An Open-Air Chapel Set the Tone for This Earthy, Relaxed Wedding in Queensland, Australia
When Abby Swanborough, a dance teacher at Palm Beach Currumbin State High in Queensland, Australia, saw new hire Gershwin Chetty at an informational event in 2017, she could tell they had plenty in common. "I noticed Gersh was wearing Crossfit shoes and had great calves—I knew we would get along," she says. "We got talking about God, the gym, coffee, food, and family—and the rest was history." A little more than a year later, Gershwin whisked her away on a road trip to Kooroomba Vineyards, where he surprised her with a picnic lunch, a bottle of red, and live music performed by two of the couple's friends. "I knew from that point on he was going to propose," says Abby. "He got down on one knee, popped the question, and I said yes!"
The couple played up the romance of their engagement by booking the vineyard for their wedding, too, where the wood-framed chapel and sweeping views were complemented by delicious wine and a relaxed atmosphere. Abby and Gershwin—along with their friends and family—took over every detail. "Pinterest became my guilty pleasure," says Abby. "For the most part it was fun and joyful, but doing all the styling yourself can get stressful at times." Luckily, the soon-to-be newlyweds made a great team: "Both Gersh and I felt like we had a lot of unity and cohesion when it came to our vision for the aesthetics," says Abby. "We both love beautiful things—we're Libras—and found it easy to choose many details."
The couple stuck tightly to their budget and ended up with their dream day, hosting 82 guests on April 11, 2019. "We loved our wedding," says the couple. "We would like to remind everyone that you can still have a beautiful wedding without spending the price of a small house. At the end of the day, it's about you two spending your life together."
Love at First Sight
Abby's French lace gown from Made with Love was a quick find—but she still did her research. "It was actually the first one I tried on," she says. "I didn't buy it straight away, but couldn't stop thinking about it so I purchased it a few months later." She kept her shopping group small to make the final choice less stressful. "I didn't take many people with me—that made it easier to decide."
For the big day, she added a custom veil from Made with Love, Swarovksi earrings, and Nine West shoes. "I also took my mum's veil with me; it is 40 years old," she says. "This was significant because my mum hand-sewed it herself and my parents are still happily married all these years later."
A Magical Bouquet
Florist Ivy and Bleu created Abby's bouquet—a design the bride calls "magical"—incorporating orchids, dried baby's breath, and roses into an asymmetrical design. "Seeing my flowers on the morning of the wedding posted on Instagram via Ivy and Bleu made the day so exciting and real," says Abby. "They were everything I had ever dreamed of."
Pretty in Pink
Choosing the bridesmaids' dresses became one of the most difficult parts of the entire planning process—until Abby found the pale pink she loved from Goddess by Nature. She then let each woman choose her own gown. "Everyone had a different style and body shape, and I desperately wanted to keep them all happy," says Abby. The final result? "They suited everyone and were really comfy."
Gershwin complemented Abby's gown in a light suit, white shirt, navy blue tie and suspenders, and a copper-and-navy pocket square from MJ Bale. The couple wanted their groomsmen to look suave without being overly formal, so they matched the groom but went without the jackets.
Going to the Chapel
The ceremony site at Kooroomba Vineyard offered a breathtaking view of the scenery through open-frame walls. "The chapel was what really stood out for both of us," says Abby. The stunning architecture also allowed the duo to keep the décor simple, with just pampas grass, arbor flowers, and dusty pink roses. "I wanted to keep in mind that the venue spoke for itself and we didn't need to go overboard," she says.
Each bridesmaid walked down the aisle with one or two children who participated in the bridal party, including Abby's nieces and nephews and a close friend's daughter. "They're all under four, so we ended up having to hold their hands," explains the bride.
The couple's friends Tully John and Liza-Jane provided live music during the ceremony (and later, the reception), performing "Can't Help Falling in Love" as Abby's father escorted her to the altar.
Abby and Gershwin saved their first look for the moment when she entered the chapel with her dad. "I saw Gersh looking extremely handsome as I walked through the glass doors into the chapel," says Abby. "I wanted him to cry—ha!—but he just had his usual big smile."
Love and Laughter
The couple's ceremony focused on their shared religious beliefs. "We're both Christians and it was important to have a faith- and Christ-centered ceremony," says Abby. "The pastor who married us was the perfect choice, as we know him well and he has watched our relationship grow over the years at church." They wrote their own vows, adding a lighthearted touch to the serious mood: "They were both funny, to reflect all the fun and humor in our relationship," says Abby.
And with just a few marriage license signatures, the couple was officially wed.
The New Mr. and Mrs.
After the service, as the newlyweds and their bridal party left the chapel, guests tossed sustainable confetti that Abby had ordered in bulk and packaged in individual bags.
Guests moved away from the chapel for the cocktail hour, which featured an open bar with local beer and wine and a variety of lawn games, including oversized Connect 4 and Jenga.
A Vineyard Walk
Abby and Gershwin strolled and posed for portraits around the vineyard, bringing along a picnic basket with snacks as their photographer captured the Australian scenery at sunset.
A Simple Seating Chart
As guests entered the reception area, a framed escort sign with an abstract design directed guests to one of four tables.
Celebrants sat at four long tables in front of floor-to-ceiling windows that showed off the vineyard's landscape. The couple opted for centerpieces of dried flowers in small jars, keeping in line with Abby and Gershwin's vision. "I wanted soft, romantic, earthy pinks and beiges to suit the environment," she says. "Nothing too formal or rigid—lots of beautiful blooms and a variety of textures."
The place settings included blush-colored linens napkins, sewn by Abby's mother; blue place cards and menus printed by a friend; and custom cookies made by Gershwin's aunt. For dinner, guests chose roast beef or mushroom risotto.
A three-layer cake made by Gershwin's aunt included tiers of white chocolate, red velvet, and carrot cake, all topped with fresh flowers.
Ready to Dance
Before the first dance, Abby made time for a quick outfit swap. "I changed into a dance costume that I designed myself with my work costume maker," says Abby. "I needed something that would be easier to move in and kick my legs."
Abby's profession put a little extra pressure on the couple come their first dance. "As a dance teacher, the first dance was highly anticipated and many people had high hopes, so we had to deliver," says Abby. She put together a custom remix of three songs the couple chose together. "It started with 'Color Me In' by Damien Rice—the lyrics were so fitting and we both loved the song," she says. "We then wanted something cheeky, so used "Slow Motion" by Trey Songz, and got down and dirty. We finished with 'I Like the Way You Move' by Outkast and got everyone up and dancing."
Sparklers Light the Way
After the festivities came to a close, the couple walked out of the party—and right into married life—under a row of sparklers, held by their nearest and dearest.
Photography, Sophie Baker Photography
Venue and Catering, Kooroomba Vineyard and Lavender Farm
Flowers, Ivy and Bleu
Officiant, Pastor Tom Zaharis, Glow Church
Stationery, Vista Print (printing)
Music, Tully John and Eliza-Jane
Bride's gown, Made with Love
Hair and Makeup, Nancy Vieyra
Bridesmaids' dresses, Goddess by Nature
Groom's suit and menswear, MJ Bale
Rings, Gregory Tymoszuk
Guest Book, Kikki K