A Chic Italian Garden Party Wedding in the Byron Bay Hinterland
Beautiful couple Kieta and Max wed in their beloved coastal Byron Bay surrounded by their favourite people and the area’s undoubted natural beauty. A day filled with exquisite food, crisp champagne, jaw dropping views and copious amounts of fun and love.
The couple exchanged their vows during an intimate ceremony on the immaculate leisurely grounds of Victoria’s at Ewingsdale, a stately country manor boasting dazzling panoramic views of the ocean and surrounding mountains, with the main house reminiscent of an luxury old world Tuscan Villa full of tales that complimented the couple’s chosen ‘Italian Garden Party’ vibe. The reception was quintessentially Byron Bay, with Beach Byron Bay’s white washed beachy wooden cladding exterior and its perfect fine sandy location and salty sea air.
Bride extraordinaire Kieta styled and planned the wedding like a pro in a mere three months! Columbian white roses with a texture like velvet and regal jasmine white orchids set the scene beautifully, whilst heartfelt favours such as balsamic vinegar, olive oil and honeypots were lovingly hand prepared by the bride’s family. Kieta looked every inch the effortless beauty in her understated classic 90’s style slip dress from Grace loves Grace, topped with a show-stopping Oscar de la Renta veil, later changing in to her Luna Bea Bride silk wrap reception dress that wowed with its voluminous sleeves for that touch of special occasion.
The day was captured au natural by the gifted Alli Woods, with the couple’s no fuss style marrying perfectly with Alli’s ability to capture the raw beauty in simple moments.
the love story.
We actually met 10 years ago at a friend’s house through our mutual best friend and instantly connected. I even remember going home and telling my mum I met a dream human. We stayed in touch for 7 years, as we always had a little soft spot for each other. Then 3 years ago, we were both single and we started having dinner catch ups. Over dinner I mentioned to Max I was going to Europe and I made a joke that I was going to be all by myself on the Amalfi Coast, and he better fly over in case an Italian man whisked me away. Then when I was in Rome, two days before I arrived in Positano, he messaged me and said he just booked a ticket and he was flying out tomorrow to me. It was the best surprise ever. We had the most magical time riding scooters, sailing boats and eating the best Italian food. We’ve never been apart since.
the engagement story.
We just bought a house and we were to pick up the keys on the 1st day of summer. Max said let’s celebrate it before we go, so he’d packed this super lovely picnic with my favourite champagne. He said he’d picked this lovely spot, on this island part down at Balmoral Beach. When I arrived I heard a violinist playing and I said to Max “this must be the spot the classical musicians must come to practice”, haha. I then spotted a photographer and told Max it must be for her Instagram page. I seriously had no idea! We sat down in front of the violinist thinking we’d hit some sort of lucky timing. Max was so nervous he was shaking when he poured my champagne, and I started asking if he’d hurt his arm. Then when the violinist played our song “I’ve got the world on the string” Max made a heartfelt speech about how much he loved me and the year wouldn’t be complete with out one more thing. Then he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. 3 months later we actually moved into an apartment down at Balmoral Beach, right opposite where Max proposed.
the wedding venue.
We both wanted to get married in Italy, but we knew the logistics wouldn’t be easy, as all our friends and family are based in Australia. Max and I both love Byron, and plan to move there one day, so we knew we had to get married in Byron. It’s a magical spot that means so much to us. We we’re a bit crazy, and decided to plan and get married within 4 months. We found our wedding reception first. It was pure magic how we did. We were down at the beach at The Pass in Byron, and our friend pointed to this gorgeous Italian restaurant on the water. Max went there the next day and was absolutely blown away by the view. The restaurant sits on a deck, where the roof opens up, and it’s right on the water. It was divine. He asked if they did weddings. One of the owners, Belinda, so happened to be there and said yes. Max called me straight away and said “I found it!”. He took me for dinner there that night and the second I saw it, I just saw the whole wedding and my heart jumped. The staff were the best, the space was divine and the food was out of this world, and Belinda was able to do everything we wanted.
For our ceremony, I wanted something very private. Victoria’s in Ewingsdale is like a Tuscan Villa, and has the most beautiful outdoor lawn. It was perfect to have our ceremony there, then have a champagne garden party before we whisked our guests away to the reception. Though we didn’t get to have it in Italy, with our Italian style ceremony and Italian restaurant for reception, we got that little bit of Italy in Byron.
Our style for our wedding was to make it a beautiful, fun, intimate love fest with everyone’s favourite food, champagne, music and view. We just wanted to spoil our guests and make it the happiest day for everyone. Our venue and reception are such naturally beautiful places, we didn’t need to do much at all. We wanted to create that soft Italian garden wedding vibe, so we chose lots of gentle white and natural tones, against the backdrop of the Tuscan like garden and stunning blue ocean. Byron is just a magical place to get married.
Alli Woods, she is hands down the best! She shot one of my best friend’s weddings and I instantly connected with her at the wedding. She has the most wonderful energy, and having someone like that on your day is beyond perfect. Alli doesn’t take
pictures, she captures moments and feelings, and that’s all I wanted. I was very untraditional when it came to my pictures. I just love Alli’s style, so I said I wanted her to show up, capture us getting married, hugging, kissing and laughing with our loved ones, that’s it. No getting ready images, no bridal party, no posed pics. But that’s Max and my style, we like to bend the rules a bit.
When it comes to my style, I am a lover of chic lines and less is more. My most loved wedding dress was Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy’s silk slip when she got married to JFK Jr. There is something about silk that I find so classic, elegant yet sexy. Picking my ceremony dress was easy. I found my silk slip years ago on Instagram, by Grace Loves Lace, and loved it because it’s a design that would never date, and showed my body in the best possible way. I tried on a few other dresses before, but they made me feel like a “bride”. But when I put on this dress, it felt like me. I found this gorgeous Oscar de la Renta veil with my mum. When I put it on, it’s layers upon layers of billowing silk tulle, and that was all the show stopping drama I needed to add.
My reception dress was something very special. My photographer showed me this beautiful dress in French Vogue one month before my wedding and I was obsessed. It was from Luna Bea Bride, and the designer Lou was divine. She sent me two
options, as she was in the UK, and sewed it together for me in record timing. It was so different to my reception dress, a beautiful silk wrap dress with billowing sleeves and buttons. It was the most perfect evening bridal party dress. I felt like an utter goddess swanning about in it.
Our ceremony was on grass, so goodbye to any thought of a stiletto heel, haha. I knew I was going to be on my feet, so chose very comfortable shoes. I found these perfect white Guess shoes with a block heel a week before my wedding. Then for the dancefloor I changed into my black velvet and golden Gucci stiletto heels max bought me in Capri.
I had two bridesmaids (my sister and best friend) whom both live far away, so I couldn’t go shopping with them. I said that they could choose their own black dress that they felt amazing in. My sister just gave birth to my niece 2 months prior, so she found a beautiful black cocktail dress that was perfect and comfortable for her. My best friend just moved to Bali and wasn’t having any luck, so I picked a classic black silk slip dress that she loved. I bought shoes for them from Boohoo, simple black block velvet heels. I said they could wear what ever shoes they wanted after the ceremony, as I know they don’t always wear heels. But they said they were super easy to wear and partied in them the whole night.
I wore these beautiful Christie Nicolaides earrings Max bought me for my birthday. The green in them was to match the emerald of my engagement ring. I also wore my two gold bangles my mum gave me for my 13th birthday, which she brought back from her birth country. These bangles I will gift to my future children to make their wedding bands from. Max wore his Gucci lion head cufflinks I gave him for Christmas. His mother’s maiden name is Leon, which is Spanish for lion. So this way he had his representation of his mother’s Chilean heritage with us on the day.
the wedding rings.
My nana left my mum her gold bangle she wore every day in her will. My mum gifted it to me for my engagement, and I took it to our jeweller Stuart whom melted it down for us to make our wedding bands. My nana had a beautiful marriage to my pop, so this way I always have her watching over us. Our wedding invitation had the Mexican symbol of the Sacred Heart, as it’s a very special symbol my husband and I both love. My wedding band has the design in the heart around the band, and Max has the same design but also the cross from the sacred heart. I secretly am more obsessed with his wedding band.
the hair and make up.
I was very lucky, my hair and make up was done by my very close girlfriend Georgia Hull. Georgia did an amazing job. I rarely wear make up, but when I do, I love a red lip and mascara to make my lashes flick back. I know wearing a red lip is very risky (yes when we kissed, I put red lipstick all over Max, it was hilarious), but it’s something I love to wear. It was a very minimal make up look, just dewy skin, with emphasis on the lip and lashes. Georgia nailed it! I love my hair being up, so we did a tamed messy bun. It was perfect for anchoring my veil.
I love stationery and invites, so I was very excited to get my hands into these ones. My girlfriend who is a talented art director, helped me design my save the dates, wedding invites and menus, using my chosen Sacred Symbol. I got them printed on the most divine cotton textured paper, which made them look like they’d been hand written. I kept every thing clean, simple and elegant, and just directed everyone to the website to RSVP, find information, etc. I used to build websites back in the day, so I put together the website super easily. From there I housed the information for the welcome drinks, several ways to get to Byron (including a cool little road trip itinerary for surfers), baby sitting services, a map for where the bus picks everyone up, accommodation, the works.
My mum and sister were angels and arranged these for me on my mum’s farm, as I wanted some farm produce from where I grew up as guest favours. We have a bee farmer next to my parents farm, so we had honey pots made for guests. Then my sister made her famous balsamic and mum her olive oil. They topped it off with cute little stickers from our save the date on them.
I love white Columbian roses and white orchids. They were my main flowers I wanted to use. They’re so soft, delicate and beautiful to look at. My bridesmaids had white Columbian roses, and I just wanted a bouquet of only white orchids. I had a white petal aisle, and Max and I married between two beautiful pots filled with white roses and orchids. For our reception, we had a little more softer flowers on the table, mixed in with the white candles and some vines arranged on the roof above the tables, between hanging globes.
Max was the creative director of this one. He wanted it to be a like a fun upbeat latino film clip. Because the day was so much fun, we wanted to keep that energy. We were so in love with the drone shots of the venues, as they really captured how special these spots truly are. We were given the speeches separately, which were so special. They were the biggest roller coaster of emotions, and we can’t wait to share it with our children one day.
the morning of.
I did something very untraditional, and I spent the night on my own in my suite the night before. It was bliss. I woke up in the morning bursting with excitement, so I went and order coffee and breakfast to the room for everyone. My mum, my bridesmaids and Georgia (hair and make up) all turned up, we did a quick facemask whilst drinking champagne and all got ready together. It was so much fun.
For the style of it, we wanted to emulate an Italian Garden Party. Victoria’s was the perfect spot for it, and it looked out to the ocean. The bus took everyone to the ceremony location, they then walked into the luscious garden area and were greeted with sparkling waters, while we had soft Sinatra music play. Our ceremony in itself was very special. We collaborated with the celebrant to create our own ceremony. I had my nieces and nephews accompany the bridal party down the aisle, and we opened our ceremony with acknowledging and thanking the original Aboriginal tribe owners of this land. We had my mother in law read out her prayer in Spanish, and Max’s nephew translate in English. We had a letter ceremony where Max and I wrote letters the day before and placed them in a box my mother gave us, and every year we’ll write a letter to each other and add them to the box.
We wrote our own vows and I tried very hard not to cry. Our mothers were our witnesses to our marriage licence, and when we walked back down the aisle, everyone threw white petals and we had Kanye West’s “Touch the Sky” pumped up really loud. We then went and poured a giant Moet champagne tower, so we could get the garden champagne party started. Bradley played beautiful music in the garden, while we all kissed, hugged, laughed and let the kids run around and play. We took only one family photo, and the rest we just hugged and chatted to everyone. After about an hour and half, the bus came to collect everyone for reception. Max and I stayed back, and just enjoyed some time alone to soak up how beautiful everything was. We then changed into our reception outfits, which was the best. Then at about 5pm my parents took us to reception, which we were so excited for.
Beach Byron Bay is the only restaurant right on the water, and the view is like no other. It was a magical sunny day, and I wanted everyone to enjoy it out on the veranda. When they arrived, we had cocktails, champagne, oysters, canapes and a feasting table for everyone to begin with. The veranda was set up with white linen, white chairs, white candles down the middle and crystal glassware, then some vines above on the open roof with hanging globes and some soft flowers on the table. I’ll never forget walking in and feeling so transported to my dream setting with all my loved ones. Bradly sang songs, while everyone mingled. When we arrived, there was the most stunning sunset happening. So our photographer and videographer whisked us down onto the beach for 15 minutes and it was just beyond magical.
the planning and styling.
My husband and I have both worked in events in the past, so arranging our wedding together was actually very doable for us. We had 3 months to pull it all together, which at first sounds really crazy, but because we both knew what we wanted, it was very possible (and fun!). I had a vision in my head of how I wanted things to look like, and I just kept to it. My motto is always keep it simple and fun. And if we couldn’t do certain things, then it wasn’t meant to be. However, none of it would be possible without the help of my vendors. Belinda at Beach was hands down an angel. I told her what I wanted, and she set everything up and even helped with the little things like picking up my iPod for the music at my hotel, and picking up my flowers from the ceremony and taking them to the reception. She also was perfect for her recommendations and really made sure I had the most stress free and beautiful day. Hats off to Bel!
I have a sweet tooth. We did a chocolate fudge cake with white buttercream icing, semi-covered, giving it that textured look. It was delicious! We had it decorated with white roses. Super simple, classic and yummy! The Cake was from Byron Bay Boutique.
Max and I love food and fine liquor. So we cut no corners when it came to catering! We had sparkling mini San Pellegrino, Moet and Aperol Spritzes, served at the ceremony. When guests arrived at our reception, they were served with canapes of oysters, spicy brisket meatballs and eggplant, tomato with mozzarella arancini balls. We also set up a feasting table with delicious focaccias, cheeses and antipasto nibbles as extras. Max and I are very traditional, in that we love a sit down dinner service. Between each service we ran speeches. Max and I always share everything we eat, so we like the idea of having a shared menu.
On the menu we had:
Byron Bay burrata, romesco, charred spring onion
Roast prawns, salmorejo, toasted ciabatta
Beetroot ravioli, goat cheese, poppy seeds
Whole market fish, capers, lemon and parsley
Byron Bay pork porchetta
Roasted local potatoes, rosemary and garlic
Charred broccolini, romesco
Radicchio, grapes, red wine dressing
Wedding Cake served and tiramisu (my fave!)
Late night snack
Vegetarian and ham & cheese baguettes
For drinks, we had an open bar with our favourite French champagne, wines and top shelf tequila, whisky and vodka. Plus we made sure we had delicious cocktails such as margaritas, espresso martinis and aperol spritzes flowing.
the wedding songs.
Ceremony: Walked down the isle to Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah “ sung by Bradley Stone
Post ceremony: Kayne West’s “Touch the Sky”
First dance: Frank Sinatra’s “I’ve got the world on a string” sung by Bradley Stone. Max proposed to this song, and it’s our favourite Sinatra song.
We hired local Byron Bay singer Bradley Stone. He is was amazing! He was also the DJ for the dance floor afterwards.
the favourite moment.
There was too many! Just the overall feeling of excitement and seeing everyone you love, and everyone so happy to see you two get married, is just a warm and beautiful feeling we always get when we reflect back on the day.
It was actually the most perfect day with not one hiccup. Of course, planning it, well you definitely get a few surprises leading up to the day, but everything happens for a reason, and it led to the most seamless and perfect day. So all those little hiccups during planning were totally worth it.
We did a mini moon to Bali straight after for a week. Which was so wonderful. It was the perfect place to do nothing except eat, go to the day spa, swim and have fun in our little love bubble. Then we went away to Europe and honeymooned in France, Greece and Italy 3 months later, once it was nice and warm in Europe. It was heaven.
I loved doing a pre-wedding welcome drinks event the night before. That way we got to see all our guests before the wedding, and catch up with them one on one. It took so much pressure off the next day at the wedding, because we’d already had our chats and catch ups, so we could just enjoy the day and focus on dancing the night away.
the wedding vendors.
the photographer. ALLI WOODS
the videographer. DESERT ISLAND MEDIA
the ceremony dress. GRACE LOVES LACE
the reception dress. LUNA BEA
the shoes. GUESS
the wedding rings. STUART ALEXANDER
the jewellery. CHRISTIE NICOLAIDES
the hair & makeup. GEORGIA HULL
the paper. DESIGNED BY THE BRIDE
the flowers. THE FRENCH PETAL
the cake. BYRON BAY CAKE BOUTIQUE
the celebrant. SUSIE FIGGIS
the ceremony venue. VICTORIA’S AT EWINGSDALE
the reception venue. BEACH BYRON BAY
the entertainment. BRADLEY STONE