Real Wedding; Brittany and Michael @ The Cove
About You Two;
Now, How did you two meet?
Like every good love story that starts in the Sutherland Shire, we met through a mutual friend at Northies in Cronulla.
Who popped the Question and how did it happen?
Micky and I had been together a year and a half when he proposed in Kiama, in late 2018.
He’s English, I’m Australian. So it took a fair bit of planning from him to orchestrate the surprise, hiring a house on the water near the blow hole for both our families to stay in.
At the time, we were already keen on having a longer engagement, and thanks to COVID, that drew it out even longer to make it a 3-4 year wait until we finally tied the knot.
Why did you choose your venue and how was the venue choosing process?
For us, the feel of a venue was just as important as it looked, and we wanted to pick somewhere that truly reflected us as a couple.
We knew it had to be coastal and that we wanted it to be a destination wedding so that we could spend a bit more time with all our guests. I originally ventured up to Byron Bay to check out some venues up there and we also visited some venues around the Palm Beach area. But in both locations there was no real standout that ticked all our boxes (easy access for elderly guests, a solid wet weather option, accommodation close-by that made it easy to get to and from, privacy, and direct access to the beach). I was originally against picking a South Coast venue, as it almost felt too close to home, but Micky suggested we go and check out The Cove and at least give it a chance.
I’m so glad I listened to him because after visiting the venue, it was love at first sight and looking back, a South Coast wedding made a lot more sense to who we are as a couple, considering where we live, like to spend our weekends away and even where we got engaged. The accommodation onsite made it easy for guests, the venue is tucked deep into the bushland in the Jervis Bay national park so it definitely had the privacy aspect and it had direct beach access which gave us the option to get married overlooking the water or right on the sandbank. There were other fun elements that sold it too, like the tree bar, the games set up and ready to go on the lawn, the furry native friends that live on the property and the gorgeous sand dunes that are the backdrop for many of our wedding photos now… It was just so different than anything we’d seen before and we knew this little secret paradise hidden away in the bush was going to give our friends and family an experience they’d never forget.
The only thing it lacked at the time we booked in February 2020 was a great wet weather option, but thankfully in the time between then and when we actually said I do in March 2022 (due to a COVID postponement), the team at The Cove had built a beautiful white barn that tied the venue together and finished it all off. From our ceremony on the lawn, to cocktail hours at the tree bar, into the barn for dinner and back out to the tree bar for dancing, our guests only had to move up to 10m in between each area — allowing everyone to relax, treat it like a weekend away and have a few cocktails without worrying about any of the stressful on-the-day travel.
Quick Fire Questions;
How many wedding guests did you have?
Around 115 all up. There were a few weather disasters leading up to the day that meant we had a couple of late dropouts and a few late add-ons.
Sit down of Cocktail Style?
Sit down with shared plates.
Planning The Wedding;
Was planning the wedding stressful or did you enjoy the journey?
I like to think of myself as a pretty organised person and I definitely loved the part where I got to pick all the different elements of the day from the music, to the flowers, to the food. That was the fun bit, piecing it all together.
However, overall, sadly, it was definitely a stressful process for a number of reasons and we had more than a few hurdles thrown our way that were out of our control.
First, like many other couples planning on getting married over the past two years, COVID and the restrictions involved meant that Micky’s family was denied access to enter the country for our original date in March 2021 and we chose to push back the wedding a full year to try and give them every possible chance to be with us. So that threw a spanner in the works a few months out from our original date.
Then after having all our vendors locked in for our first date and getting a nice surprise that all of them were also free for our new date in 2022 — meaning some were locked in for more than two years in advance — we still had a few vendors pull out three months before the day around Christmas due to a change in their plans or a dreaded double booking. This meant we had to plan a lot of the elements for the wedding twice, and also re-evaluate our budget, as our new date had double the weddings happening due to all the postponements and there were a lot less vendors available. Thankfully, we were still able to find awesome new vendors that nailed our original brief, but that was a pretty stressful time to have to try and re-plan when everyone had packed up for the year and was focused on their end of year holidays. My maternal grandfather’s health also declined around this time. He went into palliative care and we were told he wouldn’t live to see the wedding, so it was a very emotional time, knowing he had contributed so much to my life and our relationship but that he was going to be missing on our big day. He actually passed away on the morning of my hens weekend. So it was a real mixed bag of emotions.
Finally, in the week leading up to the wedding, the NSW floods wreaked havoc around the state and the Jervis Bay national park flooded badly, cutting off access to The Cove. It also didn’t help that due to the lockdown in 2021. I hadn’t been able to re-try on my favourite wedding dress and lock in the order until the last hour, so it only arrived a week before the wedding and was then being altered in a flood-affected suburb in the final days before the event. I remember sitting in a cafe with my sister waiting for the final alterations to be made as we were getting texts to evacuate the area. In the 24 hours before the wedding, the road in and out of the national park still hadn’t cleared and we were told we may need to find a new venue as the SES wasn’t allowing anybody access to The Cove. At this point we honestly thought we may have to cancel. But somehow, despite all the stress, it worked out…
The sun came out, the team at The Cove cleaned up the venue to look brand new and the team at Wed Event Creators kept us on track, especially Vanessa who took on way more than she was supposed to with our on-the-day coordinating service, going into full-blown planner mode to keep the vendors updated and everyone in check. I don’t think our wedding would have gone ahead if she hadn’t been there to help us sort it out. Julz from Wed Event Creators was also fantastic on the day. I felt really burnt out mentally in the morning and she did a great job at sorting everything out and keeping us calm so I could just forget about all the stresses and focus on getting married. Thanks so much ladies!
How involved were you both in the wedding planning, did one of you take more of the lead on certain aspects then others or were you both equally involved?
I definitely took on the role as chief planner. As a pretty creative person and a Virgo, I could not switch my brain off for most of the engagement… Constantly researching things.
But Micky was definitely involved in every step of the way and he was a great sounding board when it came to making the final decisions about things. Plus he was able to reel me in (for the most part) when it came to budget.
What was the top couple of non-negotiables or important must-have’s at the wedding for you both?
As mentioned above, we really wanted to plan a fun weekend away so that everyone could treat it a bit like a mini holiday.
A coastal wedding was top of our list, as was the accommodation being close-by. Privacy was a big one, and that’s not always easy to come by when you want to get married on or near the beach. A good weather option was also key for peace of mind.
Beyond these things, we agreed that the best weddings we have been to are the ones where there’s been amazing food, cocktails and a raging dancefloor, so we were focused on nailing those things to create a great atmosphere on the day.
Tell us about your dress and that dress-finding process?
The dress finding process was rather laboursome as a woman with curves and with so much pressure to look the best you’ll ever look on your wedding day, it took me a while to work out what I really wanted to wear. I was torn between classic and detailed.
I must have gone to about 10-12 different boutiques over a two-three-year period and COVID made it hard because it sort of interrupted this process.
In the end I went back to one of the first dresses I tried on at Love Marie in Camden, a Jane Hill dress with understated detail. The chain-linked embroidery and pearls reminded me of the ocean, so it felt like it fit the theme.
I wasn’t going to wear a veil and then a fortnight before the day I changed my mind… I’m so glad I did, the pearl veil from Chosen really finished off the look.
For my second dress I picked a simple low-back, white slip dress from Rat and Boa which ticked off the classic look I originally thought I’d go for in my main dress and allowed me to dance the night away.
What sort of theme, vibe or style did you go for?
It was definitely coastal, but we still wanted it feel timeless and understated.
We tried to keep the florals and decor pretty minimal and classic, so that the venue itself could shine, opting for a colour palette of powder blue, white and green, and picking florals that reflected who we are as people (hydrangeas fill our garden beds at home and they were also my late Nan’s favourite, while orchids were a must because they’re my favourite flower and were also in my Mum’s wedding bouquet). The half-moon nest that Aimie from Willow and Bear created for us for the ceremony up on the grass bank overlooking the water tied in all the colours of the setting and allowed the backdrop of the rolling sand hills and water to still be uninterrupted behind us. The white, long-stem roses lining the aisle was another nice touch that softened the area. All of these florals were also carried through to the cocktail area and the reception hall. Whilst the furniture organised by Love Stoned as well as Heart and Timber was mostly wicker painted white or a natural cane.
The other thing that was really important to us was the atmosphere at the wedding and music, food and drinks were a big part of that.
For the ceremony we had Nick Read Entertainment keep the music very acoustic and heartfelt, then he ramped up the tunes with his looping skills during the cocktail hours to give it more of a Sunday arvo set kind of feel. During the dinner, we instructed XYDJ to play a bunch of songs that would get people singing along and moving in their chairs, so that they were ready to hit the dancefloor at the end of their meal. For the late part of the night, we wanted to make sure every song on the list from them on was an absolute banger, so that people would stay together and the XYDJ team absolutely nailed the brief there. Nobody wanted to leave, unless it was to grab a Henry and Clive cocktail. They were amazing! As was the food from Garnish Catering.
Overall, I would say our wedding was just one big fancy beach party.
On the Day;
How did you both feel wedding morning?
In the morning we were exhausted after such a big rush to get down to The Cove the afternoon before and after all the related stress, we both barely slept.
We went for a walk around the property together and we couldn’t believe how clean and untouched it looked after weathering storms for the week or so leading up, but it was still a touch cold, at least we didn’t have rain we thought.
As the day went on and we started getting ready, the sun kept peeking through the clouds more and more, and next thing we knew it was warm and full bright sunshine. Such a turnaround! We felt so lucky and from that point on we just couldn’t stop smiling all day.
What was the best part or moment of your day?
The whole day was incredible but our favourite parts were probably the ceremony which went a bit longer than usual but felt so personal and important (thanks Jessica Mutch!) as well as the dance floor at the end of the night.
And because the day felt like one big miracle we made sure we didn’t take anything for granted, we soaked everything up and embraced it.
Anything you would change about your wedding or anything that didn’t go to plan?
As discussed above, PLENTY didn’t go to plan for us, haha. But the biggest takeaway from the whole process was that we knew we wanted to get married and that was the most important thing. So although it was hard we just had to keep pivoting and being flexible to get the job done! As Micky’s father Damian said: “If you two can get through this, you’ll have a strong marriage,” and at least we have a somewhat funny story to tell our kids some day.
If we hadn’t had the wet weather issues the day before, we would have gone ahead with our welcome night paella meal, that would have given us more time to interact with people and enjoy their company to ease us into the next day, but that again, was sort of out of our hands.
One thing we would definitely change is the wedding speech. With all the craziness in the lead up, Micky hadn’t had a chance to get to it until the morning of… And then wanted me to read it out with him on the night when I’d never seen it before, haha. It was a bit of a disaster but at that point it was what it was… Maybe write your wedding speech around the same time you do your vowels so it’s done and ready to go.
The other thing that happened was we were having so much fun we didn’t realise there was still food and cake left over in the kitchen fridge on site… We didn’t discover this until the next day after all the guests had left and it would have been an awesome midnight meal if we had realised earlier and tucked in.
Are there any rituals, sentiments or traditions you incorporated into the day?
Hmmm, not really. We still cut a cake together as a couple, my father walked me down the aisle and we had a dad and daughter dance.
But mostly we ditched a lot of traditions.
We stayed together the night before (we both needed some normalcy after everything that had gone wrong!). Micky made us girls breakfast when we started getting ready. We didn’t do a bouquet toss (I wanted to keep it safe and get it pressed) and there was no way in hell we were doing the garter toss either. We had white dresses for the bridesmaids. The men didn’t wear ties. All these things felt right to us as a couple so we followed our gut and largely ignored tradition.
After the Wedding;
Describe newlywed life in a couple of words?
Day to day life is no different, because we were already living together when we got engaged. But bigger picture, our relationship feels stronger because we know we’re committed to each other and planning the next stages of our lives together. It’s a feeling that’s hard to describe but feels very content.
Best investment or money well spent on the wedding that you made?
Henry and Clive on the cocktails were a real hit, as was Jo from Garnish Catering’s food. Both were a real winner in our eyes.
Budget-over, under or what you estimated?
Over… Haha, definitely over.
Coordination/Set Up; The Wedding and Event Creators
Celebrant; Jessica Mutch
Venue; The Cove, Jervis Bay
Florist; Willow and Bear
Photographer; Bayleigh Vedelago
Videographer; The Love Lens
Catering; Garnish Creative Catering
Bar Staff; Henry Clive Caravan Bar
Cake; Picket Fence Cake Design
Entertainment; Nick Read Entertainment
Hair; KC Collective
Makeup; Alex Perrin