Wedding date: 26 April 2021 // Location: Preston Peak Winery

It took 12 happy years of magical moments and shared experiences – plus a few COVID-19 hiccups to well thought-out wedding plans – before Grace and Michael could say their I do’s to each other in a dreamy ceremony followed by a fun reception in the highlands of the Darling Downs. And, proving that time is no factor when it comes to true love, they say their dream day was ‘more than worth the wait’. Let’s take a look …

All good love stories start somewhere; tell us how and when you met:

Our paths first crossed in high school over 12 years ago, thanks to alphabetical locker placement and shared PE classes. Our budding summer romance was fuelled by beach outings with friends and countless hours on MSN. On Valentine’s Day 2009, Michael finally found the excuse he needed to ask me out. After a box of chocolates, a bunch of lilies and a screening of Ricky Gervais’ Ghost Town, things were ‘Facebook official’ and have been ever since. We grew up together, graduated together, supported each other through university studies and early careers, and became joint carers for my beloved dog Mikey. In 2009 we bought our very first home. 

Make us laugh, make us cry: who proposed to who, and how?

For our 10th anniversary, Michael organised a surprise getaway. I had no idea where we were going, but I felt this would be the weekend he’d propose. After a few hours of driving, we reached Elements of Byron Bay, an outstanding beachfront resort I’d wanted to visit for years. When we arrived at our villa, there was a bottle of wine waiting along with ten red roses – one for every year of our relationship. We enjoyed our cheese and wine platter before Michael suggested a small car trip. He took me up to the Byron Bay Lighthouse, and when we got to the top, the wind was blustering like crazy! My hair was all over the place! After walking around the lookout, Michael dropped to one knee and popped the question. I, of course, said yes! I was ecstatic (though not all too surprised). I was more surprised when Michael revealed his brother had secretly photographed the whole occasion in secret!

QB: Did you incorporate any traditions or perhaps do something a little different?

Since Michael and I had been together so long, we decided to buck tradition and walk down the aisle together. It was a bit controversial, but we’re happy we did it! I was nervous about so many eyes on me as I walked down the aisle, and to have Michael by my side made it so much easier. After all, he is the most important man in my life, and I felt the honour of walking me down the aisle should fall to him. 

And your favourite moments? 

(Bride): We did the first look, and I’m so glad we did. After 12 years together and months of uncertainty and stress, seeing each other at the cellar door was overwhelming. We both broke down into tears and held each other for minutes. We’d made it. It was my favourite moment of the day by far!

(Groom): A few hours into the reception, we snuck out for night photos with the videographers and photographer. While a little nippy, the night air was beautiful, and the fairy lights across the venue were magical. We took terrific night photos down the alleyway of lights and then took shots in front of the courtyard surrounded by twinkling lights. We decided to practice our first dance before re-entering the reception, slow and without music. It was a moment for just us, and it ended up being one of the most memorable moments for me of the entire day.

Grace Michael at Preston Peak Winery wedding venue

Were there any emotional moments? 

So, so many! Seeing each other for the first look was the most emotional but reading our vows and exchanging our rings was a very close second! Hearing the beautiful words that we’d secretly written for each other beneath the canopy of the wedding tree and looking out at all our friends and family. Taking in the warm afternoon sun and the stunning escarpment views. It was all just so beautiful. We walked out of the glass chapel, the two happiest people in the world!

As my something old, I wore my dearly departed wee nanna’s antique cameo around my ankle on a new gold chain gifted to me by Michael. I was so sad that my nanna wasn’t there to see me get married. The cameo made me feel like she was there with me the entire day.

Grace Michael at Preston Peak Winery wedding venue

First Dance Song: 

Dream a Little Dream of Me – The Mamas and Papas. We did wedding dance lessons leading up to the big day to make the most of twirling beneath Preston Peak’s magnificent wine cellar chandelier.

QB: Were there any standout suppliers?

Just two months after we were engaged, a colleague suggested Preston Peak Winery, so we decided to drive up and investigate. After a complimentary cheese and wine platter and chatting with Preston’s excellent staff, we locked in the venue! After stepping onto the stunning grounds, seeing the breathtaking views, and the wedding tree pavilion, we were in love! Our amazing celebrant, Jen King from Paper Daisy Ceremonies, was the first vendor we locked in. She was a mutual friend of one of my bridesmaids, and we were lucky enough to be Jen’s first official booking back in 2019. Jen was an absolute delight on our big day, and we had so many guests comment on how wonderful she was. From meticulously organising our ceremony run sheet to sharing beautiful stories and sentiments that had us in laughter and tears. Next, we had a look through the Preston Peak Winery’s preferred list of vendors and then did our research about highly recommended local vendors. I was lucky enough to find a fantastic bridal styling team with hair artist Sarah

Grace Michael at Preston Peak Winery wedding venue

Courtney and makeup artist Tyneale Hahn. These ladies were so supportive from the day that I booked them. They worked together to make my hair and makeup trial a breeze, and they worked together beautifully. On the day, they made me feel so special. My makeup and hair looked amazing all day and danced with me right through

the night! We were also blown away by our photography and videography team; Erin Simpson of E L Simpson Photography and Khyla Nixon of Maple & Mist Wedding Films. Erin took the lead and knew the venue inside and out! She knew exactly where to go and at what time to get the best shots. Michael and I were super nervous about being in the spotlight, but

Erin made us (and our entire bridal party) feel completely at ease. All our guests loved her and her easy-going nature. We were lucky enough to score the most phenomenal golden hour, making for some breathtaking shots that we will treasure forever. Maple & Mist were also excellent. The footage they captured was just stunning, and our first look video was curated perfectly. It caught our day and our love for one another so beautifully, and I watched it every day for weeks after the wedding to relive the magic.

How did COVID affect your day? 

We had initially planned a wedding for October 11th, 2020, but Covid threw a big old spanner in the works! We had so many overseas family and friends, including two bridal party members – one bridesmaid and one groomsman; it was stressful. Like so many other couples, we went into a full-blown panic when we went into national lockdown. Even if Australia were under control by October, we knew that other countries might not be, so we called in April to postpone our wedding to be safe. Amid ever-changing restrictions, we toyed with eloping and planned three other smaller-scale wedding iterations. Every time we prepared something, restrictions changed. We eventually bit the bullet when things started to look better and settled on a new date – April 26th, 2021. After sweating out a Queensland lockdown in early April, we were lucky enough to get to our wedding day with minimal Covid restrictions. Although one bridesmaid couldn’t make it, our third groomsman defied the odds and made it back from Dubai to Australia and undertook his mandatory quarantine to be there. We were so lucky, and after all of the crazy stress, our big day was more than worth the wait!

QB: Did you (or will you) enjoy a honeymoon? If so, how and why did you choose your destination?

Pre-covid, we had planned to honeymoon in South Africa. Michael was born there, and I love photographing wildlife, so going on a safari is an exceptional experience for us both. As soon as Covid has calmed down, we plan to return to the African bush! Instead, we had a three-day mini-moon at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat in the Gold Coast Hinterland. It was freezing and raining a lot of the time, but we were just so happy to be married! We are both most at peace outdoors, surrounded by bushland and birdsong. We enjoyed beautiful hikes in Lamington National Park, had incredible animal encounters and indulged at the Lost World Day Spa.

Do you have any advice/recommendations for future couples? 

Yes! Your wedding is about you and your partner and no one else. While it’s okay to make accommodations for the wishes of friends and family, don’t let others dictate what your day should or shouldn’t be. Be true to yourselves as a couple and do whatever makes you happy. Choose the venue you’re passionate about, the food you want and the music you love. Curate the day to suit you! I promise you won’t regret it.

Venue: Preston Peak Winery // MUA: Tyneale Hahn Makeup Artist // Photos: EL Simpson Photography // Video: Maple & Mist // Hair: The Hair Artist Collective // Florals: Buds and Willow Floral Design // Luv Bridal – Gown (Elora by Madi Lane) // Suits: Oxford & Tarocash // Bridesmaids: Chancery // Rings: Jodi Phillips Fine Jewellery // Celebrant: Paper  Daisy Ceremonies // DJ/Music: DDE (Darling Downs Entertainment) // Cake: Cakehouse by Katrina Allen

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