It’s fair to say that Edith the donkey (the extra bridesmaid we all wish we had) has totally won us over, alongside the beautiful bride and groom. Mandy and Greg were after a relaxed country wedding, and this WA wedding venue, Clover Cottage Retreat totally helped them achieve that.
It’s an 1875 property in South West WA that has a beautiful country-style feel with plenty of charm and options for both ceremonies and receptions.
Hey Mandy and Greg, can you start things off by telling us a bit about yourselves and how you met?
Greg and I are both from a little town in Zimbabwe, Africa, and like most small-town folk, we knew each other and ran through the same circles of friends. We immigrated here with our families at different times and as fate would have it had more friends in common and were re-introduced back in 2010. I was head over heels for Greg and was lucky enough to spark up a friendship that progressed to love and a relationship a few months later.
Who proposed and how did it happen?
Greg suggested a picnic in Kings Park on one of the wettest evenings in March 2015. He proposed while we were walking around the park (Greg was hunting out a private spot to pop the question) – in the dark, dodging the rain. I was a bundle of excited giggles when Greg was down on one knee asking, he swears he still hasn’t heard me say yes yet!
What was the inspiration for the style of your wedding?
I think the best way to describe our wedding style is laidback boho with a touch of country elegance. We didn’t go through the whole process chasing a specific style or theme though. Lauren Simcock from The Style’Est, Greg and I really just based our choices on things we loved.
Can you tell us a bit about your ceremony?
We kept our ceremony styling pretty simple with a wooden arch decorated in foliage and a few benches for our guests to sit on. We settled on a spot down by the river at Clover Cottage, it was quite a dramatic entrance for the bridesmaids, my parents and I to make because of the long walk down – there was a running joke about arriving by plane and landing it on the aisle because it was so long. The weather turned terribly cold on the day of the wedding but it was too much of a beautiful spot for us to let that get in the way of our ceremony. I remember being so excited to get down and see everyone, especially Greg that I couldn’t feel the cold that everyone else was feeling.
Greg and I decided pretty early on that a big part of us were our families and we wanted our wedding to reflect that which is why we asked my uncle to take on the role of speaking at our ceremony. Having him counsel us and help us write our vows was a really special part of our wedding and we’re really happy we did it that way. Greg is such a tough, manly guy, it made my heart burst when we were standing there, with soft watery eyes, saying our vows and with everyone smiling and loving us, I didn’t think we’d feel it nearly as much as we actually did. Our wedding was incredibly humbling, we felt so lucky to have all of the guests with us.
We also had our honorary bridesmaid, Edith the resident donkey at Clover Cottage come down at the end of the ceremony for all the guests to love and get a photo with.
Sounds incredible, what about the reception?
A lot of our style choices were based on us wanting a fun and relaxed reception. That’s why we set up the lounge and a fire pit that was well used during the canapes hour. We also chose to have our main meal feel like a family’s Sunday night roast dinner with all the sides and dishes served to the centre of each table for guests to share and chat over.
Greg trusted Lauren and I fully (little details aren’t really his thing) with the reception décor although we kept him in the loop with everything he wanted to be involved in. I came up with the idea of hanging pot plants from the marquee roof and Lauren found an AWESOME solution to hang them from vintage wooden ladders. Halfway through the planning stage we decided to mix in the Kokedamas for a quirky and fun element that would add a bit more interest to the hanging installation and they ended up looking quirky and cool but I thought they also looked really modern and elegant at the same time. I loved that a majority of the greenery and décor used in our reception was reusable after the event and not chucked in the composter. I still have all the pot plants from our wedding and they’re a lovely reminder of our day.
Greg and his family have an intense love for dessert so we opted for a dessert bar over a cake. Lauren styled it with a gorgeous macramé backdrop and bronze platters, vessels of flowers and candles. Raj’s desserts really looked like a masterpiece.
Our photobooth area was hilarious – I love looking back and laughing at the antics. The guests enjoyed writing messages for us on the handmade chalkboard and snapping pics, printing them out and hanging them up on the giant frame we made.
Our MC, one of the groomsmen did an outstanding job of making sure the night and speeches went well. My dad’s speech kicked the night off in typical hilarity by retelling an infamous story of me as a 3 year old in the bath with my sister. Greg’s sister read out some really heartfelt messages from loved ones who couldn’t make it to our wedding day and the groomsmen gave their “best men” speech which sent the entire reception into earth shaking laughter. Greg and I both knew, sitting there, listening to everyone speak and hearing our family and friends roar with laughter that our wedding really was exactly how we imagined it. Greg’s speech was sweet and kind and sincere and he articulated so much of what we wanted to say to our parents, we shared reading the speech in the end because we needed to support each other through reading the tricky and touching parts.
Another part of the wedding that turned out really well was deciding to ditch the DJ and make our own playlist, which was so much fun to do. We had practiced dancing for all of 3 hours (Greg is a fantastic dancer, I am not) but when it came to the first dance, I was a total flop, Greg practically carried around the floor while I laughed my way through. A little later in the night, after all the guests were well on their way to merriment, a major highlight (and a little daggy) was watching the entire dancefloor drop their pants when Eagle Rock by The Eagles started playing. Apparently it’s a tradition somewhere in Australia.
How did you go about choosing Clover Cottage Retreat as your venue?
Greg and I knew we wanted a wedding out of town and a chance to make it a weekend event as we knew that was how we would be able to spend the most amount of time with all of our guests, especially the ones that had flown in from other countries and states.
After a few camping trips down to Pemberton and Manjimup over the years we knew we loved this area but also loved that Manjimup didn’t seem to have that “wedding” vibe that an area like Margaret River has gained over the last few years.
After some Googling and making a shortlist, we met with Paul and Petrina Thompsett and loved their cottages and their property and loved them as people. We knew instantly that we’d get married at Clover Cottage. We also were really happy that we could have our family and bridal party stay for the weekend at one location.
The Thompsetts were amazing with helping us find the right spot on their property for our reception. We loved the view out over the dams and the forest and so decided that we’d set up the marquee for our reception there. Both Paul and Petrina went above and beyond to make sure the grounds were ready for us.
Finally, do you have any words of wisdom for couples planning their big day?
I’d probably recommend hiring a stylist/coordinator to help you out if you can afford it. It is really nice having the backup and not worrying about anything on the day. I was a manic DIY-er and loved all the planning but it’s reassuring having that person around. It also gave me a chance to spend the day getting ready with my bridesmaids and mums which is really nice to do rather than worrying about getting everything set up in time.
Also, seek out small businesses for you wedding, the effort and love and time each of our vendors put into our wedding made it feel so special.
Lastly, I think it’s easy to lose perspective when you’re caught up in the excitement of decision making, spending money and thinking about all your guests. It’s important to step back and spend time with your partner during the planning and on the day.
CREDITS: Venue Clover Cottage Retreat // Photography Keeper Creative // Bridal Gown Marquise Bridal // Bridesmaid Dresses Sheike // Grooms Suit Topman and R.M Williams // Hair Jody Fiannaca // Makeup I Do Beauty // Styling The Style’Est // Prop Hire Pretty Willow, Hire in Style, Bridgetown Party Hire // Flowers Paula McKennay // Transport Warren Bus Services // Music Southwest Entertainment // Catering Cilantros Catering // Rings Michael Hill.