Couple Real Weddings

Real Wedding: Melanie & Lee


Sentiment reigns at the wedding of Melanie and Lee – from choosing their ceremony location to their country-chic theme, the couple’s love and their memories are reflected throughout the entire day. Melanie is also the queen of DIY, and we’re incredibly wowed by the stunning reception styled entirely by the bride, her friends and family. A fabulous result, perfect for this fabulous couple…


Date: October 19 2013

The Couple: Lee Liaver and Melanie Butler

No. of Guests: 110

Location: Mareeba,  Far North Queensland

Theme: Rustic Country

First Dance Song: Joy of My Life – John Fogharty

Budget: $15,000


Melanie's sparkling engagement ring

DIY decor details

Melanie's wedding flowers

Bubble stand for a gorgeous ceremony exit

DIY details

Welcome wedding sign

Mel and Lee – husband and wife

DIY wedding sign


Melanie and Lee

Bride and her bridesmaids

Bridal party

bride and her bridesmaids

Mel and Lee are married

Mel and Lee with horses

DIY table seating

Wedding cake

Wedding reception table


How did you meet?

I actually went to school with Lee’s brother and we met at a rodeo 15 years ago. We have been together ever since.

Why did you choose Mareeba Turf Club for your wedding?

It’s a very special and sentimental place to Lee and I. I grew up around the racetrack as my late father trained race horses and knew he would be there in spirit with us on our special day. It also suited the country rustic theme of our wedding and we could have the ceremony and reception all at the one venue. The beautiful big shady trees and green grass was perfect for our ceremony and the shed-style undercover area was decorated for our rustic style reception. It all turned out just beautiful.

What did you do for your hens and bucks?

My hens was a day out at the races with the girls. My beautiful bridesmaids organised my hair and make up to be done the morning of, and we all got to dressed up and played ladies for the day. We had a marquee set up for our celebrations and they even named a race after Lee and I. There also happened to be two other brides celebrating their hens at the races that day too, so they had heaps of activities for us all to have fun with. We continued into the night with dinner and dancing. Lee’s brothers (who were also his best man & groomsmen) organised a beer and barbecue afternoon/night at a friends place, celebrating with his mates. I can only imagine the fun they got up to!

DIY Details

I worked with the visions and ideas I had in my head on how I wanted the wedding to turn out and then set to work sourcing the items (mainly on the internet) to create the look I had in mind.

I had a huge challenge to turn a ‘not so pretty’ reception venue into a wedding venue that reflected Lee and I. I achieved this by using quirky little props and decorations that suited our personalities. My neighbour helped by using some old wood they had lying around to create signs that I hand-painted myself and stuck them into bales of hay for decoration. We also made the unique wooden heart shapes that we painted numbers on for our table numbers.

I used lace curtains that I purchased from the second-hand shop and made a shabby heart which hung from a frame to create our wedding arbour. I collected glass jars to use as vases for the tables filled with fresh flowers and reception decorations, along with lace doilies that I also collected from second-hand shops. Some of the jars were decorated with hessian and twine. We used hessian as table runners and had tea light candles in small glass jars that lined the guest tables.

I used a ribboned backdrop that was made of lace, hessian and pink and white fabric to match our colour scheme as the bridal backdrop and attached hessian bunting that said “just married.” I also had a hessian “Mr & Mrs” bunting attached to the front or our bridal table.

I had bubbles on a stand for our guests to blow after our ceremony with a chalk board sign reading “our love will grow with each bubble you blow.” Glass jars filled with fresh flowers and wicker love hearts were hung from homemade shepherd hooks in line with the isle that was also covered with fresh rose petals.

Our son held a handmade sign as he walked down the aisle with our daughter reading “here comes the bride, our mummy.” I also purchased a handmade ring cushion made of twine in the shape of a love heart, that was personalised with our names and wedding date.

My bridal shoes had decals on the soles that were personalised with my name and wedding date which looked great in photos.  Our wedding cake was displayed on an old wine barrel that my husband had borrowed and I made a bunting “love” sign for decoration.

Our guest book and card table included an old vintage suitcase, with a handmade bunting attached to twine with small wooden pegs. I also used a typed thank-you poster and framed it in a photo frame, thanking our guests for celebrating with us. Our guest table seating was displayed on old casement windows that I hand wrote the table numbers and guest names on using a paint pen.

The ceiling was decorated and fully covered with fairy lights that we set up ourselves and white bunting flags that I purchased from eBay ran the whole way across the ceiling of the reception area.

I also used products from our local hire businesses (such as Your Style Dessert and Buffet Hire) and utilised what they had available that suited the theme.

I was lucky enough to have one of the most amazing florist (Gab from Nine Blooms), that worked with my theme and ideas, she created the fresh florals that were used to decorate our venue.

Thank goodness I had the support and help of family and friends. The three days leading up to the wedding were crazy, but I loved every minute of it! We had a small army of workers (family and friends) which all helped with the cleaning, setting up and decorating of the venue. They all followed my instructions to achieve the exact look I had dreamed of. The best part about DIY is seeing your ideas become reality… right in front of your eyes.

What was your key styling inspiration?

I knew from the time we got engaged that I was going to work with lace, hessian and pastel colours (pink and grey) to create a rustic, vintage, country style wedding that was unique and different to most other weddings our friends and family had been to.

I also spent a lot of time (and money!) on Etsy looking for inspiration and different pieces to use at our wedding.

What gifts did you give your guests?

Each of our guests received a personalised stubby cooler and five sugar almonds that were homemade by the grooms mother with hand stamped thank you cards tied with twine.

What was the funniest moment of the day?

When I tried to put my husband’s wedding ring on the wrong hand everyone thought it was so funny.

What was the most special memory from the day?

The look on my soon to be husband’s face as I was walking down the aisle and the words he spoke to me when I finally reached him. To have our nine-year-old daughter Ashtyn open the ceremony with a reading and to sing at the reception was very special. We were very blessed to have our children involved in our special day. They were so beautiful walking together hand in hand with our son holding a sign “here comes our mummy, the bride,” – everyone thought it was so cute. I will also never forget the look on my mum’s face when she saw me all dressed ready to be married, as my dress was a surprise to her.

What did you do for your honeymoon?

We were lucky enough to spend three nights at Fitzroy Island, enjoying the beautiful Island. We then spent three nights at Paradise Pams Resort at Palm Cove QLD – so relaxing!

Special thanks to…

Everyone that attended and celebrated with us on our special day! Also special thanks to our bridal party, friends and family for your never-ending support and all of your help leading up to our wedding day. And to our children for being so perfect for mummy and daddy.

What advice would you give other brides-to-be?

I would suggest to allow heaps of time for getting ready and photographs on the morning/day of your wedding. You don’t want to feel rushed and enjoy this time with your girls and whoever else is getting ready with you. Also the day goes way to quickly, so try and remember to take a minute to sit back with your new hubby and take it all in.

Ceremony: Mareeba Turf Club
Reception: Mareeba Turf Club
Gown: "Arabella" by Maggie Soterro, purchased from Jonovia Bride and Design
Bridesmaid Attire: Dresses from Forever New, Shoes from Novo and accessories from Equip
Groom's Suit: Spurling Bridal & Formalwear Cairns
Groomsmen Attire: purling Bridal & Formalwear Cairns
Coordinator: Bride, family and friends
Flowers: Nine Blooms - Cairns
Hair: Hairmania - Mareeba
Makeup: Gallery of Beauty - Mareeba
Cake: Homemade gift from the groom's cousin
Caterer: Hungry Possum Catering - Mareeba
Transport: Borrowed an old Holden Stationwagon from a friend
Stationery: Sweet Bella - Etsy
Music: Ron Sellars
Photographer: Mefoto - Cairns
Hens: Mareeba Turf Club
Bucks: Backyard BBQ
Honeymoon: Fitzroy Island and Paradise Palms Resort, Cairns and Palm Cove NQ
Celebrant: Marion Reid
Engagement Ring: Michael Hill
Bride's Wedding Ring: Michael Hill
Groom's Wedding Ring: Etsy

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