Walking through the estate and gardens together, it wasn't long before Sam and Emilie knew there couldn't be anywhere more spectacular to host family and friends for their wedding day then Gabbinbar Homestead.
'Sam and I visited a few other wedding venues before booking our tour at Gabbinbar. I think, at the time, we both knew we were saving the best for last. Upon arriving at Gabbinbar, we were absolutely in awe as we drove in through the gates and down the magical driveway! We explored the gardens, the different ceremony locations and the stunning homestead. We were totally in love. We knew we had found our dream wedding location. Everything about Gabbinbar completely exceeded our expectations and totally took our breath away.'
Having initially met at the Roma races, they were hesitant at first about the idea of being in a long-distance relationship with Sam living out West and Emilie studying in Brisbane.
'Sam and I continued to keep in touch over the following months. Both being from different cities/towns, we were both a bit reluctant to try the 'long distance' thing! However, after a few months of late-night phone calls, trips to the farm and Sam visiting in Brisbane, we decided 3 hours wasn't really a long distance!'
Fast-forward eight years from their first fateful flutter at the races to Mooloolaba beach, where Sam got down on one knee, offering a surprise proposal after an early morning swim.
'Each morning, we had been waking up early for a quick swim on the beach. On one of these mornings, Sam proposed as we were getting out of the water, in his budgies!! Caught me totally by surprise and was a really special moment with just the two of us on the beach. Sam had worked with Lachlan at Hogan's Jewellers to create my beautiful engagement ring. Many generations of my family have purchased jewellery from Hogan's, so this was a special tradition to follow for us.'
Choosing to host their wedding in Spring to work in with Sam's busy farming schedule, they opted for a stunning late November date:
'Working with the Gabbinbar team and our vendors, we found our date in November, and it worked in just perfectly. I think the special thing about Gabbinbar Homestead and its gardens is that every time of year offers a really unique experience. We loved November, with the gardens filled with an array of different flowers and the gorgeous Jacarandas and Jasmine in full bloom.'
With vibrant florals at the forefront of their styling vision, Emilie chose stunning pops of colour to adorn the reception tables and to create a show-stopping ceremony backdrop:
'Sam and I wanted to be creative with our florals and decor to really express our style and make the day feel like our own! Bec from Poppies for Willow was our florist. Working with Bec was an absolute dream, she made the whole planning process so seamless and also supplied all of our other wedding day styling and decor. I shared with Bec my floral inspiration photos of beautiful vibrant pinks and pastels, and she brought our vision to life even better than we could have imagined! We had lots of guests comment on our flowers from the day. Sam even said the groomsmen were admiring the floral archway while waiting before the ceremony!'
The couple chose to cleverly contrast the bright and striking ceremony and reception styling with crisp white bouquets of Columbian roses for the bridal party. Emilie and Sam also dressed up their garden party beverage experience with fun touches, including custom 'Mr & Mrs Rockliff' coasters.
Emilie's gown, with its structured scoop-neck bodice and fit and flare skirt, was the perfect fusion of romance and elegance. It partnered perfectly with the setting. Her Marseille Veil by Chosen by Kyha seamlessly complemented her gown with pearl embellishments and she incorporated the traditional 'something old, borrowed and blue' by wearing her mother's sapphire ring.
'My dress was the Robbie Gown by Chosen by Kyha. I purchased it from Sphere Bridal at Maroochydore. Beginning to look for a wedding dress was really tricky because I didn't have a set style in mind and was really open to anything. I visited several different boutiques and tried on every possible style of dress, which was lots of fun. Finally, I decided on the Robbie Gown because it was simple, elegant and felt the most like me.'
As with most couples planning a wedding, a highly curated food experience was an essential element for Sam and Emilie when deciding on where to host their wedding.
'The menu that Gabbinbar offers is amazing. We felt very spoilt for choice when deciding on canapés, dinner and dessert. Sam and I also included a supper station of ham rolls, which was definitely a crowd favourite!'
For their garden party menu, they chose a variety of mouthwatering canapes including:
- Chicken satay skewers w' coconut & coriander
- Smoky BBQ pork belly w' smooth parsnip puree & green apple
- Arancini w' pumpkin, chorizo, spinach, pine nuts, feta & tomato relish and
- Angus beef slider w' Swiss cheese, dill pickle, tomato relish & mayonnaise
With the arrival of sunset and the conclusion of golden hour, guests and the wedding party moved inside to be treated to an alternate drop feast of:
- Lamb rack, spiced sweet potato puree, twice-cooked potato & a vegetable bundle w' ruby jus
- Chicken breast, wild mushroom ragout, confit garlic mash, seasonal greens & blistered cherry tomatoes
Closing the formal elements of the reception with the cutting of their exquisite cake, Sam and Emilie took advantage of the late November evening by hosting their first dance in the gardens beneath the soft light of The Pavilion chandeliers.
'Our wedding cake was made by the lovely Katrina Allan, at 'Cake House'. We had a planning meeting with Katrina, and she supplied us with a box of different sample flavours, which we took home and tried with our family. Picking a flavour was tricky as they were all delicious. We decided to go with a Choc Chip Cake, made with couverture cookie dough and vanilla bean buttercream. Katrina then worked with our florist to choose gorgeous blooms to place on our cake.'
Having planned and hosted their 'hard to think of too many other words then perfect' day, Emilie and Sam have the following advice to share with brides and couples who are in the planning stages of their wedding:
Spend the time researching your vendors and really take your time to choose the ones you love. Getting to know our vendors and working closely with them was so important to us, and we were blessed with working with the most outstanding team!
Book vendors early to save any disappointment later on! These days, everyone is booked so far in advance, so it helps to start the planning process early.
Decide as a couple what the three most important elements/visions are for your day, and then try to be flexible with everything else. It helps to alleviate stressing about every single detail.
When planning their wedding and choosing this team of exceptional vendors for their day, Emilie relied heavily upon Gabbinabar’s wedding planners and their ‘little black book’ of recommended vendors:
'Working with the Gabbinbar team was terrific! From the moment we booked our tour, locking in our date and everything in between until the end of our wedding day was just a dream. The Gabbinbar team really are with you every step of the way. They are constantly available on the planning portal for all of our big and small questions. They always had super helpful suggestions and so many great planning tools! The vendor suggestions list was perfect and helped us find and book everything we needed.'
Reminiscing about their day Emilie and Sam both agree that seeing each other at the aisle for the first time was the most memorable moment of their wedding:
'It's as though all the stress leading up to the day just melts away, you see your special person waiting at the other end, and that's all that matters!'
Now living on Sam's family property, they are looking forward to the next stage of their life together and starting a family.