Tell us a little about yourselves, what you do, what you love, what is unique about you and your relationship:

My name is Alex and my partner is Phil, we live on Sydney’s Northern Beaches with our Dachshund and Italian Greyhound. We both grew up in Avalon and attended the local primary school there.

Even though we were a few years apart, I can still remember watching a year-six boy in the dance troop dressed in head-to-toe white performing to Back Street Boys on the school hall stage (still a go-to tune). From there our paths criss-crossed through mutual friends until I was 16 when we went on our first date. At first it was the usual angsty teen relationship as we tried to find our footing in the world, but eventually it grew into a steady and mature love by nurturing our own happiness and sharing that with each other.

I wasn’t a big believer in the ritual of marriage, but it’s something Phil has always wanted and was important to him. One morning I saw a beautiful 1920’s Art Deco ring from Brilliant Earth in San Francisco and told him if I were ever to get married, that was the ring. Unknown to me, Phil secretly bought that ring and stored it in his Grandmothers safe until the time was right to pop the question. That moment came 4 years later and 10 years after our first date, we had just exchanged the keys to our new apartment and Phil proposed on the balcony with the ring I’d pointed out many years ago. Needless to say, it was a ‘yes’ moment.

Originally we had planned to wed on the cliffs in Uluwatu (Bali) in 2020, but one month out from our big day the world shut down and we were thrown into the unknown. A year later we still weren’t sure if we would get married and had many conversations around “should we/shouldn’t we” when my best friend Courtney (one of our bridesmaids who’d been stuck in London for over a year) managed to get on a flight home to Sydney to visit her mum. After dropping Courtney a care package full of necessities (Marie Clair, Cadbury, Pringle’s, Wine, etc.) to the Sheraton Grand on Hyde Park I had a “now or never” moment and drove straight home to tell Phil. The very next day we booked a wedding venue for four weeks’ time.

We love our beachy lifestyle and make the time each morning to walk the pups to our favourite coffee shop, watch the surfers paddle out and reconnect each other before starting our busy days. We knew we wanted an amazing beachside venue to tie the knot and so we felt the stars had aligned when Pilu at Freshwater Beach said they had an available space. All that was left to do was to plan the wedding of our dreams in an ungodly timeframe!

Tell us about your special day, was there a specific theme or style? Tell us a little about the setting, the styling and some of your favourite details:

It was important to us to create a vibe that reflected our personalities – beachy, stylish and relaxed. After changing our big day from a clifftop destination wedding, to a local beachside wedding, we were lucky that our look and feel translated easily. Pilu was the perfect venue because the restaurant masquerades as a beach house atop of a rolling-green slope with spectacular ocean views. We had our ceremony on an elevated patio in the garden and moved into the pavilion for the reception afterwards. Our florist nailed the brief and adorned the venue with sculptural arrangements that featured white orchids, green amaranthus and palm leaves. We had long tables with high centrepieces and a large installation in the centre of the pavilion, which together with the fairy lights created the most magical atmosphere. Despite it being an intimate wedding, the space didn’t make it feel small. A favourite detail of ours was the miniature cocktails we had custom-made for each guest that featured a “Love Potion” and an “Expresso Marry-Me” – they didn’t last long!

Tell us about your main outfits:

I knew when I thought about my wedding dress that I wanted a something that was not quintessential bride and preferable made by an Australian designer. I found everything I’d imagined at the Suzanne Harward trunk show in Sydney several years before with a dress that blew every other dress out of the water. The ‘Aurora Gown’ was almost-white, ethereal and featured a sheer, plunging bodice with carefully placed embroidery. For simplicity I paired it with a pair of pearl earring gifted to me by my mum and a Nicholas Kirkwood heel. Phil wore a linen suit from Institu with an open collar shirt for a relaxed vibe, which he paired with a pair of Aquila loafers and matching belt. We were lucky that we had our outfits planned from the year before!

What were some of the most memorable/unique moments from the day:

For us, the most memorable part of the day was the energy we felt from the start of the ceremony, to into the night. Until you get married you can’t explain the enormous love, positivity and happiness that surrounds you. Getting the entertainment right was a bit part of helping us to create an amazing atmosphere and we were very fortunate to secure Duke Music at the last minute. One week before the wedding we had a spanner thrown into the works after realising the venue had a strict no-amplified music after dinner policy. After days of worrying that the event would be a music-less flop and agonising over a solution, we came up with the idea to have a silent disco after the reception. Without hesitating Duke agreed to switch from instrumental to DJ-ing after the first dance, and the dancefloor went off! A moment in time for Phil and I was pausing to look around the dancefloor and seeing all of our friends and family laughing with headsets on and rocking-out like there was no tomorrow!

Any advice for other couples planning to spend the rest of their lives together:

Three top tips we wish we’d been given before the big day would be to focus on what you love, delegate to friends and family, and to fully plan the day. Focus on the details that will help create the vibe you want for your wedding. For us, it was all about the location and the music. We didn’t have time to stress over the calligraphy on the place-cards and that in itself was a blessing. Know that you don’t have to do it all yourself. Our wedding would not have happened if it weren’t for my bridesmaids scouring social media for vendors, our friends donating a wedding cake, our brother jumping up to be the MC and run the night, our parents hosting a pre-wedding dinner – you get it. And thirdly, things don’t all come-together without lots of forethought. Just remember that the most effortless, relaxed weddings are usually the ones that have been mercilessly planned.

Photography: @jasoncorrotophot | Ceremony and Reception location: @piluweddings | Celebrant: @freshiecelebrant | Entertainment: Duke Music, @dukemusicau and @thesilentrave | Bride’s gown: @suzanneharward | Groom’s attire: @institchu | Bride’s rings: @brilliantearth | Groom’s rings: de Klerk Jewellers | Bride’s shoes: @nicholaskirkwood | Groom’s shoes: @aquila_est1958 | Bride’s jewellery: @jamesallenrings | Groom’s watch: @junghansgermany | Makeup: @aleishajohnsonmakeup | Hair: @courtleehairstyling | Fragrance: Givenchy | Bridesmaid’s attire: @shonajoy_ | Groomsmen’s attire: @institchu | Marquee: @piluweddings | Flora: @whitehouseflowers | Catering and Beverages: @piluweddings | Cake: Mrs Jones The Baker | Car Hire: @kombiweddings| Bonbonniere: @the_budgie_smuggler

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