Chiara & Clayton by Freedom Garvey

Tell us a little about yourselves, what you do, what you love, what is unique about you and your relationship… I am a primary school teacher and Clayton works in oil and gas.

We met three years ago on a blind date, which was set up by a parent from my class and was a good friend of Claytons’. At the time I was teaching her 5 year old son and apparently he was the one who started it all by telling Clayton about me and I guess Clayton wanted to know more…

Clayton’s work takes him away for 4 weeks at a time and then 4 weeks home. From the start, our relationship has always been about communication and understanding what each other needs when we are apart.  We constantly work at making our emotional bond stronger in times of physical distance to make the break not so hard. When he is home though, we love nothing more than ‘hanging out’ together, socialising with family and friends, listening to live music, renovating our house, travelling and finding new adventures. Our happy place is when we are outside. Be it swimming in the ocean, hiking in the bush, camping in our van or just soaking up the sun on a beautiful sunny day. We have similar interests and the same values but we are also our own people and we try and encourage each other to pursue our individual dreams. Clayton loves the high-intensity activities – cycling, running, CrossFit, surfing – and never stays still. He’s a calm, generous and kind soul and thinks I’m funnier than I am. I can be fiery and passionate, dramatic and sometimes attention seeking. I’m into yoga and long beach swims, bush walks and café life. We work because we balance each other out. We’re each other’s perfect mate.

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…

When we first started talking about all things ‘wedding’, there was one consistent vibe we wanted to achieve, and that was throwing a party and bringing everyone we love together. I am from Perth WA and Clayton is from Minlaton SA so our friends and family come from all over. For us it was about finding a common ground to have our party. We settled on Claytons’ favourite place in the southwest of WA, Yallingup. A place that we both have a connection with. A place that ultimately has been touted “place of love” in the local Aboriginal language. As people on both sides would have to travel for the event, we decided to not just host one big party but rather have lots of little extra events that people could choose to attend if they wished. That way we could spend quality time reconnecting with those important to us…and so the ‘love festival’ was created!

We stayed in Yallingup for the week however the venue we found, whilst jumping fences and bushes, was a private estate called Bunker Bay Farm. A large open space, ocean and bush views, long grass, native trees… essentially a canvas that would choose the style and vibe of the day. Our vibe was rustic but with a boho glam touch. Raw fabrics and wood, with rich florals of burnt orange, cream and dark red, dried palms and colours of cream and gold throughout. We had a giant tee-pee lounge area for guests to sit outside and at night become alight with candles and fairy lights. We had bought some giant outdoor games for guests to play with whilst celebrating, and had an outside tiki-feel bar with our trusty old wooden boat used as the beer float. Even though it was a windy day everybody enjoyed sitting outside and soaking up the last sunset rays before dining under a large circus-like tent. It really did feel like a festival.

Tell us about your main outfits:

My best friend Bridget is a super talented stylist and fashion designer so I always knew for years that she would have some part in deciding the outfit I would wear on my wedding day. Little did I know that she would actually design and make my most favourite dress ever!

I was so convinced that Bridget and her business partner Jo, at Reign The Label, would make my perfect dress that I didn’t even look at wedding dresses or try any other dresses on. It also made it an easy decision as they were the dream team to work with too. Together the three of us worked on the design, incorporating some style aspects of garments I liked and owned. I wanted to wear something that was sheer, lightweight, comfortable, flowy, a little ‘boho glam’ and I think they executed the brief perfectly. Knowing that my dress was a one-of-a-kind, embodied my personal style and most importantly, created by my bestest friend was the most special moment for me.

My earrings were from Bo and Luca and were a birthday gift from my group of best friends a few months prior. They had chosen them for me to wear on the day.

I love seeing a bride and her bridesmaids in the same colour tones, so when I chose (all nine) of my beautiful bridesmaids I knew I wanted them in a tone that would compliment my dress. We settled on a block white to my sheer fabric. I wanted them to feel comfortable on the day and to choose an outfit that embraces their own personality and style. The same with choosing their own accessories, hair and makeup. I loved that they all looked different but also stood out from the other guests.

Claytons’ outfit organically came to us as we were ‘playing’ with different styles for him and the groomsmen in store. We went straight to MJ Bale, in Myer, as they are super easy to deal with and as some of the boys came from different states it was easy for them to go into the store and try the outfits on, swap different sizes etc if need be. I knew from the start that Clayton “doesn’t do ties” or sometimes even shirts for that matter, so he wouldn’t be comfortable if I asked him to wear something he’s not into. We did agree on a shirt though! We felt that himself and the boys outfits should reflect the outback surroundings and rustic feels of the venue and styling. We chose a lightweight, bone coloured linen suit jacket and white shirt for all the boys and then Clayton was in navy chinos and the boys in a tan chino. All wore tan or brown shoes and belt. We wanted a relaxed and casual vibe amongst the boys whilst still looking smart. The white and light colours of the girls and boys outfits really complimented the tones of the venue itself, the florals and the styling of the day.

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

We really said from the beginning that we were going to make our own rules. Tradition is beautiful but we wanted our wedding to reflect who we are and what we love. We loved the notion that no one at the wedding was a stranger. Even the vendors we had developed a friendship with before the day. Our celebrant was our best friend Marcel who knows us both and has been there from the start. He was able to tell our love story from an outside point of view. We didn’t even know what he was going to say until the moment! We really love music and knew we wanted some live music for it to really feel like a festival. We searched for some local talent and found Tom from ASKYA who was so chilled and down to earth and played during the cocktail hours. He was fantastic and suited the vibe. As soon as people arrived we wanted them to relax and enjoy each other’s company before the ceremony so we offered guests drinks on arrival and encouraged them to relax in the space before walking across the field to the ceremony. Lots of our friends said this was a really nice idea to do as they got to relax and take it all in. There were so many small and special moments but I guess the biggest one was during dinner when Clayton and I were just in awe of how noisy it was under the canopy. People were talking, laughing, breaking bread and sharing wine. There was food and beverage everywhere and all in all a beautiful chaos. It was just like our weekly family dinners at mum’s house or friends houses, and that’s what we wanted to achieve.

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

Just to be open with each other. Being apart for periods of a time has really taught us about communicating what we each need and want from the other person. To not “sweat the small stuff” and that sometimes, if you just go to bed after an argument, the next morning it feels insignificant and silly and you get a new perspective on things. Try to look at each others’ intentions and not actions because we can all lose it a little or have a hard day, and can over react but never mean it. To give each other the freedom to be your own person and to follow your own hearts and dreams. Making a conscious effort to make time for just the both of you. Being present in all the moments. Big or small. In this crazy thing called life – We think that’s the most important.

Venue: Bunker Bay Farm | Videographer: Orriss Films | Photographer: Freedom Garvey | Celebrant: Marcel Brache | Entertainment: Acoustic: Tom Boerema – ASKYA DJ: Mandy B & Tom Drummond – South Sound Events | Planner, Marquee, Styling & Hire: The Zest Group WA | Hire: Sperry Tents | Flora & Styling: Rebecca Grace – Natural Art Flowers | Catering, Beverages & Dessert Table: Tiller Dining | Bride’s Dress: Reign The Label | Groom & Groomsmen Outfits: MJ Bale | Bride’s Ring/s:  Bride: Grew & Co | Groom’s Ring:  Stefan Diamonds | Bride’s Shoes: Tony Bianco | Bride Earrings: Bo and Luca | Robes: Bibiluxe & LeRoseGifts (Etsy Stores) | Makeup: Nicole Forde | Hair: Bindi Hay – Fremantle Hair Collective | Fragrance: Narciso Rodriguez  | Bridesmaid Dresses:  Own choice & style