I'm often asked what the best thing about my job is. Is it the champagne and cake? (I'm usually not there for that part!). Visiting beautiful venues and seeing couture gowns up close? (It is a privilege, I agree). Having an excuse to constantly refresh my wardrobe of cocktail dresses and jaunty heels? (A bonus, admittedly).
No, no and no. What I love best about my job is the people it introduces me to. The marrying couple, their bridal party, their family and friends and the suppliers they have chosen to help them create their ideal wedding day.
I end up working with many of these suppliers on a regular basis and it is so very satisfying to work with people who are not only excellent at what they do, but all round excellent human beings, too.
People you simply want to be around.
Tess Follett is one of those people.
Tess and I have worked on several weddings together and what struck me from the first time we met was her warmth. She is genuine; interested in not only the logistics of the ceremony but in who she's working with. She speaks about her clients with such enthusiasm and affection and this translates through to her images. They are breathtakingly beautiful, every single frame filled with emotion and authenticity. This experience is repeated every time I work with Tess.
So, when Tess asked me to conduct her wedding to the equally excellent Tom, I couldn’t say yes fast enough. Being around already amazing people on an exceptionally amazing day? Count me in.
At our first planning meeting, Tom and Tess let me in on some joyful news – they were expecting a baby! At those initial meetings, I thought Tom and Tess couldn’t love each other any more than they already did.
Then precious little Edie arrived.
The love that Tom and Tess have for each other and for their darling girl is spine-tingling to witness. I have goosebumps just thinking about it.
A few months later, on a summer afternoon that would make Goldilocks proud (not too cool, not too hot - just right!), guests gathered in the serene Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens for Tom and Tess's intimate, family-oriented ceremony. The setting they chose, beneath a grand old cedar tree, is so naturally beautiful it had an almost dream-like vibe.
Guests arrived in the hidden glade and helped themselves to refreshing drinks from an old-fashioned lemonade stand, greeting Tom with hugs and excited chatter. As the sounds of live jazz and soul rose amongst the ancient trees, guests couldn’t help themselves from dancing, adding to the fun and celebratory atmosphere.
When the time came for Tess’s entrance, Tom and his smartly attired groomsmen took their place in front of Prunella's lush and verdant floral arbour. A hush settled over the crowd as the the opening bars of the timelessly beautiful ‘Songbird’ filled the air, and all eyes turned with anticipation to the end of the aisle.
Edie was the first one down the aisle in the arms of her aunty. At that moment, Tom lost all his composure. Seeing this perfect little person that he and Tess created together seemed to bring all of his emotions to the surface; emotions that remained beautifully apparent when Tess made her way towards him shortly after, seemingly gliding on air in her gorgeous One Day Bridal gown.
Tom and Tess's ceremony focused on the things that matter most to them - time spent with each other and with those they love. Appreciating the little things and realising that it's the little things that are the big things. Finding a way to laugh each day. Understanding, accepting and loving each other for who they are.
And, of course - Edie.
Little though she may have been, Edie knew what was going on. Each time I mentioned her name, she gurgled happily in response to let us know she was listening!
Beneath that gorgeous arbour, Tom and Tess exchanged vows, their voices shaking first with pride and emotion, and then with giggles when Tom briefly forget how to answer a rather important question! (For the record, it's 'I do'!).
Their first married kiss was mesmerising to witness, Tom cradling Tess’s face with his hands. The photo below is one of my favourites. At that moment, there was no one in Tom and Tess’s world but each other.
On that day, it was as if all the love in the world was there in that glade with us.
It followed me all the way home.
Tom and Tess, thank you for allowing me to share that most magical of days with you.
Tess, I know how many celebrants you see each year and I am truly honoured to have been invited into your lives and trusted with your story.
You two are incredible individuals, incredible parents and an incredible couple.
May you always know the love and joy you were enveloped by on that glorious day.
Tom + Tess
Venue: Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens
Photos: Dan O'Day
Gown: One Day Bridal
Music: Kimba & Ryan
Celebrant: Koren Harvey