You know when a couple have really put their blood, sweat and tears (of joy obviously!) into their big day because it shows. It shows in the small details, it shows in the smiles of rapture on their faces and it shows in their guests faces. It also shines through in the photography.
Nicole and Natalie run a creative agency and are two craft-istas so they unashamedly went to town on getting everything just right with their own creative, personalised twist. and I’m not even sure I know where to begin with their big day. Do I start with the flash mob, old lady tea ceremony, and the double-smashing of the glass with a cowboy boot on one foot, and stiletto on another?
Or perhaps I’ll begin with the table centrepieces with clusters of ‘Beautiful Random’,or the brides’ sassy, ethereal style (I need their dresses in my life!). Actually I might just kick off with the tea ceremony with the rickshaws, lawn games, and breast cupcakes… and the oh-so-simple but effective paper doll-chain aisle runners… and the fans for guests with ‘We’re Your Biggest Fans’ tags, and tambourines with ‘Shake What Your Mumma Gave You’ tags!
Actually I’m just going to let you experience this heart-warming, life-affirming, radiant big day for yourselves. Enjoy their beautifully written report (watch out for their top advice at the end), and delve into Lara Hotz‘s images, and a wedding film by Light Noise Films
OUR DAY, OUR WAY
Natalie & Nicole the Brides: Our priority was to do only what represented us and our love – no matter how against-the-grain; to not be sucked into a production-line nuptial. We didn’t want to include empty rituals or subscribe to the tyranny of ‘should’s.’ Really, all we wanted was to make a commitment in front of all the people that we love in an authentic, fun and creative way. As a same sex couple, it is important to us that we not ‘hide’ because of shame so we challenged ourselves to have abandon in our expression and what happened was nothing short of magical.
We were searching for something ‘non-eventish.’ Somewhere where rules and space don’t get in the way of abandon. When a place becomes a ‘venue’ – its personality and nuance is ripped out, leaving a kind of soulless entity of chair bows, unexplained acts of frou-frou and weird science-gone-wrong lighting. We wanted something with flaws – real and fuss-free. We came across the Sunnybrook Barn at Sydney Polo Club in a random blog.
When we saw it, we knew we’d found our place. We wanted a comfortable feel – not separated from nature. We kept the barn doors open after the ceremony and had an open-sided marquee during dinner from where we watched the sunset over the river and could hear the goats and horses contributing their congratulations. The barn itself was the hero, everything else was to show off her gorgeous bones.
OUR ‘NIC-NAT BARN ECCENTRIC’ THEME AND ‘COLOURDOSCOPE’ PALETTE
The vibe was ‘Nic-Nat Barn Eccentric’ – an authentic dish of Vintage Rustic meets Barn Bohemian, with a side of Random Eclectic, Grandma’s Legacy and Inner Child Eccentric. The vibe was the love-child of both of our creative minds – kinda like the effect of kids locked in an ice-cream factory… no rules. The colour palette was based on our invitation design which we like to call ‘Colourdoscope’.
We both enjoy the randomness of an open palette. The majority of colours inside the barn were neutral so as not to compete with the rustic canvas. Nix and I run a creative services business called Pony and Bear and we utilised our collective craftiness to create lots of wedding elements such as our invitations, menus, hand-twined fans for our guests with ‘We’re Your Biggest Fans’ tags, and tambourines with ‘Shake What Your Mumma Gave You’ tags!
We also enjoyed creating lots of styling decor such as the brown paper confetti cones with magazine heart-punches filled with pom-poms and feathers, and mismatched straws in mason jars and napkins for the Sangria and Pimm’s.
OUR RELATIONSHIP AND HOW WE MET
Our adventure had been evolving before we met. It was only a matter of time before we were finally brought together by the love alchemy of our friend Gwen. When we met, we each had an immediate connection seated in a sense of calm and familiarity that allowed us to really open up to one another and discover our similarities and differences. This wasn’t a simple thing. We tried to ignore the magnitude of our attraction, but failed spectacularly! We each had to negotiate our own pains and shames and even let each other go to be able to find each other again. It was this trust in love that lead us to the certainty and acceptance that we draw from each other.
We both infinitely support and equally challenge one another. We’ve learnt to navigate the other’s fragilities and love each other through the light, the dark and all the shades in between (there are more than fifty shades of grey!). In this relationship, we are the best version ourselves together. A rare place. We share the same values and want the same things out of life. We understand each other and have both been 70 since we were 9! We bring out each other’s creative and eccentric inner dorks and share a sense of the ‘extraordinary’ which brings us great joy. Choosing to marry was a monumental moment in our lives and signifies a new chapter of openness, a celebration of life, love and commitment.
THE MORNING OF THE WEDDING
Our day started at 6am. We woke up in the Wollemi Dream Cabin – out in the wilderness near Bilpin. It’s a majestically beautiful place. Rain was falling lightly and there was a mist in the valley. Everything was hyper green and the air smelled of eucalyptus. We got up, showered, lit the fire (I know – in January!) and had a cup of tea before everyone arrived. We had a lovely morning of friends, Mums, makeup, hair, tea, chats and nerve calming. We then headed out with the photographers to shoot at some locations – an apple orchard, a pine forest, someone’s garden and roadside flower-stall in a 1950’s Kelvinator and a retro shop front before arriving at the venue.
Neither of us are fashionistas. We set foot in shopping establishments only out of sheer necessity. It was a process negotiated with blood and tears but in the end, we each found a dress we felt like ourselves in. We found Nix’s dress at a random shop during an agenda-less stroll in our neighbourhood. We found Nat’s in ‘The Strand’ after following a lead on thefancy.com. Looking back – on the day, our dresses made us feel like we were in the not-too-frou-frou hands of a comforting and familiar friend.
Walking down the aisle was a real life moment… there was such a sense of being held by love and warmth in that room. It was intangible and something we both felt. The ceremony itself – having no legal or religious framework to hang it on was written by us and Monty (our celebrant). It ended up being a quirky combination of story, two beautiful readings from kid’s books, our DIY vows (text included below and ceremony transcript doc attached), Old Lady Tea Ceremony, the signing of our Ketubah, breaking of the glass, and a flashmob (see below!).
MUSIC FOR THE CEREMONY
Our soundscape was Funk/Soul/Jazz Vinyl. We both love artists like Stevie Wonder, Angie Stone, Erikah Badou and Ella Fitzgerald… the list is eternal. These kind of evocative, luscious, grounded, raw and cell-tickling tunes were very much part of our expression and story. We revved the guests up with Elisha and John’s version of Happy by Pharrell Williams then walked down the aisle to Rise by Eddie Vedder with our friend Elisha singing and Antony playing Mandolin. This song has separate history in both of our lives and together represents a kind of abandon and appreciation of our combined freedom together.
We included the Chuppah to represent our future home – open and welcoming on all four sides, created by the people within it, not by their possessions. The vintage lace for the top of the Chuppah we felt connected us to our grandparents. The ivy posts and floral base brought a little of the outside – in. A burst of colour with a nod to our barn eccentric theme.
SMASHING THE GLASS(ES) WEARING COWBOY BOOTS AND HEELS!
During the ceremony, we were both wearing heels. It’s impossible to smash the glass in heels so we each donned a cowboy boot at the end of the ceremony to break the glass. We wanted to smash a glass each to imprint a reminder of the fragility of life and an affirmation that in times of joy, there should be a touch of gravity. It fit with our story and was a traditional element we both identified with. Hobbling back down the aisle in one heel and one boot was hilarious and memorable.
A FLASHMOB AT THE END OF THE CEREMONY At the end of the ceremony, there was a flashmob. There were about 35 choir members (of a group Nat sings with called Soulfood) sitting among the guests and at the end of the ceremony, our celebrant Monty (also a choir member) started beat boxing and slowly, each person stood up and started singing Chaka Khan’s Ain’t Nobody. (NB see the film towards the end of the post for this in action!)
FLORAL CROWNS, FEATHER BOUTONNNIERES, AND FLOWERS FROM THE MARKET
For our headpieces, we designed a simple white paper daisy crown for Nix because her dress colour was already a focus. For Nat, we choose a mixture of ochre and white paper daisy’s with a succulent feature *bang* for Nat to compliment her very orange shoes and tie into Nix’s dress tone (Community Service Announcement: greeting people whilst sporting a succulent can cause unintentional maiming!). For our family’s lapel brooches, we handmade black feathers with a single Billy-Button and a tiny sprig of dried baby’s breath with a twined base. For the tables, we had random selections from the flower market which we cut and arranged in jars we’d been saving for a year.
With the formalities over, everyone tore up the remaining hours on the dancefloor, chatting outside, nibbling at the vintage lolly station, tucking into a ‘breast cupcake,’ watching the sunset over the river, having a whiskey on the rocks at our special whiskey barrel until it was time to call it a night.
We had our first dance to Etta James’ At Last which our friend Danny played solo on the Euphonium. Nix stood barefoot on my cowboy boots and we slow danced.
ADVICE FOR OTHER BRIDES
We had a lot going on in our lives in the year leading up to the wedding. Sometimes we managed to maintain our grace, sometimes we didn’t. Even though eggplant vs mushroom seems like a defining decision at the time – your loved ones will more likely remember the tragic interpretive dance you shared at 11.35pm over the mushroom deficit.
What’s important is your relationship and your finesse under pressure. Don’t take yourselves too seriously. At the end of the day, all of the phone calls, late night crafting, list making, hauling and paper cuts were worth it because it’s all part of the bigger experience together.A couple that crafts together, lasts together!
Every couple is different and I think our advice would be – don’t compare yourself or your wedding to other people’s because they’re not you. When all is said and done, it was sharing our love authentically that was the greatest gift to both ourselves and the people in our life.
On the day, make it a priority to tell everyone how grateful you are to have them in your life, start a conga line, take a moment with your partner to make a mental bookmark, ditch the platitudes and speak from the heart, don’t not do anything, even if it terrifies you (public speaking!) and finally – eat something!
NATALIE + NICOLE’S LITTLE WHITE BOOK
Venue – Sunnybrook Barn, Sydney Polo Club
Photographer – Lara Hotz
Videography – Light Noise Films
Event Planning – The Ideas Library
Creative Direction – Pony and Bear
Styling – Ra Ra Kitty / Pony and Bear
Catering + Drinks – Dan The Man
Wedding Cake – Sharon Holly
Floral Headpieces – Sweet Pea Floral Design
DJ – Taline Kalaidjian
Flashmob – Soulfood
Musicians – Elisha Keen, John Gnanasekaran, Antony Mutch, Danny May
Hair + Makeup – Petr Vackar
Brides’ dresses – Lover (Natalie) Shona Joy (Nicole) Brides’ Shoes – Sachi (Natalie) Shoes of Prey (Nicole)
Celebrant – Sumant Monty Badami