Micaela & Brad married on 17 April 2021 at Seacliff House in Gerringong, NSW Australia. Mic tells us all about the proposal, the planning and the big day itself.
Brad was the nephew of my neighbours’ growing up, who we were very close to. My neighbours bought a holiday van down the coast (actually, right near Gerringong where we were married) when I was about 16 and their older nephew ‘Brad’ became the house sitter for them. So, I guess I was the girl next door! He asked me around to watch a movie, and more than 10 years later… here we are!
We absolutely love to travel - Brad proposed when we were on a 5-week road trip around the US in 2019, starting in Seattle and ending in LA, through Glacier, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Arches, Zion and Bryce national parks. He waited 3 weeks into the trip and the day after my birthday, by which point I was completely off the scent and had spent most of the holiday up until then complaining to him that if he had been organised, ‘this spot would have been perfect for a proposal!’. When he finally did it, we were hiking the Park Avenue walk at Arches national park at the sun rose, with not another soul around - it was magical!
I had seen our venue on Instagram some time earlier, and something about it had always stuck with me. I think it was the combination of beautiful rolling hills and a rural property but right on the coast with ocean views. So, we locked that down pretty quickly, and I sourced all my vendors by stalking past weddings at the venue on Instagram!
As for the dress I had always thought I probably wanted a high neck wedding dress, and something more slimline, but was truly open to anything. I also love anything sparkly (I am a bit like a human magpie) so I did hope that maybe I could find something with sequins or sparkles...
I only visited 3 wedding dress shops where I tried dresses on, and probably tried about 4-5 dresses on at each. Although we had booked our wedding in pre-Covid (November 2019) I didn’t start dress hunting until May 2020. At that stage there were lots of restrictions on bookings and visitor numbers so I was very happy that I found my dress so quickly!
I picked Ronald Joyce’s Druina dress (style 69534) and I purchased it from Briony Leigh Bridal in Miranda NSW. I had chosen about 4 dresses in the store to try on (not the Druina!), and I didn’t hate them, but none of them had me thinking ‘this is it’. When I was done with those 4, the ladies in the store asked if I would try a dress on that they picked, that they thought would suit me. I said yes, and it was the Druina! When I tried it on and walked around the store in it, my Mum teared up, and the back was so completely different to anything I had ever seen - and I loved it! It was the one!
The back was my favourite part of the dress, and to keep it the focus, I wore my hair up so the back could be seen! The only jewellery I wore was a beautiful pair of small earrings from Little White Couture which complemented the beaded neckline perfectly! I also wore a sapphire cocktail ring that belonged to my Great Grandmother - this was my something ‘blue’!
Because of the beautiful back I wasn’t sure about a veil as I didn’t want to cover the back of the dress. However, I ended up wearing my best friend / Matron of Honor’s veil for the ceremony and photos, and I was so glad that I did. It was so special to be able to wear a veil that meant so much (my ‘something borrowed’), and it was so simple that I think it actually complimented the detailed back perfectly!
My shoes were very simple white heels from Bared - they are a podiatrist designed Australian footwear brand which are SUPER comfy. Because the dress was so detailed, I knew I needed something that wouldn’t distract from it. I also DIY-ed a pair of glitter sneakers for later in the night - which got a real workout on the dancefloor!
My favourite part of our wedding is… the fact I don’t have to plan it anymore! Although we had the absolute best day, I can’t say I will miss thinking about it any more... Our venue was ‘DIY’ - everything down to the knives and forks had to be chosen and hired, which really does mean a LOT of decisions. We picked the venue partly because of that. We didn’t want a ‘cookie cutter’ wedding - our favourite weddings we have been to are always the ones where you walk away and think ‘wow, that was SO ‘X’ and ‘X’!’ and we wanted exactly that for our day. If we had to sum up our relationship in one word it would be ‘fun’ - so we didn’t want chandeliers or red carpets or linen chair covers, because none of these things are us! We loved the idea that we could choose everything - but after doing that, I understand it’s not everyone!
When we booked a venue like this, we didn’t anticipate a global pandemic occupying the majority of our ‘planning’ time, leaving us spending most of our ‘relaxed’ and ‘long’ 16-month planning time worrying whether we would even be allowed to have a wedding! We also didn’t anticipate buying a (very old, badly in need of renovation) house 5 months before our wedding - this was not at all part of our ‘2020’ plan but working from home almost full time and no overseas travel for the foreseeable future meant a change of plans. I definitely do not recommend selling a property, buying a property, moving between those properties, trying to renovate the new property to be semi-livable - all while working full time! - a few months out from your wedding...
In terms of budget, my advice would be to know early on what your budget is. Things add up extremely quickly and you don’t want to be caught off guard!
If you have to skimp on things, do not skimp on your photographer! You spend so much of your day with your photographer, and they really are the things you keep forever. The day goes in such a blur (everyone told me this, but I can’t emphasise how true this is!) and our photos feel like a way to relive it over and over again.
I chose our vendors based on a couple of things, and although price was important, it was not always decisive. I think you truly get what you pay for so it’s always worth doing your research. Tagged photos on Instagram were a huge help to me - these were authentic and far more insightful than something like an anonymous review on a website with no photos.
And doing your research also means you can save on some things! For example, we found it was cheaper to buy (!) than rent some things, like water glasses and jugs. I was not only able to save on hire prices, but also could sell them after the wedding!
The best bit of our wedding was definitely the dance floor. Off the back of Covid, we had our wedding on one of the first weekends in our state where you could have an unrestricted dance floor, and we could also have interstate visitors. This meant our dance floor was FULL of more than a years’ worth of pent-up dance moves, shared with absolutely everyone we love!
A close second was definitely sneaking off to get photos with my ‘husband’, just us and our photographer / videographer. Having a moment to ourselves amongst the craziness of the day was an unexpected highlight of the day.
The funniest moment was actually before the formalities…. I started my wedding day by sharing a tea outside on the balcony with my beautiful best friend and bridesmaid Geneva, admiring the view and talking about the day ahead. As the sun rose, it was misty and peaceful. Suddenly, a bird flew at full speed into the glass pool fence nearby. We both stared in shock as it fell to the pavement on it’s back, lifeless. I let out a ‘oh’... and then said ‘Geneva, it’s a sign. If the bird is dead I am not meant to marry Brad.’ Geneva promptly said ‘hold my tea’ and went to the pool area, where she inspected the bird and with her bare hands turned it upright. It sat lifeless for a while until suddenly, it’s wings moved and there was life! We both cheered and then couldn’t stop laughing. Wedding day saved!
Another funny moment… our venue had two beautiful big houses on the property, right near where our ceremony location was, so I got ready with my bridesmaids and family in one house and Brad got ready with his groomsmen and family in the other. The house we were in had a sit-down Atari-style arcade game machine in it (very cool!). As we were about to walk outside to line up for the ceremony and aisle walk, my dad glanced at the arcade machine, then at me, and said ‘come on, we have time for one game!’ - so we went and had a quick round of space invaders before we walked down the aisle. I think I lost, but I don’t really remember - but I will look back at that memory for the rest of my life and laugh about it! (There’s a message in there I think - there is always time for a bit of fun!).
One last tip…I had a bustle added to the Druina and promptly broke it about an hour into the wedding when I sat down on the bus transporting us back from getting photos together on the beach to the reception. Ladies, do not sit down with your dress bustled!
Photographer: Katherine Wilson