Sydney-siders Mia and Dan married a stone’s throw from one of the world’s most beautiful harbours. And while theirs wasn’t a far away destination wedding, the couple felt their special day felt so far removed from their everyday life, “We felt like we were in a secret pocket, surrounded by only our closest,” Mia shares.
Wedding date: April 1st 2017
Wedding location: Woolwich, NSW
Number of guests: 66
Bridal Party: One maid of honour, one bridesmaid, one best man and one groomsman
Ceremony time: 11:30am - 12pm
Reception time: From 12pm
Tell us about how you met and about the proposal…
After finishing our studies, we took a well-earned holiday to the South Island of New Zealand, glamping above the shores of Lake Wanaka, where Dan proposed on the morning of the second last day. After all, we had survived a whole week together in the closest of quarters, adventuring with a small car through rocky fords, hiking to and from a glacier, driving for ages along winding roads, sharing ice cream, and we were still on talking terms with each other. How much worse could it get? We knew we would work! So, when Dan asked, “Will you marry me?” I said, “I will.”
Where was your wedding ceremony and reception?
Our ceremony was at The Goat Paddock, Woolwich, in Sydney. We chose a location in the paddock that would frame our ceremony with a great view through to the Harbour Bridge, and the slope of the hill giving a slight amphitheatre effect from which all our guests could have an easy view. Our reception we chose to have nearby, at Cucinetta, a wonderful Italian restaurant at the top of the hill overlooking Woolwich Dock and across to the city. We wanted a lunch wedding near the ceremony venue because we wanted our guests to be able to walk from one part of the wedding to the other without a long wait in between, and to give them the feeling of a warm family lunch, which Cucinetta provided for us so well.
How did you find your location?
This one is funny. We searched quite intensively, for quite a while before we found a place that we just fell in love with. We knew we wanted a small, intimate restaurant with a shared-platter concept. While we were in the area, and had just about decided on The Goat Paddock, and were wandering back to the car when a heavenly scent wafted past us. We had to investigate. It was Cucinetta, and they were perfect.
What was the vibe or theme of your wedding?
Relaxed, rustic, fun, old-school charm, with modern cultural twists. We went for a mixture of native and foreign flowers and foliage, which represented the fusion of our two very distinct family backgrounds. Dan is Australian born, but half Canadian, and I am Bosnian, and many of the elements of our wedding pay homage to Bosnian traditions. For example, one Bosnian wedding tradition is the pinning of boutonnieres on the guests by the bridal party, and focussing on the comfort of our guests. We gave gifts to all the children who came, including bubbles (which for the kids was the central part of the event). Wedding favours are part of Australian weddings, but not Bosnian. We chose Turkish delights, which are popular in Bosnia’s strong coffee culture. One of our guests visiting from Bosnia was smitten with the idea! We designed our invitation ourselves with the help of Dan’s brother, James, who is an artist and painted for us a watercolour of a protea that became the emblem of our wedding. Mia’s dress was very old-school and classical, as was the makeup, but the bridesmaids had classical elements (in the form of lace) on relatively modern cocktail style dresses. Dan and his groomsmen had more modern outfits, but with old-school elements, such as suspenders.
Another way that we achieved the vibe we wanted, focussing on our guests, was to get most of our bridal party and couple photography done before the ceremony and after the reception.
Describe the reception space...
Open and airy, yet cosy, light, rustically textured, but minimal. All the elements, from exposed brick work, to log circles framing the kitchen, to a textural wooden feature wall form a relatively neutral but beautiful canvas that can be decorated almost any style. Elements like wooden barrels, feature lights on two columns form interesting decorative pieces. The food is the natural centre of the restaurant space, and we designed our decorations with that in mind. Runners made of eucalyptus sprigs ran along each table, and pizza rings were used to present some of the shared entrée dishes. Light music was used to fill the space without overriding the conversations, which flowed throughout the afternoon.
Beside the restaurant, onto which it opened, was a field of grass and an open view across Sydney Harbour to the city itself. Because the weather was perfect, the restaurant’s open walls encouraged people to move easily, and allowed the kids to play with easy supervision.
Did you have an itinerary or planned activities for guests on either side of the wedding?
The itinerary that we had was mostly for Mia’s aunt, cousin and her partner from Bosnia, based very much on “Tourism Sydney”. We showed them Bondi, the Harbour Bridge, Taronga Zoo, the Aquarium at Darling Harbour, Manly, the Blue Mountains, the River Cat from Parramatta, and so on. After the wedding we took them down the South Coast to Kiama, also to Cabramatta for shopping, to Fairfield and Auburn for the wonderful food in those suburbs. It was their first time in Australia and we wanted to show them as much as we could.
All this was very relaxed and played by ear. For the guests on the day we wanted to carry this atmosphere through with chilled mineral water, melodic music, and an open space to mix before the formalities began. Afterwards, many of our guests took the ferry back to Circular Quay.
What are you glad you did on your special day?
We’re really glad we did our bridal party photography before the ceremony. It allowed us to be relaxed and fun through the ceremony and reception. We’re also very glad we brought gifts for the children, including bubbles (which were also fun for some of the big kids!), because weddings can be so challenging for the youngest.
We’re glad we went with the ceremony-lunch combination at Cucinetta, rather than a dinner reception. Cucinetta’s a la carte ordering of mains was remarked upon very positively and with some surprise by many of the guests. Providing a range of cakes and allowing our guests to choose whatever flavours they wanted was also a decision we were glad to have made.
What was your favourite part of your wedding day?
Dan’s favourite part was bringing everyone together and seeing it work, seeing them as our big family, whether they were related or not.
Mine was reading out zany vows and people laughing genuinely throughout the ceremony. (And cake! What’s not to love about cake? All five of them!)
What are you glad that you did on your wedding day?
We’re glad that we followed our guts and defied expectations. We had lunch, not dinner. We hosted in a beautiful restaurant and not a cookie-cutter wedding venue. We’re glad that we went for five cakes and not one. That our bridal party was dressed in casual smart attire and was comfortable the entire day, that Mia wore ballet flats, and that her hair was up (it was a hot day)! We’re ultimately glad that we made it our wedding, and not anyone else’s idea of it.
Is there anything you would have done differently?
We should have provided more shade for our guests before and during the ceremony; even in mid-autumn, the Australian sun can be brutal. Whilst we aimed for a very “organic” wedding, we could have benefitted from having an MC to guide guests exactly where and when at one or two critical points. In the end it all came together and the day as a whole was a great success, but we could easily have avoided those few problems.
Photography: Kristie Carrick Photography
Ceremony: The Goat Paddock
Wedding Rings: Ruby Jewellery (not online)
Bride’s gown: Mia Solano Wedding Dress from Luv Bridal and Formal
Bride’s shoes: Nine West
Bride’s accessories: Luna Pierced Earrings, from Swarovski
Hair stylist & makeup artist: EternalElegance
Bridesmaid dresses: Review (Maid of Honour) and Portmans (Bridesmaid)
Bridesmaid accessories: Fuse Silver
Groom’s trousers: Muji
Groom’s shirt jacket and tie: YD
Groom’s shoes: Marcs
Groom’s watch: Antique H. E. Richardson pocket watch from Kalmar Antiques
Groomsmen’s shirts: YD
Groomsmen’s trousers and shoes: Marcs
Groomsmen’s suspenders: Myer
Event planner/stylist: The bride and her friends
Celebrant: Jessie Cacchillo
Entertainment: Efkan Cetin (music mix)
Wedding favours: Real Turkish Delight