A Garden Gala

March 4, 2013 in
Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

Brooke Johnston
Brooke Johnston

Brooke is a country girl at heart living in Sydney, Australia. She loves all things colorful and has a particular obsession with trinkets, clothing, and home wares from decades past.

Ezra Murray and I met 11 years ago at my surprise birthday party. I was turning 17 and he was 20, so he was kind of gate crashing! We hit it off immediately, and endured a year and half of dating long distance before he finally joined me in Sydney. Ten years later he proposed, truly living up to the saying, “You can’t hurry a Murray!”

After the proposal, we were pretty eager to begin planning. I love putting together themes and colors, so I was in my element. Our goal was to combine rustic and retro sensibilities with a garden setting.

Since we knew we wanted to have a garden wedding, we were quick to choose a small town venue just outside where we met in Bangalow, New South Wales. The venue was a country house on a creek with a huge grassy area, so we decided to erect a marquee and have the ceremony near the water. I love Billy buttons and succulents, so we used that as inspiration and chose mint green, yellow and ivory for our color palette.

We made and designed the majority of the decorations ourselves, but left the the dressmaking and tailoring to the experts. I wore a Collette Dinnigan dress inspired by the 1930s, and teamed it with an amazing headpiece made by our friend from Ginny & Jude Designs. She made the headpiece with 1930s veiling, 1940s silk flowers, and some appliqué from my dress, which really finished the look. Ezra wore a grey suit with a tie custom made by Jen, our talented friend from Ingrid & Evan. She also made me custom clutches, which I gave to my bridesmaids. I had to have a party dress to change into (naturally!), so I found a 1950s prom dress perfect for dancing from Garb Oh Vintage.

We held the ceremony under a mulberry tree, and lined the aisle with yellow and white daisies in jars hung on shepherd’s hooks. We decorated the arch with lace, and used a vintage desk as the signing table. I printed the ceremony programs on brown recycled paper and assembled them on a stick, so our guests could use them as fans. I figured – this being Australia – that chances were good it was going to be a hot sunny day. For confetti, we used lavender buds packaged in recycled paper bags decorated with doilies. Immediately after the ceremony, waiters greeted our guests with champagne served in saucers and the music began.

We decorated the reception marquee using more yellow and white flowers and a few handmade touches. The flowers were arranged in jars tied with ribbon and twine and mounted on large tree slices, which gave the room a beautiful smell. We gave every guest homemade jam as a favor, which was great because they also doubled as place cards. The menu cards were custom designed and placed on top of handmade napkins. Ezra made amazing jar chandeliers out of wood, glass jars, and a few bolts. Lighting was really important to us, and we achieved the look we wanted with battery operated tea lights. A friend made the bunting that lined the marquee out of vintage doilies, and we had a vintage suitcase for cards. The final touches were the table numbers, which we arranged on sticks in pots of succulents.

The meal was served family style, so we had the plates already assembled on the tables, along with vintage side plates that my mum happily collected. We had a dessert bar with cakes and tarts set up on a vintage table, decorated with flowers and bunting made by Reedy Hollow Vintage. Our cake was a two-tiered red velvet with white chocolate and meringue icing, decorated with billy buttons and succulents. After dinner, we served tea and coffee in mismatched vintage tea cups. Ezra’s an avid whiskey enthusiast, so he also put together a little whiskey bar for nightcaps using tree slices and a small light box he made.

[Credits: All photographs by Chris Cooney; Bride’s dress: Collette Dinnigan; Reception dress from Garb Oh Vintage; Bride’s hair piece by Ginny & Jude Designs; Groom’s tie and bride’s clutch by Ingrid & Even; Vintage fabric bunting from Reedy Hollow Vintage]