Narissa & Steve

Narissa & Steve

As a marriage celebrant I have been so lucky to be able to marry some of my very dear friends and family. I met Narissa over 10 years ago when we participated in a year long leadership course. We clicked pretty instantaneously, and although we don't see each other as much as we'd like, we know we can message each other whenever we want! Today is the one year anniversary of Narissa's wedding to Steve at Hillstone St Lucia and so I share her tips for ensuring your wedding day is amazing.

"Being a perfectionist and a compulsive planner in everything I do, it was a surprise when the wedding rings were left behind and I was the one to say “I do” before I was meant to! (Luckily, Fiona from Coastal Weddings had my back and smoothed it over with a good laugh). With all the spreadsheets, run sheets, colour palettes, here are my top five tips for planning a wedding that sings love:

1. Spend money on whatʼs important to you: This was some of the best advice given to me by a friend. Decide on the must haves you want as a couple and budget around these. For us having a really good photographer was important and a venue where the food was great. We were happy to spend less on other things and direct our money more to the important things that we wanted.

2. Recycle & Revamp: Everything as far as decorations went, they were secondhand or purchased cheap and revamped. At the beginning of my planning I put a lot of pressure on myself on having the best table decorations and bonbonnieres. I kept getting drawn into all these beautiful candles and gift sites that you see at expos. I found table napkins and bonbonnieres second-hand. Instead of purchasing extra flowers we just use our bouquets to decorate the bridal table. In the end I decided table decorations and bonbonnieres were not going to make or break our wedding day so I kept it simple and gave myself a budget of $200.

3. Build relationships: Your suppliers will ultimately reflect you as a couple. So, trust your gut with this. Do what you need to do. For me having trials, conversations and meeting with suppliers was the best way for me to know what was going to work. Some suppliers I didnʼt gel with and others things just fell into place straight away. Some choices are no-brainers. For us choosing our wedding celebrant (Fiona from Coastal Weddings) was our quickest decision. We wanted someone we could both ultimately feel comfortable with, got us as a couple, was quirky but fun and who was going to invest in us as a couple. Everything fell into place with Fiona and we never question our decision.

4. Being open to change: This was so important which allowed for things to happen and change easier. In the beginning I was set on certain colours and a particular look and feel for our wedding. However as things started to come together I quickly realised that I needed to adapt in order for everything to come together as well as it did. This meant completely changing my theme and colours three months out from the wedding. Because I had tried to keep the colours quite neutral by picking “gold” as my dominant colour I could then match anything really to this.

5. Donʼt sweat the small stuff: Everyone is going to have an opinion on whatever you do for the wedding whether it is the guest list, seating plan, venue choice, date etc. Remain true to what is important to you and your partner and what you both want for the day. When I would get stressed with the planning, the budget, suppliers, changes, Steve would always say to me “It doesnʼt matter what happens, as long as you are there on the day”. Now, isnʼt that what itʼs all about? Your love for one another. And, he was right. The seating plans, flowers and wood arrows that I was lying awake thinking about at 2 oʼclock in the morning didnʼt matter on the day when we were both standing there in front of each other."

I couldn't say it better myself - I totally agree with Narissa's top 5! Here's Narissa & Steve's wedding team:

Photographer: Ian Wilkinson 

Ceremony & Reception: Hillstone St Lucia

Flowers: Mrs Gibbons Flowers

Entertainment: Ebony Reid Musician

Dress: Virginia Carr

Suits: Roger David

Rings: McLean & Co Jewellers (formerly Underwoods Fine Jewellers)

Hair: A1 Hair Landsborough

Makeup: Blissful Makeup

Cake: Seventeen Cakes

Cars: Family's Cortina and Limo

Megan + Donald

Megan + Donald

One of my gorgeous couples from 2017 recently celebrated their one year anniversary! So in a fitting way to help them celebrate, let's re-live their wedding and fall in love with them through their story!

The love story between Megan and Donald started when they worked together at a solar company in Brisbane. Both were in relationships at the time, so they became friends but lost touch when they both left the company. Donald travelled north for work, and a few years later reconnected with Megan on Facebook. It was now that their timing was right.

They clicked (literally) and soon started dating – and not just dating, but maintaining a long-distance relationship for two years. This was the first test of strength, honesty and trust for Megan and Donald, and, where many have failed, these two succeeded.

Donald eventually moved back to Brisbane, and they tested the next stage of their relationship – moving in together. Once again, they succeeded, so they decided to test the ultimate faith in their relationship – buying a house to renovate.  Thankfully Megan had already accepted Donald’s proposal by this stage and now, with their renovations almost complete, they look forward to moving onto the next phase of their lives.

Megan and Donald celebrated their ceremony and reception at the Noosa Waterfront Restaurant & Bar surrounded by 100 of their closest family and friends. With afternoon thunderstorms predicted, plans A to D were put in place for the ceremony. Thankfully the weather held out and the ceremony went ahead as originally planned.

 It was really important to the couple to have a laid back wedding day with their friends and family and they achieved this by carefully choosing their suppliers. After meeting a number of celebrants, they chose Fiona Duce from Coastal Weddings who worked closely with the couple to create a fun ceremony, with a focus on their love story. Photographer, Amy Hinks kept the day light and fun and captured great natural shots and wedding stylist Annie from First Class Functions kept Megan’s stress to a minimum by carefully planning the final touches for the day.

Megan cut down costs by putting her DIY skills to work, making wedding favours with help from friends and family – homemade jams and chutneys in small jars decorated with kraft labels and jute. She also made the invitations, menus, wedding programs and advice cards, and had the wedding cake made by one of her close friends.  “By making a lot of the smaller items myself we saved a lot of money which meant we could put more towards the things that were important to us, like inviting more guests, my dream dress and a bar tab that lasted the whole night!”

“Having an engagement shoot is also something I highly recommend. Amy Hinks Photography offered this as part of our package and by having a practice run we got all the awkward shots out of the way before the wedding day and it gave us a chance to get to know our photographer. On the day Donald was much more relaxed getting his photo taken, some would even say he was a bit of a pro!”

The couple said the best part of their wedding was spending time with their closest friends and family. Megan said, “We both had an amazing day and got to catch up with friends and family that we don’t get to see too often.

“It was a very humid day and it got very hot inside the restaurant as the meals were served, with more than 100 guests inside. Luckily, we had seating areas set up by First Class Functions on the lawn outside the restaurant overlooking the water. They set up lounges and tables and chairs for guests to spread out after dinner, which helped everyone cool off and created an interactive and fun environment.

“One of the most special parts of the day was having two members of my bridal party travel from overseas, my sister who travelled from Canada and one of my best friends who came over from Singapore. Having them there by my side made the whole day so much fun. Our entire bridal party was absolutely amazing and we had a whole heap of fun during the photoshoot along the Noosa River, sipping on champagne and catching up.”

Ceremony & reception: Noosa Waterfront Restaurant & Bar

Celebrant: Fiona Duce – Coastal Weddings

Photographer: Amy Hinks Photography

Dress: Anne Bertossi, Paddington Weddings

Suit: Rhodes & Beckett, Myer

Bridesmaid dresses: Two Birds

Groomsmen suits: Rhodes & Beckett, Myer

Makeup: Pru Edwards Makeup

Hair: Kirra Calleja – Calleja Artistry

Styling: First Class Functions

DIY: handmade invitations, menus, programs and wedding favours

Honeymoon: Hawaii

Budget: $35,000

Styled shoot - Hinterland Elopement

Styled shoot - Hinterland Elopement

Ever since I was involved in an amazing photoshoot at Gabbinbar Homestead mid 2017, I've been so eager to be involved in a styled shoot in my neck of the woods on the Sunshine Coast. What better way to celebrate the passing of the new marriage legislation by pulling together some amazing Sunshine Coast vendors and heading to the hinterland with a gorgeous couple for a photoshoot. 

You may recognise this couple - they've been in the Sunshine Coast Daily on several occasions (you can see them here and here). They've been such strong advocates for marriage equality. You can see the passion in their eyes with each other, and the pleasure knowing that they can now legally marry within their own country.

We started out at the beautiful Annabella Chapel (Ilkley) before moving onto the most photographed location on the Sunshine Coast - One Tree Hill, Maleny. One Tree Hill is a privately owned working cattle farm that wedding parties and photographers can gain access to by booking and paying a donation to the Woods Family. Margaret Woods and her family have donated $40,000 to charity over the time that they've welcomed people onto their property. It is with great sadness that Margaret passed away during December, however her legacy lives on through her family and the community of Maleny.

Shoot dream team:

Photographer – Ink & Ivory Photography

Videographer – Jensen & Young

Florist – The Posy Co.

Makeup – Level Eleven Makeup

Couple dressed by – Suits Direct

Jewellery – McLean & Co Jewellers

Ceremony venue – Annabella Chapel

Picnic Styling – Deep Love Picnics

Couple - Sandy Wert & Christopher Symanski

Styled shoot - Gabbinbar Homestead, Toowoomba

Styled shoot - Gabbinbar Homestead, Toowoomba

I knew I was in love when I saw the first photos of Gabbinbar Homestead’s newest ceremony site ‘The Woods’. I am an absolute sucker for historic buildings and Gabbinbar is no exception.

Gabbinbar Homestead is a privately managed estate, located in the heart of Toowoomba. This heritage listed property was built in 1876 for Reverend William Lambie Nelson who was instrumental in setting up a Presbyterian Church in Toowoomba, having previously served in Ipswich. He also owned pastoral properties and purchased the 100 acres on which Gabbinbar was located after passing through the area in the early 1860s. After his passing, his son Sir Hugh Nelson, former Premier of Queensland, took over the property. Rich in history and architectural significance, the homestead also hosted Lord Chelmsford, Governor of Queensland, as a summer resort between 1906-1909.

Painstakingly restored from 2007, the venue began hosting weddings from 2012. The property is quite unique – offering several locations for ceremony sites and numerous photo opportunities, all without having to leave the estate or walk massive distances.

So when I was contacted by Casey Mayne of Botanic & Bloom, and Nikki Navie of Ink & Ivory Photography to be involved in their photoshoot at Gabbinbar (including The Woods site), I jumped at the opportunity to work with such a talented team.

Sit back and enjoy the gloriousness of this amazing team and the gorgeousness that is Gabbinbar Homestead.

Credit list:

Florist: Botanic and Bloom 
Photography: Ink and Ivory Photography
Venue: Gabbinbar Homestead
Female Model: Tayla Dean
Male Model: Luke Manning
HMUA: Danielle Matthews Makeup Artist
Decor & styling: Secret Wedding Events
Hairpieces & clutches: Simona Bridal
Gowns: Casar Elegance Bridal
Jewellery: To Hold & To Have
Celebrant: Coastal Weddings
Desserts: One Last Bite Desserts
Stationery: Petal and Paper Stationery


Marriage Equality

Yesterday I was interviewed by the Sunshine Coast Daily - our local newspaper - about the current hot topic of same sex marriage.

Why is it a hot topic? Well, because it isn't legal in our country. Our beautiful country where we have so many rights, privileges and amazing lifestyle. We are forward thinking and innovative in so many ways. 

Yet, two people of the same sex do not have the ability to legally marry.

A strong majority of my gorgeous couples declare their support of marriage equality within their ceremony. I do not force my opinion upon anyone - I let them know it's an option, and they choose to include it if they wish. The beautiful couple in this picture were strong advocates of including this statement - and in particular, as a wonderful surprise for the bride's brother and 'man of honour'.

I know that many of the suppliers within the Sunshine Coast wedding industry share my sentiments and I look forward to the day that I no longer need to state that marriage in accordance with legislation in Australia is only between a man and a woman.

Check out the article here.

My top 5 tips for surviving a wedding expo

My top 5 tips for surviving a wedding expo

Let's face it, bridal expos can be hard work. They can be confronting, sometimes dangerous even! Today I share with you some tips for getting what you need and making sure you don't come away injured (or hangry!). These tips couldn't come at a better time - the It's My Wedding bridal expo is on Sunday 6th November! Plus, one entrant at the show will win a whopping $5000 to spend with the vendors for their wedding day - yup, I'm speechless too...

Be prepared....

Go with a plan of what vendors you're looking for and your budget. Those vendors you've had your eye on will most likely have specials or additions that you’ll be able to snap up.

Ask lots of questions....

If you're at the 'just looking around' phase this is the perfect opportunity to ask all those questions that you've been wanting to since you started planning. 

If you're at the 'I'm going to book today' phase, ask the questions to make sure this is the right vendor for you. You're investing a great deal of money and want to get the perfect fit for your day.

Take your partner....

Now this may depend on what stage of planning you're at, but if you're looking at your big ticket items (venue, photographer, celebrant), you'll want your partner's involvement. Then, cull any vendors that will only speak to you. It is a special day for you both and you want to make sure that your partner isn't overlooked with their needs on the day too. If it's dresses, makeup/hair and flowers you're after, bring the bride tribe as well, and your fiance can chill in the man zone (yes, seriously!).

Don't go hangry....

If you're anything like me, hangry = bad and quick decisions. Luckily the It's My Wedding expo is held at Maroochy RSL where there are plenty of options available for before, after or during the expo. Or why not enjoy a delicious brunch at Cotton Tree before you head in. Just remember leave room for any cake samples!

Take advantage of quiet times....

Lots of people go in the morning to the expo and will stay for the fashion parade, then wander a bit more then leave. Avoid the rush and head to the expo after lunch. This is a great time to visit vendors if you're not keen on the parade. Or if you're there when the parade is on, go around to vendors during that time. You won't have to fight stands with brides five deep. 



Top 5 Tips - Natalie Hunter Makeup Artist

Top 5 Tips - Natalie Hunter Makeup Artist

When I started out as a marriage celebrant, it didn't take me long to realise I was lacking skills in applying makeup for wedding photography. So I enlisted the skills of talented Sunshine Coast makeup artist Natalie Hunter to give me some timeless tips (particularly to give this chubby faced kid some cheekbones!). 

Nat joins me on the blog today to share her top 5 tips to make sure your makeup is on point for your day. Nat is hot property - if you want her for your wedding, book ASAP, and I can guarantee you won't be disappointed.

x Fi

1.       Start a skin care regime. Sounds like a no brainer, but begin as soon as you can. Find products that suit your skin, maybe even go and try some at your local beautician or organic food store before you buy them. I love the natural products. If you go to your local organic store, they have some beautiful natural products to try that don’t have any harsh nasties in them to aggravate your skin

2.       Always have a trial and wear white or cream along so you can see how the makeup looks with the plain colour. Generally you will need a little extra colour in your cheeks than you would normally, so you don’t look washed out and wearing the white/cream really helps show this. Always work with your makeup artist, take pictures of makeup you like to the trial, but also be aware that your face and eye shape may be different to the ones in the pictures, so little adjustments and suggestions from your makeup artist is the key.

3.       Keep your makeup classic and timeless, in other words, do not follow makeup trends. If you keep your makeup timeless and in colour scheme to your wedding, you won’t have any regrets in years to come looking back at your photos.

4.       You always want to look like yourself. If you are not usually a makeup wearer, always keep your look natural and soft.  If you are a lady that loves eyeliner, brows and lippy, then definitely wear it all on the day as well. Your groom won’t recognise you if you steer too far away from your usual look.

5.       Last and MOST importantly………ALWAYS……..ALWAYS…. have a touch up kit. No matter how long lasting or waterproof your makeup is, your makeup will always wear. Especially on a day loaded with tears, hugs and kisses!! Your touch up kit should contain blotting papers an SPF free powder compact, concealer and of course lipstick or lip gloss to touch up your pout.

Our 'love' story and the proposal

Our 'love' story and the proposal

Welcome to my first blog post on my new website! I hope you've taken the time to look around and get to know me. My blog posts will be a combination of tips from vendors and couples, real life weddings and stories about me, so you can get to know me better.

There is no better story that I love hearing from couples than the proposal. So, I thought it would be fitting to share our proposal with you for my first blog post!

My husband Ritchie and I were taking our first holiday together about 18 months into our relationship, and this was a big one - going to Melbourne, spending time with extended family with the highlight of the trip going to the MotoGP at Phillip Island. 

It was really a great holiday - eating, drinking, dancing, laughing, meeting new relatives, meeting old relatives, seeing sights, loving life and loving life being together.

So when a cousin recommended taking a trip to Rialto Tower and seeing Melbourne from the top we thought it was a brilliant idea. Strolling along the observation deck, enjoying the sights, I jokingly mention to Ritchie 'If you'd been romantic, you could've proposed here', and I was hit with a look of bewilderment. Little did I know I just stole his idea!

We go out to the balcony to check out the last light over the city with the lights coming on. When I suggested going back inside, Ritchie wanted to stay out a bit longer. Now I'm starting to think this situation is weird, until the balcony becomes clear of other people, and Ritchie drops to one knee. Those who know Ritchie will understand when I say he's a practical joker so when I see him on bended knee, my automatic response was naturally 'Get up you stupid idiot!!!' - in a nice, loving way of course! 

I have no idea what Ritchie said to me that night on the balcony. I'm sure it was words of love and promises to spend our lives together, but eventually I did say yes and blubbered like a fool, ruining my makeup in the process. There was no ring, there was no asking my parents for permission, it was just us, and the brilliant lights of Melbourne. And it was perfect.

Had I known two days later I'd be sitting the pouring cold rain with the winds of Antarctica blowing into Phillip Island while watching the MotoGP I may have reconsidered my answer. 

Enjoy some of our engagement photos by Leslie Downie Photography and our loved up cuteness....

x Fi

PS For those interested, Valentino Rossi dramatically won the race despite a 10 second penalty.