The small town of of Dalveen is about 200km south west of Brisbane, sitting on the border of Queensland and New South Walkes. It is smack bang in the middle of apple territory – if you’ve ever eaten an apple from this area, you’ll know that they’re simply out of this world. Dalveen Town Hall is your typical country town hall with beautiful old wooden floorboards and filled with foldable chairs with the name of the hall spray painted onto the back of them. In extreme weather, the hall would protect you only from the rain and wind, the heat and cold would cut through you. In the days these old halls were built, these things weren’t really considered, if it had a roof and 4 walls, you were done. But there’s still something amazing about a space like this, it has history and it has a story. Most importantly, it has character – and it was the perfect place for Amber and John to have their wedding celebration.
The ceremony a few hours before we got to Dalveen was on John’s uncle’s farm in the tiny township of Eukey, around 40km to the south and on the other side of the bigger town Stanthorpe. Eukey is where John used to come as a kid to have holidays and this 40 or so acres of beautiful forestland is a pretty special place. Perhaps most strangely, there’s a giant train carriage sitting right on the middle of it, I can’t imagine that was an easy feat. I think that there would be lots of great memories here for John and his family and because of that you end up with a sense that there’s something really special about a weddings like this. With two creative spirits like Amber and John, it was always going to be a beautiful wedding celebration filled with touches and details that their hearts and minds felt love for (for example, Wes Anderson – see how many references you can get!). And when the groom emails you and says that there will be home made honeycomb ice cream at the reception, it pretty much seals the deal, you need to say yes and share in a special experience with the two of them.
Somehow, love always has a way. I keep thinking that I seem to end up all over the earth photographing weddings for couples who have the most unlikely ways of meeting and strange ways of staying together. And sometimes, I even photograph weddings which are pretty much strung together at the last minute. But these two amazing women figured it out and made it all work – their hard work, resourcefulness and pure grit brought it all together. They inspired me and it’s honestly an honour to photograph couples whose love for each other can surpass anything that gets in their way.
Fontaine and Nicola, aka Fonze and Pickle had planned on having their wedding at a well known wedding venue on the outskirts of Melbourne. But due to some legal issues with the venue’s license, just around 6 weeks out from their wedding day, they were forced to change their plans. They hunted all over Melbourne to find something that would have the right kind of vibe for them but alas, nothing worked, everything was booked out. But in the end, they found the most perfect venue, one which literally, would make them feel at home. The backyard of the house which they’d just bought a few months earlier, was the perfect fit.
And so, their love, had a way to flourish and to celebrate again. And holy moly, didn’t they celebrate.
This wedding appeared in Hello May magazine #5, hop on over to buy your copy.
When Nick initially contacted me about photographing him and Claire’s wedding, he told me that it would be in their backyard. They live with their 1 year old daughter Stevie in a home on the south eastern outskirts of Melbourne surrounded by 30 acres of beautiful Australian forest – I’d say that’s a pretty amazing backyard. Their place was initially built by one of Nick’s cousins about 15 years ago in a disused quarry using the stone and metal that was leftover from the times when it was an active site. The scars on the earth where this work was done are still visible but it’s still an amazing part of the world.
The week before their wedding was a really wet one for Melbourne, I think it rained nearly every day. So their wedding was a somewhat unique experience for me, it’s the only time where I (along with all of their guests) wore gumboots for an entire day as their whole property was covered in water and mud. But it didn’t seem to matter to anyone, least of all Nick and Claire. They had their daughter, they had each other and they had their small square in the world. They seemed happy with that. I remember in the evening straight after their ceremony, Claire returned to the house to get changed out of her mother’s wedding dress and Nick gave Stevie a bath. They then both dressed Stevie into pyjamas, played with her for a bit and then gave her a kiss before tucking her into bed. In the middle of their wedding day with everyone waiting for them to arrive at their dinner, Nick and Claire still had time with their daughter at the forefront of their minds. For them, their wedding day wasn’t just about the two of them. It wasn’t about the invitations that Nick had drawn himself, the hours they’d spent arranging flowers or the 6m tall awning structure that had been purpose built out the back to cover the dance floor and band. It was about their friends, it was about their big Italian and Australian families and most beautifully of all, it was about their little family of 3. It was about making sure that they remembered what was truly important and I think that really says everything.