Things to make you go ‘I do’.

ELOPEMENT: Clare + Johnny – Cactus Country

cactus country wedding

“We didn’t want to get lost in the stress or chaos of planning a wedding because it ultimately isn’t about the wedding… it’s about our love and how our marriage will be”, says bride Clare of her and (now) husband Johnny’s decision to elope to one of the most unique VIC wedding venues, Cactus Country.

Alongside photographer Jackson Grant Weddings, celebrant Love Leah and Clare’s sister they exchanged their own vows and shared an intimate first dance – all while looking incredibly cool. Creating a celebration that was “relaxed but extra” was always their intention and with Cactus Country as the backdrop, they certainly pulled it off.



How did you and Johnny meet? Hehe .. we actually met on a cruise ship! I was working as a travel agent on board and Johnny was a passenger. Johnny asked me to dance (although if you ask him, he’ll say I asked him to dance) and the rest is history.

The proposal: It was sortttttt of a surprise. We’d been looking at rings together but that’s about it! Johnny then organised a drive down to the Fleurieu Peninsula… when we got to Second Valley we found a secret little spot where we were the only two people and whilst I was enjoying the scenery, Johnny got down on one knee! Totally romantic!

Wedding venue: We wanted something different and unique that we hadn’t seen done before. We stumbled across cactus country on Instagram and thought it would be just the PERFECT spot to elope. It looked stunning and had the exact vibe that we were going for AND included our love for plants!

Wedding vibe: We wanted the day to be ALL. ABOUT. US. That’s essentially why we chose to elope. We only had my sister as a witness and no other guests. We didn’t want to get lost in the stress or chaos of planning a wedding because it ultimately isn’t about the wedding… it’s about our love and how our marriage will be.

We still wanted to have all those special things though like a princess dress, amazing photos, first dance etc. so we tried to make sure we had all this so we didn’t feel like we were missing out. I think the cactus causal vibe looked amazing with the princess style wedding dress and over the top neon sign! Exactly what we were going for… ‘relaxed but extra’.

Did you write your own vows? How did you find that experience? Yes we did! There was a lot of pressure with this and we both left it to the last minute! We were worried the other person was going to say something totally different or WAY longer or WAY shorter than the other person. In the end we both said what we wanted to from the heart and it meant so much to both of us to have something so personal on the day. Something we’d each written and something that was just for us!

Hit or (near) miss: Incredibly nothing went wrong! Maybe it’s the attitude… we were very relaxed about the day but it all completely went to plan without a hiccup!

Budget: We expected to spend $10k but spent more like $15k… it’s ok it went a bit over and we wouldn’t change anything! In fact knowing what we know now about how our day turned out we would’ve paid double for it to go exactly as it did.

Any funny elements that just made the day or lead up even more amazing? Because we were eloping none of our family knew it was happening except my sister so we kept the whole thing to ourselves.

I’ll always remember… Our first dance. It was something so simple but we had just been declared husband and wife, had a kiss and then Leah played our ‘I Found You’ song by James Bay. It was so nice to then just take in that moment, hiding each other, listening to the song we both chose and dancing… oh and in the middle of a cactus farm. Doesn’t get much better than that!

The outfit/s: Pieces just came together as we were planning everything. We both actually envisioned what we were going to wear as very different to what it ended up being. I bought a dress then had it sliced into a skirt and only found the top a week before the wedding. Johnny bought his jacket about three weeks beforehand. We totally loved how it all looked and we’ve both never felt better than we did in those outfits. We wanted to feel/look cool but also comfortable but also sexy and I think we succeeded with them all!

Soundtrack: We had a playlist going with no particular songs playing at any time (as it’s an elopement so a bit different to your classic wedding) but the most important part was playing ‘I Found You’ by James Bay for our first dance.

Words of wedding wisdom: Just relax. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t go to plan and actually, often these are the best moments! Have fun with it and just enjoy it with your partner.

Standout vendors: Jackson Grant and Love Leah were incredible. They both totally aced this part and got excited for us and made sure nothing was awkward or weird because we had no guests, even the lead up. We were very lucky to have chosen them!

The future: Our honeymoon! We’re waiting for the international borders to open so that we can head straight to the Caribbean. Oh, and of course the rest of our lives together!

CREDITS: Photos Jackson Grant Weddings // Venue Cactus Country // Celebrant Love Leah // Flowers Easy End Flower Market // Bridal gown Kyha (skirt) and Rachel Gilbert (top) // Brides shoes Loeffler Randall // Rings Michael Hill // Bridesmaid dress Talulah // Grooms suit Ted Baker (jacket).

18th March, 2021

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