A particularly spectacular Australian country wedding for a founding member of the Secret Garden Festival who also happens to be Melissa’s graphic design deputy, took place this Autumn.
Beautiful bride Sophie Bligh loved every minute planning her nuptials and will happily guide you through every aspect of your big day including your dress, flowers, invitations, reception, and more.
You might not have a bucolic family property like she does, but here’s how to avoid mistakes, schedule your nuptials to get the best photos, and enjoy one of the biggest days of your life.
Sophie and Jono Carrigan can remember the exact moment they met in Brisbane’s famous pub, The Regatta. Five years after it all began, the groom popped the question during a romantic weekend in Noosa, Queensland.
Sophie knew exactly the kind of wedding she wanted: a weekend celebration at her country home in Goulburn, NSW, with as many friends and family as possible. She didn’t want anyone to feel left out. The date was set for an April 2021 wedding despite the pandemic and a plan was put in place.
The family property’s six acres of superb garden provided the perfect pastoral backdrop for the 170 person affair.
With loads of foliage mixed with white hydrangeas, tulips, roses, tuberose, Japanese anemone, quince, ornamental pear, and lemons, the wedding decorations by florist Gabrielle Chevalley perfectly complemented the lush, natural location.
A great invitation does much more than announce the event: it’s the stage for your vision, and it’s your opportunity to put that vision into your guest’s minds early on. Sophie’s white on white embossed stationery with an extra sage-coloured card including details of the weekend of celebrations represented the wedding well. Sending something too cutesy is confusing if you’re having an elegant, traditional wedding. If the stationery is discordant, you might accidentally prepare people to dress inappropriately.
A Picturesque Setting
Summer Hill in Goulburn, the bride’s idyllic family property with gardens by her renowned landscape design father, Michael Bligh was the nuptial playground for a weekend of bonfires, garden drinks, live music, a dinner dance, with lunch and tennis the next day, too. Having the wedding at home, meant Sophie had already overcome a big hurdle since selecting a venue is step one. Sophie decided she wanted a beautiful open-sided tent, Panama chairs, and the concept built from there.
The guest list should come next as that will drive everything else. From there, think of your theme: it will inspire the menu, which will lead to drinks and so on and so on.
Grounded floral arrangements were composed of naturalistic greenery, and white flowers, with lemons and cream-hued votive candles of varying heights on dining tables.
The flowers complimented the natural beauty of the gardens.
During the drinks hour, guests had the option of standing around tall bamboo circular tables from South Coast Hire with a bar set up on the lawn under 200-year-old trees. Sophie created the right atmosphere with music. Her choice of Mark Travers Music set the tone, hands down. It put guests in her desired mindset from the get-go. Hors d’oeuvres by country caterer favourite, Tessa Schwartz included locally sourced prawns, pork belly, oysters, chicken in beetle leaves, smoked salmon tarts, fried truffle ravioli, and plenty of traditional chicken sandwiches.
Look your womanly best: it’s the ultimate feminist statement. Sophie wanted something fabulous yet classic, she could take on the day in. You might love Poppy Delevingne’s bridal look, but forget DIY haute couture. Sophie used Moree-based designer, Melinda O’Donoghue, ex-Alex Perry, to create a completely bespoke dress and veil. Invest in something that suits you, and enjoy the effect.
The champagne flowed.
Dinner was served in a huge Sperry tent from South Coast Hire set up in the garden with long tables, less than one metre wide, better for conversation, surrounded with white pavilion canvas timber chairs for a relaxed vibe. Robust canvas painter’s cloths from Bunnings were popped over tables, and tall candles teamed with low vases of tulips, roses, tuberose and lemons for warmth and complexity. String bulb lights provided an ethereal ambience. Sophie did the artwork for the menu cards, and table seating directory, and used sustainable seeded paper place cards made using techniques of the past to ensure the planet has a future.
You can actually plant the handmade seeded paper that was used at Sophie and Jono’s wedding and it will grow into native daisies.
Hospitality means making people feel good, and everyone feels better when they look their best. People are sometimes afraid to misbehave under bright lights but when the lighting is low you never know what the night might do.
Lighting is everything, the best thing you can do is light everything very dimly. Instant drama. Instant romance.
The few musts: the food, the cake, and wine reflected Sophie and Jono as a couple. Local caterer Tessa Schwatz, who has become a firm fave with the country set, served up classic beef filet with bearnaise sauce, and multiple sides to choose from including locally grown pea and bean salads, Dutch carrots with buttered hazelnuts, and crushed new season potatoes. An elaborate pudding table followed with an assortment of cakes: lemon drizzle, family chocolate, carrot cake, traditional fruitcake, and more. Tea and coffee was a lovely touch, that often gets overlooked at weddings.
As for Sophie’s best advice for engaged couples currently navigating the pandemic? “As hard as it may seem, just go with the flow. “I can’t imagine not having my big wedding. Stick with it. Have your day.”
And for, Photos
Make sure you schedule the ceremony to get the best photos. Work out when the sun goes down, chat with their photographer about the ideal start time.
There is a ‘golden hour’ just before the sun sets that photographers love to take advantage of. Think of it as nature’s airbrushing.
Here’s Sophie’s List of Services, Suppliers and Professionals:
- Invitations, Brisbane Letterpress Printing, @brisbaneletterpressprinting, artwork by Sophie Carrigan, @sophie_mimi_carriagan
- Flowers @gabriellechevalley, outsidethisroom.com
- Photographer @photosbyjessieann, photosbyjessieann.com
- Food: Tessa Schwatz, tessa.net.au
- Celebrant, Victoria Pearson, @ceremony.vp
- Bride’s Gown and veil, Melinda O’Donoghue, ex-Alex Perry, @melindaodonoghue
- Videographer, Moon & Back Co @moonanddbackco www.moonandback.co
- Party Hire: Marquee rental, campaign chair rental, dinner plate and dance floor rental, @southcoastpartyhire, scph.com.au
- Table rental and glassware rental: Walkers Party Hire @walkers_party_hire, walkerspartyhire.com.au
- Table Menus: Snap Print Design, @snap_print_design
- Lighting: @luminous_entertainment, luminsousentertainment.com.au
- Placecards: Paper Go-Round, @papergoround
- Tablecloths: Wagner Heavy Duty Painters dropsheets, bunnings.com.au
- Music: Mark Travers Music provided raw earthy live guitar music @marktraversmusic www.looksharpmusic.com
- Wine: @gilbertfamilywines, younggunofwine.com
- Beer: @yullisbrews, yullisbrew.com.au
- Makeup: Kate Squires katesquires.com.au @makemeupkate
- Transportation, PDC Buses, Goulburn.
- Bridesmaids dresses: Blue dress; Paris Georgia. Pale pink dress; Asceno from Matches Fashion, Hot pink dress; Zara
- Venue Summer Hill: Goulburn with gardens by Michael Bligh & Associates