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Not all destination weddings need to be in far-flung, exotic locations. Australia is surrounded by dreamy tropical islands, many of them right here in the Sunshine State, making it all too easy to pull off a glorious holiday-style celebration without straying too far from home. Your biggest problem? Narrowing down the perfect patch of sand for your vows.

The decision was all too easy for Cindy-Anne and Scott, who long ago fell for one of Queensland’s best-kept secrets, Great Keppel Island. With many fond memories of time spent on the island, it made perfect sense for the couple to return to its pristine shores for their wedding. Their beach ceremony and seaside reception ensured this celebration was every bit the island wedding idyll.

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Well before their romance began, however, Cindy-Anne and Scott were ‘just good friends’. They met at a night out at the pub, and moving in the same circles, they gradually went from running into each other at parties to moving into a share-house and becoming, as the bride says, two peas in a pod. “We were the best of friends who hung out all the time and often went on hiking adventures together,” says Cindy-Anne. “After five years of friendship, Scott finally broke out of the – his words – ‘friend-zone’!”

They were official for a full year before Scott decided not to hold back any longer. Planning a romantic dinner at Sirromet Wines in Mount Cotton, he set up the perfect surprise for his gorgeous girlfriend. “I got out of the shower one morning and found a box with flowers on the bed,” recalls Cindy-Anne. “Inside, there were photos of us together, a brand new black dress and a note saying ‘Dinner at 7pm, be ready by 6.45pm’.”

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The surprises kept coming: when Cindy-Anne arrived at Sirromet she found the dining balcony completely empty, except for her love. Scott had booked out the entire space, but he still waited until after entrées were served to pull out a ring from his jacket pocket. “When he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him I was so shocked and gave him the biggest hug. I was just too happy to say anything!”

Two years flew by and the couple were enjoying life as new parents to their little boy, Axel, when they escaped to Great Keppel Island for a spectacular destination wedding with friends and family. “We fell in love with the island quite a few years ago when we were both working in Rockhampton,” Cindy-Anne explains. “It was a little hidden gem that was so quiet and peaceful – no cars, no roads, away from the rest of the world.”

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Enjoying all that the island and their venue, Great Keppel Island Hideaway, had to offer, the couple and their guests spent the day before the wedding snorkelling and swimming in crystal-clear waters. “There were people swimming even the morning of the wedding,” laughs Cindy-Anne. “The feel of the whole wedding weekend was super laid-back – everyone had the best time.”

Swapping bikinis and board shorts for summer dresses and smart-casual attire, Cindy-Anne and Scott’s 80 guests gathered on Putney Beach on 24 November, 2017 for a relaxed afternoon ceremony. Barefoot and dressed in an elegant Grace Loves Lace dress, Cindy-Anne made her way to the altar through a beautiful natural aisle of native paperbark trees behind her adorable son, Axel. “Walking through the paperbark and melaleuca trees that led to the beach was just amazing,” says Cindy-Anne.

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All smiles and bathed in the warm tropical sunshine, the couple exchanged their vows and asked a special guest to perform a touching reading. “Scott’s nanna has a love of poetry. She wrote a beautiful poem just for us and it meant the world to Scott and I,” Cindy-Anne says. “We teared up!” When they were finally pronounced husband and wife, Cindy-Anne and Scott exited below a cascade of bright beach balls before soaking up the last of the sunlight in an intimate photo session. “We were on cloud nine,” laughs Cindy-Anne. “We were just so excited to be newlyweds!”

Meanwhile, friends and family kicked off the festivities in the venue’s open-air bistro with shots of refreshing peach schnapps. “We displayed a sign that read, ‘Take a shot and find your seat’,” laughs Cindy-Anne.

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Keeping the good vibes flowing, the newlyweds then joined their loved ones for a delicious parrilla Argentinian barbecue, a glittering fire-dance performance and dancing under the stars. “The atmosphere was truly amazing and everyone was just so incredibly happy,” says Cindy-Anne.

When the dancing kicked off, the couple treated their guests to a fun surprise. “For our first dance, Scott and I started off by slow-dancing to Ed Sheeran’s ‘Perfect’, then we mixed it up with Lil Jon’s ‘Turn Down for What’ and ‘You’re the One That I Want’ from Grease,” laughs Cindy- Anne. “Everyone found it hilarious!”

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Determined to lap up every single minute with their guests in one of their favourite places in the world, Cindy-Anne and Scott partied the night away, and made plenty of life-long memories to add to their Great Keppel collection. The best part? You could feel the love. “There was so much love throughout the whole weekend – not just between Scott and I, but between all of our guests,” says Cindy-Anne. “With many of our loved ones overseas, having everyone together in the one place is so rare. We all made the most of it and everyone was so excited to be part of our special day.”

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LITTLE BLACK BOOK:
Photography: Elk & Fir // Ceremony and reception: Great Keppel Island Hideaway, Great Keppel Island // Wedding dress: Grace Loves Lace // Bridesmaids’ dresses: Seed // Hair: Luxe Hair & Beauty Lounge // Makeup: Makeup x Milly // Suits: yd. // Rings: Michael Hill Jewellers // Flowers: Handmade by Chessie // Cake: Sprinkle + Me // Honeymoon: The Maldives

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