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Wedspiration > Real Weddings > REAL WEDDING: Tess + Brendan – Camp Sunnystones
Real Weddings
REAL WEDDING: Tess + Brendan – Camp Sunnystones
Tess and Brendan celebrated their big day at a unique VIC wedding venue, in a natural setting surrounded by close family and friends, just one hour from Melbourne.
Words by Karina Lowndes
15 August 2019

There are so many reasons we love this wedding. For one, Tess and Brendan DIY’d as much as they could, with hand-painted crockery to hole-punched gum leaves for confetti. Plus, it was at one of our favourite WedShed venues, Camp Sunnystones

Check out the celebration below, captured by Timothy Marriage.

Hey Tess and Brendan, tell us about how you met and a bit about the proposal?

We met at the Toff in Town on a Friday night where Brendan was the manager and I was ready to tear up the dance floor with a friend. Unfortunately, when my friend and I got there, the dance floor was full with tables from their dinner service. We were about to leave when Brendan stepped in and offered us a drink to stay and wait for the dance floor to be cleared.

When it came to proposing, I had a gut feeling and desperate want for Brendan to pop the question. For about two months I thought every weekend that it was going to be THE weekend. There was one weekend where we were in Mornington, walking down the pier and Brendan dropped to his knee…and tied his shoelace. I was mortified and he didn’t even know.

On an Easter weekend, we decided to go for a drive with our two fur babies and have a picnic by Balnarring beach. Of course, I thought this must be IT! I prepared our picnic goodies with some delicious cured meats and cheeses from Casa Iberica and we stopped at Port Phillip Estate to get a bottle of my favourite local Chardonnay Clonale. We set up a little picnic by a bench seat and enjoyed our treats and wine and cuddled up to our fur babies. When nearing the end of our gorging, Brendan sat up and put his hand in his pocket and… got out his phone. I thought I was going mad. It was such a romantic and beautiful setting with great food and wine and of course, our doggies. I thought if he doesn’t propose to me then I would just do it myself. We ended up going for a stroll down the beach and sat down on a low chunky tree branch to look over the water. As I got up to go back, Brendan got on his knee and presented a beautiful ring. I am not even sure if I said yes through my tears.

Unique VIC wedding venue Camp Sunnystones
Unique VIC wedding venue bridal gown
Unique VIC wedding venue Camp Sunnystones signage
Bride and father at Unique VIC wedding venue, Camp Sunnystones

Did you take on any DIY projects for your wedding?

From hand-painted crockery to hole-punched gum leaves for confetti, we definitely took on a few DIY projects.

This was a chance for me to explore my creative side and have a bit of fun. This also sparked a love of all things event styling and led to starting up Curated Events with my close friend Lucy. I was lucky that I had some dedicated volunteers and superwoman Lucy as a new business partner to help execute each project.

One of my favourite pre-wedding activities was with my maid of honour and flower girl, we had an art and craft day where she got to make her own wand to wave down the aisle.

I was also adamant I wanted to make my own wedding cake. I thought if I made my own cake then it would be extra special. I had 4 cake baking trials that my colleagues got to enjoy in the lead up to the wedding. I have also always been in love with flowers and thought it would be fun to put together all the flowers and arrangements for my wedding. I even finished off mine and my bridesmaids’ bouquets the morning of the wedding!

What was your theme and vibe for your wedding?

I had always dreamed of a relaxed but fun, vibrant wedding with bright colours to contrast and complement the natural surroundings.

Bride and groom saying their vows at wedding
Bride and groom at ceremony at Unique VIC wedding venue
Bride and groom at ceremony at Unique VIC wedding venue

Did you involve any traditions throughout your big day?

I was really keen to incorporate some sort of tradition from my Chinese heritage as my father hails from Hong Kong. I asked him if there was anything in particular he would like to include but unfortunately my father is not the most traditional person, and having lived here for over 40 years and marrying my Aussie mum, the only Chinese tradition in our family has been the love of food and the handing out of red envelopes (lai see) for Chinese New Year.

Lai see is filled with money and giving this to loved ones gives good luck and good fortune for the year. We decided that instead of asking our guests to contribute to a typical wedding wishing well, we would give our guests a red envelope (lai see) with their invites. We explained the tradition for Chinese weddings, that giving couples lai see gives the newlyweds good luck. We felt quite uncomfortable about asking for and receiving money but this was a nice traditional touch that held more meaning to us.

What advice would you give to other couples leading up to their big day?

Take time during the day and night to sit back and take it all in. All of your loved ones are there for you both to celebrate your love. Also, try to get someone to save you a plate of food so you can eat it later, as there’s little time to sit and eat when you want to give everyone cuddles!

Outdoor setting at VIC wedding venue
Bride and bridesmaid photography at wedding

What does marriage mean to you?

For us, it means that we have found the person we choose to stand side by side within all of life’s ups and downs. We will not only continue to annoy each other forever but have committed to loving each other forever too.

What was your favourite moment on your wedding day?

Our favourite moment from the day – aside from meeting my husband at the end of the aisle – was when we arrived at our reception site which was down a hill in the valley and in the open. We arrived right after a big rain cloud had come over and completely drenched all the tables, chairs, candles, signs – everything. We rocked up in our videographer’s 4WD because it was too muddy to walk down and we pulled up to the site of all of our guests chipping in to help dry all the chairs, plates, cutlery and relight all the candles. Everyone was laughing and having a good time and didn’t seem to be bothered by the rain at all. It was so heart-warming to see so many of our loved ones taking care of us on our day.

Tell us any funny stories that surrounded your wedding?

After dinner and before our first dance, our friends lined up a great song on the playlist, ‘The Voice’ by John Farnham and they called everyone over to the dance floor. We all held each other arm in arm and sang our hearts out to the song, all just a little confused as to what was actually going on. Pretty sure some guests thought it was some planned singalong or potentially our first dance. Basically, no one knew what was going on but pretty sure belting out John Farnham’s The Voice anywhere at any time doesn’t need an explanation?

Bride and groom wedding photography at wedding venue, Camp Sunnystones

How did you know Camp Sunnystones was where you’d get married?

We are both in love with the Australian countryside had naturally had dreamed of a country wedding – somewhere we could say “I do” amongst the gum trees. We had some key criteria in searching for ‘the one’: somewhere we could host all our friends and family and all the kiddies, to be able to do our own food and drinks, have a relaxed but fun vibe and also sufficient bump in and bump out timing as we – and as many friends and family we could rope in – were to do everything ourselves.

With this key criteria in mind we found Camp Sunnystones. As we were driving through Bacchus Marsh we both instantly felt the charm of the surroundings. As soon as we pulled up to the venue I knew it was perfect. I then thought I would have to convince Brendan, but after we had a full walkthrough of the venue, we were further charmed by the bluestone homestead with bunk bed dorms, breathtaking surroundings, and the kangaroos!

Ceremony song?

I walked down the aisle to a couple of our amazing friends singing ‘More than Words’ by Extreme.

First dance song?

Our first dance song was from one of our amazing friend’s very own band, Saskwatch ‘Now That We’re Alone’ with two other friends performing on the drums and guitar. We’re pretty lucky!

CREDITS: Photos Timothy Marriage // Videographer Phil Einwick // Flowers, Styling and Stationery Curated Events // Venue Camp Sunnystones // Bridal gown One Day Bridal // Bridal shoes Tony Bianco // Accessories Maria Black, Lott Studio, Krista McRae // Bridesmaid dresses Romance by Honey & Beau // Grooms suit Tai Pan Row – HK // Groomsmen suits Reiss  // Rings Krista McRae // Hair Megan Everett Bridal // Makeup Megan Everett Bridal


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