Luci & James by Katie Harmsworth

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

James and I met during O-Week in 2009. We were both underage, along with four other people, and so had little choice but to become good friends quickly.

We dated for a very brief time in March of that year but it fell apart very quickly – too young and immature! We managed to stay good friends for the sake our mutual friend, Ben (who was our ‘Mate of Honour’ at our wedding) and had an on-off relationship for the next two years until 9 March 2011 when I gave James an ultimatum on his birthday that it was “now or never”. We’ve been together ever since – 8 years on our wedding day to be exact (and James’ 28th birthday!). We started out in a long-distance relationship and managed to build our relationship and keep it strong, notwithstanding that five out of our eight years we lived in separate States. There are many things that we could say about our relationship, but to put simply, we bring out the best in each other – everything in life, even the most mundane, day-to-day things, are more fun, more interesting and much better with the other one in our lives. Lastly, and most importantly, we love each other unconditionally – even when I don’t always love all of myself, James does.

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…

I’m not going to lie, I was one of those brides that had thousands of images saved to my phone with wedding ideas before we were even engaged.There were a few non-negotiables – good food, good wine, good company – but first we needed a venue! I always wanted to have a marquee wedding at my family’s property in country NSW. However, being based in Melbourne and, I’ll readily admit it, my tendency to be more than a little bit of a perfectionist and a control freak, it was clear early on in the planning process that getting married up there would have been logistically difficult. So we set out to find a venue in Victoria that could give us the same vibe but without the geographic barriers.

We stumbled across Mewburn Park Homestead through WedShed – it ticked all our boxes, and some more. Marquee weddings can be a logistical nightmare, with so many things that you have to think about (including portaloos and generators!). They can also be costly. Mewburn Park Homestead gave us our country marquee wedding, without any of the hassle. The clear-roof marquee, tables, chairs, bars, festoon lighting – all included in the base venue hire cost, with a bunch of extras to add if it takes your fancy. There was also so much versatility with the property for both the ceremony and the reception, you could really make your wedding whatever you wanted it to be. We were married on the old grass tennis court, which had special significance for James, who is a mad tennis lover.

We booked Mewburn Park Homestead on the spot at our first site visit. In terms of a specific theme or style, we wanted a relaxed, elegant, country-garden wedding. I wanted the styling to compliment my dress, so we went with blush tones and touches of gold, textured linens and simple yet beautiful floral arrangements which included Dahlias (my favourite flower).

It’s difficult to identify any specific details that are our favourite, we were both just so chuffed with how it all came together (Lauren Pool from Etc. Event Styling and Benita Tscharke were amazing). It sounds a bit trivial, but one of the best decisions we made was hiring some white cushions for the reception chairs. We searched so hard to find some white cushions that wouldn’t break the budget (cushions at some of the large Melbourne vendors were around $5-8 a pop, which adds up for 100 guests!). Our parents also thought we were crazy trying to transport 100 cushions from Melbourne to Maffra. It was such a small detail but it had such an impact and really elevated the rustic furniture to that next level of elegance.

Tell us about your main outfits:

Luci: I always knew that I wanted something different in a wedding dress, but I didn’t have a specific idea or style in mind. I actually found the wedding dress selection process pretty daunting and a bit stressful – I felt pressure to ‘find the one’ and was disheartened when dresses I saw on Instagram (or even on the hanger in a boutique) didn’t look as good on me in person. I visited all the big name Melbourne boutiques but nothing was quite right. My mother-in-law then suggested I go back to High Street in Armadale by myself and just see if anything took my fancy. I took her advice and ended up stumbling across this beautiful, floral dress in a shop window a bit further up High Street. It took my attention immediately. I went in, tried it on and knew pretty much straight away it was the one! I had always wondered whether it was true – that you try on a dress and know it’s ‘the one’ – I can’t speak for anyone else, but it definitely happened to me.

The shop was Bernadette Pimenta Couture, and Bernadette was absolutely fantastic. I could customise the dress however I wanted – from the style and the shape, right down to the placement of the lace on the bodice. Once I had selected the dress, Bernadette made the whole process effortless. It was perfect, and I was so thriled with the final product. Also, shout-out to Milly and Chloe (Milco Hair and Makeup) who were responsible for the hair and make-up for not only myself, but my four bridesmaids, my mother and my mother-in-law. So many different complexions and ages, and everyone looked incredible. James: Honestly, provided it wasn’t a white tuxedo (I’m too pale to pull that off), I was happy for Luci to choose my outfit! Black tuxedo = classic.

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

There were so many moments, it is hard to select a few but we’ll try, so here we go! I think having all our family and friends together in one place, for one great day. It is so rare to have everyone that is important to you together, let alone everyone that is important for both of you. We also had our surviving grandfathers be our witnesses – it was very special to involve them in our day in this way. The speeches were also fantastic (and we had a lot!). We are both advocates of ‘the more the merrier’ – we had 11 speeches in total – both sets of parents, both sets of siblings (we are both middle children – James has two brothers and I have two sisters), our Mate of Honour and then us. All speeches were so unique, memorable and funny in their own ways. Make sure you get someone to film your speeches – we love watching ours back!

Finally, having our ‘Mate of Honour’ Ben by our sides throughout the day. Ben has been integral to our relationship from the very beginning. In his own words, he is the third wheel in our relationship (which is kind of true!) but, seriously, we wouldn’t be together if it wasn’t for him and we’ve been through a lot together.

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

Wedding-wise, number one piece of advice (which people always say, but having gone through the process, it is so true), take your time researching vendors, choose those vendors whose work you love and then trust them. We were so lucky to have a team of great vendors who were truly invested in making our day the best day possible, and who just smashed it out of the ballpark. Our wedding day was truly the best day of our lives so far, and they made that happen. I had followed our photographer, Katie Harmsworth, for a number of years (I actually fan-girled a little bit when we met her for the first time). When we got engaged, she was the first person we contacted (even before having a venue). Her work is just incredible, and every time I look at our wedding photos, I smile – and that’s what you want from your wedding photos. Also, apart from your new husband or wife, you will spend the most time of your wedding day with your photographer. Katie is not only an awesome photographer, but she’s an awesome person too – she made us so comfortable and relaxed, she’s also pretty funny (as you can tell, because James is laughing in so many photos!).

Emily from State of Reverie was also fantastic. I met Emily very early on in the wedding planning process (January 2018!) and worked with her right up to our wedding day in March 2019 for all our wedding stationary (save-the-dates, invitations, ceremony cards, signage, etc – the whole shebang). She is so talented – I want to get married again, just so I can have more of her gorgeous work. Finally, make sure you enjoy yourselves – and don’t sweat the small stuff. As someone who definitely did sweat the small stuff (I spent weeks deciding on napkin placement, napkin placement!), I feel a bit hypocritcal saying that now, but, at the end of the day, it didn’t make a difference how the napkins were placed, the important thing was the commitment we made to each other on that day, surrounded by our family and closet friends.

Photography: Katie Harmsworth | Videographer: Josue Films | Ceremony and Reception location: Mewburn Park | Celebrant: Evie Wilson, Peace and Love Ceremonies | Bride’s gown: Bernadette Pimenta Couture | Groom’s suit: Peter Jackson | Rings: Larsen Jewellery Shoes: Jimmy Choo and Aquila | Earrings: Paspaley | Hair and Makeup: Milco Hair and Makeup | Bridesmaid’s outfits: Viktoria & Woods | Groomsmen’s outfits: Peter Jackson | Entertainment (ceremony and canapés): James River Kelly | Entertainment (reception): DJ Masters | Styling: Ect. Event Styling | Hire (napkins): Event Art | Hire (cutlery): Gold Cutlery Hire Australia | Hire (candles and side plates): Ect. Event Styling | Hire (marquee draping): Ella Del Wedding and Events | Hire (garden cocktail furniture): Otto and Chaise | Hire (DJ bar): The Gypsy Roma | Hire (reception cushions): Mux Events | Flora: Benita Tscharke Floral Design | Catering and Beverages: Duart Homestead | Stationery: State of Reverie | Signage stand hire: The Small Things Co