Tom & Saraid {Wedding Highlights}

Sometimes my words serve little purpose alongside a wedding post.

This wedding post is one of those times. I’ll let these few images tell the story themselves.

Heres a few words from the Bride & Groom:

When planning our wedding the best piece of advice I was given was to work out what was important to us and focus on those things. For my husband and I, along with the choice of venue, the photographer was the most important decision we would make. Our wedding would only happen once and we wanted to make sure the photographs captured the emotion and the beauty we knew we would experience on the day. From the very beginning, James was an absolute delight to work with. Throughout the planning and on the actual day, James was incredibly approachable, professional, funny and relaxed. When the weather took at turn for the worse (the wind whipped up and the clouds rolled in), James took it all in his stride and helped us capture some of the most amazing photographs from the day. James has an incredible ability to work with natural light and capture one off moments between people. My husband and I, along with all of the guests at our wedding, were thrilled with the photographs James took of our special day. I cannot recommend James more highly and only wish we could renew our vows and do it all again!

Wanden Valley Estate / Hunter Valley, NSW

 

David & Holly {America}

A few years ago I photographed Holly but this time it was time to bring her star studded boyfriend David Jones Roberts in on the action!

While I was visiting Beverley Hills recently, we caught up and took these fun photos around the streets.

The majority of the images were shot with my fujifilm x-t1 I also shot some polaroids on an old polaroid camera from the 1950′s and also some instax images on the Fujifilm Neo Classic 90.

Shot on the FujixT1 with 23mm + 56mm

 

The Miracle Baby {Carmen, Rick & Cully Matilda}


I first met Carmen when I got an email with her story that blew my mind. I couldn’t wait to photograph her family, and I couldn’t wait to share it.

18 weeks into her pregnancy, Carmen was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) after a routine blood test turned up unusual counts. Within 24 hours their world turned upside down, and one week later she began chemotherapy.

I’ll let Carmen introduce her family (you can read more on her blog here):

This is our little miracle baby Cully Matilda. We added “Matilda” because in Old High German it means “mighty warrior.” I had to have chemo for three months while pregnant with her; so we believed she needed a heroic second name if she made it into the world ok.

The reason we believe that she is our little miracle baby is firstly, because being pregnant with her made me find out about my Leukaemia sooner rather than later. And secondly, having her in my life is the biggest driver to keep up the fight; I vehemently refuse to believe that I might miss out on seeing her grow up.

And finally, the greatest part of the miracle is Cully herself. She was born alive, healthy and strong at only 30 week gestation and after two rounds of intense chemotherapy treatment. She has made it against all medical odds, which highlights yet again that she is meant to be here and that she will be my true saviour.

After a bone-marrow transplant from her brother, Carmen is now getting stronger and is past the most vulnerable period that comes from infections or reactions to the donor’s cells. Still living in Sydney, Rick and Carmen take Cully out for walks and enjoy the ‘boring’ of life after the excitement of last year that will last them a lifetime. It was such a privilege to capture this moment with their family, and I’m stoked they get to hang these on their wall for Cully to see and enjoy when she grows up.

Carmen is taking part in Light The Night in Bondi this year, where hundreds walk at twilight shining ‘lanterns of hope’ to cure leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma forever. Click here to support her.

Jayden & Chris {Newport Beach, CA}

Back in July I headed to the West Coast of America to shoot a wedding. The whole trip was insanely beautiful, and I can’t wait to share with you more.

But for now, here’s some shots from a day spent with one of my best mates Perry Thompson, who came down from Calgary, Canada. I went along to his shoot of Jayden & Chris at the stunning Newport Beach, and got to grab a few shots on my Fuji XT1.

 

 

David & Danielle {Bowral Wedding}

When David asked me to photograph his wedding, I was a bit intimidated. David’s an epic photographer, and shooting a photographers wedding is invariably daunting. Yet what turned out was a stunning bride, brilliant light, and amazing details.

David and Danielle decided to do a ‘first look,’ and see each other before the ceremony. He faced away as she walked up to him then she tapped him on the shoulder and turned him around to see her. I love this idea as it gives the bride and groom a private moment to share together, and it really helped to build the excitement!

Married at Milton Park Estate in Bowral, the grounds were perfect. Danielle wore a Karen Willis Holmes dress with an overlay by Johanna Johnson and flowers by Clementine Posy. The boys rocked suits by TM Lewin and bow ties from my friends at Forage. Videoed by Hummingbird Wedding Films and married by Rebecca, David and Danielle’s day was beyond amazing. See for yourself.

Thanks to Mitch Cullen for coming along and assisting me!

 

 

Chris & Emma {Montrose Berry Farm Wedding}

I couldn’t wait to share with you Chris and Emma’s wedding at Montrose Berry Farm.

I’ve made it no secret that Montrose Berry Farm is one of my favourite venues in one of my favourite locations! So much so that when Chris & Emma came to me before booking a venue I suggested they check it out and they ended up booking it in!

Chris & Emma met when they grew up on opposite sides of a cul-de-sac. Emma really was the girl next door!

Emma’s stunning dress was the wonderful Ariel by Grace Loves Lace, who never fail to make a perfect dress. Make up by The Beauty Lounge, Hair by Jenna Pinns, Flower Crowns and Button Holes by In Bud Floral, and Catering by PB Catering.

 

A Brave New Wedding World

Brave New Wedding World by Natalie Polak.

Firstly, I would like to premise this article with the four wise words of acceptance I used as a northern star while planning my nuptials – ‘each to their own.’

Free from judgement, the following words pertain simply to my views, beliefs and experiences on orchestrating a contemporary wedding.

If I have learnt anything about planning a wedding is that people have strong emotions on this subject.

I seek not to offend, but only ask for consideration.

And maybe on some level dare to hope that in sharing my paradigm on a modern wedding, it may inspire or liberate others to experience immense happiness on their special day by doing it their way, not the ‘only’ way.

Who am I? Well, quite the paradox it would seem.

I am an eternal romantic who managed to go 29 years before ever considering a single detail of my future wedding.

I was blessed enough to meet a man to love, that frankly made my childhood dreams seem rather lack lustre in hindsight.

When Matt asked me to spend the rest of our lives together I was astonished.

Without so much as an overtly circled jewellery catalogue left strategically on the coffee table, and in the absence of any premeditated not so subtle winks, nudges, or ultimatum based conversations, I was truly taken by surprise.

The romantic in me adored it.

As soon as he slipped the ring on my finger I wanted to celebrate this spectacular milestone in my life. I was getting married to my best friend.

The elation was, however, short lived.

The fine print revealed that when I adorned that symbolic piece of jewelry I automatically entered ‘wedding world’ and there was not turning back.

Rather than morph into Gollum’s “my precious” spiels on the way to becoming a bridezilla, to be honest I felt more like Alice down the rabbit hole.

It has been an illuminating journey.

At many times I regretted not eloping in St Petersburg on Christmas Day when were it was just the two of us on our ‘European Trip of a Lifetime.’

But I am glad now we didn’t.

Having experienced a magical wedding day, I am thankful that we chose to take the road less traveled there.

When Matt and I decided we would like to celebrate our love with our loved ones as witnesses, we made a solemn promise to ourselves that we would ‘do it our way.’

What we love most about ourselves, each other, our relationship and way of life was that we know who really are and what we really value.

We approached the planning of our wedding with the same approach we do everyday – A BIG picture approach. What really matters here?  How do we want to profess and celebrate our union as man and wife?

Crafting a contemporary wedding certainly boiled down to a process of curiosity, at times courage, and of course creativity.

Curiosity

“Just because something is traditional is no reason to do it, of course.” – Lemony Snicket, the Blank Book.

It’s the History teacher in me that instinctively makes me question the purpose of archaic practices.

I fathom to think of the world we would be living in, if no one took it upon himself or herself to question the traditions of slavery or gender discrimination.

Time stand still for no one and yet the progressive clock seems to have stopped when it comes to wedding traditions.

So before making some important decisions I decided to do my research.

These are a few interesting wedding facts I discovered along the way.

Current definition of Husband: n. – a male partner in a marriage.

Original meaning: More to do with real estate than matrimony, husband is the fusion of old German words hus and bunda, and once referred to a house owner.

Bride’s bouquet originally comprised of garlic and dill. During the time of the plague when people clutched herbs over their noses and mouths in a desperate effort to survive.

Throwing the garter as it turned out, was devised as a way to actually physically protect the bride from the wedding guests. It derives from a tradition in medieval England and France called “fingering the stocking.” Guests would actually go into the wedding chamber and check the bride’s stockings for signs that the marriage had been consummated. Further, in France, the bride would shudder with terror at the end of the wedding ceremony because guests would actually rush her at the altar to snag a piece of her dress, which was considered a piece of good luck.

The Veil of the bride has origins in the idea that she’s vulnerable to enchantment, so she must be hidden from evil spirits. The Romans veiled brides in flame-coloured veils to actually scare off those spirits.

I rest my case … oh how times have changed between yesteryear and today.

Sticklers for tradition were upset that I didn’t have a flower-based bouquet, didn’t wear a garter to throw and also didn’t have a veil. However, in the end ‘tradition’ was not in these instances a compelling enough reason for me.

We certainly took the parts of the iconic wedding that we liked. I wore a stunning white couture Italian silk and French lace dress, beautifully handmade for me by my sister Michelle Kent, fashion designer and owner of the ethically accredited label So Stella, and Matt wore a handsome suit.

But we left more than we took.

There was no obvious theme.

My mother, on my insistence, wore a gorgeous white cocktail dress because it was the perfect dress for her.

My bridesmaid sisters did not wear matching coloured dresses; one didn’t even wear a dress. They both surprised me with the unveiling of their outfits on the wedding day (and who doesn’t love surprises!). They looked amazingly beautiful because their personality, the very thing I love the most about them, was able to shine in their individually unique attire. And we had to laugh that the phrase, ‘you can wear it again and again’ might actually apply since they pick the garments themselves.

Courage

I always thought there was a lot of courage in the act of marriage. Love’s ultimate leap of faith.

As a young teenager I remembered thinking I couldn’t even commit to the thought a tattoo because it was so permanent, let alone choosing a single person to spend the rest of my life with.

In the end that choice was easy. It always is when it’s the right one.

Overcoming the plethora of superstitious rituals surrounding the wedding ceremony was another story.

Matt indeed saw me on our wedding day before the ceremony. We awoke together with great excitement and anticipation of the day ahead. Bad luck? Why?

Considering approximately 50% of first marriages don’t last and I imagine the majority of those couples abide by these ‘rules’ I think we are safe in assuming not seeing each other till the wedding, isn’t completely good luck either.

In our minds this was a wonderful day for the two of us, why not spend as much of it as possible together – so we did.

While I loved getting ready with my family, and Matt with his, one of our favourite moments was seeing each other dressed as bride and groom for the first time in our home.

Our photographer James Day captured these intimate moments at our home so spectacularly. The images look every bit as private and exultant as they felt.

For humble people who do not seek the limelight this was the perfect way for us to set eyes on each other. I will cherish these private memories always.

By each other’s sides and surrounded by our bridal party of close friends and family, we spent the hours before the ceremony enjoying delicious food, drinks and each other’s company while taking some incredible photographs around the Taronga Western Plains Zoo.

Giving James Day time without an urgent deadline of ‘we need to get back’ allowed him to really work his creative magic. Everyone was in the moment and the photographs tell the story of our collective stress-free, anticipation fueled happiness.

Taking our bridal party photos prior to the ceremony also allowed us to spend more time with the people who had made a special effort to join us on our special day.

Lastly, the single best courageous decision we made was to have an interruption-free reception. We wanted a celebration not a theatre production. We had said our personal vows for each other in front of all – now as far as we were concerned the show was over, and the fun could begin for all.

There was no MC, no throwing of the garter or bouquet, no stopping for the first dance or the cutting of the cake, and the big one … no speeches.

It was bliss. Guests had a wonderful time conversing amongst themselves and Matt and I were able to move around freely.

The rules were there were no rules and the only person more happy about this than us, was James Day.

He had complete creative freedom to choose the best time take the amazing photographs for us. Our time at sunset was simply enchanting. Thank you James!

While some thought we were missing key moments, our logic was by not having the ceremonial moments stilting the reception we, along with all our guests got to be in the moment. What could be more important than this?

Creativity

The cookie-cutter wedding is easily accessible. It’s everywhere in ‘wedding world.’ It’s part of a money-making industry that sells an image of the perfect day to the masses. But what’s special about that?

The challenge is crafting a wedding that is perfect for you as a couple. My advice is throw caution into the wind. Go with your gut. Choose things you like solely because you like them, not because tradition dictates.

My remarkably talented designer sister Michelle taught me so much as we planned our wedding’s aesthetics. She inspired me to embrace diversity and simplicity, rather than succumbing to conformity and ostentatiousness.

As a surprise Michelle had arranged for Fiona Schofield to handcraft a gorgeous bouquet made from the silk and lace remnants of my dress, adorned with vintage broaches. It was an incredible gift, the perfect enduring memento of the day, and will no doubt become a family treasure for many weddings to come.

In the end I wouldn’t have changed a thing on my wedding day. The decisions that were the hardest to make, and at times to defend, were the ones we were most thankful for.

So if nothing else, may future brides and grooms realise they can break free of the shackles of tradition and embrace tremendous freedom to celebrate their unique love in their own way.

There is a lot to be gained by being the exception not the rule on your own wedding day.

Viva the contemporary wedding revolution!

/ See Matt & Natalie’s Wedding here.

Matt & Natalie {Dubbo Wedding}

Natalie and Matt had one ridiculously pretty wedding. Described by the them as ‘a Mid Summer’s Night Dream Wedding,’ it was held at Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo. Country weddings will always be my favourite, and this one was off the charts.

Natalie’s couture gown was hand crafted from Italian silk and French lace by her sister Michelle Kent, owner of the Orange based boutique label So Stella, and the Central West Lifestyle Magazine’s very own fashion stylist. With shoes from Eunice Jackson, rings designed and crafted by Kings Hall Jewelers, and flowers by by Paula Baird, Happy Valley Farm Flowers, (including a bouquet made from the silk and lace remnants of her dress by Orange milliner Fiona Schofield!), Natalie was beyond beautiful.

Her words to me made. my. year.

James, where do I start…

I am affectionately called the ‘Word Wizard,’ being an ex journalist and now an English/History teacher, but I have to say finding the right words to express my gratitude to you is proving quite the challenge.

In this instance words just don’t seem to go far enough.

You are a consummate professional.

Your creativity, passion and warm disposition made our wedding experience magical.

I had never met you face to face and yet you jumped off the plane and in less than 30 minutes had endeared yourself to my entire family, not to mention had us all shrieking with laughter.

You were there to witness and capture the most cherished moments of our life to date and yet it felt that you weren’t there at all. You possess a wonderful ability to put people at ease with your humility and hilarity.

Our wedding wouldn’t be the remarkable affair it was without you.

All of our guests were so awestruck by your enthusiasm and expertise. For the photographer to be the topic of conversation at a wedding and showered with accolades by strangers I think speaks volumes of the impression you instantly leave.

I thank you for the way you made everyone of our family members feel on our special day.

I thank you for the enchantingly romantic moments in the farmer’s paddock.

I thank you for kicking off the dance floor with some killer moves.

I thank you for your generosity in sharing your tricks of the trade with our budding photographer guests. This displayed wonderful kindness, patience and mastery.

Finally, I thank you for the memories. You have brought tears of sheer joy to my eyes to see your incredible photographs of Matt and I. They exhibit a divinely loving, rustic, natural energy. The images are dreams realised and I will cherish them forever.

Maya Angelou once said, ‘all great artists draw from the same resource: the human heart, which tells us that we are all more alike than we are unalike.’

By this measure you are truly great.

These words are not much but I hope they impart just a fraction of the affection we have for the experience you offered us, and captured for us.

Natalie

Kris & Brooke {Seal Rocks Beach Wedding}

When Brooke contacted me in November last year with an enormous essay on her grand love story involving dragonflies, handmade rosewood engagement rings, and a whole lot of fate, I knew this was going to be a special wedding.

Brooke met Kris when he relentlessly chased her after seeing her sing at a club he worked at. He took her to a homemade candlelit dinner on the beach and she “fell hard.” They shared everything, and Brooke told Kris about her life and family and happened to mention how dragonflies are really significant to her and her relationship with her mum. To her, dragonflies are a reminder of her mum’s love for her. A few months later Kris took Brooke for a picnic at a creek… I’ll let her tell the story:

“While we were eating I noticed a small bird fly up onto a branch above us, and I held my hand up in the air pointing to the bird to show Kris… When down comes a dragonfly and sits on my finger! It sat there forever.

It turned out that Kris had bought the engagement ring (which he MADE for me from rosewood a few weeks earlier), so when the dragonfly landed on my finger he thought that this was the perfect time to ask me to marry him. I SAID YES!

For our wedding bands Kris has collected sand from each of the beaches we fell in love with each other (Him at Seal Rocks and me at the bar beach in Newcastle), and had that sand put in an inlay in our wedding bands … Yep I know … What a guy!”

I love that she shared her love story with me, with all of its detail. They were married at Seal Rocks and booked the Sugarloaf Point Lighthouse Assistant Keepers Cottage for the weekend to hang out with their closest friends and family.

Kris and Brooke were legitimately up for anything; I couldn’t believe it. The day just got better and better as it got wetter and wetter. One of the best parts of the day was when I just happened to spot a dragonfly resting on a giant spider web. Fate?

Brooke designed all the details herself, where the driftwood was from the river that runs through the property they live and they collected it together. They also used rocks from the same creek where Kris proposed. With a super unique and beautiful wedding dress from Rohmy Design, Hair and Makeup by The New Black Industries, Flowers by Absolutely Beautiful Flowers, The wedding cake and chocolates by Sivaan Chocolates, Cupcakes by Sweet Moments, Catering by Detours Cafe, Invitations by Magenta Creative Designs and gorgeous wedding rings by Simply Wood Rings.

Jonathan Suckling and I loved not just shooting but being such a part of their amazing day. If I could shoot that wedding over and over again each weekend I’d be a very happy man.

Here’s a few words from Brooke:

“Having James photograph our Wedding was one of the most treasured memories we will keep of our special day. His energy and professionalism is like no other.

In my profession as a musician … I regularly play at weddings and meet wedding photographers from here there and everywhere. It was at a wedding in the Hunter Valley NSW some years ago that I first met James, after chatting over our meals ( as musicians and photographers often do at weddings). I was intrigued by a guy so young being so passionate about photography. As usual I grabbed a card and after the wedding took a look at his website. I was totally not prepared for the images I was about to see … I was absolutely blown away by his talent and vision as an artist. It was from that moment I fell in love with James Day’s photography… I was hooked… A fan for life… Yep it’s kind of like an addiction of some sort!

So it was only natural that when Kris and I decided to get married that we chose James to capture the memories of our special day. The energy that James brought to our wedding day is definitely something that will be forever etched in our minds. It rained on our wedding day ( not that we even noticed) we quite literally ran in the rain the whole time & James captured beautiful image after beautiful image… Not many would have pulled this off! So thank you James…. for making our wedding day one to remember forever!”


Simply Wooden Rings

Michael & Gemma {Montrose Berry Farm Wedding}

Montrose Berry Farm has to be one of my favourite wedding reception venues. Give me endless greenery, a rustic barn and perfect light any day.

Though a chilly morning in the Southern Highlands of Bowral, Michael and Gemma loved every second of celebrating with family and friends in what felt like the greenest place on earth. With a beautiful Sydney-made dress from Brides of Beecroft, details from YES, and food from PB Catering, Michael and Gemma’s wedding was stunning. But you can see that for yourself.

Here’s what Gemma and Michael had to say afterwards:

We loved having James as part of our wedding day. Not only is he an incredibly talented photographer, but he is an all round nice guy! He made us feel so comfortable and was able to fit in with our day so seamlessly that he really felt more like a guest than someone there to do a job. The images that James captured were fantastic. He has an uncanny ability to put people at ease and capture natural, candid shots. It was also brilliant to have them all within 3 weeks of the wedding to show off! Thank you James, what a guy, and by gum, what a bow tie!

Thanks to Jonathan Suckling for the amazing second shooting on the day!