Real Wedding – William & Stephanie, Great Western VIC
When planning their dream day, Steph and Will’s philosophy was to stick true to what they wanted, what had meaning for them, and what felt right. And wow, oh wow, the result is a stunning sensation filled with truly beautiful vibes, vivacious style, and dashes of dreamy, modern romance.
Steph’s art world background flourished in the styling for the celebration, with vibrant colours perfectly juxtaposed against the rustic, raw interiors and natural vistas of Seppelt Winery. Florals in a palette of vermillion, lilacs and soft musk appear suspended in sleek transparent pillars, a contemporary focal point to the historic surrounds, all lit with festoons of soft fairy light.
Dapper Will appears nothing but besotted with his bewitching bride as she steps down the aisle in a gorgeous glam gown by iconic Aussie designer Karen Willis Holmes. We love the contrast of crisp, clean lines with princess style skirts, deeply cut bodice and pearl detail.
For us, the clincher moment in this uniquely exquisite affair was Will and Steph’s take on a reception entry and first dance. As their friends and family made their way inside, they were serenaded by the sweet sounds of our newlyweds, on guitar and behind the mic, Steph absolutely rocking a gold sequinned jumpsuit. If this is what sticking true to you looks like, we are here for it!
See every moment of this divine day, captured through the lens of DreamCave.
On Tinder! We had both moved to Sale, Victoria, for our first ‘real’ jobs (lawyer and teacher) and luckily matched there. Will claims he had to message twice to get a response from me – I still refute that fact!
Will got a job offer in Canberra after we’d been dating for about nine months, I think. It completely devastated me. After a few days of not speaking, we sat down and had decided by the end of the conversation that I would move with him. I think this was when I knew that we had something too special to give up. So we moved to Canberra together after dating for 11 months!
We were at my dad’s farm for the weekend, just out of Kyneton. He has this big hill that we always drive up to the top of when we’re there to have a cheese platter and drinks at sunset, so we packed up the car and headed up as usual. He asked me to go pop something back in the car, and then when I turned around, he was on one knee with our golden retriever Ted sitting next to him. The sky was a crystal-clear blue that day, and we celebrated with drinks as the sun set into the most beautiful colours.
Because of COVID, it was a bit disjointed. We picked a date and a venue early on (we got engaged in May 2020), booked the florist (I always knew I needed Alison to do my wedding!) and the photographer (Justine was local to the venue, and her website blew me away), and then had to sort of let it all sit idle for months because Melbourne went back into lockdown. We weren’t even sure we would be able to have the wedding when planned.
Two weeks before the date, Melbourne again went into a snap five-day lockdown, which, safe to say, were some of the longest days of our lives so far. There were lots of happy tears watching Dan’s press conference on that fifth day. In that way, we did feel like the majority of the lead-up was just nerves about COVID, so we were a little sad that we didn’t get to experience the excitement in the months of the lead-up like we always thought we would. However, we feel so incredibly lucky to have ended up getting married on that first planned date, in the end!
I have always loved colour. I studied art at university, and most of the art that I make is bright. I love the joy I feel from colours. So, the flowers were a huuuuge aspect. I’ve been obsessed with flowers just about my whole life (I worked for a floral company for a few years through uni). When I first chatted to Alison, and after some Pinteresting, I just knew that pinks and reds were what I wanted. The venue at Seppelt is quite rustic, so I felt quite comfortable that the warm tones would suit the flowers. And Will let me take full control of this because he knew it was my domain!
I’m very visual, so seeing real weddings, how colour combinations worked, how people styled tables etc., was definitely the biggest source of inspiration for me. I searched a lot on Pinterest and Instagram.
Our celebrant Nikki was amazing. She got us to fill out questionnaires like I’m sure most do, but we really enjoyed the process of sitting separately and answering questions about our relationship and then hearing how she really beautifully put our story together into the ceremony script. I had both of my parents walk me down the aisle like I always said I would, and this was really special to me.
Memorably, the stunning floral arrangements that Alison’s girls had set up for us both toppled over and very dramatically smashed in the middle of our vows, and on a day without a breath of wind, we are sure that it was a Seppelt ghost!
I did one big day of shopping, and I’d already done my research, mainly through Instagram. I’d picked out the designers that I loved the look of and a few dresses from each that I thought I’d like. All day I thought I’d found ‘the one’ at each shop, until I got to Karen Willis Holmes. We tried on a dress that I hadn’t even thought of, then one of the beautiful stylists thought it might be a good idea to try a brand-new skirt over the top, and I just fell in love. The dress was made of this stunning mesh fabric, low cut and fitted with a fishtail bottom (I was sure that this was a style I didn’t want!). The bodice was embroidered with pearls and was sleeveless, which was important as Great Western can be very hot in February! The skirt over the top was of the same mesh fabric and a spectacular tiered, voluminous overlay and just tied up with a bow which was easily then removed again. It let me be a princess for the ceremony and then show off my curves for the reception! All of the ladies at KWH were so warm and lovely and just made every appointment a beautiful experience.
We decided that in light of both of us being horrendous dancers but an OK singer/guitarist duo, that we would instead play our first song for our loved one instead of dancing it! I had this incredible gold sequin jumpsuit that I snuck off and changed into before everyone came into the reception room, and as they walked in, they saw Will and me on stage. Their faces were absolutely priceless! We played Valerie, followed by Wagon Wheel, and it was just an incredible feeling.
Meaning of marriage.
Marriage to us is a commitment to live our lives together in service of both each other as well as ourselves. It’s about helping bring out the best in each other and promising to always love and support each other.
Aisle: Moon River covered by Gustav Lundgren.
Recessional: Sympathy for the Devil by the Rolling Stones.
Reception entry/first dance: Valerie covered by Amy Winehouse and Wagon Wheel by Darius Rucker.
Funny stories or near disasters.
The crazy flower fall was probably the only thing that really went wrong! There were people who couldn’t make it in the end that we were sad about, but everything else was amazing.
It’s just a huge job, and at times I really wished that I had a wedding planner! It was satisfying that we did pull it off, and Will was really fantastic at taking half of the load, which was amazing.
Words of wisdom.
Do it your way! If there’s something that you don’t like about a traditional wedding? Stuff it! Don’t like wedding cake? Don’t have any! Don’t like dancing in front of a crowd? Put yourselves on a stage and sing for them instead! Hah!
Florals can set the tone for your theming, make the ultimate statement, or softly accent your stunning styling. For floral artists who understand how to realise your dream vision, check out our directory, here.
WILL & STEPH’S VENDORS:
Ceremony & reception venue: Seppelt Winery in Great Western VIC. Will’s dad lives in Great Western and worked at Seppelt, and we spend a lot of time there, so it was a really sentimental and special place for us.
Celebrant: Nikki MacFarlane – we found her through The Wedding Society and found that website really handy! You submit your date and location, as well as a bit of info about what you’re looking for, and celebrants contact you. We set up a Zoom with Nikki and felt really comfortable with her from the get-go.
Photography: Justine Missen of DreamCave. Justine is such a talented artist. Her style was like no other photographer that I’d seen and just screamed that she loved what she does with how much effort she put into the editing process. She was local (from Ararat just down the road) and had photographed weddings at Seppelt before. She made us all feel really comfortable, and every single person who has seen the photos just raves about them.
Videography: n/a (but I do wish we had gotten one in the end!)
Florist: Alison from The Petal Project. Another stunning artist. Alison used to do daily flower delivery around Melbourne under the name Hi Petal, and I used to order from her for years until she moved towards more events. It was really important to me to have suppliers who absolutely love what they do, and Alison definitely does. I commented a few years ago that I was obsessed with some blue orchids that she posted on her feed, and she genuinely had some dropped off at my office the next day, free of charge. I knew she had a beautiful soul, and it was an absolute no brainer ever since!
Hair: Camille Wai – Camille Hair and Makeup. Camille just absolutely nailed my Hollywood waves and tried her best to calm my nerves that were pretty intense in the prep time!
Make-up: Also Camille! She absolutely nailed exactly what I asked for and made me feel so beautiful! She brought a second artist with her to assist with the bridesmaids and my mum – Evelyn, who was also really talented.
The dresses: Karen Willis Holmes. The dress/skirt of my absolute dreams and all of the girls at the Melbourne studio are so beautiful. I also changed into a spectacular gold sequin jumpsuit for the performance and at the end of the dancefloor – that was from Nookie.
Shoes: Bared Footwear. The straps were lined with pearls and just perfect for the dress. They were also comfortable! Both bridesmaids and my mum also wore Bared.
Rings: Fedele Jewelworks. Frank was a dream. I showed him a photo of what we were wanting (we had some family diamonds from Will’s family to make into a ring together), and he absolutely nailed it. I’m so obsessed with both of my rings.
Bridesmaid’s dresses: They both ended up in Pilgrim – they were different styles to suit the two of them, and they both looked stunning.
Catering & bar: Seppelt Winery
Favours: My bridesmaids helped me to make little jars of oils – some chilli, some lemon, and some basil, using produce from my garden. The chilli oil particularly was a hit!
Cake / cake topper: Kmart!
Stationery / Signage: Me – Stephanie Ongarello. I studied graphic design a few years ago, so I still do a bit of design work.
Entertainment: Mud Madex. Mud is another local from Ararat – we saw him perform on the lawn at Seppelt before we were even engaged and knew we had to have him play! He was a legend.
Honeymoon: Yet to really happen – come on, COVID!