I had a couple of Saturdays ago with a long drive down into the New South Wales hinterland to attend a destination wedding for friends Chay & Felicity (Flik). The wedding was a weekend-long event, starting on the Friday afternoon and finishing on the Sunday. I had planned to go for the whole weekend, but since I was in the middle of a house sit, I attended just for the day.
The wedding was held at Midginbil Hill in Uki - past Murwillumbah and near Kyogle if you know those places. The people who run Midginbil Hill pride themselves on being the cheapest wedding venue in all of Australia - they're also an Outdoor Education Camp for schools throughout the week.
Venue: Midginbil Hill, Uki, Gold Coast/Tweed Hinterland, New South Wales, Australia
Venue Style: Outdoor, Rustic, Casual & Rural
Dress Code: Cocktail/Semi-formal
Food: All-Vegan Vietnamese Buffet
Cake: Fruit Cake made by the bride's mum
Photography: Carol Slater Photography
The Honeymoon: Thailand & Cambodia
Chay and Flik sent out invitations via email:
Flik who is a graphic and web designer designing their wonderfully cute website:
I remember when I first received the digital invite and checked out the website, I was so excited and could really just feel the love! There was info about both of them:
With information and directions to the venue, accommodation, online RSVP form, information about the wedding schedule:
A selection of Dr Seuss quotes and the best FAQ section answering a heap of questions and informing me that there will be a jumping castle, a glitter station and that we're advised to wear pink or purple - I can definitely do that! There's also a section on the website for the photos. I'm not sure how long the website will be up for, but check it out while you can.
Flik and Chay answered some of my questions about their wonderful wedding:
Can you tell me about the email invitations and the website, Flik?
I'm a graphic and web designer so I did the invitations and website myself. We decided to do digital invitations because it saved money, resources and time. We used MailChimp (a free bulk email service) as it streamlined the entire process. It enabled us to link the invitations directly to the website and track who hadn't opened their invitation so we could follow them up. We created a website so that people could RSVP online and find all the information that they needed in one place.
Tell me about why you chose a whole weekend wedding
This wasn't something we initially planned to do, but Midginbill Hill is set-up so that guests can stay onsite for the whole weekend. We absolutely loved the concept and thought it would be a great way to make the most of the occasion. We're so glad that we did it this way, as it meant we were able to spend plenty of time with our guests, and everyone was able to relax knowing they could party freely without having to worry about how they'd get to bed.
It was a beautiful day when I started my road trip down South for the wedding. I left Tanah Merah just after 10am, it was a wonderful sunny day and I just love driving through areas such as the Tweed hinterland. I arrived at the venue a bit before midday, was greeted by Chay and his Dad. Here's the Programme I received when I arrived:
I met some of Flik and Chay's wonderful families and checked out the area. Saw my friend Sundara and we made some garlic bread in the kitchen - well, 4 loaves of garlic bread - it took forever. I also had some food that was left over from the night before.
Here's my outfit - purple dress was my (late) grandmother's, Renata gave me the necklace from her USA trip early this year, my own makeup with a new purple ribbon especially for the occasion! Pic by Carol Slater Photography
What Makeup and Makeup person did you use?
Kristen Judge, Blushed Studios. I chose Kristen because I loved her portfolio and she was able to use Arbonne products, which are all vegan and natural.
What about hair?
Faith Davenport (friend & professional hairdresser) did my hair, and I supplied her with De Lorenzo products, which are vegan.
What sort of flowers?
My favourites - white roses & baby's breath for my bridal bouquet, and white & pink roses for the isle. Purchased from the Rocklea flower market for $30 total.
Most people had arrived by 2pm and then made their way to a farm area, also owned by the Midginbil Hill people. It was great to see a lot of Brisbane and interstate vegan friends here for the wedding. As the bride is always late, I hung out with Gary (photographer, Carol's husband) until hair was complete, makeup fixed, dress on and everyone was ready. We drove from the Midginbil Hill to a farm area, up some steep hills and past some not-so-good watch cows:
Tell me about the ceremony location.
We held the ceremony at the highest point of the Midginbill Hill property as it offered a stunning view of Mt Warning and the surrounding landscape. Within seconds of seeing the location we knew we would have to have our ceremony here. It was absolutely perfect.
Dress and Attire?
The loose dress code was cocktail/semi-formal, and pink/purple clothing was encouraged. We wanted people to dress up, but at the same time we wanted everyone to feel free to wear what they felt comfortable with.
Tell me the story of how you two met.
12 years ago (when I was 18 and Chay was 20) my housemate at the time, Faith, met Chay at a party. She couldn't believe how much we had in common, so she set us up on a blind date. We were together briefly, but at the time we both wanted different things. Chay moved to the UK and I met someone else, but we remained friends. Time passed and Chay returned to Australia and we continued to become even closer friends. We soon realised we that we wanted to be more than that, so we started dating again and have now been together for over 3 years.
How did Chay propose, Flik?
Chay took me to North Stradbroke Island for the my 29th birthday. I was hopeful he would propose, but I wasn't expecting it. We were drinking champagne on the beach while watching the sunset, and I thought to myself, if he's going to propose now is going to be the time. But there was no proposal. Later we were in the hotel room and I was having a bubble bath, Chay asked me if I wanted my birthday present and I said of course. He made me close my eyes, and when I opened them he was holding out a diamond ring! I was so excited I literally almost drowned myself in the bubble bath! I of course said yes!
He picked a vintage white gold diamond ring because he knows that I only wear white gold, and as we are both concerned about the conflict surrounding diamond mining we prefer to buy second-hand jewellery. I asked him why he didn't propose while we were at the beach, and he said he was planning to, but changed his mind because there were a couple of guys having a fight nearby, so he felt they ruined the moment. Meanwhile, I hadn't even noticed them because I was so focused on how perfect everything else was!
Flik made the walk across and up the hill from the car - what wonderful scenery:
She was SO excited!
And walked down the isle
to meet Chay under the tree:
Here's some of the guests:
With the Celebrant:
They called their dog friends up to give them the rings - cutest ring bearers?
The furry ring bearers
Our wedding would not have been complete without our fur babies - twin shihtzu boys - Ollie & Zeph. We would have loved to include our third baby Mikito the cat, but he doesn't travel well, so he was included on the website instead. Ollie & Zeph were our ring bearers, so we tied our rings to their harnesses (very tightly!) and when it was time, we called them and they came running up the isle. We then gave them (vegan) dog chews to keep them distracted for the rest of the ceremony. They wore matching pink bow ties which were purchased from Etsy.
How did you both feel on the day of your wedding?
Flik - I was very nervous about my walk up the isle because I didn't know how I was going to manage to make it up the hill in high heels and my huge wedding dress! But in the end it all worked out fine. I was so happy and couldn't believe how completely perfect everything was. It was very hard for me to contain myself during the ceremony because I was so excited!
Chay - Very happy and excited, but just a little nervous with a million things racing through my mind. After the ceremony I was so happy and relieved that everything went perfectly.
Tell me about your dress, Flik
From the very beginning I knew I wanted my wedding to be as affordable and environmentally & ethically responsible as possible. I set myself a budget of $500 and started looking at second hand dresses online. Someone was advertising a load of ex-bridal shop stock on Gumtree so I went to have a look at a few dresses. When I arrived the dresses I'd been interested in were already gone so I was about to leave empty handed when the seller said she she had one more dress she could show me, but it was damaged. She then pulled out the most stunning wedding dress I'd ever seen. It fit me perfectly and still had it's $2,000 price tag attached. The only damage was a couple of small tears I mended myself. The seller wanted to clear out the last of her stock, so she sold everything to me for $500. I've been selling the rest on Gumtree, but I still have an entire wardrobe full of wedding and formal dresses!
Tell me about your outfit, Chay
It was important to me to not wear a suit that was made of wool, I didn't want a typical wedding suit, and I didn't want to spend too much money as I don't get dressed up very often. It proved a challenge to find something suitable, but in the end I found a suit on special for $100 and a tie that matched Flik's pastel pink dress.
And the kiss:
The ceremony was simply gorgeous, with everyone being moved by Chay and Flik's love for each other and everyone commenting on how beautiful the ceremony was.
The sand ceremony
This was a suggested by our celebrant, and it symbolised us coming together in marriage. We travelled to the Sunshine Coast and collected sand from the beach we went to on our first date.
Chay's sister Calida, Chay, Flik and her sister Alana:
What was the main inspiration in having your wedding in Uki?
We choose the Tweed Valley region because it was a good halfway point between our families, so those who drove were able to get there in under 4 hours, and it was less than a 2 hour drive for our Brisbane guests. We wanted somewhere rural with stunning views, and the Midginbill Hill venue was absolutely perfect. We looked at a lot of different venues, but there was nothing we completely loved, and we couldn't believe how much some venues charged just for venue hire. When we looked at Midginbill Hill we knew straight away that it was perfect for us. The view was stunning, it had everything we were looking for and it was very affordable. We paid just $1,000 for exclusive use of the venue from Friday-Sunday. There were 3 different types of accommodation to suit different budgets and preferences, and enough accommodation for everyone.
Was there a theme involved?
Our basic theme was rustic, eco, and fun! Our colours were pink & purple, with hints of silver.
Did you have any obstacles with organising a destination and vegan wedding?
We struggled to find vendors that would deliver to the venue without charging a small fortune for delivery, so we decided to bring in everything ourselves. Apart from that we didn't really have any problems, but it took a lot of extra organising because we had 3 days to plan instead of just one!
Would you recommend a destination wedding for others?
Absolutely! The ceremony and reception were over so quickly, We're so glad we had to whole weekend to spend time with everyone and enjoy ourselves.
Why did you chose Carol Slater Photography?
We've worked with Carol previously through our involvement with Animal Liberation Queensland, so we already knew that she was a highly talented photographer and very passionate about her craft. We trusted her completely and her photography style is exactly what we wanted, so she was the obvious choice. We were absolutely delighted with our photos, so we're so happy we chose Carol.
Most people left to head to the barn for cocktail hour straight after the ceremony. Chay and Flik had their family shots at the location, then they drove to get more photos at Clarrie Hall Dam, Murwillumbah. I drove back with Bec and Steph, then jumped on the jumping castle with Sundara, Jesse and Karen. It started to get cold, but it wasn't that bad really.
Tell me about your plans for the Reception
For the reception we decided to a do away with a lot of the typical wedding formalities and do things our own way. Flik's sister was MC and made sure everything went according to plan. We did the cake cutting and speeches, but decided not to do the other formalities, because they didn't interest us and we didn't want to do anything just because that's what is usually done. The feedback that we received from our guests was that our wedding felt authentic and a true expression of our feelings, rather than just a typical wedding.
I sat next to Faith - Flik's friend who is the reason Chay and Flik are together! - opposite Gary and Carol. Luckily we were on table 3 so we didn't have to wait too long until we lined up for the buffet dinner. I was hungry.
Tell me about the Food
Kuan Yin, a vegetarian Vietnamese restaurant, provided an all-vegan buffet banquet. It is the same restaurant we went to on our first date (when they were located on the sunshine coast) and it is still one of favourite restaurants, so it was our first choice for catering. At $40 per head this was our biggest expense, but it was amazing value for money. They closed down the restaurant and brought in a team of chefs to make everything fresh onsite. We choose a huge selection of dishes ranging from rice paper rolls and sushi through to spring rolls and mock meats, so that everyone, including the carnivorous would hopefully find something they liked. We incorporated gluten free and soy free options into the buffet rather than having separate meals so that everyone could be included in the buffet. Our vegan guests loved going to a wedding where they could eat whatever they wanted, and our non-vegan friends were surprised by how much they enjoyed the meal.
My dinner - couldn't eat it all!
Some speeches were given by family and friends and then the wedding cake was cut:
Tell me about the Gifts
We didn't want gifts as we already have everything we need, but we knew that people would probably still want to contribute, so we said that we would have a wishing well but emphasised that this was optional. We were delighted to find it filled with heartfelt cards and messages, and about half our guests contributed financially, which was a great help as we ended up spending more than we had planned.
Tell me about your Honeymoon destination
We're heading to Thailand and Cambodia so we can show each other our favourite spots.
Bottom (L-R): Megan, Gary, Bec, Amelia, Steph, Janet, Seren and Darren, Harmony, Carol
The bonfire was lit, the music was blasting from the speakers, the LED hoola hoops were in full swing, and the real party began. I left a bit after 8pm to make my way back - getting home a bit before 10pm to catch the last few minutes of the nail-biting Brisbane Lions vs North Melbourne AFL game where the Lions won! It was the great end to a wonderful day. It was such a pleasure to have been part of Chay and Flik's wedding.
Is there anything you would change if you had your wedding and reception again?
Everything was beyond perfect, so we really wouldn't want to change anything. We were completely blown away by everyone's eagerness and willingness to help, so if we could do it again we'd probably delegate more of the work! All up we ended up spending just over $8,000, plus our guests paid for their accommodation. Our original budget was $6,000 but as the average cost of a wedding is $28,000 we were still pretty happy!
See these Vegan and/or Eco Wedding Websites:
- DIY Vegan Bride
- Ethical Bride
- Ethical Weddings
- Green Bride Guide
- New York Vegan Wedding
- No Impact Bride
- Offbeat Bride
- Vegan Bride
- Vegan Weddings HQ
- Vegan Weddings on Pinterest
- Vegetarian Wedding
Also see the Viva la Vegan! Pinterest Wedding album.