Wednesday 5 June 2013

Our wedding story

On 19th September 2010, Richard and I were married. To the incredible sounds of a local Fijian village choir, we met each other under a white cabana thoughtfully laden with palms and birds of paradise. We stood hand in hand, on a traditional Tapa cloth laid delicately down on the white sand.

It was just him and me. We made our vows to one another, in the presence of the ocean, the earth, the sun and the wind. It was powerful, simple, beautiful and I've never felt so completely at peace and happy.

We made the decision to elope. It was personal and perfect but we also made a promise to share the celebration with our family and friends. Almost two and a half years later, we delivered on that promise and held a laid back party filled with pure joy and our loved ones.

Waiting this long, meant amongst other things, that we were in a better position financially to put on the party we wanted. And, The Little One would be old enough to play an integral part and always remember the special day we made our promises to her as parents.

We wanted a relaxed picnic style event, in a rustic setting, with great music, amazing food and lots of fun. It was not a wedding do-over, it was to be a continuation of our perfect day in Fiji.

We had a very clear vision of what we wanted, but lacked the time to execute. So we hired planners and shared our brief: a natural, home-style, old-fashioned, informal family gathering. They earned their stripes right away by finding our perfect venue. The gorgeous, rustic, truly special Sunnybrook Barn located on an incredible property owned by the Sydney Polo Club . Nestled beside the Hawkesbury River and the foot of the Blue Mountains. We envisaged everyone kicking off their shoes and sprawling out on picnic blankets, hay bales and chairs on the grassy lawn beside the barn, sipping cider and eating cake in the warm Autumn sun.

Of course, we planned every last detail, but the one thing we couldn't plan for was the weather. It rained and rained and rained for the whole week prior to the party, so by the time the weekend rolled by the Barn was practically floating on a sodden lawn.

The team at Sydney Polo Club were very accommodating and offered us the use of another barn that they had on the property - who else has a spare barn, I mean really?!! The Polo Barn was larger, incredibly grand, less rustic than our beloved Sunnybrook barn. It didn't quite 'fit the brief' but it meant our guests would stay dry. After a last minute call with our event planners the night before (!) we made a flurry of changes to our styling plan in order to move our picnic style event indoors. We fit everything into the new floor plan and set the few tables we had with picnic blankets as the tablecloths, picnic baskets as table centrepieces, we set up cosy corners with cushions and hay bales. It all came together beautifully. I was amazed and SO relieved. Crisis averted!

On the day, we arrived before our guests to ensure all of our changes were on track and to snap a few quiet photos. When it was time to wander over and greet our guests the first thing that struck me were all the kids running around. A third of the guests were children and they really made it the joyous, family oriented day we were hoping for.

Under a garden pavilion, guided by our dear friend and talented celebrant Kirsten Carter, Rich and I looked at each other and shared words of love and gratitude. As we made our promises to The Little One, we hung the most beautiful keepsake locket around her neck. Family photos inside and engraved on the back a favourite quote from A. A. Milne; 

"You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think". 

I will never forget the look of pride on her face in that moment, it makes me teary even now.

The party was so much fun! Incredible food, a kids tee-pee / games zone, an old school photo booth and an ah-mazing New Orleans style band all made for a perfect afternoon.

I am SO excited to share the photos of the day. It surpassed all of our expectations and was so wonderfully special. Plus! We were blessed to have the amazingly talented Claire Connell to capture the day for us. I'm sure most of you reading will know of Claire and her blog, One Claire Day. I've long been in awe of the images Claire can create, they are always so beautiful and have such an effortless and natural feeling to them. After chatting on email and skype before the day, I knew she was a perfect match for us and I trusted her completely.

It took me a LONG time to choose photos for this post. I think perhaps there's still too many for a single blog post, but I hope you'll understand my indulgence!

Special thanks to my brother Brett who beautifully interpreted for my parents, aunt and uncle.

We were lucky to have the most incredible team of people that helped make the day so unforgettable. Every single element was perfect.

Photography by Claire Connell Photography

Civil celebrant Kirsten Carter
Cakes by Simple Ingredients, plus my Mum's famous chilled Lemon cheesecake.

Catering by CM Catering
Photobooth by The Original Photo Co
Flowers by Alex Davy Flowers
Music by Geoff Bull and the Finer Cuts
Event planners Fusion Weddings
Flower girl dress handmade by Olive & Fern 

Belinda x

PS. If you are receiving my posts via email, I'm so sorry about the formatting. It's only just come to my attention that my posts and particularly the formatting of pictures via email don't look the way they do on the blog or on mobile readers. This post via email would have been a nightmare. This bothers me, alot! I'm currently looking into it. Don't forget you can follow Elsie and Joan via Blogger or Bloglovin or find me on Facebook to receive updates.


  1. aaawwwww! love and marriage, love and marriage, they go together like a horse and carriage... x

  2. Ohhhh, I've got goosebumps! The photos are amazing and you look just so beautiful xo

  3. Wow Billie, these photos are awesome. I know there are some brides (myself included) who look back on their wedding day and think, i wish i could go back and change a few things. I bet you dont feel that way at all, from your Fiji ceremony to the continuing celebrations in that gorgeous barn, it looks perfect. All the best and i hope one day to meet this handsome hubby of yours xxxxx

    1. I wouldn't change a thing about the company and the occasion but I think with enough time, there are always things you would change in terms of styling. Looking back I'm not exactly loving Rich's suit+thongs combo in Fiji, nor my hair & makeup ;-) but it really doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things. What I remember most about your wedding was the fun we had, it was such a happy day. Hope you and your gorgeous fam are well B, we'll all get together again one of these days, I'm sure! Billie xx

  4. Aww, you guys! Such a beautiful pair you are. Congratulations! The photos are beautiful. The barn! The ham! Is that Richard performing a song-and-dance number for you? I so hope it is. xxx

    1. Thanks Greer. Didn't Claire do a phenomenal job!! That's Rich's version of doing a quick thank you speech, doesn't mind the spotlight, my husband. I'm surprised there wasn't a few high kicks involved! B xx

  5. Thank you for letting me a part of such an incredibly beautiful and heartfelt day xx

  6. Oh what a wonderful day of love and warmth. You wrote your post beautifully and the photos match! Just beautiful! Wishing you a life time of love together xx Rachel

  7. You look so ravishing, seriously beautiful and Richard always scrubs up well. I'm so pleased it worked out as you wanted, despite last minute changes. Claire did an amazing job!

    1. Didn't she just! Thanks Victoria, for your lovely comment :-) Belinda x

  8. I adore a love story and yours is so beautiful. Such a lovely wedding, with perfect details and you were amazing.
    And the photos, oh you are so lucky to have them to remember forever that special day. I love the feelings that Claire captured, particullary in children!

    1. I'm a romantic too ;-) These photos we'll cherish forever. Thanks, Inês! Belinda x

  9. these images and the story that unfolds within them is just so beautiful. your dress {and you} stunning! x

  10. Wow! What a lovely story and such pretty pictures!!

  11. Ah-maze-ing.

    Wow, these are beautiful. YOU are beautiful. What a lovely celebration.

    I have only met Richard once but I can so imagine him pulling off some rocking dance moves.

    Congratulations on this awesome celebration and your vision coming to life. Perfect! X

    1. ohhhww, so sweet. Thanks lovely! And yes, Rich is definitely at home on the dance floor. Wait till you see the flashmob video (coming soon!). Have a great weekend, Peta! xx

  12. Noises like a wonderful book, I would love to read it. You are right about what love is, love is way more than feelings and emotions and you can't basis how much you love someone purely on that because some days they do things that drive you nuts and it shouldn't reduce your love for them if you go much deeper than feelings and feelings.Russian Love


Thanks for your comment, so nice to hear from you. Belinda x

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