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It’s a tough one to pull off, but if successful, a surprise wedding can be a special treat for all involved.
Bonnie Taylor and Benjamin Cheverall, both 31, knew it was the perfect way to celebrate their love with their 50 closest family and friends on October 18, 2013.
“The thought of planning a wedding and walking down the aisle with everyone looking at me absolutely terrified me,” laughs bride Bonnie. “With this fear in the back of my mind but desperately wanting to marry my best friend, we decided on a surprise wedding.”
The pair chose a stunning rural property in New South Wales which was inspiration for their French Provincial-themed event – which guests thought was an engagement party. “The only people who knew were our parents and the bridal party. It was perfect, relaxed, intimate, fun but most of all it was ‘us’,” says Bonnie.
Despite her nerves, Bonnie says all her guests were surprised and she made it down the aisle. “As soon as I laid eyes on Ben my nerves settled – this may have something to do with the fact he was crying like a baby!” she smiles.
She said the highlight was her husband’s words the next morning. “He was laying flicking through photos of our big day and asking me if we can do it all again as it was the best day of his life.”
|Bonnie says the pair “got lucky”, finding all of Ben’s and the groomsmen’s attire in the one store – YD Menswear.|
|Bonnie wore an elegant Maggie Sottero layered lace gown which laced up at the back and finished with a simple bow.|
|Julie from De Lisser Photography highlighted aspects of the 25 acre property in Bonnie and Ben’s images.|
|Like many brides these days, Bonnie opted for a cupcake stack as their wedding cake. “They were delish!” she says.|
|Photos courtesy of De Lisser Photography.|
On their seventh anniversary as a couple, young lovers Vanessa Fodor and Eli Shem-Tov married under the peaceful greenery along Parramatta River.
Vanessa, 27, and Eli, 25, opted for a relaxed atmosphere at Sydney’s Parramatta Park, inviting only 58 guests to their intimate wedding on October 26, 2013. “We wanted to have a relaxed atmosphere, so we had the ceremony and reception at the same location,” explains Vanessa.
They exchanged vows in a rustic setting with the trees creating a natural aisle, and scattered chairs invoking a less structured feel. “The quiet location enabled the guests to relax and enjoy the scenery,” says Vanessa.
The bride spent countless hours using DIY techniques to build an event that truly reflected her and her groom. “We decorated the reception [held at Parramatta Park Café and Event Centre] ourselves the whole week beforehand, says Vanessa. “I felt the need to give a part of myself and make it really personal.”
An earthy feel dominated the decorating with nuts scattered on the reception tables along with cloves, purple glitter and lemon ribbon. Vanessa made everything from the ring pillow, thumbprint tree and ceremony programs to the bombonniere, table seating chart and menu.
“I originally wanted a vintage themed wedding,” she says, “but couldn’t get a grip on it entirely and didn’t feel it reflected us completely. So I started collecting jars, drying lavender and making paper doily cones to get a feel for it…I used a lot of hessian material and that tended to be part of our theme in the end!”
|Vanessa used online shopping as a tool to choose her Peter Trends wedding gown. “I didn’t want to trawl through dress shops and make appointments, so looking online made it a lot easier.” She found her dream dress at Sydney bridal boutique, A Bride’s Blessing.|
|Vanessa and Eli’s flower girls were given baskets of lavender and cream petals to spread down the aisle.|
|Vanessa’s mum surprised the pair with a photobooth. “She knew I wanted to have one but with our budget we couldn’t afford it. We were able to get pictures of all the guests having a fantastic time!” smiles Vanessa.|
|Photos courtesy of Dreamlife Photos & Video.|
On June 14, 2013, at the fairtytale country wedding of Toriy Durkin and Graeme Brooks, 58 guests stepped off a scenic bus ride into another world.
Marvelling at its beauty, they’d arrived at the historic Paronella Park: an enchanted oasis south of Cairns, created in the 1930s by Spanish dreamer José Paronella.
Boasting lush tropical gardens, winding paths and majestic waterfalls, Toriy, 25 and Graeme, 26 were wowed by the park’s star attraction – a Spanish Castillo – the perfect backdrop before which to make their solemn promise on a warm winter’s day.
Earlier, Toriy and her bridal party had woken at first light to begin the preparations for the momentus event. The nearby farm-stay where they’d spent an excitable wedding day eve provided the first of many stunning backdrops for “amazing” photos by Azure Photography.
In honour of the country theme, Toriy’s white cowgirl boots got a look-in, partnered proudly with her Alfred Angelo satin and organza bridal gown. “I’ve always loved the country,” she says, “and wanted to incorporate a piece of me that everyone would remember.”
Graeme on the other hand cut a dashing figure in a black tail coat to “fit in with the elegance and history of Paronella Park,” explains the bride.
|The bridesmaids’ royal blue chiffon and satin evening gowns were creations of Mr K and were a striking component of the event’s otherwise soft colour palette.|
|Toriy’s bouquet by I Do Flowers featured beautiful roses in pastel pink, ivory and champagne; feathers, and vintage lace.|
|Celebrant Wayne Rees officiated the nuptials in what was a “light and upbeat” ceremony.|
|To the couple’s surprise and delight, good friends Sinead and Hossam organised a surprise photo booth for the reception, held at Cairns Colonial Club Resort.|
|Photos courtesy of Azure Photography.|
Photo booths are an increasingly popular choice for special events, but perhaps not as meaningful as at the garden wedding of Sheree Mcghie and John Stade.
After more than six happy years as boyfriend and girlfriend, 28 year-old John popped the question in a photo booth at the Sydney Tower Eye. “We could finally plan our wedding!” says Sheree. “I was so excited!”
She adds, “Since John proposed in a photo booth and I am a huge lover of photos, we really wanted a photo booth and we’re so glad we did. Our guests loved getting dressed up and having the photos taken.”
Their special day on November 2, 2013 in Perth was filled with personal touches including a display of their parents’ wedding photos, homemade kids’ activity packs and custom music for those giving a speech.
The pair also wrote their own vows and John’s wedding band used to belong to his grandfather.
For added fun, the shoe game was played at the reception. The game involves placing two chairs back-to-back on the dance floor for the bride and groom. They remove both of their shoes and trade one with each other so they are holding one of each.
A designated person asks a series of questions about the couple’s relationship, for example, “Who said I love you first?”
After each question, the bride and groom hold up the shoe of the person they think is the answer. Matching shoes may indicate a peaceful future!
|The bride’s ivory strapless gown was chosen from Tuscany Bridal and her bridesmaids wore royal blue one shoulder dresses purchased online.|
|The couple sourced several of their wedding items from Etsy – including props for their photographs.|
|Golf carts transported the bridal party around for photographs. “It was so much fun and very relaxed,” smiles Sheree.|
|The reception was held at Joondalup Resort in the Lakeview Terrace Marquee.|
|Photographs courtesy of Global Image Photography.|
After the sneak-peak of Pia McElroy and George Dunn’s AMAZING ‘dirty’ wedding dance back in September – courtesy of Milque Photography & Films – I now have the full story of how a professional singer and an architect with two left feet came to wow 120 guests at their romantic Brisbane wedding.
Thirty-one-year-old Brisbane girl Pia McElroy was born to perform. Coming from a family of entertainers, “we grew up singing, dancing and performing most of our lives,” she says. “It’s in my blood and I have been blessed to do it for a living.”
Architect George Dunn on the other hand, also 31, was born with two left feet. And although he’d never really had a reason or opportunity, he’d always wanted to learn to dance. So when Pia decided she’d rather not sing at her own wedding – “it didn’t feel special to me,” she says – the couple began a dancing journey that would have them falling in love all over again.
“My favourite wedding song of all time is “I’ve Had the Time of My Life” from the movie Dirty Dancing,” explains Pia. “Their epic love story and how he taught her to dance reminded me of George… and my quest to teach him how to dance.”
She adds, “When I told George the dance I wanted to learn he freaked out… but accepted the challenge on the agreement that we hire a choreographer to teach us the steps.”
It turned out that few choreographers knew the exact steps to the iconic closing dance, much to the bride’s frustration. But after three teachers and 18 lessons, just two days before the wedding, they were ready.
“All those hours practicing the dance and the lift in our bedroom finally paid off!” beams Pia.
“To top things off, our guests had no clue. They were in for a surprise!”
|The pair exchanged vows at River Quay Green, South Bank, in front of the restaurant where George proposed on Valentine’s Day just short of their eight-year anniversary.|
|Pia wore a stunning ruffled gown, strapless with a sweetheart neckline and dazzling beaded motif.|
|Photos courtesy of Milque Photography & Films.|