Mikhara knew she wanted to marry Elise “from the first date in – fortunately I didn’t scare her away!” Mikhara had “not very secretly” always planned to propose when they first visited Uluru. “However, my dear mother-in-law, unaware of my proposal intentions, decided to join us on that trip so I held off.” She got her chance again over a year later when the pair were travelling in Porcupine Gorge. “I had been desperately wanting to see Bettongs (tiny kangaroos) and two appeared, I took that as a sign, and as Elise and I followed them under the evening sky, I got down on one knee, dressed in my trackpants and asked for the honour.”

Elise said yes, of course, and the pair brought in Danielle Smith from Lightsmith Images to document their special day, who “just got it – the art we wanted in our pictures and understanding each of us and our families in capturing the energy of the events.”

THE THEMEFor the last five years, we have made the time and space to spend one to six months of the year travelling around Australia in our self-built tiny home. The Australian bush is an important environment to us, particularly the red sands and spinifex grass of King’s Creek Station, where annually we co-organise Brumby Week. We wanted the theme of the wedding to be a mix of Australian Bush and the richness of Indian culture hence a focus on brass, gold, native trees and flowers.

DIY “We completely renovated our home to be our wedding venue for the Mendhi and Haldi events – including building a new bathroom and verandah, painting inside and out, new lights, cupboards and all fittings… planting 500+ native trees and even getting all our family together to create a new driveway (a laborious effort raking 50 tonnes of gravel over one weekend). Everything, in short, that took one 130-year-old wooden Queenslander home to the quality of a beautiful country wedding home.”

THE DRESSESWe had initially planned to travel to India to obtain all our wedding outfits, noting we needed about three to four outfits each and there’s about eight women in the immediate family who would need an outfit change, so were looking to bring back about 30 outfits and accompanying jewellery and shoes. In a COVID world, we were blown away by the professionalism, communication and ease the Indian vendors we used to obtain our outfits all the way from India displayed. We were really glad we ordered in April, as the outfits only arrived in late July. Of note were The Indian Bridal Company, Kalki Fashion and Pernia’s Pop-up Shop, who tailored and handmade our bridal and reception outfits. I loved that we both got married in our traditional colours – red for me and white for Elise. We decided to wear Indian for the wedding ceremony and western for the reception.

TALK ABOUT TRADITIONA special shoutout to Pandit Hari who allayed my [Mikhara’s] fears of trying to find a Hindu priest to conduct a same-sex Hindu ceremony, who straightaway always saw it as a marrying of two souls and evoked the mountains for us during the ceremony. We had a Hindu ceremony followed by a celebrant, Dr Jeanne McConachie, which was Elise’s mentor all through University and who wrote a beautiful speech for us. Instead of vows, we had our beloved Prof (our fearless leader from running Brumby Week in the NT each year, Emeritus Professor Chris Pollitt) read a poem Elise and I had written on the road together over many years.”

COOL CUSTOM “We decided to choose our own name because we wanted equality in our name and to have something that would always remind us of the outback and bush. I [Elise] think the outback was the inspiration behind our chosen surname – Saltbush. Everywhere on our travels around Australia we would find one hardy little plant: the Ruby Saltbush. It is a small shrub with edible bright red, yellow or orange berries found across Australia, from coastal communities to the arid centre. It can survive almost anywhere and is a reminder of all that is important to us – the land and nature, adventure and taking risks, not following the conventional path, and pursuing what matters to us unreservedly. Hence, we chose to be called Dr and Mrs Saltbush.”

WORD OF ADVICE “Do whatever you want – be bound by traditions or break free, it is a chance for you to establish what you want, and then just be there in that space surrounded by the most amazing people you can, and enjoy.”

STANDOUT VENDORSSpecial shoutout to our photographer, Danielle Smith of Lightsmith Images, whose calm, kind demeanour meant so much, particularly in those tiny moments of vulnerability and trust that happen throughout a wedding week. We knew Danielle’s photos were going to be incredible but we were truly blown away. Some felt like art. I [Mikhara] could feel the energy in them. I loved that they were candid, present and true. As Elise’s grandmother put it upon viewing them, ‘You can feel the joy in them, the joy that is so evident between you two.’ I also want to mention Sudhir Shetty at Spice of India, who catered for 140 people each night, two hours away from his restaurant, bringing all his equipment on site to make the food fresh and his professional staff who ensured every belly was content with good, wholesome food.”

CONTRIBUTING VENDORS Photographer Lightsmith Images Cinematographer Freedom Films Stylist Chandni Events Stationery Social Good Outpost, Canva Ceremony venue Private residence (Mehndi and Haldi), Worendo Cottages Reception venue Worendo Cottages Catering Sudhir Shetty at Spice of India (Mehndi and Haldi), Fabulous Catering Food Trucks Rambling Rose Pop Bar Cake Petite Crumb Wedding favours Miks Chai Teepee & Marquees The Tipi Hire Co, Event Marquees Lighting Hire Event Marquees Sound Hire & Entertainment DJ Black Amex Signage Social Good Outpost Pandit (Priest) Pandit Hari Rings Violet Jessop Henna Henna Paradise THE BRIDE (Mikhara) Bridal Sari & Veil The Indian Bridal Company Reception Outfit Siddartha Tytler (design), Pernia’s Pop-up Shop Veil The Indian Bridal Company Accessories Sokora Jewels Hair Darra Hair Studios Makeup Friend THE BRIDE (Elise) Bridal Sari & Veil Kalki Fashion Reception Outfit Siddartha Tytler (design), Pernia’s Pop-up Shop Shoes Silver Lining Makeup Friend