When Tweed Heads couple Erin Strong and Tannan Kulken sent wedding invitations out to 130-odd friends and family, a flurry of excitement and chatter started among the guests.
A surprise wedding location?! Where would it be? Byron Bay? On the beach? Guests were instructed to choose from one of three pickup locations – all near the NSW/QLD coast border – where they were then coached to a central meeting point and shuttled up the winding roads to the surprise venue.
The secret destination turned out to be Balinese-inspired Koonyum Range Retreat, set atop a stunning cliff in the Byron Bay hinterland. Upon arrival, guests were wowed by the breathtaking panoramic views of rolling hills and the ocean, with the ceremony taking place under a gazebo next to a glorious infinity pool.
For their engagement party, Erin, 27, and Tannan, 30, requested guests to each bring a lantern of any kind with their name attached, in lieu of gifts. On the wedding day, the lanterns were dotted around the balcony and in the trees for the guests to see as they walked into venue. It was a lovely way to involve everybody and make the venue their own.
Flowers by Vanessa arranged a simple bouquet of baby’s breath held together with brown rope and string for the bride whilst the bridesmaids’ posies were from long stems of lavender.
Hairdresser, Erin, looked gorgeous in a champagne coloured Maggie Sottero gown featuring pearl and glass beaded lace and a tulle skirt and train. Having researched and found it online, she discovered it was only available in Sydney. She tells, “My best friend was in Sydney for holidays and as it turns out she was just around the corner from my dress. We compared measurements over the phone and I had her pick it up and fly it home! It was the first and only dress I tried on. I was in love.”
Tannan, an electrician, and his groomsmen, wore casual, country attire from Rodd and Gunn – open collar white woven shirts and beige chino pants, with lovely tan leather lace up shoes.
Erin’s six bridesmaids wore short nude coloured off-the-shoulder peasant dresses which she stumbled across at local boutique, Bonita. She tells, “I had not yet gone bridesmaids shopping and was worried about trying to find six of them in a style I loved [and] that the girls would all love. I walked past this little boutique shop and saw a few hanging on the rack. What were the chances of having six all in the sizes I needed?! Perfect!”
Of the couple’s wedding photo shoot, Erin tells, “When we first drove out to have a look at the venue I noticed an old [abandoned] timber house sitting in a paddock in the middle of nowhere with the perfect rickety fence and deck that went all the way around. Instantly I wanted to have our photos done there.”
She adds, “On the day, the wedding party got picked up from the venue in a gorgeous silver Mercedes Sprinter that took us to the house where we climbed the wire fences to get photos on the deck.”
It was a very relaxed and cruisey day, which Erin explains was all made possible with the expert assistance of wedding planner, Rebecca Vickery of I Do Perfection. “I was working five to six days a week and Tannan was doing three weeks away, one week home in the mines,” says the bride.
“Even though we had paid for our venue, we still had to put everything in it! Our own caterer, band, tables, chairs, etc., and not to mention the road out there could only fit small buses. Knowing we had to organise both coaches and shuttle buses, departure times, clean-up the next day, equipment hire, etc., it was much easier to hire Bec! And she was amazing! Constant emails of ideas until it was perfect. She was at the venue two days beforehand and one full day after it was over so we were completely stress free.”
Photos courtesy of Katrina Cram Photography.