A Queensland Destination WeddingWords by Courtney Kellar
Photos courtesy of Scot Woodman Photography
Jennifer and Daniel were used to working for their relationship; with her in California and him in Australia, these two could make anything happen. So, when they decided on a destination wedding in Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia, it’s no surprise that what resulted was pure magic. “The first time I traveled to Australia, I fell in love with St Mary’s and a destination wedding was perfect for us because we wanted something very small and intimate,” says the bride. “We both love Queensland and St. Mary’s is such a gorgeous little chapel. It’s also right off the Great Barrier Reef – perfect for Daniel and his love of diving.”
The couple swayed on whether or not to have a traditional wedding at all, but we’re sure glad they did. “Once we decided we wanted something very small (we toyed with the idea of eloping, but decided we wanted to include some friends and family), it was easy to choose Port Douglas,” says the couple. “For the most part, [everyone] was very supportive. Jennifer’s parents both passed away from cancer and her extended family was unable to attend, but most of Daniel’s immediate family was able to attend. We both had a handful of friends who were able to make the trip, as well.”
Once the couple decided on a wedding away in Port Douglas, it was time for them to begin planning. At the same time, Jennifer was also in the process of moving from California to Australia. Needless to say, she had a lot on her plate. “The main issue was distance – I planned most of the wedding online from California before I was able to move to Australia and not being able to see or experience either the ceremony or reception venue prior to the wedding was a bit hard,” says Jennifer.
Despite the challenges, the bride embraced the process and saw the positives out of planning a wedding from afar. “In a lot of ways it was quite stressful, but it was also really freeing to know that I didn’t have to control every little thing – there was just no way that I could. I imagine it was much less stressful than planning a wedding closer to home, especially because we were able to keep the guest list so small. We were really relaxed about the whole thing.”
The couple credits their contacts at their ceremony and reception venues for helping to pull everything together seamlessly. “The coordinators at both St Mary’s and the Pullman Resort were amazing and very helpful,” says the couple. “Port Douglas is a very small town, so it would’ve been impossible to find all of our vendors without the help and suggestions from Shobha at St Mary’s. She helped us immensely and was able to recommend several different vendors. All the vendors were perfectly happy to coordinate with me via email and Skype and, because Port Douglas is such a small town, the wedding vendors all knew each other.”
Aside from keeping their wedding intimate; having a small guest list had other benefits. “We had fewer than 30 people total at our wedding and that made it easy to splurge on food and drinks,” says the couple. “We saved a fortune by having a small guest list and booking the big things (venues, accommodations, activities) at least a year in advance.”
The bride also had a sentimental and understandable reason for not wanting a large, hometown wedding. “We would’ve had a much larger guest list and it would’ve been much more difficult for me to not have my family there. I think, overall, the day would’ve been much harder for me after losing both of my parents to cancer – seeing all of Daniel’s family and friends, but very few of my friends would’ve really rubbed in the loss. This way, it was more like a small party of people we loved sharing our big day. We were also able to give back to them by providing them with an awesome menu, an open bar and fun activities the day before and after. We went to the Cairns Zoo the day before the wedding to cuddle koalas and crocodiles and we went snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef the day after.”
This couple put a lot of thought into the type of wedding they wanted, committed and never looked back. It’s clear from the joy and beauty in their photos that they made just the right choice. Jennifer has some final words of advice for other couples currently planning a destination wedding. “Your wedding is your special day. There will always be at least one person who finds a reason to complain about something – it doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, you are beginning a new life with your partner and that is all that is important.
“If there are important people missing from your big day – parents, grandparents, friends – find a special way to remember them, but don’t let your sadness cloud your happiness. I carried a handkerchief that was my father’s and wore my mother’s pearl earrings. I also have a tattoo of their handwriting on my left arm. It was just enough to remind me that they were there with me in spirit, but not too much to be overwhelming. I found a way to incorporate my mother and father into my day without letting them overshadow the joy I felt.”
Vendors: Photographer: Scot Woodman Photography, Ceremony Site: St Mary’s By The Sea in Port Douglas, Queensland, Reception Site: Pullman Port Douglas Sea Temple Resort & Spa, Florist: Flowers N Lace, Stationery: Serendipity Beyond Design, Cake: The Cheesecake Shop, Hair & Makeup: Blush Hair and Makeup, Gown Designer: “Arabesque” by Matthew Christopher, Bride’s Veil/Headpiece: “Natalie” by Awon Golding Millinery, Groom’s Clothing Designer: Country Road (pants & socks) and Roger David (shirt), Bridesmaids/Groomsmens’ Clothing Designer: Review Australia/Jeanette Osborn, Bridal Party Robes: Silk and More, Bridal Party Hangers: Highfills Hangers, Guestbook: Totally Salinda, Tote Bags: Lindsay Burck Designs
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