High in the mountains of Bali, a bride effortlessly adorned in a Rue Du Seine kaftan silhouette, bare feet dressed in silver anklets and carrying a bouquet of long stem red roses, walks through the jungle and over a suspended bridge. Below, the river filled with the blessings and flowers of guests’, rushes alongside towering palms and endless rice fields.
This wedding is a celebration of the couple’s innate connection to a place. Full of heart and spirit and paying homage to the natural Bali setting, it is relaxed, honest, organic, layered and refined. A touch bohemian and a lot personalised, it beautifully combines a respect for local customs with western wedding traditions.
A ceremony aisle is custom made from bamboo reeds and hand painted by the couple’s closest friends. Bridesmaids wear mismatched whites and carry miniature gardens of baby daisies. The natural ceremonial space is enchanted with hundreds of local roses, orchids, hydrangea, tuberose and giant elephant ear leaves. While a barefoot reception in a dark bamboo hut is magically lit by hundreds of candles and hanging festoon lights. Walls of tiered flowers in woven baskets and a garden of marigold flowers strung above the dance floor seamlessly bring the outdoors in.
HOW WE MET: We first met working in a record shop when we were younger. We had a great friendship and respect for each other whilst playfully hating each others taste in music. 6 years later we met again through our gorgeous mutual friend. Elliott always describes this moment as if it happened in slow motion, the crowd parted and he saw me again standing under the light. It felt like magic for both of us. Our friendship was destined to become a very deep love.
OUR ENGAGEMENT STORY: Elliott actually proposed 3 times! I said yes every time of course. The first one I thought he was joking, so the second one he did again with a ‘stand in’ ring, then we went shopping and found ‘the one’ together and then to my surprise he proposed again with this ring! He put headphones on me in our lounge room and played me my favourite classical piece of music with his voice recorded over the top telling me how much he loved me then at the right time in the music he was on his knee holding the ring. It was so private and personal it was perfect.
MARRIAGE TO US MEANS: We discussed getting marriage as a connection of our souls to be made in front of the people we love and to take the next step from being best friends and lovers to being family.
WEDDING LOCATION: We traveled to Bali for our wedding. It is a place that means a lot to both of us. Quickly becoming our second home. It is filled with life, spirituality, art and surfing. We wanted to show our guests why its so beautiful and important to us and take them on an adventure. We started on the coast of Bali and then journeyed with them up into the mountains. The wedding location itself found us through chance the year before and is the most beautiful place we have ever experienced. We were married on the river at Bambu Indah, in Ubud Bali. A collection of hand carved, antique Javanese huts built into an eco hotel designed by the incredible John Hardy and his family.
THEME/STYLE: The style of the wedding was dictated by the natural setting and the way we wanted our loved ones to feel. It was relaxed, honest, natural, organic, beautiful, layered and refined.
BRIDE’S DRESS: I couldn’t see myself in a wedding dress it gave me nightmares!... until I met the beautiful Michele Corty of Rue De Seine. Her designs are the most beautiful dresses I have ever seen but more than that they are filled with her heart and spirit. That’s what means the most to me. They made my day by going above and beyond to help me. I owe them so much gratitude.
BRIDE’S SHOES: It naturally ended as a no shoes wedding
BRIDESMAID’S SHOES: I think in the end all our guests including the bridal party had no shoes on!
JEWELLERY/ACCESSORIES: I designed a silver bracelet on a previous trip to Bali for all the girls and my mum to wear on the day. I also wore a small diamond on a silver chain my husband bought me and anklets.
WEDDING RINGS: My engagement ring is 1930s diamond ring we both found and loved and my wedding ring is vintage too. I love that they have a history of their own. Elliott chose a gorgeous thick, white gold band with a small diamond.
MAKEUP: I was so lucky to be in the hands of one of my besties Tiffany Mooney of Moonshine Makeup. Nothing better than being able to look up at the face of your friend doing your makeup on the day! She rocked my red Chanel lips!
STATIONERY/INVITATIONS: I designed the invitations myself and had them printed in china. Really simple and chic. We then bought indian woodblock stamps and hand pressed all the envelopes in our kitchen, to give them something from us.
FAVORS/BONBONNIERE: Our gift for all our incredible travelling guests was a one hour massage by our very dear friend Wayan who I have known in Bali for many years. It was great to introduce him to all my friends as well as give them the best massage of their lives! He also was our guest at the wedding.
FLOWERS & BOUQUETS: I was so blessed to have my brothers beautiful girlfriend Dani of Blossom & Willow to create my bouquet and reception flowers. She got me instantly and is the most chilled out supportive person to have designing with you. We also worked with Marthas florist in Seminyak who are so loving and talented. I chose red, long stemmed roses for myself naturally bound together and miniature garden daisies for the girls. We had hundreds of local roses, orchids, hydrangea, tuberose and giant elephant ear leaves. Heaven. I wanted everything as natural and abundant as possible.
VIDEOGRAPHY: We found a local videographer and it was very last minute so I didn’t get a chance to brief them! Or even view their work. But I am so SO glad we got them in the end because it is beyond amazing to watch it all back. You see so much you missed and so many little intimate moments captured. For my grandmothers who couldn’t make it overseas this is also priceless.
PREPARATION: Our Balinese friends took us for a blessing the eve before our wedding at the local holy water temple, as is their custom. We swam in the spring and cleansed our hearts. I had no idea what a profound moment this would be for us. Elliott and I got to have some quiet time together, release everything, honour the land that was having us and give our thanks to the community. It was like nothing I have ever experienced and left us lighter than air.
The morning of our wedding was incredible. With so many family and friends staying in the hotel we all got up and started helping set the space. My dad was carrying flowers, my friends were unwrapping candle sticks and lanterns. It was so joyful. It felt good that so many hands were helping us create the space to be married in.
CEREMONY DÉCOR/ RECEPTION DÉCOR: My biggest realisation in designing this wedding was how creative this could be for both of us. We could design an experience using all the senses for our guests to walk inside of. We left the rock as overgrown and natural as possible. The river rushed along beside us. The aisle was custom made out of bamboo reeds and hand painted by my closets friends, my family, Elliott and I. It took 3 days and many hands and became a communal piece! The journey to the ceremony was a 15 minute walk through the jungle, over a suspension bridge. Along the way we asked guests to throw flowers into the water and give a blessing. Bali is all about heart and this was important to honour for us. The reception was held in the antique Minang House. No shoes allowed. It is completely made from dark stained bamboo. I created a wall of tiered flowers in woven baskets. I had been wanting to use these baskets in a design for 6 years! It was beyond perfect to be able to use them at our wedding. The table was a mix of antique pewter candle sticks, morocan lanterns and vases filled with local flowers and green leaves. Each setting has a custom made linen napkin and a bouquet garnish of fresh herbs. The ceiling had festoon lights hanging amongst circular wreaths of leaves. Over the dance floor hung hundreds of marigold flowers strung up by the beautiful team at bambu indah. There were flowers and candles for days.
WEDDING PLANNER/ WEDDING STYLIST: am a stylist so this wedding was a design straight from my heart to Elliott and our loved ones. I could never have pulled it off without the love and dedication of my mentor Alex Zabotto-Bentley and our team Pete, Penny & Jenni at AZBcreative. They bent over backwards and rallied so much. They are so insanely talented. I have the pleasure of working with them and designing with them everyday. I knew with AZBcreative everyone would walk into a complete immersive experience not just a room and it would stay with them in their senses long after the cake was cut!!
ENTERTAINMENT: Our DREAM night! Dancing to nothing but Gipsy King covers! I had seen Buena Tierra Band out in Ubud and approached them to play at our wedding. They are the most incredible salsa band and the energy it created was incredible. My family and friends laughing and dancing like mad men under a canopy of marigolds is one of my favourite memories!
FOOD & BEVERAGES:The food experience at Bambu Indah is nothing short of amazing. Its all grown in their garden which you are sitting above to eat and its all homestyle, traditional indonesian food. Fresh, organic and authentic with flavours that are mind blowing.
ANY OTHER SPECIAL DETAILS: The week was spent exploring and immersing ourselves in Bali. Temples, walks, organic food white water rafting and many a chilli margarita. Destinations weddings allow for a true adventure where everyone finds a common ground, a new love for each other. I have never seen our families and friends closer. I would recommend a destination wedding to everyone!
SOURCES OF INSPIRATION: Everyday you get in bali is an inspiration. We wanted nothing more than to combine local customs with respect, like wedding penjors and chanang offerings with western wedding customs that felt most like us.
A MEMORABLE MOMENT: We learnt so much about love from that day from the generous spirit of everyone there. The most memorable moment is the laughing and love shared and new friendships that were made. People were so present and open. It blew me away seeing them all form their own bonds. Even now back in Sydney they are having reunions all the time!! My parents have adopted everyone! It was beyond us, it was an adventure that brought people together.
IF I COULD GIVE OTHER BRIDES TO BE ONE PIECE OF ADVICE... I am full of advice now! And I understand weddings from a new place. I know the next wedding I design I will be able to give so much love and support to the bride. And that will be my besties wedding next year! So for her and everyone else I would say; wedding planning can be daunting but it is at heart a creative journey. Choose what details are most important to you and forget the rest, don’t drown in too much work, be real and be simple. The night before remove yourself from it and let it all go, run, cleanse, mediate whatever will help you let go, but have that moment of release and come back and be present. It will be perfect.
CHANTEL & ELLIOTT'S CONTACTS:
PHOTOGRAPHY: Teneil Kable
BRIDE'S DRESS: Rue De Seine
WEDDING RINGS: Vintage
HAIR: Tony & Guy
CAKE: Bambu Indah
WEDDING STYLIST: Chantel Covey (You can view my inspiration board here)
HONEYMOON DESTINATION: Bali
ENTERTAINMENT: Buena Tierra Band