Ashleigh and Adam filled their nuptials with blooms and thoughtful handmade details
Photographer: Darin Collison
We actually did something a little bit untraditional and both changed our names. Adam’s name was Adam Shirley, and when we got married we also took on his late grandfather’s last name, Spencer, in order to keep his memory alive, as he was the last remaining Spencer and him and his grandfather had a really close bond.
We met on an airplane on the way to Thailand. I was on a girls' trip and he was on a boys' trip. We ended up staying at the same hotel on the first night and then travelled the entire three weeks with their group and became great friends for many years. We were friends first and only started seeing each other many years afterwards. I thought he was pretty annoying when we first met and we didn’t really ‘click’ at first.
Adam proposed in Noosa at our favourite restaurant, he had hidden the ring in his pants for a huge walk beforehand so that I wouldn’t suspect anything in his pocket.
I think the key to a happy relationship is to keep laughing - don’t let things get too serious. Communication is so important, and listening to the other person and respecting their point of view, even when you don’t agree, is also pretty pivotal.
I wanted my wedding dress to be quite fitted, but also have a really long train with embellishments without being too traditional. My brief was ‘no lace’ so instead we used a range of appliques and different mesh materials to get a more modern take on a traditional dress style.
We wanted lots of colour, lots of fun, lots of greenery. No white-and-green styling in sight. Everything had to be really vibrant and bright!
Our first dance was one of my favourite moments of the day. We love to have fun and we are always the last ones on the dancefloor together so that was a moment that truly represented us. We danced to Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars and the energy was just so electric and upbeat – our guests literally jumped into the dancefloor halfway through to join us.
A lot of the styling was DIY - we were very hands on! From the beginning, I came up with all the concepts and then my mum and I brought them all to life over the next few months.
My mum was amazing, she is really talented and so she handwrote all the place cards and table numbers, she hand-painted 80 sets of oyster shells as makeshift salt-and-pepper shakers and trawled the internet for weeks just to find the right vases for our table settings.
We also got a bit DIY with the menu and asked the venue to create one canape that was my favourite food (fish tacos) and another that was Adam’s (hot chippies). We then made little toothpicks that either said ‘from the bride’ or ‘from the groom’ on them. Also my aunty, uncle and cousin were incredible.
My uncle runs a family nursery so he arranged the shipment of about 16 oak trees into the venue. The ceilings were really high and the room was massive so we knew we needed a bit of height in there. We wrapped them all with fairy lights and the end result was just incredible.
Because I had created most of the styling myself, I couldn’t be there on the day to set up so my talented cousin managed the entire bump in and bump out including styling a huge 2.4m tall flower wall which formed a backdrop for our DIY photo booth.
My advice for brides-to-be: Don’t get too caught up in the styling of it all. People can go way, way overboard with it all but at the end of the day if you can nail all the big ticket items like the ceremony, the speeches, food and the music, no-one is going to remember what colour the tablecloths were, or whether there was Aesop soap and heaps of candles in the bathrooms or not. It’s really easy to get so caught up in the detail, but on the day, none of it even matters.
Steal their style!
Dress: Helen Manuell Bridesmaids' dresses: Finders Keepers Groom's suit: P Johnson Tailors Personalised wedding gift: Adorn Invitations Creative concepts and styling: Papermill Media Flowers: Botanics of Melbourne Venue: Abbotsford Convent