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.

brunette page boy wearing black shirt and white suspenders adjusting white tie
brunette bridesmaid helping dress blonde junior flowergirls in white lace dress
pageboy wearing black shirt and white accessories relaxing in loungeroom
young flowergirl in lace dress preparing finishing touches with bridesmaid in pink robe
dark blue holden commodore decorated with white ribbon for wedding car
dark grey car decorated with pink ribbon for wedding car
detail of memorial badges on brides bouquet
sunflower bridal bouquet of artificial flowers with black brides jewellery
white bridal gown hanging with black bridesmaids gowns in window
details of gothic bridal jewellery with memorial charms on bridal bouquet

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

two young flower girls in white lace dresses sharing a funny moment
young flowergirl in white lace and tulee dress with hair up smiling broadly
bridesmaids in pink robes and makeup artist putting finishing touches on alternative bride
alternative bride with dyed pink hair laughing during wedding preparation
alternative blonde bridesmaide putting earings on
alternative bride and bridesmaids in robes sharing drinks and toasting each other before getting dressed
makeup artist in mask putting final touches on bride in satin robe
blonde bridesmaid in black dress checking handmade white bouquet
alternative bride with burgundy dyed hair putting ear rings in
bridesmaid in black dress fixing black veil to alternative bride while she holds flowers

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.

grey haired man in black shirt holding gift for daughter and standing under tree
grey haired man wearing black pants and shirt standing under tree in park
alternative bride and wedding party walking through park with flowerbeds
children from wedding party boys are in black and white with purple mohawk hair, girls are wearing white tulle dresses
alternative bride with dyed hair holding sunflower bouquet with wedding party in background
bridesmaids wearing black dresses walking through park in sunshine
flowergirls in white and page boys in black with bridesmaids in black behind them waiting for first look with father of
grey haired man wearing black shirt and pants wiping away tears after seeing bride at first look
alternative bride in white dress and black veil hugging father wearing black at first look
alternative bride with white dress and black veil embracing father while bridal party looks on

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.

white commodore with black ribbon arriving at outdoor wedding ceremony
alternative groom with green mohawk standing with groomsmen waiting for bride
wedding party wearing black and white in unique positions for ceremony
tatttooed maid of honour with purple hair wearing black helping bride from car
father of bride walking alternative bride down aisle to groom
alternative bride with sunflower bouquet walking down aisle on fathers arm
alternative bride handing bouquet to mother to hold
alternative wedding party in black and white at outdoor ceremony grampians
guests giving reading during wedding ceremony with sunflower arbour grampians
alternative bride and groom exchanging vows with groomsmen looking on outdoor ceremony

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.

alternative bride brother after wedding
alternative groom with green mohawk and formal white tuxedo with black accessories
alternative bride laughing with father seated on haybales
alternative bride and groom with grooms party seated on hay bales
alternative bride and groom with family in formal photo
alternative bride and groom with bridal party dressed in black seated in truck
best man hamming up funny wedding photo
bride and groom embracing with bridal party laughing
wedding party posing seated in truck grampians wedding
alternative bride and groom standing beside truck with groomsmen seated on hay bales

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.

Wedding cake detail hand made sugar flowers and chocolate drip
diy wedding reception centrepieces rustic painted bottles with trim and flowers
three tier rustic wedding cake black white and blue theme with chocolate drip and flowers
bride and groom entering rustic wedding ceremony and looking around corner for guests
wedding party smiling and applauding during speeches and toast
alternative bride and groom sharing tender moment during speeches
alternative bride and groom making speech at wedding reception
bride and groom embracing in outdoor bush clearing at sunset
alternative bride and groom embracing and looking in each others eyes with stormy sunset in background
alternative groom sharing first dance with grandmother

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