Romantic, relaxed, elegant and free-spirited was the brief for Andrea and Michael’s captivating summer wedding. Every delicate detail from the soft pink, taupe and ivory florals in the pavilion ceremony to the gentle flickering of candlelight featured in the reception added to the day's overall charm. With Covid foiling their plans for a destination wedding in Bali the couple stumbled across Gabbinbar Homestead, and after viewing the estate virtually, immediately knew the serene and exclusive estate was for them. Citing the estate’s lush gardens and timeless architecture as inspiration the couple hosted a day filled with carefully considered styling choices which created the perfect fusion of romantic and whimsical elegance.
Andrea and Michael’s wedding journey began with a romantic proposal by Michael at a favorite beach of Andrea’s, near Byron Bay, complete with picnic lunch, flowers, balloons and champagne. Unfortunately, It wasn’t long before they faced the challenge of having to cancel their international wedding and plan a celebration closer to home with the onset of Covid and travel restrictions. Not wanting to compromise on the vision for their day the couple soon knew Gabbinbar was their new dream location:
‘ If you have never been to Gabbinbar, it is hard to even imagine its beauty. It is everything you could ever dream of. On the day of your wedding, the entire estate is for you and your guests to enjoy. For us, the standout feature would have to be the gardens and all the trees adorned in fairy lights. It’s simply magical! Gabbinbar and the team made everything so easy for us. Their MyGabbinbar online tool is insanely helpful and easy to use. We thoroughly loved planning our wedding. Michael and I both agree, we wouldn’t have changed anything.’
Looking back, having planned the wedding of her dreams, Andrea shares there were three key pieces of advice she would offer to potential brides planning amongst the challenges of Covid:
1. Lean on your bridesmaids for advice and guidance. Your bridesmaids know you better than most. My BM’s and I had a group chat which was used almost daily. They assisted me with everything from choosing signage to song choices. I would have been lost without my girls!
2. Don’t leave anything to the last minute. You do not want to be stressed in the last couple of weeks before your big day. I had multiple spreadsheets and calendar reminders which I set as soon as I knew what dates payments were due and when I had upcoming appointments. I also ensured we had everything paid for 7 days prior to the actual wedding. This means we could switch off from planning and take in all the excitement.
3. Enjoy the process. If there is anything Covid has taught us all, it’s that we can’t control everything. Be flexible and ready to make snap decisions. Planning a wedding can be really really fun when you don’t put too much pressure on everything having to be perfect and as you imagined. After all, marrying the love of your life is what matters.
Spending the morning getting ready onsite in the glamorous bride’s retreat, Andrea felt her day flowed effortlessly thanks to the hard work of her incredible vendors:
‘ My Bridesmaids and I were staying at Wisteria across from Gabbinbar. At 8am, the girls and I headed across the road to Gabbinbar sporting our James face masks, and robes with matching slippers. Entering into the Bridal Retreat was so exciting, and I think this was when it hit me that I was actually going to get married. We had a champagne breakfast whilst getting beautified by Sarah and Shelby. It was so much fun!
My make-up Artist, Shelby Powter, did my makeup 4 years earlier and I remember thinking ‘If I ever get married, I’m going to ask her.’ Sarah Neill, the bridal hairstylist was also delightful. I was already following FigTree pictures on Instagram and I was so pleased when they said they were available to do our wedding - I just adore all their photography and felt they were a perfect fit. Our videographer Michael Kelly was an easy decision to make. My now husband and I watched a handful of his wedding videos and knew he was a total vibe and that we would enjoy having him around us all day. We were right!
Hosting a summer wedding provided Andrea and Michael the opportunity to capitalise on all the stunning flowers the season affords focussing the color palette on dusty pinks, taupes, creams and textured foliage. Orchids, hydrangeas, roses and foxgloves featured heavily in both the ceremony arbor and bouquets fashioned by the talented Kate Dawes:
'All of our vendors were exceptional, but the standout was Kate Dawes. Kate was a dream to work with. I really, really struggled with how I wanted my flowers styled. At first, I wanted a circular arbor with flowers, then I was wanting pillars before finally deciding on the asymmetrical floor flowers in a half circle. I also changed my bouquet and the bridesmaid’s multiple times. In the end, I said “Kate this is my color scheme, do what you like, you are the expert.” The beauty of my flowers still blows me away. I have spent hours since our wedding just looking back on the photos of them. The morning of my wedding, I ran over to her and gave her the biggest hug.’
Andrea and Michael - It’s just a fact in life that sometimes us humans simply click. We are on the same page and understand just where the other is coming from. Connecting seamlessly with someone’s brief is so rewarding
Andrea had planned her wedding for overseas, the world took a turn and Australia it was to be!! We planned everything via Zoom and Email. Her upbeat, generous personality was reflected in her floral dream. Andrea loved all things soft, abundant, and beautiful so we went to work and created designs to reflect her vision.
Our team created a generous soft Lux bouquet in shades of muted pinks. The Ceremony design was an extension of the beautiful Gabbinbar gardens with a ground installation undulating across the pavilion “I Do” spot. We stayed until after the Ceremony to re-purpose the Ceremony flowers to the front of the U shape Bridal Table. A photo-op worth creating for the bridal party! Guest tables, lit with soft candlelight were layered with generous glass bowls of flowers created by our amazing team We could do it all again within a blink!
Andrea wore the ‘Love in Portofino’ gown from J.Andretta which she accessorised with ivory Gucci heels, pearl drop earrings, cathedral length veil and a pearl and rose gold floral encrusted headband. After only trying a few gowns, and despite the hesitations from her bridesmaids who were worried she had chosen too fast, she knew it was the one:
‘What I loved and still love about the ‘Love in Portofino’ gown is how it is so romantic and classic, yet modern and sexy. The boning in the bodice and the slight sheerness gives it the edge that 2021 brides want but the a-line skirt and long train along with the light-weight Italian tulle was so romantic. I made a couple of tweaks to the dress by having the entire bodice filled in, the straps made thinner and an extra layer of material added to the skirt as the original design was very sheer. It felt incredible on the day and I actually cried a little when I saw myself in it. The way the dress moves with you when you walk or in a light breeze is simply beautiful.’
Andrea's bride tribe consisted of her three best friends Claudia, Kate and Hayely. Choosing their dresses together with Andrea they decided on ivory gowns by Shona Joy, in their preferred style. To complete the look they wore gold strappy heels and gold hooped earrings.
Michael donned a customised tux with peak lapels in his favorite color forest green, made using the highest-grade Australian merino wool. Crafted by Black Jacket Suiting in Bulimba the groomsmen also wore forest green suits, with Michael and Andrea confident the colour scheme would compliment Gabbinbar’s lush garden surroundings.
Being escorted by her father to a live rendition of ‘can’t help falling in love’ and seeing Michael at the end of the aisle was counted as Andrea’s most memorable moment of her wedding day, also for Michael:
‘ My most memorable moment was seeing Andrea walk down the aisle. I will never ever forget seeing her for the first time.’
Choosing to write and perform their own vows the couple also added a creative twist by including their guests in the ceremony - a suggestion from their celebrant and good friend Aaron:
‘We wrote all of our own vows which we both found emotional but rewarding. We also included our wedding guests in our vows. Aaron had all the guests repeat: We….the friends and family of Mike and Andrea...hereby swear...to cut completely loose...for one of the most revered...and legendary...couples in the Southern Hemisphere. We will cheer...we will heckle...we will rock the night away...we will not forget this day.’
A non-negotiable for the couple when planning their wedding was hosting their day at an exclusive use venue. With guests spending the afternoon dining in the garden party sipping champagne on the shaded lawns, Andrea and Michael were able to have their magic captured with portraits taken throughout the estate.
‘ We both wanted an all-in-one venue. The day goes so fast, so we wanted to avoid having to travel or leave to have our photos taken. The bridal party was able to enjoy the garden party with our guests and do all of our photos at the venue.’
Choosing to serve a canape menu of chicken satay skewers w’ coconut and coriander, coconut crumbed prawns w’ tom yum mayonnaise and Arancini with pumpkin, chorizo, spinach, pine nuts, feta and tomato relish they finished the afternoons feastings by offering Gabbinbar’s vintage ice cream cart stocked with burnt fig ice cream, vanilla bean ice cream and raspberry sorbet with waffle cones.
For the reception Andrea wanted to continue her color palette of blush, taupe and white and continue the outdoor feel of ‘light and airy’. The repurposed arbor was placed in front of the bridal table while the wooden-top tables were styled with white sheer cloth table runners, dusty pink linen napkins loosely tied in a knot, floral arrangements, crystal tealight votives and frosted table signs and place-markers.
The evening's formalities included the cutting of the cake, an elegant ivory masterpiece adorned with florals and petals, heartfelt speeches and a display of cascading fireworks which erupted behind the conservatory's french doors and overhead as Andrea and Michael had their first dance to ‘I’ll be.’
Later in the evening and opting for something a little more casual, Andrea changed into an ivory satin button up dress featuring cinched puff sleeves. Following an intimate walk and photoshoot in ‘The Woods’ the couple rejoined their guests and danced late into the night with live music performed by Michael Vos.