Chris and Stephanie in the Martini Gown

Stephanie and Christopher's special day was held at Somerley House in the southern highlands of New South Wales, a few hours south of Sydney. The venue is a beautiful countryside property with a grand Victorian home and old-world gardens, reminiscent of British garden parties and the Gatsby era.  

Bride and groom smiling

From a Midnight Kiss to Forever

The couple’s love story began one New Year’s Eve, being introduced early in the evening where they initially parted ways. However, Chris didn’t leave things there but took a keen interest in Stephanie, continually striking up conversation with her.  

Then creeped in the inevitable New Year’s Eve countdown, and there out of nowhere appeared Chris, to sweep Stephanie away as the clock struck midnight, sealing their first kiss. From that special night, the couple never looked back.  

With Chris, Stephanie felt confident. She knew exactly where she stood, and he had everything she was looking for in a man. “His confidence was very attractive, and on our first date, he took me to a restaurant where my aunt and uncle had been engaged (weird!). We spoke about our lives and future aspirations, all of which were very aligned,” she shares. 

Bride and groom kissing
Detailing of the Martini Gown
Bride and groom smiling together
Bride looking back in the Martini gown
Bride and groom sharing a kiss
Father and daughter first dance on the dancefloor

The Proposal

Reflecting on the past, the bride shares how comfortable she felt from the start and how amazing it felt to be around him, sharing ‘I knew he was the one early on.’  

As time went on, they became fatigued by the question, ‘when are you two getting engaged?’ Although they had openly spoken about the prospect of it, Stephanie had no idea when it was going to happen.  

On a Friday in September, as they were eating dinner and chatting about the engagement topic, Chris left the room to get ‘something.’ He walked back in, got down on one knee, and asked Stephanie to marry him. Stephanie, overwhelmed by emotions, thought it was a joke, but the diamond ring said otherwise. It was the ring she had been dreaming of and continually hinting at; it surely was the real deal. 

Bride kissing groom
Wedding bar menu and flowers
Reception table display
Bride and groom hugging

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A Modern Garden Wedding in Sutton Forest, New South Wales

Eight years late the couple tied the knot at Somerley House in Sutton Forest. When they first visited the venue, a few favourites were the beautiful garden, the Slim Aarons-style pool, and its old-world charm.  

Given the couple’s love for the Sutton Forest area, celebrating their wedding there was an easy decision.It was in an area we often spent weekends away, so it held special memories for us as a couple,” Stephanie explains.  

The venue, located a few hours south of Sydney, was a beautiful countryside property with a grand Victorian home and old-world gardens. Reminiscent of British garden parties and the Gatsby era, it was perfectly suited for the couple’s wedding theme – a garden party with a modern twist.  

As fate would have it, the newlyweds experienced pouring rain the entire morning of their wedding – not ideal for an outdoor celebration.  

Fortunately, the venue could accommodate this unpredictable weather with a garden room for the ceremony. Overflowing with green vines, hundreds of candles, and a roaring fireplace, tying the knot could not get more romantic, magical, and intimate. Although it was not what the couple had envisioned, they would not change a thing! “A highlight of my day was our vows and seeing all my family and best friends in this one room.”  

Following the ceremony, the rain miraculously stopped. "We got to spend time taking photos outside and having our guests wander the gardens with a cocktail in hand,” Stephanie shares.   

The reception was spent in the gorgeous, scalloped pavilion outside. The newlyweds and their guests ate, drank, and danced the night away under the stars and festoon lights. “It was pure magic,” shares the bride. 

Bride and groom cutting the cake

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Bride smiling with her bridesmaids
Bridesmaids helping the Bride with her dress

A ‘Less is More’ Bridal Style

When it came to the gown, Stephanie knew she was looking for a 'less is more' style. Although she wasn't completely set on what the dream dress would look like, she trusted she would know it when she saw it. 

It took more than a couple of dresses for Stephanie to find the one. She had to visit many bridal boutiques before 'saying yes to the dress'. 

It all started when a friend shared an Instagram message of a Grace Loves Lace gown. Stephanie, curious, decided to book a bridal appointment. “They looked to have a lot of beautiful styles. 

She visited our Gold Coast boutique with her mum and tried on five dresses. Among them, the Martini gown immediately stood out. 

The simplicity of the gown, aside from the detachable bow train, was a favourite. “I will never forget that moment. The whole experience was so special. From the minute we arrived in the beautiful sunlit studio to the customer service and ordering process. It felt so easy and just 'right'," she shares. 

"It was simple and elegant at the front, striking and unique from the back.! From the backless fit to the beautiful long train, detachable bow, and the slimline cut – I felt amazing and fell immediately in love." 

 On her special day, Stephanie complemented the gown with a simple white headband and pearl-studded heels. 

Reception setting


VENUE: Somerley house, sutton forrest
PHOTOGRAPHER: blaise bell
videoGRAPHER: other wedding stories
CATERING: chef & I catering camden
HAIR STYLIST: lisa minnett hair
MAKE UP ARTIST: zoe martin makeup
florist: ffoliar
WEDDING coordinator: rhianna smith events
celebrant: victoria pearson
graphic designer: steph lane designs
music: tillee music, the white tree