During one particular uni lecture, this groom, Ben, admits to being a smidge distracted. After all, he’d just spotted his future wife, Nicole, for the very first time. “[Ben] walked all the way up the stairs to sit right next to me. [After some] detective work, asking friends and finding me on Facebook, we started a conversation that has never ended.”

Nine years later, the two teachers tied the knot at the idyllic Bawley Vale Estate. The criteria was “timeless, classic, garden vibes”, and with a talented behind-the-scenes team, including Meg Maskell Fine Jewellery, Hope X Page, Dove Grey Bridal, M.J. Bale and Timothy Blacketer Films, it’s no wonder Nicole and Ben’s day was A++. Ever-amazing Matt Ashton Photography hit it out of the park (as usual). So binders out, Pinterest boards open; this one’s a true masterclass in how to get hitched!

THE VENUE “Ben and I holiday down at Lake Conjola each year. Some friends had mentioned there were a few beautiful venues on the  South Coast and we looked into Bawley Vale Estate. We went there for a visit on January 29, 2023 and instantly fell in love with the warm vibes – it felt comfortable and perfect for us.” 

THE DRESS “I found my dress at Hope X Page. I wanted something classic and timeless. Trying on dresses with my sister, mum and mother-in law was special – the first time I tried my Dove Grey Bridal veil on with a dress and saw my most loved ones reaction is something I will always cherish.”

LITTLE LOL “Ben and I don’t see dancing as our strong suit. We always thought of paying someone to teach us our ‘first dance’, but when Christmas came along, and we were only a few weeks out from the wedding, we realised it was too late. Instagram reels and YouTube were our friends for weeks. In our living room, with all our furniture pushed to the walls and a few glasses of red wine, we shared many funny moments stepping on each other’s feet, wearing PJs with our wedding shoes. Needless to say, we pulled it off, giving each other a high-five when we ended the dance on the big day.”

FAVE DETAILS “The special touch we added to the ‘name tags’. Instead of people’s names, Ben and I went full stalker mode, searching through old photo albums and the social media pages of every guest to find a picture of them to print as a ‘Polaroid’ [for their place setting]. Our photographer Matt got some great reaction photos when guests saw their photos, and that was an incredible highlight. Our cake was also very special to us as it was made by Ben’s mother, Diane.”

MEMORABLE MOMENT “One favourite memory was being able to walk down the aisle with my father (who has had many health battles over recent years) and seeing Ben waiting for me, full of emotion, at the end of the aisle. In nine years of knowing Ben, I had never seen him cry, and he was completely full of raw emotion, love, and joyful tears the moment he turned around to see me.”

WE’RE GLAD WE… “Had a whole baked ham at the end of the night for guests to snack on before heading home. Ben’s uncle Mark, who likes to call himself a ‘ham connoisseur’, said it was the perfect delicious ending to the night.”

STANDOUT VENDORS “Marg and Chris from Bawley Vale Estate went above and beyond. Marg and Chris also have a tradition where each couple who gets married plants a tree on the property the day after the wedding. We planted a lime tree, and it will be a place we will revisit with our new family when the time comes. Also, Matt Ashton is an incredible photographer and all-round great guy. As soon as we got the beautiful photos, we felt grateful that he was the person we connected with to create lasting memories of the most important day in our lives.”

Feeling inspired? In an orderly fashion, head over to the Hello May Directory. It’s where you’ll find the one and only Matt Ashton Photography, and videographer Timothy Blacketer too. When it comes to capturing the mems these two are a #DreamTeam! Start planning your very own Bawley Vale Estate fairytale here. If your wedding ‘fit is next on the to-do list may we recommend Hello May faves Hope X Page, Dove Grey Bridal and M.J. Bale? Or if you’re still looking for ‘the one’ (wedding ring, that is), we know you’ll adore Meg Maskell Fine Jewellery – have a browse here.

CONTRIBUTING VENDORS  Photographer Matt Ashton Photography Cinematographer Timothy Blacketer Films Florist Ffoliar Stationery Vistaprint, Popic Venue Bawley Vale Estate Catering Clockwork Catering Cake Maker Diane Hodgson (Family) Signage Borrowed Event Hire Entertainment Jack Rose Music Celebrant Jessica Mutch Rings Meg Maskell Fine Jewellery Transport Ulladulla Buslines THE BRIDE Bridal Gown Designer Chelsea May Bridal Bridal Boutique Hope X Page Veil Dove Grey Bridal Robes / Getting Ready Tees The Bridal Thread Shoes Collection via Myer (Ceremony) & Nine West (Reception) Accessories Saint Valentine Jewellery Hair Absolute Hair by Tia Makeup Divine Makeup Artistry Fragrance/Perfume Who is Elijah Bridesmaid Dresses Seed Heritage THE GROOM Suit, Pants, & Bow Tie Pepper Formal Wear Shirt M.J. Bale Shoes Julius Marlow Watch Citizen Barber / Grooming The Bearded Barber Groomsmen Suits Pepper Formal Wear