There is nothing quite as lovely as a relaxed Hunter Valley on a late Friday afternoon. So when newlyweds Sam and Julie gathered with close-knit family and friends for a destination wedding at Willow Tree Estate in Pokolbin, it was bound to be a success. Hilary Cam Photography captured the sun setting over the simple outdoor ceremony, the beautiful surrounding vineyards and even the odd kangaroo or two. But even this gorgeous setting couldn’t upstage the all the love and warmth radiating from this heart-felt affair!
Beautiful bride Julie shares: Sam and I moved from Brisbane to Sydney two years ago for Sam’s work. On Valentine’s day 2011 whilst on holiday in Bora Bora, Sam asked me to marry him. I’m embarrassed to say I grabbed the gorgeous diamond ring and put it on my finger before I said yes, yes, yes.
I was always interested in a destination wedding and with Sam’s family based in Canberra and my family based in Brisbane it made perfect sense. We wanted a relaxed, fun day with good food, good wine and great scenery to celebrate with family and friends. The Hunter Valley ticked all the boxes. We spent a couple of Saturdays driving around looking at different venues and immediately liked Willow Tree Estate.
We chose to book the entire estate which sleeps up to twenty guests. We were able to have the bridal party and our brothers and sisters all stay at the venue for the two nights. The estate has seven large rooms and a Summerhouse suite for the bridal couple. The other wedding guests all stayed at surrounding hotels and bed and breakfasts. The night before we all enjoyed wine tasting at Keith Tulloch Estate and a really lovely dinner at The Muse Kitchen restaurant.
Before we knew it our wedding day had arrived and luckily the weather was perfect. Our photographer Hilary Cam has an option to photograph the groomsmen getting ready as well as the bridesmaids so your album looks more balanced. We are so glad we took him up on this option because he got some great pictures of the guys getting ready, playing bocce and drinking local beer Blue Tongue. The bridesmaids took over the Summerhouse suite and sipped champagne while curling hair, applying make up and enjoying lots of giggles. Raylee at Willow tree took care of everything including organising a lunch platter delivered to our room.
The outdoor ceremony was held in the gardens at Willow Tree Estate. My Dad walked me down the aisle towards a beaming Sam. The celebrant Robyn Baker was great and calmed our nerves almost immediately. The ceremony was really beautiful and we exchanged the vows we had written ourselves. When Robyn announced we were husband and wife the guests cheered and we shared a magical kiss.
After lots of photos we joined the wedding guests celebrating on the large deck to enjoy the great food and wine the Hunter Valley has to offer. The reception was catered by staff from The Verandah Restaurant. The food was amazing. Anyone who has eaten at their restaurant located at The Calais Estate knows what we are talking about. We had a great view across vineyards towards the mountains and the gardens were all in full bloom and beautiful. The speeches were witty and heartfelt before cake cutting and then we danced into the night.
In the planning stages I was up in Brisbane one weekend and I went bridesmaid dress shopping with my two sisters. They convinced me to try on a wedding dress because I was just going to order one online. The first dress I tried on was beautiful and it brought tears to my sisters eyes. I bought it on the spot. We found dresses for Clare and Kara just as easily. I ordered the flowers and the cake online. A couple of emails with photos of colours, etc was all it took. I have other friends who were also planning weddings and couldn’t believe I hadn’t tried the cake or seen the flowers before the big day. Everything worked out perfectly and I couldn’t have been happier. Sam and I prepared the Place card menus – featuring a photo of the island where we got engaged – and Mum made the wedding invites. My sister did my Hair and make up. Everything was really professional and guests were surprised when we said who had done what.
I would definitely recommend a destination wedding as we were able to bring everyone together in a great setting where we could relax and celebrate together. We have amazing photos which we will cherish forever. And it feels absolutely wonderful to introduce the love of my life as my husband.
Congratulations Julie & Sam! Thank you for sharing your beautiful day with us.
♥ ♥ ♥
Photography: Hilary Cam Photography Sydney / Venue: Willow Tree Estate, Pokolbin NSW Australia / Wedding Gown: The Bridal Centre, Brisbane /Bridesmaids Gowns: Garfunkle, Broadway on the Mall, Brisbane / Groomsmen Outfits: Spurling Formal Hire / Hair & Makeup: Bride’s Sister / Catering: The Verandah Restaurant, Calais Estate Hunter Valley / Wedding Cake: Marakye Cake Designs / Flowers: Valley Fresh Flowers /Submitted via Two Bright Lights
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