High school sweethearts Erika and Mark hosted their dream wedding at Bendooley Estate – one of the most enchanting Southern Highlands wedding venues.
It was a relaxed and informal affair, with guests encouraged to mingle and dance whenever they felt like stretching their legs.
Here we chat to them about their day and their photographer Hilary Cam (who we’re nicknaming Mary Poppins. Read on and it will make sense).
Erika and Mark, congrats on getting married. First, could you tell us about how you met, any funny first date stories and a bit about the proposal?
We met in high school…we were both 14 years old! Mark came from an all boys school and transferred to my school. We instantly became best friends so I’m very grateful that he moved.
The proposal – it was January 1st, 2019 in Paris. We were planning on heading down to the Eiffel Tower on our last night in Paris and to take some photos as we hadn’t seen it at night yet. On the way, Mark was sweating and whilst holding his hand, I could feel his pulse beating rapidly. When I questioned if he was okay, he said it was just too hot in the Uber ride.
We started taking your typical couple shots under the Eiffel Tower and the moment that the park became empty, Mark started his speech and dropped a knee! I couldn’t stop crying!
In a few sentences, how would you describe your wedding?
We wanted our wedding day to feel warm, relaxed and fun. We wanted it to showcase us as a couple where it wasn’t going to be super formal with a lot of formalities where you are stuck to your table. We also wanted it to be convenient where the guests wouldn’t be waiting for a long period in between the ceremony and reception. So we did ceremony at 4pm, canapés at 5pm and reception at 6pm. So no one had to leave the venue.
We opted for a banquet dinner and a dessert table and we had some lawn games to try and keep a chilled out vibe. We also kept our guest list as tight as possible.
Did you write your own vows? How did you find that experience?
We did write our own vows. At first we decided not to, but after meeting with our celebrant, he said it would be best for us to do our own vows because it gives it a more personal feel….we are soooo glad he told us to!
This will sound corny but our inspiration was probably each other. Knowing what each other wanted and needed and promising that.
What’s the best piece of advice you took on when planning your wedding?
Don’t settle! Get the wedding you’ve always dreamt of!
What’s one thing you wish you knew before you started planning?
Nothing really. I worked with the best vendors and if I didn’t have something I needed, they had it! Like I needed a sewing kit on the day and out of all people my photographer had it! She even had insect repellent which we really needed!
Now that you’re married, what’s the best piece of advice you can give other couples in the middle of planning their own weddings?
Don’t settle! I know that wedding budgets are super important but if it’s not going to be your dream wedding, just wait a little longer to be able to spend a little bit more.
At the end of the day, you don’t want to regret not getting your dream dress or that dream venue. This is the day that your kids and grandkids will ask you about and will ask to see photos of so don’t settle!
Were there any traditions you did not partake in or any specific to your family or religion that were special to you?
A church wedding. I always imagined my wedding to be in a garden so we did just that.
Finish this sentence. The best (or most unique) thing we did at our wedding was…
Having a banquet dinner and dessert bar. Everyone kept saying how much they enjoyed the food and how much there was.
CREDITS: Venue Bendooley Estate // Photos Hilary Cam Photography // Video Captured Frames // Celebrant Married by Matty // Flowers Rochelle Buttenshaw Florals // Music and photo booth Savvy Entertainment // Cake Black Ribbon Desserts // Cake topper and wedding favours Wooden Letter Australia // Stationery Laura Elizabeth Design // Signage Etch It // Hair SME Bridal // Makeup Bless Khin // Bridal gown and veil Pallas Couture // Brides shoes Tony Bianco // Accessories and rings Jacque Fine Jewelry // Bridesmaid dresses White Runway // Groom and groomsmen suits M.J. Bale // Lawn games A Game of Love.