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May 24th, 2014

The Best Wedding. Ever.

Justine-Cullen-Wedding-main

I worked with Justine Cullen Editor of Shop Til You Drop for many fun years.

She’s a fabulous hands-on editor (still styles shoots for her own magazines – which I love) with an incredible, cool aesthetic so it’s no surprise that her wedding was curated down to details that you won’t even believe.

It was creative, romantic, fanciful, beautiful…there’s not enough adjectives to describe the awesomeness.

I couldn’t bare to edit the pictures so lose yourself in over 100 photos from what is/was best wedding you’ll ever see. Ever.

Justine & Greg.

My boys walked me down the aisle. They were extremely nervous that they wouldn’t know where to go, no matter how many times I told them it was pretty much just straight ahead. We walked down the aisle to our band playing the Cat Power version of Sea of Love.

The arch our florist Michelle from Shade Fig created was based from a few image references I’d sent her (she told me after that her plan was to make those look like nothing in comparison – and she succeeded) was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever owned, albeit temporarily. The only time I cried over the whole weekend was when they took down the arch the next day. I wish I’d had it made out of fake flowers so I could have taken it home and used it as a bedhead!

My protein-loving brother-in-law Adam kindly ate ungodly amounts of baked beans in the lead up to the wedding to collect enough tin cans for us to wrap in lace, fill with pink and yellow rose petals and place on the ceremony seats.

As soon as the celebrant said to kiss the bride, everyone threw the rose petals and the band struck into Stevie Wonder’s Signed Sealed Delivered. It set the tone for how we wanted the night to progress – let the good times roll!

Instead of adult attendants we had the boys and eight flowergirls (our nieces and the daughters of four of my best friends). During the ceremony they sat at our feet and were incredibly distracting.

The flower girls wore custom Tutu Du Monde tutus and capelets, with leather ballet flats from Salvios. My incredibly talented beauty director Alexis made the flower headbands on velvet ribbons for the flower girls. (She’s open to orders – aelia@acpmagazines.com.au.)

The boys wore J Crew suits bought online (they needed some serious alterations and new buttons etc but had the best bones of any we found), white shirts from Witchery, charcoal bowties from Etsy and fresh white Chucks.

I made this cross-stitch the night before the wedding to sew onto the back of Greg’s tie as a surprise. I’d never done it before and I was embarrassingly chuffed with myself…. until my nanna pointed out that I’d stitched in the wrong year. After much unpicking, I got there in the end.

The Bride.

I bought my Jenny Packham wedding dress from a store in New York and had it shipped over. It wasn’t what I originally imagined I would go for, but I put it on and could immediately see myself wearing it in the venue and with the type of wedding we had in mind.

The layers of tulle were heavenly and it was incredibly comfortable too. It did tend to gather garden though: after the wedding I found 8 burnt-out sparklers, a huge tumbleweed and more leaves than I wanted to count inside the layers.

The shoes were Chloe and I really wanted to wear the gorgeous Samantha Wills bracelet/ring design but it just didn’t work on the day.

Hinkley’s found my 1930s engagement ring for me and then based my wedding band of round diamonds in square boxes on that. All of my girlfriends seem to get their engagement rings from Hinkley’s – it’s our happy place. And Julie from Hinkley’s is a genius. Ask anyone.

I ordered the personalised knickers from Etsy. Cute idea but I had a few tie malfunctions throughout the day…

The veil was my favourite part of the look. Originally I’d planned to wear a baby’s breath wreath but I went into a panic the week before the wedding that I’d look a bit mutton, so I called the lovely Johanna Johnson and she offered to make me a custom veil. It’s so special and unique and I know it’s an heirloom I’ll pass down to our daughter (if I should ever be so lucky!) one day. Best last minute switch ever.

I can’t believe how many people have gone on about my black nails. I just thought the dress needed an edge, it all inevitably gets a bit girlie.

The Decorations.

Greg’s mum not only made the absolutely magic Liberty-print bunting we had hanging between the trees lining the driveway entrance to the property, she made 150 metres of it!

I used mini pegs (who knew how handy they’d be??) to hang old family wedding photos over a pathway that everyone had to walk through to get to the reception marquee.

We used white Moroccan lanterns to line the pathways through the gardens. They were another eBay find and were only allowed to buy them (rather than hire the not-so-pretty ones from the hire place) on the proviso I would sell them afterwards. Yeah. That’s not going to happen.

It was such a big property that I was pretty panicked about making sure we had enough stuff to decorate it sufficiently. The night before we left for the town I went around my house gathering anything I thought could work – like white hearts from the christmas decoration box, an Indian room divider, Moroccan pouffes etc. It meant every corner had a little touch of somethin’ somethin’ in it.

I feel a bit bad about this but I totally forgot to order the entrance sign I loved from Etsy in time so I had my brother whip up a ‘match-it buy’ for me and it turned out amazingly. (It takes a village…) The sign was hung over the gate where people entered. On the back we painted the words  Thank You – we got a shot of the boys holding it before it went up so we could use it as our thank you card, but it also served as a little goodbye as guests left the venue.

The boys and I spent many happy crafternoons hand-dying paper doily placemats (cut in half) with food dye to make the colourful banner bunting that hung between the hedges.

My mum and I made the garlands that hung in the dining marquee around and around the gardens. I bought huge rolls of textured gift wrap on eBay, which we cut and folded into half rosettes and glued onto binding. It took forever (many, many nights of… bonding) but was worth it to see the fairy lights shining through the fluttering paper above us as we ate. So pretty.

The Flowers.

I was a massive pain in the butt to our co-ordinator Sarah Lovell over the glasswear, plates and cutlery we used. I wanted coupe glasses for the champagne, scalloped plates and vintage-like mismatched cutlery. (I’d bought Greg and I vintage forks engraved with the words ‘I do’ and ‘Me too’ from Etsy, but they got lost in the craziness of the table service.) Not that easy with a big wedding. But she managed to find it all – such a star.

We tied baby’s breath to chairs along the aisle using leftover tulle from my dress alterations.

Our florist was exceptional – better than I could have ever hoped. There were tonnes of flowers on every table in the most beautiful colours and in mismatched jars and vases.

High tables lined the dancefloor and held heavenly Glasshouse candles in summer-floral scents and faux-vintage soda bottles I bought from urbanoutfitters.com, which were filled with sprigs from the garden.

Jam jars were hung from the tree using twine and filled with flowers from the garden.

The Stationery.

We made badges for each person with their name and relationship to us on them. We pinned each badge to a vintage-style paper swing tag, wrote their table number on the back and used mini wooden pegs to hang them in painstaking alphabetical order from a garden lattice. (Thank god for helpful girlfriends.)

The gold letters spelling out ‘find your table’ were wooden letters from Spotlight that I spray painted – I got a lot of inspiration from Spotlight and know all the women behind the counter by name now.

At each place setting was a little booklet, personalised with each guest’s name. Inside was a sprig of lavender from the property’s garden, the menu, a map of the property that showed all the different activities planned for the night, a ‘wedding bingo’ game, and a scratchie (in the hope that one of the guests would get as lucky as we felt that day).

I ordered the personalised Mexican bunting from Etsy. If I was crazy I’d tell you that I bought the bunting (which featured the date of our wedding) before Greg had actually proposed. On a hunch. And knowing how long Etsy stuff can take to arrive… But I’m not crazy so I won’t tell you that. Ahem.

As guests arrived at the venue, wait staff gave them little cards that showed in very simple terms how the night would pan out, along with my favourite quote from The Great Gatsby, just to set the mood.

The Sweet Treats.

My husband owns a bar in Newcastle where, by licensing laws, they’re not allowed to serve shots. So we set up a ‘Newy Shot Bar’ near the outdoor fireplace, which also served as the smoker’s corner. In hindsight it was probably an error to put Patron and Jager there (wedding, not O week!), but at least we got some good anecdotes out of it.

 Greg’s staff whipped up the bar and the DJ booth from photo references I gave them. They were perfect. I bought the glass beverage dispenser on eBay and we kept pretty painted jugs on the bar filled with water so people could serve themselves.

We wanted a cocktail that would really represent the night, so we chose a watermelon (because it was summer and outdoors) and rosewater (because of the property’s rose gardens) martini, loosely based on one from Toko. It was delicious, and only a little bit scary to drink in a white dress.

I bought the duck-egg blue paper cups from Ikea (the thing you work out quickly when planning a wedding where you have to take everything yourselves is that there’s no-one to do the washing up for you) and ordered the grey stripy straws online.

Hello, Naomi made our beautiful cake – it was almost too pretty to eat. The sugar flowers looked identical to the real ones on the tables. The cake itself was half inspired by my nanna’s golden syrup dumplings and half by Greg’s mum’s rocky road. We hired the vintage hot dog barrow and it took on a few roles over the course of the night.

I hate that I don’t have a shot of the gift truck before the letters fell down, but everyone loved the ute! Also Amy (from SHOP) made the floral print bow ties for all the wait staff. If only any of them could work out how to tie them.

The Entertainment.

We booked a local psychic to do love readings for guests. She brought her own crystals, obv. The queue was ridiculous. It was an amazing novelty to all the guests except anyone who had ever been a beauty editor – I totally stole the idea from 4,253 launches I’ve been to over the years.

Instead of formal place settings for all the kids, my uncle built simple wooden teepee frames which we covered in muslin and filled with cushions for them to hang out in. I found some vintage picnic baskets and a girlfriend filled them with sandwiches, fruit, juices, lollies, bubbles and colouring books. One of my favourite scenes from the wedding was looking over while we were all eating to see the kids running through the fields all dressed up trailing giant bubbles behind them.

We somehow managed to turn a very grubby, cobweb-strewn tennis cabin into a gorgeous photo booth. The background was made from tissue garlands I’d seen on marthastewart.com and hunted down. Amy and Lex from the SHOP team did an incredible job of getting them all up and looking so pretty.

One of my closest friends, Carly Townsend, who designed the invites and all the stationery, printed out the names of famous love songs on cardboard and we set up a DLSR on a tripod with a remote control so people could take their own pictures holding up the song that spoke to them. The booth was never empty.

The Wrap-Up.

Where… We rented a property for the weekend Called Merribee, on Sydney’s South Coast.

When… January 21, 2012 (the wettest January in 30 years. Great).

Favourite moment? All of it. That whole ‘best day of your life’ thing is absolutely, totally, utterly true.

I cried when… they took down the arch we were married under the next day. On the day itself I was too obsessed with ‘Is this going properly? Is that how I wanted it? Is everyone having a good time’ that I was too distracted to cry.

Biggest regret… Not giving myself enough time to get ready. Guests were arriving at 5p.m and at 4.30p.m I was still with wet hair in a dressing gown arranging the table settings! I totally underestimated hair and make-up time.

Biggest splurge… The food. One of my pet hates is being stuck hungry at a wedding so we went nuts with lots of delicious food and it was so worth it. People still ask me about various dishes.

Number of guests… 190 big ones and about 15 small ones.

Describe your wedding in five words. Pretty bohemian festival, good times.

How much help was the groom? A lot – when I let him be (control freak much?)

Favourite part of the planning process? I really loved pulling together all the little details and trying to think of things you didn’t see on wedding blogs all the time.

Where was your honeymoon? It was on safari in South Africa.

Any wedding dramas you had to deal with? The weather was so stressful – we planned to use the whole property and didn’t have any sort of contingency plan aside from some spread out marquees. It was forecast storms up until the day and the anxiety was unbearable. I refreshed Accuweather.com 1000 times a day. Luckily, the wedding gods came through for me. And then a cyclone ran through Mozambique and caused a flood in the area we were going to on honeymoon! We were moved to another lodge but I still started to think it was a sign…

Best wedding tip/advice? For a wedding that’s a bit of a production like ours, you really need to have good help on the day. We had a co-ordinator (Sarah Lovell from Lovell Management) for all the nitty gritty details like bump in and bump out, but I don’t think I realised how many friends we’d need actually pulling it together on the ground. Also, having a couple of people who you trust to know exactly what you like and don’t like (for me it was the SHOP beauty team) is a godsend so you don’t have to look at every little thing yourself. How good are girlfriends?!

 

  • Ck

    No words…. Incredible wedding. Absolute perfection.

  • Lily

    Is that the same Greg who was on Big Brother way back when??

  • Cha Cha

    Stunning!!!

  • http://www.lilyblue.com.au/ Laurie

    Wow. Just WOW.

  • FoxInFlats

    Oh. My. God. I actually teared up reading this and looking at the photos. Absolutely stunning! Every little inch. I wish them both Happily Ever After. 

  • Lizzy

    I think you’re right! Good spotting!

  • Lizzy

    Zoe Foster looks as gorgeous as usual! Love her heels! 

  • Mars

    AHHmazing!!! Love love this post – especially as I’m planning my wedding in October!
    Such a beautiful wedding and I’m very impressed by all the little details. Incredible! :)

  • Acacia

    So, so beautiful. This wedding looks simply incredible!

  • Beck

    this looks like the most amazing wedding!! Everything is so beautiful!

  • theloveofpink

    Oh my goodness. I nearly cried reading this. Justine Cullen has impeccable taste and I love everything about this! I hope you, your husband and your adorable boys have a beautiful life together x

  • http://www.facebook.com/gemmaphant Marie-Louise Burness

    Would love to have had a wedding like that.  Mine was a spit roast out the back of my mother’s house.  One day we will renew our vows, and I’d love something like that.

  • http://www.heidiandkate.com/ Events by Heidi & Kate

    That arch really is fabulous. A beautiful wedding indeed.

  • Stefanie

    Thanks for sharing, absolutely one of the most gorgeous stylish weddings I have ever seen. Everything looks so beautiful, belated congratulations.

  • IM

    In the midst of planning my wedding, I am lovvvving this. Thanks Paula. I am not sure if this was mentioned before, but can you tell me who the photographer is? This is divine!!

  • Bebe21

    the attention to detail is amazing!!! it is awe inspiring!!!!

  • Acoughlan13

    Loved this! Thanks for sharing!

  • Marijana

    Stunning wedding and pictures! I love it that Justine did so many things herself or some of her family members and friends (making bunting, doing the garland, etc.). 

  • Katyberry

    Did I miss it? With all those amazing photographs I couldn’t see the photographer credited anywhere? Who was it?

  • Ann Tattam

    Absolutely gorgeous Greg & Justine
    Annie Tattam

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  • Alex

    A friend of mine attended this wedding and I’d seen a couple of happy snaps of what looked like an amazing day … but to be able to see the full story, it was absolutely beautiful!! I’m planning my wedding for December and I’m loving the additional real life inspiration. Well done Justine on a perfect event!

  • Keelie

    Breathtaking. Beautiful. How I imagine LOVE would want to be represented.

  • Ally

    Im lost for words!! That is one seriously amazing wedding.  And they just look so in love. And they are all so good looking! Could have been a shoot straight out of Vogue. 

  • KMT

    Gorgous! Are you able to find out where Justine purchased the paper garlands?

  • Courtney

    Is Greg the father of her boys? I was pregnant at the same time as her the first time round and I remember she wrote an article saying they weren’t together, but then I saw somewhere they’d had the second son… I’m just wondering if they ended up getting married or if this is a different partner?

  • Helsy

    bESTEST wedding ever ever ever Juzzy I wish it was a festival and just kept going!

  • Pip

    Paula I wonder if you could tell us who the photographer was please – what an incredible wedding/venue/photographer/couple/family and entire day!! I’m quite sure she’s just had my wedding….!

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  • Sharon Tunbridge

    Oh this was soooooo beautiful, you clever girl. It looked so fun & fabulous.

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  • Erryn Geiser

    I only hope my wedding could be this gorgeous!

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  • A Shady Figette

    Gorgeous wedding!

    Although I work at the florist that built the arch and we’re called “Shady Fig” not “Shade Fig”.

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  • Justin

    Please provide the photographers details, these are great shots!

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  • http://twitter.com/BlackNBianco Black N Bianco

    WOW I’m speechless, this looks like a perfect picture movie wedding.

  • Abby

    Has the album been removed? :'(

  • Lauren

    You’ve got to see this wedding which takes inspiration for this amazing wedding right down to the shape of the cake!! http://www.polkadotbride.com/2015/04/chic-at-home-wedding/

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