The art (and joy) of weekend weddings

Dreamers in Victoria's snowfields
When Wendy Lee welcomes brides and grooms to Dreamers at Mt Beauty, her stylish, eco-friendly resort nestled in the foothills of Victoria’s Alpine National Park, she knows it may not be the last time she’ll see them – and that’s something that warms her heart.

Along with her husband Mal, Wendy has hosted “too many weddings to count” at the five-acre resort, which specialises in weekend-long destination weddings – and many of her clients are repeat customers, who end up visiting again and again, often with their growing broods in tow.

Wendy says she and Mal, who themselves have been married for 30 years, aim to create an event whose overall mood is that is warm, friendly and reminiscent of a great bit family occasion. And, judging by the number of couples who email her after their weddings with “touching, intimate and thoroughly lovely family shots of their wedding weekends,” they’re doing it extremely well.

“We have lots of couples coming back for their anniversaries year after year, which is really lovely,” explains Wendy, whose own passion for weddings started when she was just 15 and, with no formal training sewed a wedding dress for a friend who was about to marry.

“Then, when the couples have kids, they’ll often bring them back and show their children where they got married.”

I can’t wait for the day when one of these children chooses to marry here, just like their parents did,” adds Wendy whose own daughter will be marrying at Dreamers later this year.

Many couples return to Dreamers at Mt Beauty with their growing broods.

Many couples return to Dreamers at Mt Beauty with their growing broods.

Dreamers at Mt Beauty is a tribute to the passion for wedding perfection that has woven itself through Wendy’s working life in the fashion industry. In her 35 years since she created her first wedding dress she’s created dozens of wedding gowns and bridesmaids dresses and even the odd wedding hat.

When Easy Weddings caught up with Wendy, she was about to start hunting for material for own daughter’s wedding. Naturally, she’s sewing the wedding gown.

And, though she no longer has the time to sew too many wedding dresses these days, her style, flair and keen eye for the beauty required in pulling off the perfect wedding have all come in handy in planning the 20-or-so weddings she holds each year at Dreamers.

The venue is a two-decade-long labour of love for Mal and Wendy who have turned it from five empty acres into a getaway reputed for its stylish, eco-friendly design.

Aside from Dreamers’ stunning natural beauty, all buildings offer a stylish bespoke feel that is heavily influenced by Mal’s Masters in Renewable Energy and Architecture – and Wendy’s own interior design skills.

The result are buildings heavily emphasising sustainable features such as solar energy, recycled timbers, natural fibre curtains, and bamboo and coconut light fittings, alongside luxuries such as spas – and, of course – the stunning natural view afforded by the surrounding snowfields.

Wendy says the resort’s eco-friendly design and reputation are key drawcards for many couples, especially those who are particularly environmentally conscious.

“Lots of venues offer nice accommodation, but few offer nice accommodation and breathtaking views, especially in Winter, when we’re surrounded by snow-capped mountains, ” she says. Wendy

“Our property sits on a stream surrounded by river flats, so no matter what time of year it is, it’s lush and green and just really beautiful. Sometimes, in winter, there’s even snow on the ground, which is absolutely magical and makes for some rather spectacular wedding photos.”

Dreamers' open-air chapel

Dreamers’ open-air chapel

Wedding ceremonies at Dreamers take place beside a sparkling lagoon before guests are ushered into a Balinese rustic-style pavilion for the reception.

Wendy says, that once couples see the venue (or visit as a guest of someone else marrying there), they’re hooked on the idea of a weekend-long wedding, but the idea can, at first, be quite challenging for some.

“Quite often, when I tell couples they have to stay the whole weekend, they are a little bit apprehensive and tend to think, ‘Oh, geez. I‘ve got to spend the whole weekend with everyone’,” she says.

“But, by the end of their wedding, they inevitably end up agreeing that a weekend wedding is such a wonderful idea – and, really, the best way to hold a wedding,”

Wendy says that, for many couples, planning a wedding takes months, sometimes years yet, “it’s all over in a few hours.”

With weekend weddings, you get to turn your ‘big day’ into a ‘big weekend’ that lasts about 2.5 “truly memorable, fun and once-in-a-lifetime days in a breathtaking atmosphere with the people in your life who are most important.

“Doesn’t that sound like the perfect way to celebrate your wedding?”

Dreamers at Mt Beauty

The fact that everyone is on the same property helps add to the relaxed atmosphere at Dreamers, since guests are spread out across the resort, so nobody is ever more than a few minute walk away.

This means guests have no need to get behind the wheel of a car or bother with parking, driving and taxis – and, says Wendy, “they can simply relax, unwind and get down to the very important business of having fun and celebrating their favourite couple’s wedding day.”

The festivities usually kick off on a Friday evening where the couple can hire a portable pizza oven and have pizzas served to all the wedding party and guests,” Wendy says.

Saturday is the big day and everything’s about the wedding and then, on Sunday, there is, typically, a post-wedding breakfast held in the resort’s café courtyard, which gives the couple the chance to wind up the weekend’s proceedings and farewell their guests.

“It really is just like a big family event, except we do all the planning, decorating, cooking, and cleaning up,” says Wendy sentimentally.

“And, every time I send off my guests – and the couple, I feel like I’m saying goodbye after a great big family get together, but, of course, I know I’ll see at least a few of them again very soon!”

Dreamers at Mt Beauty

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