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Amanda & Johnny's Charming and Relaxed Wedding

Posted on 29 Jun, 2015
Amanda & Johnny's Charming and Relaxed Wedding


How did you meet your (now) husband? Johnny and I had been great friends for about 6 years, and we tried dating on & off (we had 4 first dates!) before finally conquering the “just friends” barrier.  We were always very close as friends, I think subconsciously we didn’t want to risk mucking that up unless we were sure it could potentially be forever! Taking the plunge was the best thing we’ve done.

How long have you been together? Almost 4 years.

Do you have a proposal story? Johnny proposed in Marlborough, New Zealand (where he is from).  We had been travelling around the south island, and Johnny had booked a gorgeous cottage in the middle of a vineyard.  Early one morning he wanted to get up to watch the sunrise (which I usually do, as an avid sunrise runner!).  I stumbled out of bed in my running gear… and he got down on one knee under a walnut tree and pulled out an incredible diamond. 

The other part of the story is that we lost my diamond less than 36 hours after he proposed on a flight to Auckland!  I was wearing the diamond in a temporary setting because Johnny wanted us to design the final ring together.  I was literally ogling over it one second, and the next second it popped out of its setting just as we were taking off!  We spent the next 2 hours in panic mode, with almost the entire plane helping us look for this diamond – behind seat covers, in air vents, under people’s feet, in every groove, nook & cranny.  But, nothing! We were beyond devastated, and absolutely beside ourselves.  Johnny’s best man picked us up from the airport, and he insisted that we empty out our hand luggage one more time… and it had nestled itself in between the folds of a brown paper bag between a bottle of Verve & a bottle of Campari!


The Wedding

What was your wedding date? 13 March, 2015

Location (Ceremony and Reception)

1.     Where? Circa 1876, Hunter Valley

2.     What made you choose there? We had practically locked in another venue, but visited Circa 1876 as part of our venue “due diligence” – and fell in love with it!  It is charming & rustic and so full of character.  We were married in the “mop aisle” outside, and then had 112 guests for a beautiful reception and lots of dancing. 

What made you decide to get married on this particular date? Well, it was Friday the 13th – so I guess we’re not superstitious at all!  We were very keen to have the entire weekend ahead, and most of our guests made a long weekend getaway of it which was perfect because it prolonged the celebrations.  We had a big recovery lunch the next day, which was very relaxed and gave us more time to have fun with everyone!  

The Wedding Details

Theme? Elegant , charming and relaxed.  We had a fun and carefree vibe, and Circa 1876 created an ‘olde worlde’ atmosphere with loads of character. 

The venue itself barely needs any embellishment.  Guests enter through the original cottage, and step into an old-fashioned “Harry Potter” world of large cobblestones, a vintage whisky room, and a glamourous Tattinger lounge.  A covered atrium leads to the dining room, which has an impressive high pitched roof with wooden beams, French wrought iron details, intricate chandeliers and a luxe marble bar.

We had simple candles and garden flowers in eclectic mason jars, and hessian runners on white tablecloths – beyond that, the space showed itself off.   

Where did you draw your inspiration/ideas from? Johnny and I had a similar vision for our Big Day from the start.  We wanted to celebrate the day with our incredible friends and family – the vibe would be lively, relaxed and above all – fun!  We kept things simple and classic, incorporating personal touches along the way.

Were any aspects of your wedding D.I.Y? If so What? All of the flowers were entirely DIY – the bouquets, boutonnieres, table flowers, even the urn for the ceremony!  My Mum, Dad and I had several reconnaissance trips to the Sydney Flower Markets in the lead up to the wedding, and went at 5am two days prior to purchase up a storm!  Family were all involved in the preening and assembling – a huge job, but looking back spending this time with family was an absolute highlight for me.

I also walked down the aisle with bouquet brooches symbolizing marriages which are important to me – my parents, and both sets of my grandparents.  


Bridal Party 

1.     Bridesmaids – who/relationship? All my besties, 4 in total! 

2.     Groomsmen – who/relationship? All Johnny’s lads – 2 from his childhood in NZ, and 2 from his adulthood in Australia!

Wedding Gown (the most important part!)

What made you decide to come into Karen Willis Holmes? I was keen from the beginning to avoid the stresses of having my dress made.  But after a number of bridal store consultations, I thought I would have to because my dream dress didn’t seem to be out there.

I had heard of KAREN WILLIS HOLMES, and thought I’d just duck into the Paddington store on my lunch break one Friday.  As soon as I walked in, I knew I wanted to buy my gown from there.  The dresses themselves are unique, glamourous and beautifully made, and the KAREN WILLIS HOLMES ladies were so lovely and helpful to deal with.  I saw two gowns which I loved, and call my Mum straight away and we went back the next day.      

How many gowns did you try? I tried on four different gowns in KAREN WILLIS HOLMES, and the end decision was between Taylor and Alassandra 

Where did you purchase your gown from (which store or stockist)? The Paddington store.

What did you especially like about your gown? My Taylor gown was perfect for me.  I loved the shape of Taylor – it is figure hugging, but falls beautifully.  The rouching detail made me feel feminine and beautiful, and the baby sequins make it a show stopper gown!   


Who is your bridesmaid dress supplier? Zimmerman.  The girls looked beautiful in floor length, strapless, dusty rose silk dresses.

What accessories did you choose to finish your gown and also for those in your bridal party? The girls wore a statement classic gold and stone necklace.  My jewelry was minimal – just some diamond drop earrings.

Did you wear a veil/headpiece? Where did you get this from? I wore a delicate chapel length tuille veil from Arynvere Bridal.



What advice would you give brides organizing their wedding?

  • Make sure you keep checking in with your fiancé about the big stuff – you want to both be happy! 
  • To help make sticking to a budget a bit easier, decide which things you can forego entirely (rather than skimping on everything).  For example, a fabulous photographer and videographer were must-haves for us, but we opted against having bombonieres. 
  • Do not moan about the planning.  Instead of things being stressful and a hassle, think of this as a rare opportunity to organise your very own event, purely for the two of you – enjoy it!   No one likes being around a stressed out bride.
  • Involve those you love – everyone loves planning a good wedding. My parents were an incredible sounding board for me, and the flowers became a family-wide affair!
  • Only deal with reputable and enthusiastic suppliers, and ones you enjoy working with. 
  • Forget about the hiccups, which are bound to happen.  Instead remember the big stuff – the most important people in your life all together celebrating the two of you – it’s pretty special!

What advice would you give brides searching for their wedding gown? Once you find it, you’ll know! Don’t settle for something you’re not 100% sure about.  Also don’t think that purchasing from a snooty, pretentious bridal couture store will mean that their gowns are more prestigious!

Something Old? I wore my Mum’s original wedding band for the day.

Something New? My Maid of Honour bought me a racy, glitzy garter.

Something Borrowed? I walked down the aisle with my Great Grandmother’s parasol (because it started sprinkling with rain just as the ceremony begun!)

Something Blue? My mum stitched in baby blue thread “Amanda and Jonathan, 13 March 2015” on a patch of silk and sewed it to the underside of my gown. 


Florist Sydney Flower Markets

Photographer Sarah Christensen – utterly fabulous, so committed to getting great shots, and incredibly easy going.  We couldn’t have asked for more!

Videographer Kiss and Tell Videography – Andy Nguyen was awesome! He just “got us”, and went over and above on the day.  Very reliable and fun to work with.

Music – Jake Folbigg was our acoustic guitarist for the ceremony and the canapes, and he was brilliant! Very reliable and enthusiastic, and exceptionally talented

MC – Johnny’s brother, Brett – the best in the business!! He had our guests in stitches.

Celebrant -  Reverend Peter Little, who helped us create precisely the ceremony which we wanted, and is a wonderfully patient man.

 Menu – George Francisco, Head Chef at Circa 1876.  The menu and food at Circa 1876 is sourced from local and seasonal produce, and they adopt a real “paddock to plate” approach (even growing many of their own herbs and vegetables in their organic market garden).

Cake - George Francisco, Head Chef at Circa 1876.

Hair – Erin Frances, absolutely brilliant!  So fun to work with and exceptionally talented.

Make up Aleisha Johnson, I came across Aleisha when I was a bridesmaid and I got in contact with her almost as soon as we were engaged – I had to have her! She’s incredibly talented and brings a sense of calm to the day.

Wedding Bands Max Diamonds.