Turns out you can’t have a Polish wedding without BYO vodka. For that reason, Eight Willows Retreat – a 75-acre, BYO wedding venue in WA – was perfect for Kathryn and Emil’s special day.
The venue also provided them with a beautiful natural setting with a bush chapel and stunning lake views. Plus, it was able to accommodate all their guests on-site – not a bad idea given the aforementioned spirits.
Captured by James Simmons, you’ll find the whole day below.
Kathryn, tell us about how you met and the proposal?
We met when I was 18 and Emil 22 at the Cottesloe Beach Hotel. He was there by himself after being left by his friends and I was there with two girlfriends. His moves, though cheesy (‘the spin’), were effective and the rest is history.
Emil proposed in New York after a six month road trip through North America and after 10 years of dating. He planned a picnic in Central Park on Christmas Eve and we took a walk over Bow Bridge. While I was enjoying the view, he got down on one knee and ‘popped the question’. He wasn’t very good at acting cool in the lead-up to the proposal so he gave the game away a little but it was beautiful anyway. There was snow on the bridge, the lake had frozen over and it was a very romantic setting.
Did you tackle any DIY projects for the day?
Emil designed all invitations and menus in our protea theme. I did all of the signage (welcome sign, games and guestbook signs) and the mums and bridesmaids and I put together all of the name cards and flowers for the tables in the days leading up to the wedding.
What sort of vibe were you hoping to create?
We were hoping for a boho, relaxed vibe and the beautiful bush setting of Eight Willows Retreat was perfect for us. We love camping and exploring and the feeling created by the bush chapel setting was incredible. A few of our guests have said it represented us perfectly.
Were there any wedding traditions you felt were important to you to include in your wedding? And any that you put a twist on for yourselves?
With Emil being Polish, it was important for us to include some Polish traditions in the wedding. We included the bread and salt ceremony as we entered the reception. This is where the parents of the bride and groom offer bread so that the couple will never go hungry, salt to overcome any bitterness in life and silver coins to never be in financial stress. We also had a bit of fun with vodka shots – we were presented with two glasses – one with water and the other with vodka. Whoever took the vodka shot ‘wears the pants in the relationship’. Emil ended up with the water, which wasn’t much of a surprise to anyone.
What advice would you give to other couples leading up to their big day?
Trust your vendors – they are the professionals and allowing them to do their job will make your day stress-free and beautiful. Don’t worry too much about the little things – all your guests need is good food, good drinks and good music.
What does marriage mean to you?
This is a difficult one to put into words as I am not a particularly romantic kind of person. Clearly marriage is about love and friendship but marriage is more than that. It is accepting people for their amazing qualities and their flaws and loving them anyway. It is about deep, trusting communication and having understanding without even saying a word.
It is 100% trust in your partner that they will always look out for you and have your best interests in mind. It is growing together, being two individuals but following a shared path. Not knowing what is to come but being excited about the future because you know you are sharing it with the perfect person.
What was your favourite moment on your wedding day?
Sitting back during the reception, holding my new husband’s hand and watching all of our friends and family enjoying themselves at an event that celebrated our love. I also loved walking down the aisle, seeing everyone’s smiling faces and seeing everything come together – the arbour flowers, the decorations, the wedding outfits… it was everything that I dreamed of. Kim, the stylist and coordinator, did such an amazing job making my ideas a reality and worked so hard to bring everything together on the day.
How did you find your venue and was the process difficult for you?
Emil was literally scrolling around Google Earth in satellite view to see if there were any nice-looking places isolated in the bushland area down south. We did not want a winery or brewery as having our own drinks was important (you can’t have a Polish wedding without BYO vodka!).
He stumbled upon Eight Willows Retreat and we visited it the next week. It blew us away. It was only the second place we visited but we knew there was no need to keep searching.
‘Songbird’ by Fleetwood Mac (sung by my very talented cousin). I first heard the song when I was 14 on a CD borrowed from my Mum (acoustic love songs) and knew from then that it would be my wedding song – the song came before the husband and he really had no say in the choice. Luckily he loved it.
First dance song?
‘The Way You Look Tonight’ by Eric Clapton. My dad used to sing it to me when I was a baby and it seemed fitting to play it behind the father-daughter dance as well as the first dance as a sort of handover between my dad and husband. It was perfect.
CREDITS: Photos James Simmons // Flowers Flowers of Leeming, Yelverton Protea Farm and Mayflower Weddings // Ceremony and reception Eight Willows Retreat // Catering Supper Road // Cake Cheat Day Treat Day // Stationery Designed by Emil Rozksozny // Bridal gown Tuscany Bridal // Brides shoes Nude Shoes // Hairpiece Flowers of Leeming // Bridesmaid dresses Revelry // Bridesmaid gifts Camilla // Grooms suit Politix // Groomsmen suits Studio W // Ties YD // Rings Mazzucchellis // Hair and makeup Starlet Concepts // Music DJ Private Pickle // Celebrant Sally Allomes.