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Rachael & Jonathan's Glamorous Wedding at the Grounds

Posted on 22 Jun, 2016
Rachael & Jonathan's Glamorous Wedding at the Grounds


How did you meet your (now) husband? Jonny and I met on a night out in Canberra eight years ago but despite an attraction nothing happened at the time. Then in May 2013, I was a Police recruit and one of my instructors was Jonny!  There was a spark again but given he was my instructor nothing could happen. So instead Jonny waited ten minutes after I attested from the College before asking me out in front of some of the other new Constables he had taught.

How long have you been together? About two and a half years.

Do you have a proposal story? 

Asking my Dad: One day while I was at work Jonny drove down to Canberra (he told me he was going for a bike ride). He had found the number for my Dad's assistant & booked a meeting. Jonny was sitting waiting in his office with a special bottle of Single Malt Whiskey (a shared passion of theirs). When my Dad walked in Jonny said "you can have this if I can give Rachael this" and he showed Dad the ring.

The proposal: The proposal happened in June 2015 when we were traveling around Europe. We were in Venice we went to dinner at a beautiful restaurant called ‘Riviera’ followed by a walk along a canal. Jonny stopped at a spot along the way, bent down on one knee & proposed with a beautiful Tiffany's setting engagement ring.

The Wedding

What was your wedding date? 12 February 2016

Location (Ceremony and Reception)

Where? The garden, at The Grounds of Alexandria for both the ceremony and reception.

What made you choose there? We knew we wanted to get married at The Grounds before we were engaged. We loved the style of The Grounds and felt it reflected us as a couple – fun, classic, rustic but a little bit quirky. We loved that there was so much to look at and so much personality at The Grounds. Plus they had a small farm animal’s area which was fun! We were hoping for the animals to make an appearance at the wedding and they did with the rooster crowing and the lamb bleating during the ceremony.

We also liked the idea of having the ceremony and reception at the same location. That way guests could enjoy canapés and drinks while we had our photographs taken rather than worry about moving to the next location.

How did you find it? We had been to The Grounds whilst we were dating and decided it was where we would want our wedding. We were so set on the venue that we emailed them finding out if it was possible to have our wedding there while we were still away in Europe after Jonny proposed.

How was the weather on the day? The weather on the day was absolutely perfect; 27 degrees, sunny with a slight breeze.

What made you decide to get married on this particular date? We decided early on that we wanted to have a short six month engagement. We didn’t need long to plan the wedding and just wanted to be married to each other. The 12th of February was the closest free date for both us and The Grounds that was six months from the engagement while not encroaching on people’s Christmas or New Year’s holidays.


The Wedding Details

Theme (if any – colours, features, etc.)? We styled the wedding ourselves, but it was all coordinated perfectly by The Grounds. The colour theme was black and white for the clothing. The flowers were also white with a splash of greenery designed in a rustic ‘messy’ fashion. We chose these colours because The Grounds has so much character and visual stimulation that we wanted to compliment the surroundings rather than take away or over crowd it. 

In terms of the theme we were looking for a classic, timeless look so the photos wouldn’t date too quickly but also wanted to have a rustic, hipster and quirky touches, especially in the detail.

Where did you draw your inspiration/ideas from? A lot of inspiration/ideas came from searching Pinterest and Etsy. However, we wanted to also to incorporate a few touches of our own.

Were any aspects of your wedding D.I.Y? If so What? Jonny and I wanted a lot of the smaller touches to be D.I.Y. We had the following unique touches/D.I.Y:

- Jonny & I made bottles of Limoncello as bonbonaire’s because Jonny is Italian & we were engaged in Italy. To symbolize both of these elements the bonbonaire tags had a map of Italy and said 'Engaged in Italy' (in the fashion of Made in Italy)

- Each name setting was a scrabble rack which guests got to take home as a keep sake along with the bonbonaire’s;

- The seating plan was written on an old glass panelled door

- Each table setting had a folk cutlery tag with a note thanking guests for sharing our first meal together as husband & wife. On the back was the shared feast menu.

- Given our profession we had Police Bride and Groom as our cake topper (very Mr & Mrs Smith)

- Our wishing well was a small suitcase with our initials monogrammed

- On the welcome table, there was a wine box my Dad hand made that held a bottle of wine. It also had letters Jonny and I wrote to each other before the wedding and blank cards which allowed guests to write wishes/advice. Those were then secured in pouches hand sewn by my Mum. The wine box was sealed & will be opened on our ten year anniversary

- Also held on the welcome table were photographs of our parents & grandparents on their wedding day

- Our 'guest book' was a photo frame which was filled up with wooden hearts guests wrote their names on. It is now hung on our wall as a momento

- We had the famous marriage quote from The Princess Bride printed & framed. It was on our signing table and is now hung on our wall

- We had a galvanised pot filled with sand from Coogee beach (which is special place for us). In the sand we set up sparklers for the sparkler send off. The front of the pot was a chalk board saying what time to grab a sparkler. Next to the pot was a jar filled with Redhead Matchboxes.

- To make sure we captured all our guests having fun we organized a photo booth but instead of the usual booth style we hired a photo corner that way groups of people could have photos together. The props were so much fun.

- My bridesmaids used two musicians called Romance Outsourced who wrote & performed a song about Jonny & I for the wedding as part of their speech. They also gave us our song on a CD. It was so special & fun!



We had canapes to start:

  • Bolognaise arancini with parmesan aioli
  • Blue swimmer crab tartlet with lemon mayo and red micro basil
  • Caramelised apple, jamon serrano, wild rocket, buffalo mozzarella & apple balsamic

For the main meal we didn’t want a one by one meal. Instead we had a shared feast which was set up in a rustic Italian style setting:

  • Roasted grass fed sirloin, sautéed silver beet, watercress & horseradish cream
  • Roasted whole chicken, Italian soft polenta, reggio parmigiana, char-grilled baby leeks, brioche crumbs and morel sauce
  • Baked ocean trout, shaved fennel, orange, red onion, watercress & salsa verde

      Vegetable option:

  • Green bean with cashew nut, chili, lime & extra virgin olive oil
  • Baby tomato salad with cherry, kumato’s, tear drop, cherry bocconcini & apple balsamic dressing
  • Roasted chat potatoes with rosemary, sea salt & extra virgin olive oil


Our wedding cake was a three tiered white chocolate and raspberry cake with a white rustic/naked icing. It was decorate with flowers and greenery as well as our bride and groom Police cake topper.

We also had five miniature deserts set up on a desert table:

  • Miniature salted caramel tartlets
  • Miniature lemon meringues
  • Miniature Grounds Bounty Bars
  • The Grounds Nutella filled donuts
  • Miniature milk choc mousse with hazelnut dacquoise layer cake

Bridal Party

Bridesmaids – who/relationship?

Dimi – best friend and someone I lived with for the seven years before I met Jonny.

Angela – my best friend who I have known since I was nineteen.

Groomsmen – who/relationship?

Ben – best friend in early adulthood

Kim - best friend since high school

Flower girls/Page boys – who/relationship? Alara, Ethan and Sienna who are our nieces and nephews.

Wedding Gown (the most important part!)

What made you decide to come into Karen Willis Holmes? I knew from the start my dress had to be by the extremely talented Karen Willis Holmes. I loved the style and quality of the dresses. I also loved that they were designed and made in Australia.

Where have you seen our gowns (if at all) before? I had mostly only seen the gowns online and Instagram but I made sure it was the first appointment I made.

How many gowns did you try? I tried on every dress in the Karen Willis Holmes Paddington store & while they were all so beautiful I eventually tried on the Paige which took my breath away.

Where did you purchase your gown from (which store or stockist)? I purchased all my Karen Willis Holmes items (veil etc) from the store in Paddington. The staff were amazing, helpful, and so patient.

What did you especially like about your gown? I originally pictured wearing a fitted dress that had straps. While trying on nearly all of the Karen Willis Holmes dresses one of the last ones I tried was the Paige. This was the dress that made me this ‘wow’. I never felt more beautiful than when I was wearing that dress. I had three Paige trains attached to the dress which I felt made it more unique, special & modern creating the layering down the back. I loved the dress so much.


Who is your bridesmaid dress supplier? The bridesmaid’s dresses were from Bridesmaid’s Only in Double Bay. I loved that you could get any of their dresses in any colour. Given my bridesmaids had such different bodies I told them to pick whichever dress they wanted and we would get it in black.

Where did you get the groom and groomsmen’s suits? Jonny’s suit was from M J Bale. It was a beautifully made classic black suit with a French cuff white shirt, black tie and white pocket square.

The groomsmen wore suits from Pepper’s in Double Bay. They wore the same classic black suit with a French cuff white shirt, black tie but with a black pocket square to match the bridesmaids.

What accessories did you choose to finish your gown and also for those in your bridal party? The girls wore simple/classic drop earrings which complimented their dresses.

The men wore matching personalized cufflinks and the pocket watches we bought for them as presents.

Given my dress was so ‘bridal’ I kept everything else simple; I had my hair in a simple slightly messy bun, classic pear shaped diamond studs, a veil, my Tiffany’s engagement ring, pale pink nail polish (matching the bridesmaids) and white peep toe heels from Nine West.

Where did you get your shoes from? I bought a classic plain pair of white peep toes shoes from Nine West.

Did you wear a veil/headpiece? Where did you get this from? I wore a fingertip veil from Karen Willis Holmes. It blended beautifully into the back of my Paige dress. It also had a little shimmer through it which caught the sun perfectly on the day.


What advice would you give brides organizing their wedding?

  • Although it is a busy time try to enjoy the process;
  • Find people/suppliers you trust. I got so lucky with who helped me, most were little known suppliers, and I am now lucky to call them friends after the wedding;
  • I think having details made the wedding more ‘us’. Try to think outside of the usual wedding ideas and find things that suit you and your partners style to incorporate; and
  • Don’t worry about things being perfect and serious on the day. For instance, our celebrant got the guests to cheer as my Dad and I walked down the aisle which lightened the mood and showed guests what type of wedding it would be. Also we had roosters crowing during our vows which we loved and felt added to our wedding as opposed to letting the noise or little things ruin the day.

What advice would you give brides searching for their wedding gown? Don’t go into gown shopping set on a particular type of dress because you don’t want to be closed off to other dresses which may suit your shape better.

Anything extra that is special or you would like to share about your big day?

We gave gifts to all of the bridal party and family members:

- The girls in the wedding party/family members received matching Peter Alexander pyjama pants with a different coloured singlet & earrings from Fletcher Grace.

- The boys in the wedding party/family members received personalized cuff links & a pocket watch.

- Each parent received a personalized handkerchief.

- Jonny gave my Dad a personalized hip flask filled with Whiskey to incorporate how he asked my Dad for my hand in marriage.

Family Jonny and I are both very close to our families so it was important to us that our wedding was family focused with each of our family members having a role. This made the day so special.

Mums: both Mums read a reading/poem that was spoken at their weddings.

Dads: my Dad walked me down the aisle and both Dads did a speech. In addition Jonny and I surprised my Dad with a dance to one of our childhood special songs. Jonny took the microphone from our MC and requested my Dad meet me under the fairy lights on the dance floor. The DJ then played a song my Dad and I have danced to together since I was little.

Jonny's sister: was a witness.

My brother: was a witness.

Jonny's brother in law: was the MC.

My sister in law: designed & made all of the invites, bonbonaires tags, thank you cards & other paper goods.

Nieces & Nephews: the cuteness that walked down the aisle before the bridesmaids.

Something Old? A white handkerchief from my Mum.

Something New? My dress, earrings, veil and shoes.

Something Borrowed? A white handkerchief from my Mum.

Something Blue? A blue garter my Mum bought me.


Florist: Emma Mackenzie from Mackenzie Florals - emma@mackenziefloral.com

Photographer: Kierstin Segura from 'Dear to My Art

Dress: The Paige gown with Paige trains - Karen Willis Holmes 

Event coordinator at The Grounds: Bethan Tolmaer, The Grounds

Invitations & paper supplies: Alison Banham - Etsy Store - Love Invites

Hair & make up: Pixie's Hair & Make Up 

Bridesmaids dresses: Bridesmaids Only

Grooms suit: MJ Bale 

Event stylist: I styled the wedding myself but it was all coordinated perfectly by The Grounds

Rings: Tiffany's 

Celebrant: Marry Me Nicky

Photo booth: Photo Corner

Hotel: The Langham Sydney 

Music: Impressions DJ 

Aisle song: Marry Me by Train

First dance: Better Man by James Morrison

Cake and desert table: The Grounds