Real wedding – Laura + Duncan

Sokil Arts Retreat, Wensleydale

Originally published on rad wedding blog, Hello May. 

Laura and Duncan’s wedding venue search consisted of asking if there were any noise restrictions. They wanted a wedding festival type set-up in country Victoria, where the party could go on and on and on and, well on.

They asked us on board early (which is an excellent idea, BTW), inviting us to site visit to their venue of choice, Sokil Arts eco Retreat in the Otways, because – you guessed it – there were no time cuts off for music and noise. But beyond that, it’s a Ukrainian Scout camp set on 80 acres, with an Olympic size concrete soviet era pool, dorm accom for 80 people, plenty of room for glamping and camping, and heaps of really relaxing bush land that immediately made you feel like you’re in the right place for a great time.

Laura and Duncan are chill people and while they wanted a pretty kick arse wedding festival, they also wanted it to be super fun, relaxed, and not your average wedding. We talked on the drive down about how they both loved the Pink Flamingo bar at legendary music festival Meredith – which became the start of the overall concept. Almost immediately, I felt like we were in the Wes Anderson film, Moonrise Kingdom. It’s one of my fave movies of all time and if you don’t know, it’s about a couple of kids who run away together – the boy is a scout and the woodsy, scout camp vibe of this, well scout camp, had me pretty enthusiastic. Thus the Wes Anderson meets The Pink Flamingo concept was born.

BEFORE THE PARTY

This epic wedding was over four sites on an 80 acres bush property in the Otway National Park. So the set-up took place over two days. Laura and Duncan are our lovely friends too, so Dave and I were also guests for the wedding, which is totally weird for us. So we needed to get everything done, and then get ready to rock ‘n’ roll for the celebrations.

The fun started with a pool party prior to the wedding ceremony. As I mentioned, the pool is a concrete soviet era Olympic-sized pool, and as soon as I saw it on the site visit I loved it and said we MUST use it. It’s totally weird and wonderful, but hey, that’s the fun of it. NO ONE was expecting this when they were told to bring their bather.

The weather was HOT so it was perfect for a pre-ceremony pool party. Dozens of picnic hampers, eskies full of Moondog Beer Can and a literal truck load of inflatables set the scene for the warm up party. We styled pool side with umbrellas, our Pete benches, coloured lights strung off the strange pool fence, and some rugs and picnic blankies for enjoying the picnic.

A floating train took materialised (see below), a DJ set was cranking (the couple asked their friends to do themed DJ sets throughout the day and night) and everyone was already having a rad time. Soon it was time to dry off and get ready for the ceremony.

Laura and Duncan are definitely not very traditional. Laura used her wedding dress shopping as a way to drink champagne in boutiques with her pals, and then bought a rad Ginger and Smart dress off the rack instead. They decided against bouquets and went with a rad floral necklace and hairpiece for Laura and a floral shoulder piece for Duncan, designed and created by free form floralist, Good Grace and Humour

Ace lady Janey Umback did Laura’s hair and make-up, really getting that cool, relaxed vibe down pat.

CEREMONY

Utilising as much of the camp’s existing furniture as possible, to keep within the vibe of the place, we decided on using the vintage vinyl fold down benches for the ceremony. Good Grace and Humour then worked her magical magic with natives and greenery – along with beautiful hand dyed silk ribbons to give it all a pop of colour so that it didn’t all blend into the existing bushy site. 

Laura and Duncan were actually already married #surprise! They had legends and friends of Good Day Rentals – The Altar Electric – marry them a few days before this ‘wedding’, meaning that they were able to have loved one marry them on the day #nawwww

OUTDOOR RECEPTION

A big feature of the wedding was always going to be the outdoor wedding reception with heaps of those Wes Anderson wedding vibes – the area is surrounded by massive trees, so the woodlands feel was just perfect.  Set next to the main hall, the large oval was utilised to create a relaxed ‘reception’ space, with two long tables, a bar and bar tables and stools, picnic lounge areas, and a big lounge area slash Wes Anderson-esque photo booth where guest could hang out and also take photos if they so chose – no need for forced posing or tacky, lame-o props. 

We used our panel wall backdrop to create the Wes Anderson photobooth backdrop, adding vintage bits and pieces centring around nature to create the vibe we were after. Popping in some mid-century furniture in pinks, blue, green and yellow, the space really looked amazing and was a highlight for us and the guests. Using an old record player as a coffee table, we really brought the quirk!

One of the other popular features was the fringe flags. As soon as I saw the scout flag poles I was obsessed with creating our own type of ‘flag’ to create some height in the massive space and again, bring some more quirk. 

In this area we also created a pastel dream pair of long tables – in blue, pink, yellow and green. The mix of chairs and benches was carefully chosen to add to the look and feel and really stand out against the massive green gum trees. 

INDOOR RECEPTION

The indoor portion of the wedding ceremony – designed for the night time party hours – was where we took inspiration from Meredith Music Festival’s Pink Flamingo Bar – which BTW is one of the funnest places ever and you should go there STAT.

The hall has a circus-y roof thingy that I knew would look bloody great with our vintage furniture goodness – though I have to say our bride and groom were initially like WHAT THE DICKENS IS THAT? But I patted them a few times and said, do not worry, I will make it all look magical. They were quite right in some ways, Sokil is not the best kept venue – it’s QUITE rustic in the sense that it’s a bit rough around the edges, but the key to that is to work with it, rather than try to disguise it. 

Thus, we chose furniture for the design that was warm in tone to complement the timber, we chose reds and pinks and burgundy to bring the stripe out in the circus roof. We wacked every neon sign in out collection up in that room to bring actual light, but also colour, and a dash of freshness to the older space. And a shit tonne of rugs to warm up the concrete and old carpet. 

Good Grace and Humour’s super lush Pink Flamingo tropical florals really helped to bring the space to life as well. 

The overhead monstera installation intermingled with the festoons swept low to frame the stage, where we added one of our giant neon hearts. And then Mighty Duke and the Lords turned up and added their fun shit to the stage and the scene was set, yet again, for another amazing part of the wedding. This stage was then also where Laura and Duncan’s friends played their themed DJ sets throughout the night and wayyyyy into the morning. Yours truly (DJ Tutu Carmen – and yes I wear a pink tutu) played a set and did some of the best dancing on record for my set, Bad Ass Bitches.    

HAPPY SNAPS!

Epic is thrown around A LOT when it comes to weddings, but this wedding was whatever is 4000 times better than epic. During dinner, some people escaped back to the pool for flamingo races in their clothes. There was 3am swims. Friend DJs that had the dancefloor pumping til the wee hours. 

To summarise, Laura and Duncan were dream clients. They contracted us as stylists and trusted us to do some hardcore creating. They said yes to things, they were open minded and as a result we all had so much fun with the process. They also had heaps of great ideas that formed the basis of the design and made it all super personal and downright ace. 

Vendors

Photographer Gold and Grit Photography Stylist, Furniture hire, Photo Booth & Lighting Good Day Rentals Florist Good Grace & Humour Ceremony & Reception Sokil Arts Eco Retreat Burger Truck Beatbox Kitchen Mexican Truck Cornutopia Bar Boss Bar Hire Kegs Bridge Road Brewers Beer Hawkers Coffee Cart The Coffee Mob Desserts The Choc Top Ice Cream Co. Decorative Elements Fabric.com Fringe Trim Songbird Silk Silk Ribbon Geelong Fireworks Confetti Cannons Surfcoast Party Hire Umbrellas Band Mighty Duke & The Lords Celebrant The Altar Electric BRIDE Bridal Gown Ginger & Smart Bridal Boutique David Jones Shoes Edward Meller Hair & Makeup Janey Umback GROOM Jacket Politix Shirt & Pants M.J. Bale Shoes Julius Marlow

FURNITURE USED

33/180 Fairbairn Rd, Sunshine West VIC 3020

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