R A C H A E L + J O N A T H A N
This timeless black and white wedding will transport you to the Italian countryside, filled with fresh produce and foliage.
F R O M T H E B R I D E
We first met...
Jonny and I met on a night out in Canberra eight years ago, but despite an attraction nothing happened at the time. Then in May 2013, I was a police recruit and one of my instructors was Jonny! There was a spark again but given he was my instructor nothing could happen. So instead Jonny waited ten minutes after I attested from the College before asking me out in front of some of the other new constables he had taught.
We knew it was love...
As cliché as it sounds – at first sight.
Asking my dad: One day while I was at work Jonny drove down to Canberra (he told me he was going for a bike ride). He had found the number for my dad's assistant and booked a meeting. Jonny was sitting waiting in his office with a special bottle of Single Malt Whiskey (a shared passion of theirs). When my dad walked in, Jonny said, "you can have this if I can give Rachael this," and he showed Dad the ring.
Popping the question: The proposal happened in June 2015 when we were traveling around Europe. We were in Venice we went to dinner at a beautiful restaurant called ‘Riviera’ followed by a walk along a canal. Jonny stopped at a spot along the way, bent down on one knee and proposed with a beautiful Tiffany's setting engagement ring.
T H E W E D D I N G
Our dream wedding...
We knew we wanted to get married at The Grounds before we were engaged. We loved the style of The Grounds and felt it reflected us as a couple – fun, classic, rustic but a little bit quirky. We loved that there was so much to look at and so much personality at The Grounds, plus they had an area with small farm animals which was fun! We were hoping for the animals to make an appearance at the wedding and they did with the rooster crowing and the lamb bleating during the ceremony.
We also liked the idea of having the ceremony and reception at the same location. That way guests could enjoy canapés and drinks while we had our photographs taken rather than worry about moving to the next location.
We styled the wedding ourselves, but it was all coordinated perfectly by The Grounds. The colour theme was black and white for the clothing. In terms of the theme we were looking for a classic, timeless look so the photos wouldn’t date too quickly but also wanted to have a rustic, hipster and quirky touches, especially in the detail.
Our photographer was the amazing Kierstin Segura at 'Dear to My Art Photography'. Another photographer we enquired with recommended her. Jonathan and I contacted Kierstin and looked over her work. We fell in love with her images and her style.
We loved everything about her photos, particularly how real, honest and candid her photos were but also how modern her style was.
Ceremony and reception location...
The Garden, at The Grounds of Alexandria
The only pre-wedding celebrations we had were the hens and bucks night. My hens was held over a weekend in the Hunter Valley and Jonathan’s bucks was a dinner and bar hop through Surry Hills in Sydney.
The bridal party...
We had two bridesmaids and two groomsmen. My bridesmaid Dimi is my best friend and someone I lived with for the seven years before I met Jonny, she lives in Temora, NSW. My other bridesmaid, Angela is my best friend who I have known since I was nineteen, she lives in Nhulunbuy, NT.
Jonny's groomsman Ben is his best friend since early adulthood, he lives in Canberra, ACT. His groomsman Kim is his best friend since high school, he lives in Melbourne, VIC.
The bridesmaids wore...
The bridesmaids' dresses were from Bridesmaids Only in Double Bay. I loved that you could get any of their dresses in any colour. Given my bridesmaids had such different bodies I told them to pick whichever dress they wanted and we would get it in black.
The groomsmen wore...
The groomsmen wore suits from Peppers in Double Bay. They wore the same classic black suit with a French cuff white shirt, black tie but with a black pocket square to match the bridesmaids.
The groom wore...
Jonny’s suit was from MJ Bale. It was a beautifully made classic black suit with a French cuff white shirt, black tie and white pocket square.
I knew from the start my dress had to be by the extremely talented Karen Willis Holmes (KWH). I loved the style and quality of the dresses. I also loved that they were designed and made in Australia.
I tried on every dress in the KWH Paddington store and while they were all so beautiful I eventually tried on the Paige which took my breath away.
I originally pictured wearing a fitted dress that had straps. While trying on nearly all of the KWH dresses, one of the last ones I tried was the Paige. This was the dress that made me think ‘wow’. I never felt more beautiful than when I was wearing that dress. The Paige is a strapless gown with a sequin lace corset and organza A-line skirt. I had three Paige trains attached to the dress which I felt made it more unique, special & modern creating the layering down the back. I loved the dress so much.
The flowers were all white with a splash of greenery designed in a rustic ‘messy’ fashion. The flowers ranged in type. We chose these colours because The Grounds has so much character and visual stimulation that we wanted to compliment the surroundings rather than take away or over crowd it.
I styled the wedding myself but it was all coordinated perfectly by The Grounds. Each table was bare (no table cloth) and a copper/green metal. Each table was covered in varying sized jars and vases filled with a variety of white and green flowers. The table numbers were wine bottles covered in brown Kraft paper stickers with each number. The forks and knives were copper with brown serviettes and wrapped around the forks with brown twine were thank you cards with the menu on the back. Each name setting were handmade by Jonathan and I and were scrabble tiles on racks (which could be taken home by the guests).
On the menu...
We had canapés to start:
- Bolognese arancini with parmesan aioli
- Blue swimmer crab tartlet with lemon mayo and red micro basil
- Caramelised apple, jamon serrano, wild rocket, buffalo mozzarella & apple balsamic
For the main meal we didn’t want a one by one meal. Instead we had a shared feast which was set up in a rustic Italian style setting:
- Roasted grass fed sirloin, sautéed silver beet, watercress & horseradish cream
- Roasted whole chicken, Italian soft polenta, reggio parmigiana, char-grilled baby leeks, brioche crumbs and morel sauce
- Baked ocean trout, shaved fennel, orange, red onion, watercress & salsa verde
- Vegetable options:
- Green bean with cashew nut, chilli, lime & extra virgin olive oil
- Baby tomato salad with cherry, kumatoes, tear drop, cherry bocconcini & apple balsamic dressing
- Roasted chat potatoes with rosemary, sea salt & extra virgin olive oil
We also had five miniature deserts set up on a desert table:
- Miniature salted caramel tartlets
- Miniature lemon meringues
- Miniature The Grounds Bounty Bars
- The Grounds Nutella filled donuts
- Miniature milk choc mousse with hazelnut dacquoise layer cake
Our wedding cake was a three tiered white chocolate and raspberry cake with a white rustic/naked icing. It was decorated with flowers and greenery as well as our bride and groom Police cake topper.
Jonny and I made bottles of Limoncello as bomboniere because Jonny is Italian and we were engaged in Italy. To symbolise both of these elements the bomboniere tags had a map of Italy and said 'Engaged in Italy' (in the fashion of Made in Italy).
Our celebrant got the guests to cheer as my Dad and I walked down the aisle which lightened the mood and showed guests what type of wedding it would be. Also we had roosters crowing and lambs bleating during our vows which we loved and felt added to our wedding.
On the welcome table, there was a wine box my dad handmade that held a bottle of wine. It also had letters Jonny and I wrote to each other before the wedding and blank cards which allowed guests to write wishes and advice. Those were then secured in pouches hand sewn by my Mum. The wine box was sealed and will be opened on our ten year anniversary. Also held on the welcome table were photographs of our parents and grandparents on their wedding day.
Jonny and I are both very close to our families so it was important to us that our wedding was family focused with each of our family members having a role. This made the day so special. Both mums did a reading at the ceremony, my brother and Jonathan’s sister were the witnesses, my sister-in-law did all of the invitations and paper goods, my dad walked me down the aisle and both dads did a speech, Jonny’s brother in law was the MC and our nieces and nephews were flower girls and paige boy.
Jonny and I surprised my dad with a dance to one of our special childhood songs. Jonny took the microphone from our MC and requested my dad meet me under the fairy lights on the dance floor. The DJ then played a song my dad and I have danced to together since I was little.
Our 'guest book' was a photo frame which was filled up with wooden hearts guests wrote their names on. It is now hung on our wall as a momento.
My bridesmaids used two musicians called Romance Outsourced who wrote and performed a song about Jonny and I for the wedding as part of their speech. They also gave us our song on a CD. It was so special and fun!
I walked down the aisle to Marry Me by Train and the song for our first dance was Better Man by James Morrison.
M A R R I E D L I F E
Our honeymoon was in Bali. While we had been there before we loved that we could actually afford to have the whole honeymoon package - private pool villa, candlelit dinners, massages and baths with rose petals – the whole shebang!
Plans for the future...
Jonathan and I are looking to have children as soon as possible. We can’t wait to add to our family.
In 40 years you hope to…
Be happily married with children and family nearby; all of us healthy and loved.
W E D D I N G W I S D O M
Enjoying the engagement...
Although it is a busy time try to enjoy the process. Make sure you do special things together to celebrate each week or month to make sure the engagement is special and not over shadowed by the wedding planning.
Advice for planning...
Make sure to have both partners involved in the planning. It helps make you feel in the process together but also balances the stresses.
Find people/suppliers you trust. I got so lucky with who helped me, most were little known suppliers, and I am now lucky to call them friends after the wedding.
I think having details made the wedding more ‘us’. Try to think outside of the usual wedding ideas and find things that suit you and your partners style to incorporate.
On the day...
Don’t worry about things being perfect and serious on the day. The little mistakes/changes are the additions you will remember later so just go with them and remember the reason you are there. Absorb it all because it goes so fast!
Do something together the night before the wedding. Jonathan stayed with me at the Langham Hotel in the Rocks the night before the wedding. We went for a beautiful dinner, watched My Fair Lady in bed and had champagne.
Photographer Kierstin Segura from Dear to My Art Florist Emma Mackenzie from Mackenzie Florals Event coordinator at The Grounds Bethan Tolmaer Event stylist Styled by the bride herself Dress The Paige gown with Paige trains, Karen Willis Holmes Hair & make up Pixie's Hair & Make Up Bridesmaids' dresses Bridesmaids Only Groom's suit MJ Bale Rings Tiffany & Co. Cake and desert table The Grounds Invitations & paper supplies Alison Banham, Love Invites Etsy Store Celebrant Marry Me Nicky Photo booth Photo Corner Hotel The Langham Sydney Music Impressions DJs