, with quality over quantity as our main aim. We wanted our wedding to be elegant, yet fresh! I had a few ideas in mind, however it all come together when I found my wedding dress. Being so unique, I knew that we need to keep the rest simple. The Murray Downs Homestead where we had our reception really set the scene for this and was the perfect backdrop for our ceremony.

Likewise, we chose not to have too many ‘things’ and instead, put our time and effort into experiences for our guest, such as alcoholic icy poles (perfect for the 36-degree day!), a Paddlesteamer boat ride and polaroid pictures as place-cards, with personal thankyou notes written on the back. It made the day so much more intimate and meaningful!

With the wedding in Swan Hill, we also wanted to showcase and utilise the incredible products and services that the region has to offer. Using local caterers, florists and beauty services meant that we were able to support the people that work so hard within the community – something that is extremely important to us.

Finally, Pete’s family is Scottish and he could not wait to purchase and wear his first kilt. Not only did this fit with tradition but it meant we both had a very special outfit for the day – plus it was something different!


The dress.

It’s funny, my dress is exactly what I wanted, but nothing like I was planning to wear once I began the shopping process. I went wedding dress shopping with my Mum (only) and that was the best decision I ever made. Mum has the most amazing eye for detail, however our styles are completely different.

Throughout the whole process, she was incredibly supportive and the one that encouraged me to try on THE dress! Without her, I probably wouldn’t have! By this stage, I was very overwhelmed and a little disheartened by the fact that I hadn’t found ‘the one’. However, the moment I looked in the mirror I knew this was it – also the perfect NYE dress! All I could think of is “what more could I possibly want?”. And the rest is history! I felt absolutely amazing in my wedding dress. I felt like a bride but I still felt like me – and I think that’s the most important thing!


Favourite moments.

Wow, there are so many! The stand out though would have to be our portrait and bridal part photo shoot after the ceremony. Having not seen Pete until I walked down the aisle, this time allowed us to have a moment together to catch up and connect amongst all the craziness of our wedding day. We also got to spend quality time with our awesome bridal party, with so many laughs shared! To get around the Homestead, we used a golf cart which made carrying the most important nibbles and drinks around super easy. At one point, Pete and I were off in a little corner having some photos, when we looked up to see the bridesmaids zipping around the dirt track on the golf cart, screaming like crazy. We could not stop laughing!


Meaning of marriage.

Marriage to us means committing to each other for the rest of our days. It also means loyalty – something that we both value above all else. Pete and I both agree that getting married hasn’t actually changed anything. To us, we have been married for six years – now it’s just official. It is pretty damn wonderful though!


Wedding soundtrack

Aisle:  Can’t help falling in love (sung live by our band) by Elvis

Signing of Registry: Latch by Sam Smith

Recessional: Something so strong by Crowded House

First dance: Feels like home (sung live by our band) by Chantal Kreviazuk


Funny stories (or near disasters).

While it’s not exactly funny it’s a bit backwards!… We were a bit naughty and only made a spread sheet, purely out of curiosity, of our wedding spendings two weeks before the wedding! This worked for us though! We both work hard so we didn’t shy from spending money on the things that meant the most to us. While we didn’t go crazy, we focused on what we really wanted to make our day fun for us and our guests. Our day was perfect for us! And we have walked away with absolutely no regrets!!


Planning surprises.

I’m a pretty organised person and with two years to plan the big day I felt like I had everything under control. The four days before the wedding though, totally threw me! While we didn’t have much to organise, it was the little things that needed to be done that really put the pressure on. With all the emotions of family and friends arriving, and the wedding itself we were both blubbering mess’! It all added to the story of the wedding week and the moment that the day arrived- it all disappeared!


Words of wisdom.

The best thing that we did was plan the weekend so that we had plenty of time to spend time with those that mattered most. We organised for all of our guests to meet us for dinner at the local pub the night before the wedding, which allowed us to greet most people and catch up before the big day. This then made the wedding day so much more relaxed, where we had already seen most of our guests – taking much of the pressure off. It also allowed them to all mingle and get to know each other – adding to the NYE party! Most of our guests stayed at the same resort in town, and so the following day we all hung out by the pool and reminisced on the weekend that was. Pete and I both walked away from the wedding weekend feeling like we had made the most of our time all together and that we had actually spent quality time with all of our family and friends!



The Murray plays host to many dream wedding venues, so be sure to take a peek at our favourites and creates a destination wedding in this romantic region.



Ceremony: Murray Downs Homestead – Swan Hill, Victoria

Reception venue / location: Spoons Riverside Restaurant

Celebrant/Officiant: Father Matthew Thomas – Swan Hill Catholic Church

Photography: White Vine Photography – Dan and Alexandra

Videography: Tom Swinburn – T.P.S. Weddings

Florist: Lamour Fluers – Sea Lake, Victoria

Hair: K2 Hair 

Make-up: Danielle Tripodi Makeup Artist

The Dress(es): Pete’s Kilt – St Kilda Retail, Queensland

Maddy’s dress: Raffaele Ciuca, Brunswick

Shoes: Mi Piaci

Rings: Cameron’s Fine Jewellers – Swan Hill

Bridesmaid’s dresses: Carla Zampatti

Groomsmen’s suits: Expedition Apparel – Brunswick East, Victoria

Bow ties / ties: O.T.A.A – Springvale, Victoria

Catering (Ceremony): The Orange Door Catering– Swan Hill, Victoria

Catering: (Reception) Spoons Riverside – Swan Hill, Victoria

Bar: The Bondwood Bar – Swan Hill, Victoria

Cake / Cake topper: Mud Cakes by Maddy and The Clumsy Baker Stefan Columbro

Entertainment: M and the Best Men  – 7 piece Band

Transport: Paddlesteamer by The Pioneer Settlement – Swan Hill, Victoria

Hire: Swan Hill Hire – Swan Hill, Victoria

Honeymoon: Beach Club Resort, Hamilton Island

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