We’ve heard our fair share of stories where two high-school sweethearts go on to tie the knot after years and years (and years) of being together. For Sharni and James, this wasn’t quite what happened. Catching each other’s eye in the eighth grade, this couple’s story began with a group date at Pizza Hut… and ended shortly after. “James broke up with me because I was too tall,” laughs Sharni. “Luckily, five years later, he had his growth spurt and we started dating properly in my first year of uni.”
After 11 years of dating, James planned an elaborate proposal. One Friday morning when Sharni’s car wouldn’t start, James offered to be her chauffeur to and from work. “Little did I know he had actually unplugged my car engine,” laughs Sharni. Surprising his gorgeous girlfriend with a stretch limo and an engagement ring, James whisked Sharni away for a romantic weekend at the Gold Coast’s Crystal Creek Rainforest Retreat before revealing one more surprise. “We had dinner planned with my parents for the Sunday and I was so excited to announce our engagement to them,” says Sharni. “When we pulled up at their house, we walked into our surprise engagement party! Somehow James had organised it all with our friends and family, and without anyone spilling the beans.”
Planning a boho-luxe weekend-long celebration at a property in the Gold Coast Hinterland’s Numinbah Valley, Sharni and James enjoyed one seriously spectacular wedding just one year later, on 11 March 2017. After spending the night at the property’s farmhouse, the bride and her maids got ready for the ceremony in an über-cute ‘glamour van’ and enjoyed a few pre-wedding Champagnes, served by their very own butler. “I had seven bridesmaids: my two sisters and five best friends,” says Sharni. “They all wore different dresses that they picked themselves in tones of rose gold, dusty pink and nude.” While the girls were busy getting ready, the groom and his groomsmen got into the festival spirit early, swimming in the nearby dam with a few beers and giant pool floats.
As morning turned into afternoon, Sharni and James said their vows in a relaxed, laughter-filled ceremony under a flower-adorned gazebo. “I wanted an outdoor wedding with lots of fresh greenery, a peach colour palette and as many rose-gold sequins as possible,” says Sharni.
Dressed to impress, the couple’s sausage dogs, Cupcake and Indiana Bones, were every bit the VIP guests, watching on and (thankfully) behaving well for their owners. “They just had to be involved in the ceremony!” says Sharni. “Cupcake wore a floral collar that was made to match my hairpiece and Indy wore the same bow tie as James.” That is one dapper bridal party.
Before joining their 140 guests for the reception (complete with a pizza food truck and vintage caravan drinks bar), the couple wandered through the property’s grounds for a photo session in the sunshine, surrounded by forest. “We got our group photos done quickly and joined the party again,” says Sharni. “The afternoon was spent chilling with loved ones, drinking rosé and eating pizza.” Sounds pretty perfect to us!
Decked out with floral installations, candles, cushions, rugs, his-and-hers peacock chairs and plenty of gorgeous boho styling, Sharni and James’s reception was one big teepee wonderland. “We wanted our wedding to be relaxed with a picnic-meets-festival vibe and to not be overly formal,” says Sharni.
After feasting on more pizza and enjoying drinks under the stars, the couple were treated to speeches and a special surprise performance from Sharni’s sisters and maid of honour. “They absolutely wowed us when they danced, played guitar and sang ‘What Dreams Are Made Of’ from The Lizzie McGuire Movie! It was such a highlight.”
Following the performance, musician Daniel Stoneman had everyone on the dance-floor and shouting request after request – we’re told the Spice Girls were on high rotation. “We wanted guests to feel welcome to take their shoes off and go wild,” says Sharni. “We only dragged ourselves away from the dance floor to cut the cake and eat gelato from Wheel & Spoon!” Spice Girls… cake… gelato… live music… is it possible to marry a wedding?
As if things couldn’t get more fabulous, guests tucked into a giant cheese wheel cake, gifted to the couple by two friends. “It was such a hit, especially after midnight when the bottom tier found its way onto the dance floor as a late-night snack,” Sharni says.
Partying into the wee hours, Sharni, James and 100 of their guests stayed the night in luxury and glamped on the property in stylish tents. “It was like one big slumber party,” says Sharni. “One of the best decisions we made was to have a coffee van arrive in the morning to serve fresh coffee to all of our (hungover) guests!” Spoiling their friends and family one last time, Sharni and James organised an indulgent spit-roast brunch and hit the dam once more to cool off. “It was so good to chill with everyone after the excitement of the wedding day.”
A mind-blowing, awe-inspiring celebration centred around love, the wedding of Sharni and James was one we can’t help but fall for. “It was so incredible,” says Sharni. “We are so very lucky.” To quote Sharni’s sisters and maid of honour (and of course, Her Royal Highness, Hilary Duff) – ‘Hey now, this is what dreams are made of’.
BRIDE’S LITTLE BLACK BOOK:
Photography: Graham Murray Borrowman // Ceremony and reception: The Farm House, Numinbah Valley, Gold Coast // Wedding dress: Babushka Ballerina top, Divine Atelier skirt // Hair: Lawdy Miss Claudy Glamour Van // Makeup: Janise Chan // Suits: Politix // Rings: Paula Walden // Flowers: Alstonville Florist // Cakes: Made by the couple’s friends // Celebrant: Nick Economidis // Coordinator: Event Stylist and Co // Styling: Harper Arrow // Yurts and chair hire: Montville Yurts // Furniture:Fairytale Events // Pizza truck: The Italian Job food truck // Drinks van: Austream Affairs // Dessert: Wheel & Spoon // Entertainment: Daniel Stoneman Music // Glamping tents: Pitch Luxury Camping and Glamp-Oz // Coffee van: Vintage Daisy Days // Brunch catering: Gold Coast Catering // Honeymoon: A ‘buddymoon’ with 20 of the couple’s friends in San Francisco, Yosemite and San Luis Obispo, USA and a honeymoon in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
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