Real Weddings

ON A CRISP CLEAR AUTUMN DAY surrounded by rolling countryside,Andrew took Mel on a horse ride to one of his favourite spots on Millamolong, his family's 10- thousand acre property, near Orange.He went through a mental checklist of the items he'd packed for his picnic at Wallaby Rocks, an outcrop overlooking the glorious Belubula River. Delicious cheeses, pate and strawberries sat snugly inside his well-worn leather saddle bag, alongside a 1996 bottle of Penfolds Grange Hermitage, crystal glasses and the ring. He couldn't wait to ask Mel to be his wife.

Earlier, Andrew's mother had looked on suspiciously as he packed the food and wine, as he had never packed a picnic before in his life! But unaware of Andrew's plans that day, his father James, accosted them, drafting the couple into a sheep muster. For Andrew it felt like an eternity. "Can we move these old girls along a bit faster Dad?" Andrew hollered, a little anxious he might be retracing his steps the next day, to propose to his English rose with soggy Sao's and sloppy strawberries. He needn't have worried. The romantic sojourn went ahead, with Andrew proposing on bended knee at dusk.

The pair couldn't think of a more magical place to exchange their vows. Steeped in history, Millamolong's majestic 1930's homestead overlooks vineyards and a grand garden designed by Edna Walling. It was Andrew's heritage and the couple's future.

As Mel's mother Ruth helped her slip into her gorgeous gown designed by Karen Willis Holmes, the two savoured a few precious moments together, before the day began.

Inside the church perched on a hill, the brightly restored original organ hummed to the strains of Jesus Joy of Man's Desiring. Mel’s face beamed as she walked down the aisle.When it came to saying ‘I do,’ Mel was briefly overcome with emotion. But the Bishop of Bathurst saved the day, reaching into the depths of his tunic, to produce a well-pressed handkerchief. One of the readings the couple chose was written by the Italian Renaissance poet Francesco Petrarca, famous for saying "To say how much you love is to love but little." To keep guests cool in the searing heat, the couple organised for white paper fans to be placed on the church pews.

Tall gum trees bowed and the blue sky shone resplendently as the couple made their way into a marquee on the grounds of the estate.A more classic Australian bush setting couldn't have been possible. Inside, the lighting was perfect as guests tasted delectable wines from the property.They provided the perfect accompaniment to the superb cuisine.Andrew and Mel decided to name each table after places significant to them, including paddocks on Millamolong. Pinnacle Bluff, James' Folly, Brook Hall and of course Wallaby Rocks for the bridal table, were a few of their favourites. Antique furniture inside the marquee lent an air of extravagance, but also made it feel homely.

The cake had come from England, miraculously making its way through Australian customs unscathed.Another magical touch came in the form of a gift of two white doves from Joseph Corkhill, their greatest friend, MC and the person who originally introduced the pair at a polo match.

In a fitting tribute to the love of his Anglo-Australian friends, one dove had a tiny Union Jack around its neck, the other the Australian flag.

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