Real wedding story Sarah and Sasha get married

After an unexpected proposal during a Cambodian holiday, laidback couple Sarah and Sasha set about planning an entirely unique wedding day, loosely following a theme of 'rustic romantic'.

The plan was to inject plenty of their personality into the day, and to give it a 'homey' vibe, with the bride and groom both firm believers that weddings should be extremely personal - not pre-packaged and formulaic and it turns out they were right.

Outdoor wedding ceremony NSW Hawkesbury River

Sarah and Sasha married in an outdoor ceremony on a spectacular sunny day in March in a quaint gazebo alongside the Hawkesbury River at Wisemans Ferry, in New South Wales, with their reception held in a garden marquee at the Australis Retreat.

Having the ceremony and celebrations in the same location was high on the couple's wish list and the reception venue ticked all their boxes from the first time they visited - particularly when it came to fitting in with the relaxed and informal mood they were hoping to create. They were also keen to avoid venues which enforced too many restrictions about noise - and considering their guests partied poolside late into the night they couldn't have chosen better.

In fact, most of the couple's guests stayed at the venue overnight to make a weekend of it. The night before the wedding, Sarah bunked down at the retreat with her bridesmaids - indulging in some late-night last minute gluing of wedding booklets and flower arranging, with the girls making their own bouquets from blooms sourced at the local flower markets.

Sasha stayed in town on the eve of the wedding so that the couple wouldn't see each other before the ceremony in a lovely tradition which almost went awry when Sarah had to hide behind a tree while her Mum diverted Sasha to ensure their paths didn't cross before the big event.

As for the all-important dress, Sarah was never going to be one for a frilly over-the-top princess style. In fact, she knew exactly what she was after the first day she went shopping with two of her bridesmaids - an A-line strapless number - and she found it in just three hours.

Her gown featured delicate silk embroidery along the hem, and she topped it off with a handmade silk and pearl floral headpiece with a beautiful birdcage veil.

The groom was equally dapper in a grey suit, with the colour chosen to reflect the light and romantic look the couple were after, and the groomsmen - Sasha's younger brother and several school mates - were dressed to match.

Sarah kept things close knit with her bridesmaids, who were more like sisters than close friends. They looked stunning standing by her side in feminine sage dresses which were chosen to suit the skin tones of a redhead, a blonde and a couple of brunettes.

Unique wedding guest book ideas

In a nod to the traditional, Sarah chose to incorporate something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue. Sadly, Sarah's grandmother died a few days after she announced her engagement, so it was incredibly important for her to have something belonging to her grandmother close by on the day. For this, Sarah chose burgundy rosary beads gifted by her grandmother when she was a child, and she used them creatively - wrapping them around her bouquet.

The couple's originality translated into the ceremony in the form of a wooden box containing a bottle of shiraz and letters the couple wrote to each other about the wedding day. Both bride and groom hammered a nail into the box to seal it so they won't be tempted to take a sneak peek at the letters before they're meant to be read on a future wedding anniversary.

Another unique aspect of the ceremony was a Celtic hand-fasting ritual which is, in fact, the original version of 'tying the knot' and in Sasha and Sarah's case, proved the ideal way to involve their mothers in the ceremony.

Handfasting wedding ceremony

Sarah's Mum placed a green ribbon, symbolising health, prosperity, luck, beauty and fertility, around the couple's clasped hands, while Sasha's Mum tied on a white ribbon representing peace, sincerity and devotion. Once the knots were tied, the bride and groom removed their hands without disturbing the knots - which they'll keep as a symbol of their union.

After the ceremony was over, the wedding party had a hilarious time during a golf cart photo shoot, which saw them careering around the golf course in their formal gear. This proved only slightly hazardous when one of the groomsmen took a tumble off the buggy

Marquee weddings

To decorate the reception marquee, Sarah chose to replicate the venue's natural environment with natural-themed table decor- from jars family collected filled with river sand and candles to scattered balls made from dried vines and river stones with handpainted names used as personalised place markers.

Reflecting Sarah's love of working with paper and sashas love of birds home-made paper bird decorations were strung up alongside colour coordinated bunting the bride made from scrap material.

Paper decor created a homemade feel to Sarah's wedding

Dinner was served DIY style, with a buffet covering all dietary requirements, while an old-fashioned lolly table boasting jars of bullseyes, sherbet bombs and old favourites catered to Sasha's sweet tooth, and everyone else's. It was so popular the wedding guests completely cleared it within the hour.

As for the wedding cake, well that's a story in itself. Since the croquembouche had collapsed the night before - causing much angst among family and friends who kept the mishap a secret from the blissfully ignorant bride - a fake cake was displayed during the reception until the last minute, when the real deal was wheeled out after being carefully reconstructed by the resident chef at Wisemans in time to be cut.

Looking back on their wedding day, Sarah and Sasha are most proud of the fact they managed to put so much of themselves into the day, without having to purchase too much 'off the rack'. They hope their guests will remember their wedding as a stand out for its originality. We've no doubt they will.

Unique Wedding Idea

Sarah and Sasha found a way of putting their own spin on their rings - white gold bands that are perfectly plain on the outside, but with the inside rim revealing the other's engraved fingerprints.

Wedding Photography by Mackintosh Photography

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