Hands up who loves a great proposal story! Us, too – and the one that Emily and Dan have to tell their daughter Stevie when she grows up is one we are definitely here for. “There was a moment when Emily and I had first started seeing each other,” shares groom Dan. “She came around the corner and the sunlight hit her curls. Lit up golden, I knew she was it. We had loosely discussed our thoughts around ideal proposals, both agreeing nothing dramatic, but as a special part of the movements of our everyday life. The actual proposal, nine years after that sunlit realisation, was a simple and beautiful moment at the beach with our daughter, Stevie (who 10 months old at the time). We set up and I hid the ring under a towel. After a swim, I pretended that Stevie had found something in the sand and asked, ‘Stevie, what have you found? Mummy, look what Stevie found!’ Em turned around and the ring box was sitting in the ground. She saw it and knew. We just cried for what felt like so long. And then I asked her, full name and all. We cried more. She said, ‘Of course, yes!’”
Though the couple were together for nine years before they tied the knot, they “really wanted a short engagement”, shares Dan. “We had decided to get married and so that’s what we wanted to do!” But, just like so many other would-be wedders in recent times, COVID caused some delays. “Initially, our date gave us a four-month engagement, but by postponing our wedding due to COVID it became 10 months. I know Em found this hard, as it meant the juggle of looking after Stevie and planning our wedding dragged out over more time,” explains the groom.
When the big day did finally arrive, though, it was every bit as magical as Em and Dan had imagined – and with Solis Photos on hand to snap the day’s happenings, we get to see all the beautiful moments, too. Yay!
THE THEME “I am so inspired by traditional Indian weddings – all of the ritual, colour, culture and beauty. During my travels to India, I found much joy in my time spent at textile and artisan markets and have since collected precious pieces from this area. There were elements of this inspiration throughout the styling of the day, especially the bride and bridal party accessories. It was really important to us that the overall feel of the day was true and authentic to us and our life. We put much intention and effort into engaging with local small businesses and vendors, ethical clothing and make-up, nourishing and healthy foods, foraged or organically farmed flowers, organic and ethical drinks (both wine and non-alcoholic). We used a lot of what we already had, borrowed and bought second hand where possible. This is how we live and it’s how we wanted to celebrate, too! We are very relaxed people and wanted our guests to feel that way, so we had lots of lounge setups, kids were welcomed and catered for, and some finer details lapsed here and there for the purpose of maintaining that relaxed and joyful feel. I used the word ‘humble’ a lot. We had bells and whistles for sure, but it was how they came about that was humble. We weren’t there to celebrate our ‘perfect love’, we were there to celebrate our real and honest love, which meant we wanted to share our journey, our growth and our deepest feelings without anything to hide behind. No expectations of picture perfection or tight schedules – just Dan and me, our girl, Stevie, and our friends, together.”
DIY “I created our invitations, table flowers, floral decorations, arbour, bridesmaids’ bouquets, men’s boutonnieres… hmm maybe others! While I was creating our foraged arbour, I thought a lot about how we can find a sense of perfection and joy in things that are deemed imperfect. For example, the dead or dried leaves, when given the chance, spoke of such beauty! And from this place, we could surrender to what the day brought – little did I know that would literally mean thunder storms and all!”
FAVOURITE DETAILS “The fauna! The work I did with the help of a family friend ended up more beautiful than I had imagined. The textures, the use of dried and fresh [flowers and leaves], knowing it was all foraged and re-used; that new life had been breathed into pieces of nature left to the earth. So much beauty! I found so much joy in the fine details, like the recycled silk sari ribbons around our bouquets, cut extra long to flow with our movement and bring colour and texture to our looks. I loved the pieces of she-oak against the dried white petals in the men’s boutonnieres, and the use of natural fabrics and textures – earthy colours everywhere. We also loved that we had options for everyone, i.e. inclusive dietary options, beautiful and healthier non-alcoholic drink options, and family-friendly comforts.”
THE DRESS “I went to a bridal store early on to try on lots of styles of dresses, knowing all too well that I probably wouldn’t find the dress in the store. I love the hunt and the story, so this part of choosing a dress was important to me. I had found a beautiful small brand from Sydney’s Northern Beaches (where Dan and I lived for a while) that was ethical, mindful and simple in nature and design. It fit my budget and I loved it. But in the time that our wedding was postponed due to COVID, Stevie and I stopped breastfeeding and I treated a health issue, and experienced a transformational shift in body shape because of this. We then started to try for a pregnancy. I no longer filled out the top and skirt I had waiting in the cupboard and started looking elsewhere. My favourite designer is Ulla Johnson, she creates such unique pieces for everyday wear and works closely with cultural makers in each collection. Her work, again, is conscious and ethical, which is so important to me. The stars aligned and she had a silk gown available in many beautiful colours. I chose ivory as I’ve always loved it, ordered it online from the US and received in a timely manner. It was perfection and the experience was never daunting, just simple. I knew I would know and I trusted that the right dress would appear.”
THE SUIT “The suit was a breeze! Dan always wanted to wear linen and he wanted a colour that felt authentic to him. He has had a suit made by InStitchu before, so we went to their website and the olive green linen was the perfect shade. Done.”
MEMORABLE MOMENT “The moment I [Dan] saw Em walking down the aisle, she looked beautiful. And without question, the moment that hit me sideways was Em’s speech. She announced out of the blue, to both the crowd and me, that she was pregnant! I cried. To follow on from her with my speech… I was speechless.”
A WORD OF ADVICE “Identify and stay true to your intention. If it becomes stressful, tense, if there’s indecision, conflict, external pressure, come back to your intention.”
STANDOUT VENDORS “So many! Beth (from Woman With Child), our celebrant and close friend, was there to guide our daughter into the world as our midwife in 2019, and will be with us again in this way [for our second child]. To have her beautiful and gentle presence and guidance as a celebrant has been another special union in our family story. Our photographer, Jess from Solis Photos, and our chef, Matt from The Canape Project, both stuck by us from day dot, gave us so much of their time and were so generous with their care around our change of plans. Unfortunately, Matt had to close his catering business, but he took the weekend off from his new restaurant job to do our wedding and he was an absolute legend the entire time. Our photographer was so understanding and helpful when we had to change plans and dates. She sent us a card and a gift on our original wedding date and I think that speaks so strongly to a level of authentic care. She was efficient on the day, laidback but so together, and I caught her teaching Stevie how to take photos at one point, maybe even multitasking with her on the hip? So gorgeous! With the weather, I cancelled our plans to go to a local nature track for photos, and the lighting at Mum’s really only allowed for a 3-metre space between the swing set and the chicken house for our photos. I remember thinking, ‘It’s okay, the photos will show a memory, we don’t need picture perfect.’ When I saw the photos, I was so blown away. This magical camera woman had delivered the most divine photos, selling love, joy, intimacy, fun and beauty. To us, they were perfect. Kristy from Flora Beauty Room (who did makeup) and Kimberly from Salty Waves Organic Hair also brought such calm and joyful energy to my morning. They listened so carefully and were there for us fully.”
A big day that comes together just right – we love to see it! We got our first glimpse at this divine wedding when it appeared in issue 32 of our print mag. That one’s since sold out (umm, popular!) but there are stacks more incred nuptials to go nuts for in all the issues in our online store, plus more inspo than you could poke a stick at in our 2021 Real Weddings Special.
CONTRIBUTING VENDORS Photographer Solis Photos Florist Organica Floret Stationery Emily (bride) via Canva Ceremony & Reception Bride’s parents’ home Catering Matt Yurko at The Canape Project Cake Mother of the bride Cake Topper Organica Floret Hire Items Beltane Wedding Hire (dining chairs, lighting) Marquee & Lighting Hire Marquee Hire Sunshine Coast Entertainment Lily Taloola Music Celebrant Beth Newman (Woman With Child) Rings The Line Of Sun (wedding bands), Communion By Joy (Emily’s engagement ring) THE BRIDE Gown Ulla Johnson Bridal Boutique White Sparrow Bridal Robes Tree of Life Shoes Dazie via The Iconic Accessories Paisley Pop Shop India (earrings), Emily D Design (brass rings), Ribbons And Silk (bouquet ribbons) Hair Salty Waves Organic Hair Makeup Flora Beauty Room Bridesmaid dresses Dissh, Bec + Bridge, All That Remains, Doen (flower girl) Bridesmaid shoes Dazie via The Iconic Bridesmaid gifts Indian Kundan Jewelry (earrings), Tree of Life (rose quartz), Alter Eco Australia via Kunara Organic Marketplace (chocolate), Inika Organic (lip gloss) THE GROOM Suit InStitchu Shirt H&M Shoes Aquila Groomsmen shirts Country Road Groomsmen pants Scotch & Soda Groomsmen gifts Collywobbles Leather (leather key tag), Spindle and Turn (silk/linen pocket square), Alter Eco Australia via Kunara Organic Marketplace (chocolate)