A curated display of sculptures, raw travertine and sandstone elements framed this unique and intimate ceremony in northern New South Wales. Vows were exchanged under a whitewashed pergola, romanced by flowering bougainvillea cascading en masse. A simple aisle decorated with thick, ivory rose petals and rows of black wrought iron chairs led the way to Elle and Shaun’s European-inspired altar.
The whimsical yet undeniably chic theme continued onto their reception, with a collection of French lanterns strung above a single large table in the softly lit dining space. The tablescape was adorned with delicate ceramics, fragmented travertine, shell accents, and bright citrus fruits. A combination both unexpected and endearing.
Fins Plantation House was the perfect setting for this wildly romantic celebration that interwove high fashion and unique styling details. These intimate memories will be treasured forever by Elle, Shaun and their beautiful daughter Ava, thanks to the ever-talented team at Sir Ivory.
Names / Elle & Shaun
Wedding Date / 10th July, 2020
Guest Numbers / 25
How We Met
Shaun and I first connected through a close girlfriend of mine who I had recently met. She had just relocated to Palm Beach and happened to move in with Shaun who was looking for a flatmate at the time. He worked at sea for long periods of time, so it was rare that I saw him. You could say our relationship began very suddenly when my girlfriend asked me if I could collect mail for Shaun whilst he was away so naturally, we began chatting. I was heading over to Bali for a vacation not long after that and asked him if he would want to join…not at all expecting he would agree, but he did and we had our first date in Nusa Lembongan at Ohanas. Our lives quickly intertwined and it has been history since then.
Our Engagement Story
In May, 2020. We were heading over to Spain for three months before Covid started. Unfortunately the week we were to leave, Spain closed its borders. After a huge rollercoaster of emotions and discussions, we decided that we were going to elope instead of our trip. Shaun left it up to me to choose a ring and I was just waiting for him to propose. Our daughter Ava was being babysat and we had a reservation at our favorite Italian restaurant. Shaun had lit candles and purchased my favorite vintage champagne. With Chris Stapleton playing in the background, he got down on one knee and told me all of the reasons why he loved me. It was a simple yet beautiful night, one that I will never forget.
Marriage Means to Us
Two souls intertwined. Changing, growing, and learning together. Mutual respect based on love, passion and commitment.
We had visited several venues but after stepping onto the grounds at Fins at Plantation House, it only felt natural to us that we got married there. Our ceremonial space overlooked Mount Warning to the west and the Pacific Ocean to the east. Shaded by a flowering Poinciana tree and a beautiful white painted pergola spilling bougainvillea vines. Our ceremony was followed by a relaxed mingling hour upstairs on Plantation House’s iconic balcony which overlooks a beautiful hinterland view. Dinner was served inside, the flowing sheer white curtains just a step in from the balcony. What is usually their bridal suite was turned into a softly lit and intimate space, with one table filled with our nearest. Our night was completed with a luxe dining experience and bottomless vintage champagne. I wouldn’t have changed anything about our special day and given the option, I would get married again at Plantation House in a heartbeat.
The morning of our wedding was fairly relaxed. Shaun and I spent the night in a luxe hotel together the night before, just the two of us. We celebrated that morning with champagne and macarons before going our separate ways. I met my mother and sister who was my maid of honour at Plantation House where we were greeted with vintage champagne. We had our make up done in the bridal suite upstairs which was just a step away from our reception area. We slowly sipped champagne and chatted whilst french music flowed throughout the rooms and out over the balcony.
Overall Aesthetic / Style
Our overall aesthetic inspiration was drawn from the European spring, still life paintings from the Dutch Masters era, vintage French lighting, and our venue itself. Whilst there were many elements, we celebrated with a minimalist, uncluttered vibe that was unexpected and wildly elegant.
Our vision for the ceremony was quite simple for us – an intimate setting surrounded by our nearest and dearest. We drew inspiration from the European spring, tying the knot under a white pergola that spilled bougainvillea vine. Between black wrought iron chairs filled with family, an aisle of thick ivory rose petals leading to our inspired altar. Travertine pieces, sandstone plinths, spilling textural fabric and a sculpted torso were complimented by minimal stem blooms. A white wrought iron registry setting sat simply to the side. We celebrated with a grand tower of coupe glasses filled with Bollinger – a perfect end to our ceremony.
Our reception began with a relaxed yet beautiful mingling hour on the stunning large wooden balcony, sipping champagne and grazing on sumptuous canapes. Intimately placed garden furniture with styling reminiscent of a still life painting from the Dutch Masters era filled the open area that overlooked the hinterland. Think avant-garde blooms, renaissance figurines, fruit, and shell accents.
Onto our reception dinner, an elegant and unique display awaited us. Crumpled white linen that puddled to the floor at table’s end, lined with black iron chairs and set with an artistic European approach. Each place setting consisted of scalloped white plates, loosely styled taupe napery, white refined place cards with minimalist script beside classic gold cutlery, and etched stemware. A feature crystal tumbler added a touch of luxe to the final setting. My stylist described our tablescape as a true testament to my personal style. Beautiful French urns and scalloped vases ware cascading with florals, each arrangement different to the next, some florals gathered extra interest with the addition of clam or nautilus shells. Unique dishes filled with cumquats were placed along the table, nestled between tall gold taper candles and open mandarins. Further ceramic torsos, pieces of broken travertine and classic figurines created miniature styled vignettes throughout. The shelved area of our dining room was styled with carefully curated pieces and sporadic floral arrangements while overhead, minimal French lighting created a warm, ambient tone.
At the end of the room, we had a separate picnic dinner setting for the flower girls. Layered blankets, pillows and a low coffee table allowed the children to play and eat at their leisure. A toy chest filled with various loved items sat to the side for their entertainment and enjoyment.
Our wedding was styled by the awe-inspiring and incredibly talented Heidi Cansdell of Sir Ivory. From the beginning, Heidi understood our whole vision from aesthetics to functionality. She translated everything inside of my thoughts into the most beautiful reality, being our dream wedding day. Her relaxed approach and ability to create with individual personality and style is one of the many reasons we were drawn to her. She has a natural eye for all things beautiful and aesthetically pleasing, with an execution level that is incomparable. Planning our wedding with Heidi was an unforgettable experience and one that I will forever hold close to my heart.
Our wedding was photographed by the amazingly gifted Megan Kelly of Sir Ivory. Her innate eye for capturing the essence of candid moments in a timeless aesthetic was something that really spoke to us from the beginning. Being surrounded by our nearest and dearest, family portraits were something that meant a lot to both of us. I had fallen in love with all of Megan’s previous work, especially the family portraits from other weddings which were one of the many reasons we were drawn to her. Megan was a dream to work alongside whilst curating our perfect day and this of course translated to a seamless photography timeline on the day. In company with the effortless portrait photos that Megan illustrated, she also captured our nuptial bliss in a roll of film that we will cherish for years and years to come.
A minimalistic gown with a timeless silhouette. It features a high neck and backless detail complemented with a long-sleeve overlay bodice draped in delicate georgette. Elegant sleeve details encompassed a deep, luxe cuff and hand-sewn covered buttons adding to the timeless appearance. The Brie Gown flowed perfectly with a simple yet beautiful train paired with a two-tier ivory tulle veil.
For our mingling hour, I changed into Grace. A strapless mini dress featuring heavenly, sculptural mesh honeycomb fabric and a beautifully flattering waistline. I paired Grace with the Opera Train – a truly whimsical statement piece. It features an off-the-shoulder puff sleeve with a sheer organza train. To complete this look, I wore a bespoke oversized straw hat by Rosie Boylan.
I wore Grace with the Charlie Jacket for our intimate sit down dinner. A timeless and sleek addition which was perfect for the cooler weather at night. Charlie is a beautiful double-breasted blazer with stunning sleeve details. Both wild and feminine, it spoke volumes to me.
For the ceremony, I wore a black pair of slip-on mules by Tony Bianco. A simple, open toe heel with two over foot straps. For cocktail hour and reception, I wore a metallic rose gold stiletto heel with an open toe and multiple crossover straps.
The Plisse Midi Dress by Zimmermann. A refined pleated dress with a V-neck, blouson bodice and straight skirt. The Maid of Honor wore this in white.
A natural slip-on mule heel by Tony Bianco.
Our flower girls wore a soft white linen dress detailed with a fully lined panelled bodice, full gathered skirt and sweet tie back. These were purchased from a small business on Etsy called Miya and Ma. We paired these with a white ruffle sock, rose gold sandals, and a tulip flower crown.
An 18-carat yellow gold halo diamond engagement ring with a pear centre. My wedding band was my great grandmother’s or who I used to call, “Mama”. It has a lot of sentimental value and I couldn’t imagine wearing anything else. It’s so special to me that I get to wear something that was once one of her most treasured possessions. It is a simple 9-carat gold band. Shaun opted for a wider styled silver wedding band.
Jewellery / Accessories
For accessories, I wanted to keep it fairly refined so I wore two pairs of simple gold sleepers handed down to me from my grandmother.
“Enjoy the process, things will seem hard at times. In the end, your day will be nothing but perfect. After all, you are marrying your lover. It’s magic.”
Shaun wore a classic tuxedo and his best man complimented him in a tuxedo, no bowtie and a button undone.
The beautiful and talented Shannon Hope did my makeup. I hoped for something natural but lasting, with bronzy tones and a nude lip. Shannon executed my thoughts perfectly, and it was still stunning by the end of the night.
Our wedding invitations I designed myself on a natural-beige textured paper. The font was a combination of traditional and script, requesting the presence of our loved ones on the 10th of July. For our place cards, we opted for a minimalistic white card with refined script.
I had personalised white silk pyjamas made for my grandmother, mother, Maid of Honor, and daughter. We wore them whilst getting our makeup done.
Marina Machado designed our dream wedding cake layered with tiers of decadent caramel, beurre noisette buttercream, hazelnut praline and covered from head to toe in heavenly white ruffles. Her cakes are a work of art and ours was nothing less. Marina drew inspiration from my wedding dress and the overall aesthetic being timeless European vibes. It sat upon a vintage table surrounded with gold tapered candles. It was truly breathtaking.
Food & Beverages
Following the ceremony, our guests were served Bollinger and a luxe range of canapes during cocktail hour. These included Yellowfin Tuna Sashimi, Bangalow Sweet Pork Baos and BBQ King Prawns. This was followed by an intimate sit down dinner with an entree of beautifully served scallops, Bangalow sweet pork and king prawn, and finished with an elegant main of Snowy’s Fish or Striploin Beef. We concluded the three-course dinner with our luscious wedding cake. For beverages, we chose a range of quality spirits, wines and beers for our guests to sip on throughout the night.
Due to the pandemic, we are yet to go on our honeymoon, but once we are able to travel freely again we will be on the first flight to Fiji. We are also planning a mid-year trip to Europe with our first stop being Tuscany.
Processional – ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love With You’ by Elvis
Signing of registry – ‘Let’s Stay Together’ by Al Green
Recessional – ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You’ by Frankie Valli
Cake cutting – ‘At Last’ by Etta James
First dance – ‘Dream A Little Dream Of Me’ by The Mamas And The Papas. These were all played acoustically by our entertainment.
A beautiful close girlfriend of mine, Danielle Guest, and her father, Phil Guest played our acoustics. The combination of gentle guitar strumming and ukulele harmonising with Danielle’s heavenly voice was something that truly made our wedding the most special day, not only for us but for our guests as well. We chose a range of classic and modern tunes that flowed from the balcony out over the hinterland. For dinner, we played a relaxed French playlist that I had carefully curated.
Fabian Lizza. Fabian captured the essence of our relationship so naturally and that was one of the reasons we were drawn to him. His relaxed approach and clear passion for love really resonated with what we were looking for and this of course translated to a seamless ceremony on the day. Our experience with Fabs was really personal. We really loved him as a person and he also got along with all of our guests and made everyone feel comfortable. Having him as our celebrant was incomparable.
Shaun and I both wrote our own vows. This was something that was incredibly important and personal to both of us. We both mentioned the strong love that we share for our beautiful daughter Ava, and I mentioned my beloved great-grandmother who had passed away.
Sources of Inspiration
Heidi Cansdell, Sir Ivory.
A Memorable Moment
I think just having all of our family together was the most special and memorable moment for us. Walking down the aisle and seeing all of their reactions is something I will forever hold close to my heart.
One Thing I Wish I Knew Before I Started My Wedding Plans…
We did really well planning a wedding in seven weeks. We left our ceremony seating until the last minute and we only realised once I walked down the aisle that my family were all sitting behind me. They didn’t mind as they got to see all of Shaun’s emotions but it would have been nice for them to see mine.
If I could give other Brides-To-Be one Piece of Advice
Enjoy the process, things will seem hard at times. In the end, your day will be nothing but perfect. After all, you are marrying your lover. It’s magic.
Bride / Elle McLean
Photography / Megan Kelly
Bride’s Dresses & Veil / Karen Willis Holmes
Bridesmaid’s Dresses / Zimmermann
Flowergirls / Etsy
Wedding Rings / Custom Made by LeGassick Diamonds
Hair & Makeup / Shannon Hope
Stationery & Invitations / Paper Paper
Florist / Sir Ivory
Cake / Marina Machado
Catering / Fins at Plantation House
Lighting / Out of The Dark Event Lighting
Wedding Stylist / Sir Ivory
Wedding Planner / Sir Ivory
Celebrant / Hitched by Fabs
Venue / Fins at Plantation House
Honeymoon Destination / Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay
Entertainment / Danielle Guest
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