The words of Napoleon, "nothing makes the future look so rosy as to contemplate it through a glass of Chambertin" ring true for Alana and Ben who first met 10 years ago when working together at a winery. What began as a friendship, whilst serving the finest wines and waiting tables, soon developed into a blossoming relationship with both sharing similar interests in music, fashion, fine food and outdoor pursuits.
Fast forward a few years to the 7th of May 2018, to a picturesque lakeside location in the mountains of New Zealand, a surprise picnic finished with Ben down on one knee asking Alana to marry him.
Residing in Brisbane , Ben and Alana had always envisioned having a destination wedding. They wished to provide their family and friends with the opportunity to immerse themselves in the experience and enjoy a few days away together, at a unique location, making the most of the celebrations:
‘We always pictured a destination wedding of some sort - whether it be a one hour drive away, or a plane trip! We wanted everyone to be able to make the most of having some time off work, and planning a little trip, so that everyone could unwind and enjoy themselves with a change of scenery!
We had looked at a few wedding venues before coming across Gabbinbar. As soon as we reached the entrance of Gabbinbar, and drove down the stunning driveway lined by gorgeous lush greenery and beautiful tall trees, we had a wonderful feeling about the venue. We knew this was our wedding venue immediately - it had so much charm! Each time we arrived at Gabbinbar - whether it be for our initial venue viewing, our catch up appointments prior to the wedding, and the day of the wedding, we felt as though we were instantly transported to a completely different place. A spectacular, picturesque and elegant destination.’
When discussing the vision for their wedding day they found they had a clear idea of what style and feel they wanted to curate - simple, classic and undeniably ‘them’.
‘ We wanted to create a classic, elegant and regal setting with a touch of 1920's inspiration (this was drawn from Ben and his groomsmen 1920s style suits). Ben was wearing a cashmere suit by Thomas Farthing, and a pair of Trickers Brogues which we thought would compliment the beautiful Gabbinbar Homestead setting and the cool Toowoomba April weather. We wanted the day to be relaxed, enjoyable and fun for everyone - a day to create many wonderful memories for all and importantly a reflection of us and the love that we feel for one another.’
Finding the planning process both enjoyable and stress-free, Alana enjoyed the extra time a Covid related postponement afforded her to source exceptional vendors and execute their dream day. Utilising the Gabbinbar Homestead wedding planning team and the MyGabbinbar recommended vendor list they found their vendors offered both exceptional service and some timely wedding day advice.
‘ For us, sourcing vendors was the easy part! We had a lot of fun researching vendors when we were planning our wedding. We found the Gabbinbar wedding planning team very helpful as they provided us with a big list. They had a wonderful communication system, and our requests and enquiries were always answered and dealt with so efficiently and promptly. This took a lot of stress away from us and made our wedding planning process so much easier! They thought of all of the things that we would never have known and they knew what we needed before we did!
Make sure to take a few moments on the day of your wedding to look around and soak in the beautiful atmosphere and enjoy the moments that pass so quickly. Look around to all of your loved ones, family and friends who have made the effort to be there on the day to celebrate the two of you and the love that you feel for one another.’
Walking down the aisle in a couture gown designed by renowned artisan George Wu, Alana’s long-sleeved high-neck gown was elegantly and impeccably crafted with the highest attention to detail. Pairing her gown with Christie Nicolaides statement earrings, she incorporated the traditional ‘something old’ by having her grandmother's pearls elegantly woven in her hair which was fashioned in a classic low bun.
'I had my wedding dress made by the talented George Wu and it was an absolute pleasure working with George to create my dream wedding dress. Every single moment was enjoyable, and it was like working with a good friend. I had a specific vision in mind, and George was able to not only create exactly what I wanted but exceeded my expectations.
As a result, I absolutely LOVED my wedding dress and I felt as though my dress really complimented the majestic and elegant environment of Gabbinbar - which is exactly what I was looking for. I wanted a dress that was made with beautiful lace, had long, whimsical bell sleeves, and made me feel like a Queen - and it most certainly did!'
Working behind the scenes with Alana
From our very first meeting I loved Alana's sense of style and vision for her wedding day.
In our first consultation I had the chance to take her through our process and know-how, the importance of our couture ’savour-faire' and the dresses 'inner structure' is something I always emphasise. Rather than relying purely on design and fabrication, I use body shape to guide and dictate the end result. This is a couture secret - it’s all about body enhancement through structure instead of relying solely on design. We focussed on highlighting the best features of her body shape and creating a memory journey through the dress making process.
After chatting to Alana about her dress vision and trying a few samples to determine her body shape, we came up with a concept which derived from an existing design. I then made the changes necessary to make it totally unique for her big day.
The dress making process takes several months. Starting from creating the inner structure, we slowly worked our way to the outer shell, finisihed with hand appliquéd French laces. A meticulous process requiring an incredible amount of detail, the end result created a body contour that looked both alluring and effortless.
Etching unique details and finishing touches into their day, Ben and Alana customised their experience to include a live cooking station during the afternoons garden party accompanied by live music played throughout the estate. With a focus on spending quality time mingling with their guests, and enjoying the festivities themselves, they chose to keep their photo times post-ceremony to a minimum, a feat that was able to be achieved by having all of their stunning portraits captured within the estate.
For the garden party which commenced straight after the ceremony, we had a live two-piece band. My brother had organised two of his musician friends to play a couple of jazz sets in the garden. We had a guitarist and a sax and bass player, which we felt really set the mood of the garden party. During this time, we had organised the live cooking station for the garden party - so it was a great way for all of our wedding guests to enjoy some beautiful food and drinks whilst listening to some wonderful music. We also tried to keep our family photos, couple photos and bridal party photos that we had done after the ceremony, to a short period of time,so that we didn't take too much time out of being able to catch up with everyone and still have time to enjoy the Garden Party with our guests.’
Whilst describing their wedding day experience as ‘delightful, memorable and perfect’, like most couples, the day wasn’t without a few pre-ceremony nerves, especially for Ben, who spent the morning getting ready with his groomsmen at the nearby Airbnb Wisteria Cottage.
‘When Ben and his Groomsmen were all getting ready the morning of the wedding at our Airbnb, the nerves started kicking in and they were trying to find things to do to keep themselves busy and take their minds off the upcoming speeches and nerve-racking events of the day. The guys went out for brunch, and then came home and Harry (the best man) suggested they all watch the "UFC" on TV. Unfortunately for the boys, this did not calm the nerves, so they resorted to doing yoga on the balcony.’
Incorporating 1920s-esque touches to his attire, Ben wore a three-piece Navy cashmere merino blend herringbone suit tailored by Thomas Farthing London accessorised with brown Trickers Brogues and a Grand Seiko GMT watch gifted to him by Alana as an engagement present, affectionately dubbed his ‘Man-gagement ring.’ As a gift to his groomsmen, Ben presented them each with Yuketen Concho Pins to wear on their suit jackets.
The morning's preparations looked a little different and were somewhat more jubilant for Alana and her beautiful bride tribe of lifelong friends Bri and Tegan. Joined as well by good friend Jordan and her mother in the Brides Retreat, Alana chose the talented duo of Jody Callan and KM Makeup Studios to make them wedding day ready. Wearing breathtaking long-sleeved wine coloured silk dresses by Shona Joy, Alana paired her bridesmaids gowns with nude leather block heels and statement earrings.
‘The morning of the wedding was spent in the Bridal Retreat at Gabbinbar with Bri, Tegan, my Mum Manette and my friend Jordan, and it was such a special way to start the day. I will never forget the excitement that was in the air, whilst we were sipping on our glasses of champagne and getting our hair and makeup done. It was so much fun and I could have not pictured it any other way!
Both Ben and Alana describe seeing each other for the first time at their ceremony as the most memorable moment of their wedding day. Waiting beneath the towering fig tree, next to a circular arbour arrayed with autumn tones, Ben watched and waited as Alana walked towards him to the tune of ‘Sweet Disposition’ played by Temper Trap.
‘ My most memorable moment was when I was walking down the aisle with my Mother and Father by my side, entering into the beautiful ceremony with my husband-to-be waiting at the end of the aisle for me. Seeing all of our nearest and dearest smiling back at me was a moment I will never forget - there was so much love in the air. It was such a beautiful moment full of emotion.
Ben's most memorable moment was when I walked down the aisle and he could see my beaming smile looking straight back at him. Ben said seeing me smiling back at him instantly calmed his nerves, as he could see how happy I was.’
Wanting to bring their combined passion and love of food to their wedding day, an exceptional dining experience was a non-negotiable for Alana and Ben!
‘We received an enormous amount of positive feedback after our wedding, about how delicious the catering was on the day. We absolutely loved having the live cooking station set up for our garden party, as not only was the food incredibly tasty and substantial, but all of the aromas of the live cooking station were travelling through our garden party which really added to the vibe of the afternoon.
For our reception, we decided to go with the "Gourmet Roast" option and it was delicious. The food really suited the atmosphere of the venue, and was perfect for the cool April weather - the food was warming, hearty, tasty and beautifully presented.’
Concluding the formalities with a round of cocktails, before the remainder of the night was spent on the dancefloor, Alana and Ben took the opportunity to steal some quiet moments outside together post-reception amongst the night-garden.
‘Our photographer pulled Ben and I outside for a small window during the reception, so that we could get some nighttime photography together, with just the two of us. This was so lovely, as it gave us some time to take a breather from a very busy day and enjoy some time together as a newly married couple! We already started reflecting on how beautiful the day has been!’
Photographer: DanVonhoff Wedding Photography Florist: Daisy & Co Wedding Cake Maker: Nummy Nummy Cakes by Mel Ceremony Officiant: Carly Slade Hair: Jody Callan Hair Makeup: KM Makeup Studios Wedding gown: George Wu Atelier Bride’s Shoes: Joanne Mercer Bride’s earrings: Christie Nicoloaides Bridesmaids gowns: Shona Joy Grooms suit: Thomas Farthing Grooms shoes: Trickers Brogues Brides rings: Hardy Brothers Grooms ring: Steven Childs Jewellery