A bowling club by the sea was the eclectic backdrop to my recent June wedding where we celebrated making us official.
In keeping with our autumnal theme, as sheets of rain hammered in sideways off the ocean onto the RSL’s flat roof and rivulets rushed down the sandstone walls, inside, our cheery crowd of friends and family gathered warmly around us to help celebrate our happy event.
The grand thunderstorm provided a dramatic soundtrack to our fun-filled and festive afternoon. From the onset, we wanted to create a bohemian wedding with a community feel and the venue we picked felt as though it just oozed that old school village hall charm. We decorated and lit up the wooden stage to make it a focal point of the hall and ceremony.
Growing up in Canterbury in the UK meant that our village hall was central to the town, so when it came to planning our wedding, we wanted to create a day that was homespun and one that reimagined the tradition of a community coming together to celebrate the unity of a new family.
We didn't set out to transform the place but wanted to accentuate and capture it's simplicity, so rather than add too much, we embraced it's blank canvas appeal and emphasized the old piano and stool and the dart board chalk board (that the kids personalized on their own initiative).
It was important to us that we took the non-traditional route and avoided all the wedding clichés. Although we wanted to make a statement, it wasn’t the kind of statement about how awesome we are or how lavish and stupendous, but a statement of love, family, community and friendship. Oh and our great love of the classic Aussie bowling club. I mean how could you not?
We also didn't want spend months stage managing or filling up a A4 ring-binder file with wedding inspirations, only to get caught up in the minutiae. We weren’t keen on spending a fortune on unnecessary formalities so we chose to stay true to ourselves and keep the day as simple as possible without grandeur or fuss. We planned the wedding in four weeks.
The fun part of planning the wedding was seeing whether we could create something memorable on our shoe-string budget of $5k. So we immediately discarded any thoughts of extraneous expenses and started to get pretty creative with our limited funds.
Through the process, what we discovered was so enjoyable about planning a boho wedding was that it frees you up to be unconventional and not worry about the lack of seat covers and pretty bows on the backs of chairs, which didn't really matter to us, and we realised what was more important was the acknowledgement of the bond we have as a family.
A boho wedding enables you to explore and celebrate your individuality. Plus we both didn’t feel that adding money and too many ideas would add any more to the laid back and easy day we had planned.
So in the planning stages we really only had a couple of pre-requisites, one of them was to ensure we were supporting sustainability and local producers and secondly when we chose things they had to fall under the notion or idea of "this is us".
Our life and belongings are pretty minimal and we needed those values to be reflected on the day, with everything second hand or homemade or able to be recycled in order for it to have the least amount of impact on the planet.
The environmental ethos of the wedding became important particularly with the DIY decor, flowers and stationary. Invitations were designed by us and sent via email to save paper clutter and a tree or two. We used recycled coasters which had been hand printed using a letterpress by Coco Press Design.
We didn't want anything flown in from across the other side of the world so we sourced everything we could locally. In lieu of presents, because we live uncluttered and didn't want or need any new stuff, we asked people to either make a cake or bring a herb or potted plant for the garden that would remind us of them and also give back to Mother nature.
When it came to decorating the venue, we raided my florist friend Georgie’s green house where I discovered she had been collecting beautiful flora which had been drying over time in her back garden in Bondi. On the tables we used seed and pods that were collected on local ramblings and street-shopped dried maple leaves to complete the Autumnal feel.
The club was decorated with old rope from Fowler’s Gap research station, about one and a half hours north of Broken Hill, that was going to be thrown away.
The Banksia, Gymea Lily and Coral Fern were all part of Georgie’s dried flower collection. Because she's doing a master in art in sculpture, particular flowers with texture inspire her and often get reused in her work and practice.
We supplemented the recycled flowers with local seasonal fresh flowers from the market and calendula, jonquil, stock and spray chrysanthemum were placed into recycled juice jars on the tables and along the windowsills to create window-scapes.
On the Friday night many people including the kids mucked in to help set up the hall and add their own touches to it, I loved the eclectic mix of styles that made the room feel simple and natural.
We established a beautiful display table with fresh in season produce provided to us by Harris Farm and filled buckets of kale, celery and pumpkin and seasonal fruits and vegetables which were donated to charity after the event.
Being a foodie at heart, ingredients became the basis of the beautifully scented flower crown I wore. It was reusable too and the produce was cooked up the next day and turned up on the family dinner table! The remainder that wasn’t being used ended up in the composter to be put back onto our garden.
My stunning edible bouquet was also founded on food and stuffed with kale, echinacea, rosemary, parsley, pineapple, wheat and mint and garnished with sprigs of baby’s breath and chrysanthemum.
Instead of confetti, the flower girls carried bread-baskets filled with rose petals that came from a local grower.
My friend Emmily from Depths of Beauty, is a natural makeup artist and eco beauty advocate and she did my hair and makeup. I love her business as she shares information and educates people through her master classes about the importance of non-toxic beauty and helps to inspire healthy and positive change for people and the planet.
For my wedding look she used only natural, organic and ethically made beauty products and on the day I felt naturally beautiful and radiant. She focused on creating dewy skin, highlighting the eyes and adding subtle colour on the cheeks, finishing with a natural nude pink lippy for a flush of colour.
On my skin I used my favourite Natural Instinct rose hip oil with rosemary and their silky body lotion which is deliciously hydrating and smells amazing too.
During the night we enjoyed a spectacular feast of slow cooked lamb shoulder with cinnamon and spices and local greens and of course it wouldn’t be a supercharged party without my famous turmeric cauliflower dish. Our friends helped us out by donning aprons and piling up plates with the delicious food from Shuk Bondi.
At one stage I enlisted my German friend Cindy and put her in charge of making the chai tea as she's a natural born organiser. Its usually tea for two but in this case it was tea for 92! We had a collection of old teapots from home that were filled to the brim and whisked onto the tea trolley whilst still piping hot and ready for the tea-totallers.
In addition to the Stone & Wood Beer and Treehouse Cider, we also had refreshments from Remedy Kombucha, and a collection of fresh juices and smoothies from Organic Avenue Juices and beautiful Ovvio Organics Teas for the more health conscious guests.
When it came to a cake there were no fondants or fancy fixings but we encouraged guests to get into their home kitchens, roll up their sleeves and create their favourite home made dessert which formed part of our communal dessert trolley. This became one of the highlights of the night and received many ooohs and ahhhs and mmms from the guests.
The trolley was laden with all-over-the-place stunning desserts, everything from chocolate ganache to flowerless orange cakes, sticky gingerbread cake and Justin’s brother’s legendary Christmas trifle. The desserts were handmade with love and adorned with fresh berries, stunning wildflowers and nuts and seeds.
Oh, and ridiculously adorable handwritten hearts which gave us all happy feels.
The entertainment was provided by the guests, who were asked on the invitation to nominate their favourite song to make up the track list. It didn't have to be a wedding song but just one that they liked and meant something to them. The music was an assortment of tunes from all eras, mirroring the eclectic bunch of people who came along to the wedding. Guests also embraced the bowling club chic theme and many got into the spirit by donning their best sneakers, boots and vintage clothing as we danced the night away.
At the end of the night guests piled into the kitchen scraping their dinner plates into our make-shift compost bins and leftover cake and food was delivered to Wayside Chapel and the homeless at Bondi Pavillion.
We didn’t ask guests to clean up but for many of them they said it felt like a natural thing to do. Everyone pulled together in the kitchen, washing and drying dishes to get the place reordered and back to its bowling club best. It was so lovely to see how we worked together as a little community and that really was the spirit of the wedding.
Justin's favourite part of the day? Seeing Lee arrive and knowing she was in (op shop) boots and all!
Lee’s favourite part of the day? The wedding ceremony and wheeling in the cake trolley followed by the chai trolley! The reactions that we got from people were incredible. Plus enjoying all the delicious homemade cakes...
It was a wonderful wedding and really captured the spirt of love and community.
A big thank you to our supporting cast...
- Photography: Blumenthal Photography
- Venue: Clovelly Bowling Club
- Floral Art: Georgie Bridge @Fleurtisan
- Dress: Kite and Butterfly and Boots: St Vincent De Paul
- Makeup and Hair: Emmily Banks Depths of Beauty
- Catering: Shuk Bondi
- Refreshments: Remedy Kombucha, Organic Avenue Juices, Stone & Wood Beer and Treehouse Cider, Prana Chai Tea with Pure Harvest Coco Quench Coconut Milk and Ovvio Teas
- Table: Recycled Hand Printed Coasters Coco Press Design
- Cake: DIY Homemade Cakes
- Nibbles: Food to Nourish Bliss Balls
- Honeymoon: A four day mini-moon hiking in the Blue Mountains