Real Wedding – Siobhan and Benjamin, Coldstream VIC
Gorgeous Riverstone Estate was the backdrop to Siobhan and Ben’s beautifully authentic celebrations, providing stunning scenery and styling both inside and out. A timeless black and white tonal palette, softened with blushes and cream, enhanced without inhibiting the natural beauty of the surroundings.
We loved Siobhan and Ben’s advice to newly engaged couples starting their planning journey: to focus on what is important to you and avoid the pressure to add material elements just for the sake of it. For these two lovers, the choice to keep the focus on the emotion and fun of the day is undoubtedly present in every incredible pic by legend photographer Michael Briggs. The good vibes were obviously overflowing on the day!
Every emotion needs an outlet, and tribe favourites Baker Boys Band were there to kick off the dance floor, finishing the night in true celebratory style.
We both worked at Eastland Shopping Centre just a couple of stores apart, Ben at Telstra and me at Crazy John’s. We’d see each other most days around the Centre, and I was a Telstra customer, so I would go into the store to pay my bills monthly (hoping to bump into Ben!). I had a crush on Ben and didn’t know that he also had one on me; one day I went in to pay my bill and Ben shot-gunned serving me. We ended up chatting for two hours, and the next day while I was intentionally walking past his store again he ran out mid-way through serving a customer and asked me to have lunch with him. That was nearly eight years ago, so I guess our food court lunch date went pretty well!
Siobhan: There wasn’t a specific defining moment, but I just knew very early on that Ben was one of a kind. From the moment we started hanging out we just clicked, it was as though we’d known each other for years or from a different life and the conversation has never stopped.
I’d never met anyone before who was so selfless and who derives so much joy from bringing joy to others; to this day he goes out of his way to put my happiness first and is always considerate of things that he can do to make my day better or easier.
Also our first Christmas together we accidentally bought each other matching Tiffany & Co rings when we’d never even discussed jewellery before, so that was a pretty clear indication we were on the same page!
Ben: I can’t tell you the exact time when I felt it, but I do remember having feelings pretty early on in our relationship. I realised that what I had with Siobhan was unlike anything else and that this relationship could certainly last.
Over the next couple of years, this feeling only continued to grow stronger, and it eventually evolved into “100% I will marry Siobhan”. I guess you could say on some level I probably always knew, but it was not until a couple of years in could I 100% say Siobhan was it. I guess when you know, you know.
She has always just got me; the conversation was effortless. When we met it was like magic, and we instantly clicked, I had never had that with anyone before…from the beginning, as cliche as it sounds, it felt a bit as if we were always meant to be together…
It was pretty elaborate; we’d discussed that if we got married one day, Stones of the Yarra Valley would be an incredible wedding venue.
Ben casually orchestrated with my siblings a lunch at Stones one day and then at the last minute said he had to go to Sydney for a work conference and would have to give it a miss, but stayed at his parents instead (he even called me from the “airport” to say his flight was about to leave when actually he was sitting in his parents’ study playing YouTube videos of airport sounds in the background).
I still went to the lunch with my siblings (as he knew I would) and he’d requested I film a little video of the venue because he couldn’t be there to see it. Before we sat down my sister suggested we get the video out of the way, so she was filming me walking around Stones describing it to Ben, then she suggested we go into the chapel to check it out.
When I opened the door, Ben was standing there dressed up. He took me down to the front of the chapel where on the table he’d placed nine photos, which made up a series of our relationship, along with candles and flowers. He took me through each photo telling me why it was an important memory to him, then when we got to the end there was an empty frame and he said that would hold the most important photo of all; the day he asked me to marry him. I turned around, and there he was on one knee. It was so romantic and thoughtful!
The best part was when we came out of the chapel to my siblings cheering us, and we all shared an amazing lunch in a private dining room that Ben had organised. The second surprise was going to a rooftop bar in the city that evening, where he’d arranged our friends to be there to celebrate with us. He got huge brownie points that day!
We decided to have a long engagement (nearly three years) because we just wanted to take our time and enjoy the process. Being engaged is a special time, but we’ve observed others not enjoy it at all because they’re so stressed and under pressure to plan a wedding quickly, so we wanted to just spend 12 months being engaged before we started any wedding planning.
After that we just decided to tackle one thing at a time to make the process as easy and smooth as possible, focusing first on the vendors that were most important to us (e.g. venue, photographer & celebrant). If anything became overwhelming, we’d just drop it for a week or two; we really had the luxury of time on our side, so it was pretty chilled.
I have quite a minimalistic and probably classic style, and I love nature, so once we’d booked Riverstone I just knew that I wanted the environment to speak for itself. To me, that meant letting the background do the talking (I mean why would you want to take away from that view!?) and using colours and tones that would complement that.
I chose black and white for that reason; so that the green around us would be able to pop. I also think that black and white is very timeless, minimalistic and elegant which I wanted so that hopefully I’m not looking at my wedding photos in decades to come saying ‘what was I thinking!?’ (hello 80’s blue eyeshadow)!
I just added a few pops of creams and blush tones in the florals to soften the look and stop it from looking stark.
I guess it was one of those things of ‘when you know, you know.’ I found it in the second shop I went to and even though I had other appointments later that day, I cancelled them because I knew that nothing would compare to the feeling I had when I saw myself in the mirror wearing it.
The other dresses I had tried were just that – nice dresses – whereas this one made me feel like a bride. Although I had styles I preferred, I kept an open mind because my married friends had told me they ended up choosing something completely different to what they had in mind and in the end I did too.
I loved that it accentuated my waist as that’s my smallest area and also loved the mocha satin underlay. It went really well with my hair colour and because the girls were wearing white, I liked that my dress was the point of difference but not in the way that you’d expect. Also, having a poofy dress meant I could wear flats which was a major bonus as I’m already tall (5’11”) and didn’t want to be towering over everyone in photos, plus I had no issues with sore feet all day!
This is extremely hard to choose as there were so many epic moments!
Meaning of marriage.
Siobhan: Having someone you can rely on no matter what and who you can be your true, authentic self with through thick and thin.
It’s understanding that there’ll be amazing times and there’ll be really crappy hard times and loving each other enough to want to work through all of it together and come out stronger on the other side.
It’s a commitment to a person to share implicit trust, support, understanding, mutual respect and love with. A best buddy for life basically.
Ben: Marriage is having the opportunity to spend the rest of my life with my best friend. It’s about having that one other person that I can trust implicitly with anything and have complete faith that they will always be in my corner; they will pick me up when I lose, celebrate with me when I win.
No matter what I can count on their support and they can count on mine.
Marriage is about having that one person that I can tell anything, and they can tell me anything. I like that I can be open about my feelings, and know that we’ll work through whatever it is together (good or bad).
Marriage is when both of us acknowledge that we are better together than apart and that as a team we can achieve far more than we can individually.
It is about the commitment between Siobhan and I and the desire we both have to share that with our loved ones.
Aisle: Sweet Thing by Van Morrison
Post-ceremony (signing): You’re My Best Friend by Queen followed by You Give Me Something by Jamiroquai
First dance: Everywhere by Fleetwood Mac
Funny stories or near disasters.
On the day I was super relaxed with my girls, and then randomly one of my bridesmaids hands me a phone with a straight face and a concerned tone saying ‘Ben wants to talk to you’. When I say hello, Ben is on the other end crying heavily.
I’m sitting there with my hair and makeup ready thinking ‘crap, am I about to be left at the altar like Carrie from Sex and the City!?’ but in the end it turned out he was crying with happiness because our wedding day had finally come and he just wanted to hear my voice.
It went from heart-stopping to hilarious within a few seconds.
I realised that planning your wedding day can be whatever you want it to be. You can be super organised and have a diary for every little detail with Pinterest galore, but if you don’t feel like doing that it’s absolutely not necessary to plan a wonderful day. When I realised that it really took the pressure off and I enjoyed the experience a lot more.
Words of wisdom.
Write your own vows; it’s probably one of the only times in your lives you’ll express your love to each other at that depth.
Agree on a budget and stick to it. Start by prioritising vendors who you feel will add the most value to your day (ours after choosing the venue was our photographer) and go from there.
Take everything step by step; don’t overwhelm yourself by thinking you need to do it all at once. It helped us that our engagement was nearly three years long; we had the luxury of time and as a result didn’t feel really stressed in the lead up during the planning.
You don’t need to buy every wedding magazine or have a wedding journal or a Pinterest account to design your wedding day.
Don’t feel the pressure from social media to blow your budget on things like green walls, photobooths and neon signs unless it’s something that matters to you. We didn’t bother with any of that stuff because our marriage was the most important thing and the feedback from our guests was that our wedding felt real and authentic with love being the focus rather than materiality.
Finding it hard to navigate planning your celebration, your way, around the opinions of others? Here’s our guide to staying true to yourself and your vision while still keeping the peace!
SIOBHAN AND BEN’S VENDORS
Ceremony and Reception venue: The Riverstone Estate, Coldstream
Nicola and the team were really helpful and supportive in the entire lead up to the day, always being happy to answer any question no matter how big or small. I found them really flexible and accommodating in helping me achieve the day I wanted rather than trying to fit me into their designated schedule, and they were always happy to give guidance on any aspect of the day.
Celebrant: Benny Roff
Benny is not for the faint-hearted; he’s loud and goes against all of the norms of what you’d really expect a celebrant to be. As a result, he made our ceremony funny, light-hearted and the tone was surprising to guests which is what we were after. We knew our vows (which we wrote) would deliver the deep and emotional aspect of the ceremony, and it was important to us that our guests and we found the ceremony interesting and entertaining rather than the boring part of the day that everyone wants to be over. The ceremony should be the best part of the day, and the celebrant you choose plays a massive part in that. They also set the tone for the rest of the day!
Photography: Michael Briggs
Briggsy is a true gem at his craft; he brings a lot of energy as soon as he steps in the door and immediately makes you feel at ease. He’s a fun person to have by your side throughout the day and doesn’t take himself too seriously which we found really relaxing; the result is beautiful authentic moments for you to keep forever, rather than heavily posed shots.
Videography: Alper Kasap, Artistic Films
Alper is a quiet assassin. He barely says a word throughout the day, and you would hardly notice him but then when you receive your video back – bam! You are left floored with the incredible way he’s captured all the little details and moments of the day, and you just find yourself reliving it so clearly and going on an emotional journey watching your video. His work is just incredible, and he’s a perfect compliment to Briggsy’s energetic vibe.
Florist: When Frankie met George
Hair: Kelly Xu
Make-up: Merton Muaremi Makeup
The dress: Madi Lane Bridal from Luv Bridal
Veil: Siobhan’s sister’s veil
Rings: Diamond Exchange
Bridesmaid’s dresses: Kookai
Groomsmen’s suits: Expedition Apparel
Catering and bar: The Riverstone Estate
Favours: Donation on behalf of guests to the Cancer Council Victoria in memory of one of our groomsmen who sadly passed away in the lead up to the wedding
Entertainment: The Baker Boys Band
Transport: Yarra Valley Rides for friends to arrive on buses
Honeymoon: We had a mini-moon in McLaren Vale (SA), we’ll eventually have our Honeymoon in Europe when we can travel again after this crazy pandemic is over.