Every day is a good day for some gorgeous real wedding inspo and we’ve got it in truckloads for you today, friends. Meet Kiara and Michael (or Kiki and Ridge, as they’re known to their pals). This loved-up couple didn’t let COVID-19 stand in the way of them having an epic big day in June 2021 – though planning a pandemic wedding wasn’t without its struggles. “We were engaged for two and a half years,” shares the bride. “It was only supposed to be one and a half but was extended due to COVID-19. Our original wedding date was booked for 2020 and we had posted all the invites out to 160 guests one week before the lockdown was announced. We had to contact everyone to advise them that the wedding was postponed indefinitely!”

After the setback, Kiara and Michael considered “just canning the whole thing” – but we are so glad they didn’t go that route, opting instead to reschedule for one year later. With Hello May fave Weddings By Sam there to capture all the magical moments on the day, the pair finally got to say “I do” in front of friends and family (albeit a shorter guest list than originally intended). “The pandemic was still looming and Delta variant had reached Australia so we had to cut the guest numbers significantly as a safeguard,” explains Kiara. “Unfortunately, we had far fewer people at our wedding than we had initially hoped for, and our Melbourne guests weren’t able to attend due to their lockdown. Then NSW then went into lockdown three weeks after our wedding so we consider ourselves lucky to have had a wedding at all!”

THE VENUEWe initially planned to have our wedding at a friend’s beautiful farm property but quickly became a bit overwhelmed by all the planning required, such as hiring things like plates, waitstaff, drinks, etc. Our priority was to make the day as easy and stress-free as possible, so we decided to spend a weekend visiting all-inclusive wedding venues to see what else was out there. Our first stop was Centennial Vineyards Restaurant in Bowral and after seeing it, we looked no further. With Centennial Vineyards we were able to have the ceremony and reception at their one location and we liked the fact their restaurant had a reputation for great food and wine. They also had a nice wet weather option available at no extra cost.”

THE VIBEThe main inspiration for the day was for our guests to be able to relax and have a nice time together. We both didn’t want too much of the focus to be on us so we forewent a lot of the traditional wedding rituals like arriving in hired cars, cutting the cake and first dances.”

FAVOURITE DETAILS It was a cool winter’s day in Bowral so we especially loved the big open fireplaces both outside and inside the venue.”

THE DRESSI did the normal thing and attended a bridal fitting at a store in Double Bay, but didn’t enjoy the experience. I tried on a number of their dresses, but in the end, I found the design of a dress I liked and then reached out to a private seamstress who was able to make something similar. I picked out the silk myself from a silk wholesaler in Alexandria and bought the tulle for the veil from another fabric wholesaler in Surry Hills. Michael had his suit tailor-made at P. Johnson in Paddington, which was a wonderful experience.”

KEY VENDORSThe key vendors were our close friends, which made the day so much nicer.  I used to work with Sam Riles, of Weddings By Sam, and we have been great friends ever since. I find her work truly beautiful and felt so lucky that she was available to photograph our wedding. My cousin Daniel did an amazing job as MC. We found our cinematographers, Soulmade Stories, just by searching on Instagram.”

MEMORABLE MOMENTBecause we had a lunchtime wedding the celebrations had wrapped up by about 6:30pm. Our guests then went and partied on at the local pub whilst Michael and I changed out of our wedding attire and had a really relaxed dinner together at our hotel restaurant. That was actually a highlight for us because we were able to unwind with just one another and reflect on the huge day we had just had. “

A WORD OF ADVICE…Just embrace the process. I felt a lot of resistance when it came to planning my wedding – I avoided it a bit, I think because I don’t love excess attention. So I think if you’re going to have a wedding you just need to embrace it, ha! Also, always be prepared for those once-in-a-century type pandemics!”

If you’re loving Weddings By Sam’s amazing pics as much as we do, we highly recommend dropping her a little line right on over here. Happy scrolling!

CONTRIBUTING VENDORS Photographer Weddings By Sam Cinematographer Soulmade Stories Florist & Stationery Paper & Petals Ceremony & Reception Centennial Vineyards Restaurant Cake Pasticceria Papa Entertainment Mark Chester Harding Rings Seb Brown THE BRIDE Gown Private seamstress Shoes Sergio Rossi Accessories Aje. (earrings), Sarah & Sebastian (necklace) Hair & Makeup Rachelle Facelo THE GROOM Suit, Shirt & Bow Tie P. Johnson Shoes Loake