el simpson photography preston peak winery toowoomba real weddings

images by el simpson photography
wedding date 26 april 2021

What the Bride said… Our paths first crossed in high school over 12 years ago thanks to alphabetical locker placement and shared PE classes. That summer, our budding 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 on a date. 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 graduated together and grew up together. We supported each other through university studies and early careers and became joint carers for my dearly beloved dog Mikey. 

In 2009 we bought our very first home. For our 10-year anniversary, Michael organised a surprise getaway. I had no idea where we were going, but I had a very strong feeling that this would be the weekend he'd propose. After a few hours of driving, we reached Elements of Byron Bay, a wonderful beachfront resort I'd wanted to visit for years. When we reached our villa, there was a bottle of wine waiting along with 10 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 on one knee and popped the question. I of course said yes! I was ecstatic (though not all too surprised). To be honest I was more surprised when Michael revealed his brother had secretly photographed the whole occasion in secret!

Special moments... Since Michael and I had been together so long, we decided to buck tradition and walk down the aisle together. It was a little bit controversial, but we're so glad 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. Afterall, he is the most important man in my life, and I felt the honour of walking me down the aisle should fall to him.

Favourite moment... Instead of seeing each other for the first time at the end of the aisle, we did a 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 completely 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!

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 amazing night photos down the alleyway of lights and then took shots in front in the courtyard surrounded by twinkling lights. We decided to practice our first dance before we re-entered the reception, slow and without music. It was a moment for just us and it ended up being one of the most special moments of the entire day.

Were there any emotional moments? So, so many! Seeing each other for the first look was definitely the most emotional but reading our vows and exchanging our rings to each other was a very close second! Hearing the beautiful words that we'd written for each other in secret beneath the canopy of wedding tree. Looking out at the faces of 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!

Keep sake Items: 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

First Dance Song: Dream a Little Dream of Me - The Mamas and Papas. (We did wedding dance lessons leading up to the big day so we could make the most of twirling beneath Preston Peak's magnificent wine cellar chandelier). 

How did you choose your vendors? Just 2 months after we were engaged a colleague of mine suggested Preston Peak Winery, so we decided to drive up and investigate. After stepping onto the stunning grounds, breathtaking views and seeing the wedding tree pavilion we were in love! After a complimentary cheese and wine platter and chatting things over with Preston's amazing staff we locked in the venue! 

The first vendor we locked in was our amazing celebrant, Jen King from Paper Daisy Ceremonies. 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 Preston Peak Winery's list of suggested vendors and then did our own research about highly recommended local vendors. I was lucky enough to find an amazing bridal styling team with hair artist (Sarah 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. Sarah and Tyneale worked together beautifully and 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!

I was also blown away by my 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 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, which made for some breathtaking shots that we will treasure forever. Maple & Mist were also amazing. The footage they captured was just stunning and our first look video was curated perfectly. It captured our day and our love for one another so beautifully. I watched it every day for weeks after the wedding to relive the magic.

How did COVID affect your day? We had originally planned a wedding for October 11th, 2020, but Covid threw a big old spanner in the works! Like so many other couples, we went into a full-blown panic when we went into national lockdown. We knew that even if Australia was under control by October, other countries wouldn't be and we had so many overseas family and friends, including two members of our bridal party - one bridesmaid and one groomsman. 

We made the call in April to postpone the October wedding (just to be safe). In the midst of ever-changing restrictions, we toyed with the idea of eloping and planned three other smaller-scale wedding iterations. Every time we planned something, restrictions changed. When things started to look better, we bit the bullet and settled on a new date - 26th April, 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 quarantined so he could be there. We got so lucky and after all of the crazy stress, our big day was more than worth the wait!


Do you have any advice/recommendations for future brides? Yes! At the end of the day, 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 it is that 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.

A little note from me Tyneale Hahn Makeup - Grace and Michael’s day was stunning. I was so glad it had finally arrived! I will always remember the moment arriving at the Bridal Cottage – Grace and her girls had everything laid out beautifully and I was met with the most beautiful smiles! The morning preparations went off without a hitch – I worked alongside the lovely Sarah of The Hair Artist Collective. Together we run an organised ship! Grace and her girls were relaxed and enjoyed every moment, it was such a pleasure to see and be part of this happiness!

Makeup Artist, Hairstylist and Submission @tynealehahnmakeupartist 
Videographer @mapleandmist
Wedding Gown (Elora by Madi Lane) @luv_bridal
Groom + Groomsmen Attire @tarocash
Bridesmaid Dresses @chancerythelabel
Jeweller @jodijeweller
Wedding Venue @prestonpeakfunctions