You know what's amazing??
I'll tell you one of the most amazing things that can happen to a photographer. You get to the wedding and you see someone with IT, that amazing X factor that makes you want to photograph them ALL day, even if they aren't the bride and groom. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, WOW! You stop putting in 110% and kick it up to 150%.
Renee and Ashleigh were my IT people at the gorgeous Ballarat Botanical Gardens wedding of Cat and Mick back in the summer of 2019. I remember Chris seeing my reaction to them and doing a classic facepalm. I wanted to chat, but didn't find time, as we are ALWAYS on the go with weddings and focused on the couple getting married.
And then, JOY!! At the reception, they came up to us for a chat and asked if we would consider photographing their wedding in the Grampians. Chris and I looked at each other and grinned, he'd been watching them as much as I had! We checked our calendar, asked about some details and gave each other a high five, it was happening! Taking advantage of our custom payment plan meant that they could have ALL the coverage and extras that they wanted, and we were delighted to be able to help them.
oh those awesome details
Booking two years in advance meant that we often touched base with updates and details, and the more that I heard about Renee's ideas, the more I loved them! Even when Covid meant that our catchups were limited to Zoom meetings, it was still exciting, as I got to meet their gorgeous fur and scaly kids, our snakes could almost be relatives!! I loved everything about their upcoming wedding, the black and white colour scheme is one of my favourites, ALL the DIY, because that's my jam! Their stunning venue with the mountains as a backdrop, it truly was shaping up to be a truly memorable day.
FINALLY, the much anticipated wedding day was here and we arrived at Renee's cottage, a hive of activity for hours before we got there, everyone was intent on making this an incredible day for them. Renee and Ash have a loyal group of friends who have supported them through ups and downs for the years that they have been together and it was truly incredible to watch them all step in and help. Yes, that's me helping the bride with her gloss before she got dressed, we are NEVER just the photographer, and have spent a lot of time on gaining skills in nearly all the parts of a wedding day so that we can help our couples with all the things that crop up
ooh, it's a first look
We LOVE LOVE LOVE first looks, those genuine emotional moments create so many gorgeous memories. However, this was a first look with a difference, Renee decided to do a first look with her DAD. It was AWESOME! He was already so excited for their big day, and the chance to see his daughter in all her finery before they had to head off gave them some muchloved time together, and a chance for him to offer her some last minute advice, as well as a chance for the whole bridal party to get some formal photos out of the way, so they could spend more time celebrating afterwards. The both had surprise gifts for each other which REALLY kicked up the emotions to level ELEVEN.
oh, the ceremony view!
Then it was off to the ceremony location. If you blink you will miss the tiny hamlet of Wartook, so don't blink! It's a gorgeous little place, and we loved it so much on our location scouting trip that we stayed at the HAPPY WANDERER HOLIDAY RESORT instead of in the closest large town of Horsham. The picnic area truly was the perfect setting for this unique ceremony, the view is STUPENDOUS, plenty of shade for summer days, and ample parking!
The ceremony was a family affair, with Ash's aunt officiating, and it went off without a hitch - almost! While waiting for the bridal party to arrive, Ash realized he had left the rings in the cabin they were using for the groom's party to prepare! With literally SECONDS to spare, he ran back and got them so fast, that I think we should have had the Guinness Book of World Records in attendance!
There were SO many personal touches in their ceremony, such as Renee handing her bouquet to her mother while the rings were exchanged, and the WONDERFUL recognition of family who had supported them with personal gifts and heartfelt words, special readings from friends, I can honestly say there was barely a dry eye during the vows (well, maybe Chris, he's pretty good at that). The telling of their story, including how Ash's grandfather stepped in at less than 24 hours notice, when lockdowns meant a groomsman couldn't attend, the loss of Renee's much-loved grandfather, who was DEFINITELY there in spirit, and was the inspiration behind the black and white colour scheme in his honour (something to do with a football team???), combined with the pure love radiating from the bride and groom was truly the most beautiful thing I have seen in a LONG time.
all the family and friends
February weddings can be HOT, and with this in mind, rather than have everyone stand around in the sun for photos, a decorated ute was placed in the shade, and family and friends climbed onto hay bales for some fun shots that will be unique in their collection of memories. There was much laughter about the football team the colours represented (don't ask me, I'm a club rugby girl). and then it was off to Zumsteins, another tiny hamlet 'just up the road' for some fun photos of the wedding party where Mick, the best man, had us ALL cracking up with his antics. I wish there was a "Mick" at every wedding, the time just flew by, and the memories really capture the vibe of the day.
the food, oh! the food!
Lucky Ash! He works at the WANDER IN, WARTOOK VALLEY it's not only perfect for a country wedding reception, but the food is also awesome and the staff are amazing! We'd had lunch there on our location scouting trip and couldn't rave enough about the service and the food.
Renee and her friends had spent months making the decorations and they were perfect, the family affair continued with an aunt creating the stunning and tasty cake, the speeches were heartfelt and beautiful (and yes, there is a picture somewhere of me crying when they thanked Chris and myself for our contribution to their day, and to top it all off, a perfect Aussie sunset, and then first dances by candlelight.
The English language needs words that convey how truly blessed we felt to be a part of Ash and Renee's memories, Chris and I both refer to this wedding as one of our absolute favourites, and we will always do so.
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