Katie and Jez
Venue | Little Forest Cottages
Katie and Jez
Venue | Little Forest Cottages
We are photographers and we met on dance floor. We are best friends and business partners. We love our work, we love travel, we love the outdoors, we love music (and dancing), food, friendship and parties.
We organized our entire wedding in 9 weeks. We figured if anyone can do something so crazy, it’s two photographers who know weddings inside out. It was a lot of work, but what resulted was something completely unique and so very ‘us’. We wanted our celebration to be a small and intimate event with only our nearest and dearest (we had 30 adult guests in total) and for it to go for more than one day so we had an opportunity to spend quality time with everyone. Many of our friends and family had to travel to be with us and we wanted it to be worth the effort and to create a stack of beautiful memories for everyone to keep.
Our celebration ran over 2 nights and 2 days. All of our guests stayed with us at the venue in the most beautiful character-filled cottages on a property lined with eucalypts and paperbark trees. There were lots of kids (including our own – Toby, who was 10 at the time). They formed their own little tribe and we barely saw them the whole time, they had such fun hanging out together! Our guests pitched in and helped us set up and prep food. It took a lot of organizing as we wanted to make sure everything was provided and taken care of for the whole stay. We bought/ sourced everything we needed as locally as possible.
We did all our own styling. In the lead up to the event, we foraged for interesting bits of wood, bones and dried flora to decorate the space. We spray painted some of it, and we collected old bottles to put things in. We sourced extra dried flowers and feathers to compliment and we used my collection of lace and tablecloths. The colors were warm, natural and complimented the season (autumn) and our outfits. Everything was nature inspired and our ceremony and reception all took place outside. We DIY’ed a picnic area with palette tables, cushions and blankets. We hired a dance floor and some party games and we had a couple of bell tents – one for the kids and one for the adults.
We really enjoyed getting into some of the details. Our gifts for our guests were small framed stand-alone prints of some photographs we’ve taken on our travels of natural objects that matched our styling. They tied in with our invitations and also the signs that we made for the doors of all the cottages telling everyone who was staying where and what time everything was happening.
Food and drinks are important for us and we wanted to have the control to cater for different dietary needs and also make sure everyone was satisfied (ie, full and drunk). We hired Wandering Woodfire for the main reception food because everyone loves pizza – including fussy kids and vegetarians. They also had salad, sides and homemade ginger beer! We chose not to have a cake as we’re not really cake people (and I don’t eat gluten) but instead incorporated our favorite sweet – ice cream – by hiring a retro ice cream van, who just so happened to also serve drinks!
We bought all our own alcohol, so as to have complete control and also to incorporate special touches, such as wine/sparkling from places that were significant to us, and top shelf whisky at the end of the night. We actually had our guests fill out a fun survey when they RSVP’ed telling us their drinks of choice (less wastage, more happy guests!) and also the tracks most likely to get them on the dance floor so we could really cater to our loved ones! We also put a lot of effort into a set of playlists – our first night party, our wedding day lunch, our ceremony and our reception. It was hours of work, but we love our music and we still play those playlists frequently two years on.
Our choice of photographer was a huge deal and although we saved money in areas of our event that weren’t important to us (or we wanted to do ourselves), photography is something we would never cut corners on. We wanted someone prepared to be with us for the whole thing (Oli literally came into our cottage at 7am and took photos of us in bed together having a coffee together!) and who would capture all the little moments that we knew we’d miss while we were busy with other things. We also wanted someone who would blend with our people and embrace our quirks. Oli’s storytelling ability is beyond words and hiring him was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.
I’ve always been non-traditional, so I wore orange, one of my favorite colors. I had a black fur wrap for later when it was cold and a dried flower crown that incorporated some of my foraged flora and a bird skull that I’d had sitting in my collection of things I love for a few years. Finding my dress was hard work, and I had absolutely no idea what I was looking for until I found it. Jez wore black jeans, a custom made jacket from Will Valor and an amazing pair of blue shoes (his favorite color).
A bunch of us did yoga together on the morning of the wedding (one of my dear friends is an ex yoga teacher). I remember looking up at one point and seeing some of the kids faces peering at us through the window with the dappled light streaming in like fingers and thinking ‘is this real life?’
Both our mothers assembled two huge grazing platters while myself and my dearest girlfriends had our hair and makeup done in one of the cottages. Meanwhile, Jez and other friends helped set up the reception area, and then we all had lunch together in the space before everyone got changed for the main event. Walking into that space at lunchtime surrounded by all my favorite people in the world and looking around at what we’d created gave me full body goosebumps and made me cry! My dear friend of 20+ years serenaded us with his trombone while we walked to meet our guests and then we all walked to the ceremony site together in a crazy procession. It was magic and just so unique! Our ceremony took place in a heritage paperbark forest. It had a special feeling and amazing light. We decorated the location by hanging prints of photos of ourselves that we’ve taken over the course of our relationship from the branches around us. We wrote our own vows and made it super personal.
Jez (with the help of our awesome celebrant) completely surprised me mid-way through our ceremony by producing an engagement ring! He had proposed to me in a river on a camping trip and the ring he gave me at the time was a twisted piece of baby eucalyptus. We didn’t bother with an engagement ring after that, because we had such a short lead time, but the ring he secretly had made for me was absolute perfection and I still can’t believe he kept it from me so skillfully!
My son Toby stood with us during the ceremony. He held our rings, tied around a piece of wood and handed them to us when it was time. He was so overcome with emotion at the end of the ceremony that he burst into tears and it was captured by Oli in what has become our favorite sequence of shots from the day, which starts with Jez grabbing my bum while we had our first kiss. We had ‘open’ speeches at the reception and they were hilarious, heartwarming and beautifully real. Our first dance was choreographed by us to Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ and it was the best fun ever performing for our guests. Our dance floor may have been small, but our playlist was en pointe and we all danced the night away like only our friends can do!