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ella james mainElla and James's Donnybrook Oak Tree Wedding

Date: 12th January 2014
Wedding Photographer: Andrew Burns - Imajica Photography
Wedding Ceremony: Family property in Balingup WA 


Interview with the Bride

From the look of your wedding photos it looks as though you had a lot of family involvement?
Yes, weddings are about bringing families together and we are both country farm kids originally why pay someone to do something we can do ourselves. I also injured my back a few months prior to our wedding and lost my career as a nurse so I had a lot of time to arrange it all myself. My amazing mum Jeni made our wedding cake and I just helped ice it and pick out all the little bits and pieces and set it up, when we lived on the farm she used to make wedding cakes all around the Southern Wheatbelt area around Albany where I grew up. She even altered my wedding dress the day before the wedding. And my Father in-law Trevor and a workmen actually made the temporary bridge we used to walk over the river to the oak tree, I believe he put his back out taking it down! My mother in-law Sue was invaluable in the knowledge of the property and helping us pick the cleaning on the property so we could have the perfect day, it was just amazing.
And all the decorations and the set up at our home for the reception was done by me, I made all the decorations and table centre pieces myself, hung the lanterns, worked out where everything was going, with help from James and Steve as they moved the heavy bits.

How much time did you give yourself to plan your wedding day?
Originally the wedding was suppose to be October 11 2014, but I have some fertility issues and we decided to move the wedding forward as neither of us wanted to have kids till we were married, and we decided why wait, why not just get on with our life together. So I rang everyone and was lucky to be able to move all our hires and photographer and make artists etc forward a year! I ended up with 4 months to organise everything including a dress!

What did James organise?
James works away up north 4 weeks at a time and he flew in the day before the wedding, so he helped with the rings and suits and and he set up all the decorations at the wedding site how I wanted on the morning of the wedding in the rain with his dad and best man Atu. Plus moved all the heavy stuff at our home around for me where we had the reception. Our house is also less than 6 months old so we rushed making it established, he bricked all the garden beds and we laid all the lawn and I planted the garden just in time for all my bulbs to flower on our wedding day. He is an amazing man and very hard working.. It would have still looked like a building zone otherwise!

Why did you marry in Donnybrook?
We'll James parents have 20 acres in Balingup with English gardens, oak trees and a river which his uncle who is a master stone mason in the UK. Last time he was out in Australia he made stone bridges and a water fall. Its just beautiful out on their property, and the oak tree is sure and steady and long lasting just how we want out relationship to be...we're each others oaks, not rocks and our home is in Donnybrook, we've both always loved Donnybrook even before we were together and we intend to always stay in the area.

What was your wedding day style?
Relaxed was the theme, to relax and have fun. All the rest didn't matter... ultimately I ended up everything being a bit country vintage with a twist of pearls! Our own unique style was us...a little romantic, a little rock n roll, a little English, a little country.

What was the relationship between yourself and James bride party to have these people apart of your day?
James's grooms men well Hayden is James brother in-law and Steve is his brother and Atu is James best mate they work at the same company though not together and he's definitely part of the family. My Bridesmaids were Emma who has been one of my best friends for about 6 years now, Stefany is the baby at only 17 on our wedding day. Stefany has lived with us for about 3 yrs and is like our little sister. Shantel how do I explain Shantel, I was married once before when I was a lot younger to Shantels brother sadly that did not work out as we had hoped. But Shantel and I although we are not sister in-laws anymore are now closer than ever, she is my sister in every way but blood we have been there for each other through hell and back and we always will be.

What gifts did you get for your bridesmaids & groomsmen?
I went a little nutty, I made up little gift bags for all the girls to suit there tastes.  A silk dressing gown, a designer compact mirror la muetra designs on them and an ivory lace parasol and a set of pearl earring all the earnings were slightly different.
And the guys we received embossed Beer Steins.

The most important part of your wedding day?
Most people would say the getting married bit and yes of course that was important but we already considered ourselves married, we lived like a married couple we acted like a married couple before that day, this was just making it formal. The most important part was sharing our joy with our family and close friends to be relaxed and enjoy ourselves.

What parts did you make for your wedding day?
I made the jar and lace candle holders, all the table centre pieces including the silk flower arrangements and potpourri. I also made the whiteboard for the table seating.

How many guests did you have at your wedding?
The original guest list was 110 people but managed to get it down to 40 when I posted the invites and 35 attended.

Children were invited to your wedding why and how did you entertain them?
Its a bit hard to expect people who don't live in the area and are traveling to the event to leave there kids for a few days with a babysitter and plus its can be very hard to arrange. So we had some kids at the wedding. I turned one of our spare bedrooms into a creche, with little picnic tables and fun party plates and cups set up movies and asked the parents to bring a few toys each for their kids, everyone with kids left the reception really early which in a small wedding you really notice, but again understandable.

When did you start looking for your wedding dress?
Because I injured my back I spent two weeks not being able to walk, I ended up having to get around on hands and knees. When I was able to walk I was to sore to do much, so I actually ended up gaining about 15kg in the 3 months leading up to the wedding, I ordered my dress 20 days before the wedding and go it 4 days before the wedding custom made to my size. My original dress I could no longer fit into.

What was it about your wedding dress you liked the most?
I'm not sure really, I grew up on a farm and being a bigger girl Ive tended to stick to jeans and shirts, soft romantic looks tend to make me look bigger. I wanted to be girly, I mean you would never catch me in anything with lace or layers and layers of tulle any other time.. I just saw the dress and knew it was the one for me. You don't need to buy the most expensive designer dress to look or feel amazing.

What happened to one of the grooms man's pants I saw a photo of them being too short was this a joke?
Um no not a joke! Basically the groomsmen live all over WA and work completely different shifts and places so was a mission to get everything organised. I basically got everyone's measurements and took them into the store. So none of the groomsmen had tried on their suits until the day of the wedding! Steve, James brother ended up with 3/4 pants and ended up wearing a pair of his mothers pants all day! No drama but definitely a lot of laughs!

What were the flowers in your bouquet?
Ha, ha, ha some people are going to think I'm nuts here. I didn't choose any of the flowers in the bouquets. I left them to my florist's creative intuition, I went in and talked to them gave them my colours and they did it. Florists are trained professionals not me (though I'm now studying floristry as a result) who better to design something beautiful than them. There were dark pink and white/cream peonies, baby pink snap dragons, champagne and cream roses and little yellow unopened tulips. It was gorgeous!

Details about your ceremony, what was special about the big tree?
The tree is just amazing its old and stood the test of time. Part of our vows were 'May these oak seeds grow like your love, strong and true and enduring through long periods of sunshine and the occasional storm.' and we actually collected some oak seeds as part or the ceremony and held them in our hands together as we said our vows. The seeds are now in a pot germinating ready for the day we can plant them.

Did you say traditional vows to one another or write your own?
We wrote our own vows... or I should say I wrote traditional vows and then James approved them. They were based on traditional vows but changed around for us.

What did your guests do after your ceremony while you and your wedding party went for wedding photos?
We'll we had quite a few photos with the guests. And then I know some went back to our house to start drinking, some went to drop kids off with babysitters and some waited around for us to finish the photos.

Why did you choose particular wedding venue?
Its James family home and its gorgeous, we wanted it country and low key and we also had a budget. Its also unique no one else has ever has a wedding there!

How did you decorate your wedding venue?
At the ceremony I had tulle with little silk flower arrangements I made wrapped around trees leading a path from the car parking area down to the ceremony. We left it as natural as possible. At the house I set up round tables with white table clothes with lace overlays, glass vases filled with cream and pink potpourri roses and lavender on the bottom, a candle in the middle of each centre pieces. The vases were on circle foam bases that I had wrapped in cream ribbon and arranged silk roses around. I made a white board and painted it and had the seating written on it. There were lanterns hanging all over the front porch and out the back had set up a bar with a garden bed as a ice bucket. Wine barrels, sofas, my handmade candle holders lit and heaters all around. Was just a lovely close intimate evening. I also had a vase of long stemmed champagne roses at the entrance on our antique sewing machine and weight scales full of potpourri, there was also some small and large flower arrangements in glass vases around that matched the bouquets. We also shined and left all our antique swords and weapons and hurricane candle holders on the walls.

What happened at your reception? Toasts? Dancing? Any funny or meaningful stories you'd like to share?
A lot of drinking, and talking and laughing. Us younger ones got into the dancing and playing with the fans... I have a lot of photo bombed photos by fans. The boys got there hair dressed in ribbons. It was great. We did have some speeches and gifts to give out to the groomsmen and our parents our mums received pearl bracelets and the dads got bottles of scotch from Isle Skye. I think the best bit of the reception was Shantel's partner Dave couldn't make it to the ceremony due to work, but he got off work and he drove down but half way down (a 3 hour drive) and his car broke down, he had to wait and get a tow home fix his car and then he drove down again. It was so amazing and special that he was there as we all love him and wouldn't have been the same for any of us without him!

Do you have any advice for other brides planning their wedding?
Relax, the most important part is your both there and your having fun, I split pink champagne down my dress before the photos were finished, and the groomsman pants that didn't fit and the possibility I wouldn't be walking down the aisle at all.. what does it all matter at the end of the day getting upset is just going to ruin it... so breathe and relax. Its suppose to be fun not stressful. Oh and definitely book to go on your honeymoon the day after the wedding we did an around the world trip for 6 weeks and was the best end to the most perfect day.

I would like to thank....
My mum Jeni, in-laws Sue and Trevor... James for putting up with me! Vanessa and staff at Salon De coiffure, Lani and Caitlin at Envy and all the staff at Bunbury Flower Place.

Did you use Coast to Country Weddings to help plan your day?
Strangely enough I did look through your website at venues in the area and accommodation in the area before we decided on our venue.


CTCW Wedding Suppliers:

Ceremony Location - Inlaws property, Balingup WA
Wedding Reception Venue – Our home in Donnybrook with equipment hire from Cape Marquees
Photographer - Andrew Burns Imajica Photography
Accommodation for you & your guests - We stayed at our home with our bridal party, some guest stayed at the Donnybrook Motel and the rest with family in the region
Brides Dress & Accessories – I bought my dress off a website,  I already owned my necklace 1800's french guilloche mourning locket, and I ordered my ivory lace cowboy boots from a Mexican company Oak Tree Farms which I believe is no longer in business.
Bridesmaid's Dresses & Accessories – Bridesmaid dresses I bought on eBay, I had seen the the dresses in a bridal shop at $700 but bought them for $30, they chose there own shoes and had pearl earrings
Rings – Engagement Ring is a Angus and Coote limited edition trilogy ring and our plain gold bands are also from Angus and Coote
Groom & Grooms man Attire – We hired suits from Roger David they where I believe Beckham style
Entertainment – As we had our wedding at home and I have a great love of music I hand chose all the music and just used our iPod
Makeup – Lani from Envy Beauty in Bunbury
Cake – Brides mother Jeni Smith
CelebrantJennifer Burrows
Transport - Brides step father Steve in his big Landcruiser
Bonbonnieres – Little 'XO' soaps
Wedding Stylist - The bride
Unique Services/Hire- Hired chairs and tables, lounges and wine barrels from Cape Marquees

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