When Sam and I decided to move our wedding forward so that we could travel later in the year it meant we’d be having a winter wedding. We found that although we wouldn’t have the advantages of longer days and warm weather that you have with a spring wedding, it provided us with significant benefits.
1. The price per head, that reception venues charge, is cheaper in the winter. Also, keep an eye out for an added winter discount. Many reception venues advertise price reductions to attract bookings during, the slow months of the year. We saved almost a third on the cost of the reception at Ballara Receptions and were given exactly the same service and quality of food that we would have had in the spring time.
2. Finding a venue that suits you with dates available is much more likely in the winter. Spring weddings for popular venues are usually booked eighteen months to two years in advance but winter weddings are obviously much less in demand.
3. There are no worries about if it will rain and ruin a garden wedding. It probably will rain in the winter, so have a lovely chapel or beautifully decorated space organised to marry in. We chose a venue that had a chapel attached which came decorated with white flower garlands and urns as part of the hire price. I loved the gazebo effect of where we were married.
4. The days are shorter but you get gorgeous twilight photography opportunities. We had a skilled photographer, Peter Layton, take our wedding photos which I'm also using in this post. So far as taking photos outside, on our day it did rain on and off but we were able to gets lots of good shots between showers. I got sprinkled with light rain when Sam and I were having our photos taken after the ceremony but you’d never know from the photos.
5. Winter wonderland charm for your white wedding. In Australia, winter is in the middle of the year so we often have Christmas in July, I took it a step further and had a wedding in July. On Pintrest I saw a picture of a bride wearing a white fur stole and decided that's how I wanted to stay warm. I also really like the lacework of the bare branches on the trees at this time of year.
6. You can savor a hot meal when it’s cold outside. We had hot appetizers, entrees, main meals and hot puddings for dessert. The food at our reception was delicious. Our guests raved about how good the food was. The quality was exactly the same as if we’d paid the high season price and we got to enjoy our hot meal more because of the cooler weather in winter.
7. Choosing the desired celebrant, photographer and DJ/master of ceremonies, and singer for the ceremony is easier as they are less booked up in the winter. I have a post on making our wedding plans and who we used and I'll link it here.
You can still get lovely flowers in the winter. There are flowers grown in hot houses or shipped in from warmer climates available. It's even possible to put a bouquet together the day before the wedding, like I did. Your florist will be able to advise you.
Time of Ceremony
Plan to wed earlier in the day. We had chosen a lovely venue whose staff were experienced with winter weddings. They were able to advise us what time to plan the ceremony in relation to the daylight hours we would have, how long it would take for photos. They had a warm reception foyer where our guests were served canapes during that in-between time. On the day, it was perfect timing.
If I had my time over, I would still choose a romantic winter wedding.
Dora Bramden writes heart-melting, passionate romance.
Some of you may have read the post about our honeymoon over on Romancing the Genre's blog where I'm a contributor on the first Thursday of the month. This week's blog is a re-post for my regular readers but with a video and some photos not seen before. Besides that there are extra details about what we did. Starting with the following little story.
As I was getting ready to on our wedding day, my sister asked if I'd told the B and B we were staying at that it was our honeymoon. When she heard I hadn't, she said I should make sure they know because they might do something a bit special for us. I sent them a text confirming our accommodation and expressing how much I was looking forward to spending our honeymoon with them. The owners made an extra effort to make the rooms romantic.
On Monday, we arrived at Carlyle House in the afternoon. The Victorian facade, with gables and verandas, was decorated with iron lace that set the tone for our romantic honeymoon. The owners greeted us and showed us through the ornate entrance hall to our suite. Carlyle House had once been a doctor's residence and we were staying in what had once been the consulting rooms, now converted into a lovely lounge, bedroom and en-suite. Named The Tokay suite it would be our base for the next four nights.
On entering we were greeted with a white MR & MRS sign sitting on the fireplace and rose petals scattered on the hearth area. On the king size bed was a tray with champagne and chocolates and a little dish of blueberries and strawberries. After the romance of our wedding, our honeymoon suite didn’t disappoint.
An extra piece of information, The Tokay suite with a lounge room was the same price as rooms that only had a bedroom and en-suite. For what we had it was very reasonable.
The first evening we went to one of the pubs for dinner and enjoyed well-prepared staples. It was crowded in the pub and we enjoyed noticing who else was dining there.
We began exploring the wine district on Tuesday. After a walk up and down the shops in the main street, and a drive around the town of Rutherglen, we had lunch at DeBortoli. Sam and I couldn’t stop talking about how delicious our meal was. The glass wall of Tulleries Restaurant looks onto a formal and elegant courtyard. A center fountain focal surrounded by artistic plot plant displays which added elegance to our dining experience.
During our morning walk, I wandered into a second hand bookshop and picked up some light reading for our stay. Of course I chose something romantic. Being a Jane Austen fan, I couldn't resist a fan fiction novel of Pride and Prejudice from Mr Darcy's point of view. There were two to choose from by different authors. I chose this one because I enjoyed the writing style of the first few pages best. Every day I looked forward to dipping into Amanda Grange's world of 'Mr Darcy's Diary'. Once or twice I didn't agree with what Amanda thought he say or think that but most of the time I was right there with her. It was fascinating being inside his thoughts about his world and his opinions of Elizabeth and the comical characters like Mr Collins.
In the afternoon, we enjoyed a country drive to Corowa (a nearby town on the Murray River) and walked the shopping district. We noted that a few wineries on way and made plans to return in a day or two. We headed to another pub for dinner and recognized a group of two couples that had been dining where we were the night before. They nodded to us and we smiled at them.
We decided to go for a drive farther afield on Wednesday. We lunched at Beechworth, a town renowned for its bakery. I'm a Coeliac so I couldn’t eat there, but we found a cafe that had a GF frittata on the menu. We enjoyed browsing the many boutiques and gift shops. For dinner, we had a booking at the renowned Taste Restaurant in Rutherglen.
While savoring our entree at a table close to the front window, who should walk in? The same group of four that we’d dined with the last two nights. We took a look at each other and started to laugh. “Hello again,’ we said. They stopped and talked to us for a while about where each of us was staying and what we’d been doing. It turned out they had also been to Beechworth that day for lunch and that they had lunch reservations at the same winery as us for the following day.
Thursday morning we did some wine tasting at Warrabilla Wines because we’d enjoyed drinking their Shiraz with our meal the night before.
We left with a box of Shiraz and then went on to the Terrace Restaurant at All Saints for our lunch. We were enjoying our main meal when our new friends came in and it was like a party. We had so much fun talking all about our holiday week in Rutherglen and discovered that we were all leaving to go home the next day. I also found out that one of the couples owns the Newsagent that I’d been going to for about 20 years!
We visited the cellar for tasting after lunch and bought another box of wine. Sam is feeling very happy at this point but I'd kept a keen eye on how many drinks I'd had, so I drove after lunch.
We left after breakfast on Friday for the drive home, stopping at Glenrowan to visit the Ned Kelly (Famous Aussie Bush-ranger) attractions.
I found a lovely antique shop called Mr Morgan Store with lots of girly things for the Shabby Chic side of me to enjoy. The following video of the delightful shop is an added extra for this blog.
We stopped for lunch with my cousins, who live an hour down the road toward Melbourne. It was a special time catching up with them. Now we're back home. I've been totally pampered and have enjoyed making many happy memories during our Wedding and Honeymoon. I’m still basking in the glow of it all.
In extra news, Sam and I are going for another longer honeymoon to romantic Italy and Cyprus later this year. I'm now in organizing mode for that exciting holiday. Of course there will be blogs to follow about what we are going to do there and travel blogs on our return.
Dora Bramden writes heart-melting, passionate romance
I rose about seven thirty and had breakfast of tea and toast with Sam. We talked about our excitement for the day ahead and nerves bubling under the surface but were very happy that the day had arrived at last and were sure it would be a wonderful day.
Sam dropped me at my sister’s house where I was to get ready, he then went on to his best man’s house.
The makeup and hair artist arrived around 9 o’clock and started working on my sister's hair and makeup. About 10 o’clock, my matron of honor arrived. My sister done they started on my hair which was curled with a hot tong and pinned up to set. The make up artist then worked on my matron of honor's hair and makeup. Lastly my makeup was done and my hair finished off. But I they weren't quite finished when the photographer arrived.
The photographer took photos of my dress, headpiece and flowers while he waited for me.
I must have been getting a little nervous so didn't realize that I'd been sent to put on my dress before having my lipstick done. The photographer wanted to capture the getting ready journey and started taking photo's when I still didn't have any lipstick.
But I think they look okay. Sam says he likes it because I look natural. Don't you just love it? What do they know? My lips were the only natural part of my face .
Then it was time for photo's in the park behind my sisters house.
With my fur wrap on it was time for Dad and I to leave.
Getting married was intensely tender and heart warming . I'll never forget how he looked at me.
Next we had lots of photos taken in the beautiful gardens of Ballara where we were married. I'm only including one of me and Sam but of course our bridal party were a big part of it as were lots of our family.
Cutting the cake and our first waltz were naturally highlights of the reception but being married to this dear, kind man is the joy I'll have every day from now on.
Our wedding day was supported by friends and family to make it a warm and uplifting celebration. My girlfriend made the flowers for the tables as her gift. My dear dad gifted my dress and my sister gifted my headpiece. My matron of honor and sister bought the wedding cake as their gift, a delicious Coeliac quality gluten free mud cake so I could eat it. (I DIY'd the decorations myself using silk flowers and fabric lace.)
The support we had on the day was wonderful. My sister opened her house for me to get ready and hosted a delicious gluten free lunch. Sam's best man and his wife opened their home for Sam to get ready and hosted a family lunch for him. We each had family and friends travel from far away to be with us on this most important day. All of this kindness touched our hearts.
I've got lots of lovely memories to use in my writing now. It's been quite a journey to reach this milestone but I wouldn't change a thing. It all added up to a very special day that has added depth and joy to our already beautiful relationship.
Dora Bramden writes heart-melting, passionate romance
After scoffing down my scrumptious high tea, I enjoyed working my way down each side of the table and chatting to all the guests. I was so touched that everyone there had come to celebrate the occasion with me.
I've been busy getting items on my wedding-to-do-list ticked off. Last week I needed to get the seating plan completed and emailed off. Anyone who's organised a wedding knows how tricky this not so small exercise can be. I hope Sam and I have got it right, however everyone will have somewhere to sit and eat their meal.
I've made up the Bonbonniere, which is organza bags filled with a few pink chocolates hearts, and I've been gluing sparkles onto Kmart milk bottles for the flowers. There will be three on each table set around a central candle holder and interspersed with three tea light candles. I may yet tie a navy organza ribbon around the neck of each one. My friend and I ordered the flowers last week, in keeping with my navy and pink color scheme. There will be pink spray roses included in each vase.
I've had my final fitting and picked up my wedding dress. I've done a hair and makeup trial run. The shoes are bought and the cake is ordered along with the cars and a singer and DJ. The order of service has been finalized but there's still a list of things to do and I'm waking in the middle of the night thinking about all that still has to be done. It is fun though and I'm looking forward to the big day which is only a fortnight away.
That's all I have time for this week's post but I hope to upload a blog next week before the big event. I'll be taking that week off. On the Thursday before the wedding I'll be on Romancing The Genres with a post to be announced.Here's a link to last months post, where I go into the details of our music, just in case you haven't had your fill of info about my wedding.
Thanks for stopping by to what I'm up to.
Dora writes heat-melting, passionate romance.
I wanted to make a personalized guest book for our wedding. As I enjoy crafting and have lots of supplies on hand I decided to see what notebooks I could find that I could cover and embellish.
I found an artists sketch pad with unlined quality paper that would be perfect for our guests to sign.
I chose a very pretty gift bag that I’d saved from my birthday for the foundation. The heavy weight paper made it perfect for covering the front and back covers of the book.
I had some fabric roses on hand. To make them suitable for attaching to the front of the book. I took them off their plastic stems which let the layers of petals separate so I sewed them together with a needle and thread.
I did a white rose this way also. In their centres I glued some sparkle embellisments. I also added bought flower emberlishments. Which you can see in the in the picture below behine the butterfly
I had a gold butterfly in my stash and I backed it with the butterfly shaped, paper gift tab, but I had to trim the gold butterfly down to fit. I did this by separating the wings and cutting off some at the base where it joins the body, then I glued them onto the paper butterfly and then glued the body back into the center.
Using a scrap-booking reel of roll on glue, I attached the covers of the book. The front and back leaves first.
Then I glued the pink pearlised A4 paper over the spine, making sure to lap over the top of the front and back cover paper. To go one step more I threaded a pink organza ribbon through the spine and tied it in a bow.
I arranged the flowers and butterfly on the front cover but decided it needed more. I found some lace that I’d bought awhile ago and attached that to the top using the roll on glue. I added half a small gold doily so that it peaked out from the lace for added dimension.
To give added interest and make it look more like a garden scene I purchased some fabric carnation like flowers. I arranged all the flowers on top of the lace. To the center of the roses I added some bling and last of all I placed the butterfly on top.
Adding the ivory lace gives this very pretty pink book provides a touch of bridal elegance. The overall cost to me was less than $20 and I love it. I adore the fluffy flowers and the glamorous gold butterfly. The gift bag was so beautiful and now I'll be able to enjoy it every time I read the messages from the guests at our wedding.
Dora writes heart-melting, passionate romance.
While gardeners in the northern hemisphere are enjoying the first rose blooms of Spring and Summer, my Australian roses are putting on its last display before the chill of winter sets in.
Although it isn't a bloom, I'm adding this coleus because it's a splash of pink which brighten up this spot. The white geranium has almost finished flowering.
Although a lot of shrubs and perennials are shutting up shop for the winter, the camellia's are just beginning to start their stunning displays. I can't be without them to add winter cheer. This pretty pink sasanqua variety is the first to start flowering in my garden.
No matter how cold it gets, while I can see the bobbing heads of pretty pink flowers from my kitchen window, I'll always feel the pull to rug up and get out into the garden so I can enjoy these lovely flowers close up.
Dora Bramden writes heart-melting, passionate romance.
Luck was with us on the day we'd planned to have lunch at the Bankvale Run Restaurant at Marnong Estate. A rare warm day in late Autumn made the day perfect, from the drive through Melbourne's northern rural outskirts to enjoying 180 views of the country side.
Alpacas roamed in the field as we perused the menu and sipped a glass of sparkling wine. From the many GF options I chose Calamari S&P crust, chorizo, soft herb, hydroponic tomatoes for entree and Butterflied whole spatchcock Tuscan rub, olive oil, lemon, oregano for my main. Each dish was flavor packed and was complimented by the shared sides of GF chips and roasted carrots.
Good company, food and wine combined with 180 degree views from the dining room made this a very special day.
The walk around the grounds after lunch was a final delight.
A surprise on the way back to the car park. A giant chess board adding whimsy to the formal grounds made me want to stay and play a game but it was time to go.
Even the walk to the car park is a treat for visitors. The charming views around the estate just keep going.
I hope you enjoyed this tour of Marnong Estate with me. Something about being in the beauty of the outdoors is so refreshing that it feels more like I've been on a holiday than just having lunch out.
Next blog is about my garden in late Autumn, talk to you soon.
Dora Bramden writes heart-melting, passionate romance.
It's a lovely day to celebrate all the wonderful women who raised us. Yes, they are a part of us now. All the love that they gave us resides within and will never fade. Every school lunch they made and every night they sat up with us when we were sick was love in action.
It only takes a moment to think of your Mum on Mothers' day. If she's like mine, it creates a warm glow that lights up your heart and spreads to your cheeks.
Two years since my mum passed and I'm doing okay. I miss her like anything. A hug and a cup of tea with some of her home baked cake would be truly heaven. However the light she shone in my world continues to glow in my memory and I'm blessed with many wonderful times to remember.
If you still have your mum here to visit on Mothers Day take a moment to be really grateful for the time you're sharing. Give her an extra hug from me.
I know that lots of readers have children of their own, as I do. It's your day today also and I hope you've planned some downtime to enjoy being spoiled by the next gen. I'll be putting my feet up after dinner and let my visiting children clean up.
If you're stuck for some last minute gift ideas here's a few of my favorites and they were my mum's too. It's lovely to receive presents and I think the inexpensive ones are best. A picture of my kids in a frame is always a winner with me. A home decorating or gardening magazine that I can flick through with a mug of tea is a treat. Speaking of tea, special Twinnings tea bags are also an easy pick up from the supermarket. You should also be able to snag a card there too.
My children sometimes make a card which is soooo special and they write a little bit of how special I am to them. This is the absolute best part of Mother's Day. So take a moment to really think about what you're grateful to your mum for.
I hope you all have a really lovely day on Mother's Day and enjoy the special moments and celebrate the amazing work mothers have done and continue to do, loving, guiding and raising the next generation.
Dora writes heart-melting, passionate romance
Creative people will experience it at some time or another. A deep gut reaction preventing them from starting a project, completing it or worse, making them perform poorly. The later becomes a self fulfilling prophesy that they aren't talented enough.
This deep gut feeling brings a sense of impending doom. A warning to not proceed because danger lies there. Anxiety driven decisions follow which feel deceptively right. 'Do it tomorrow', anxiety says or 'Have something to eat'. If strong enough to ignore this horribly uncomfortable feeling, the constant thoughts of 'Is this good enough,'accompanied with feelings close to panic, while doing the task, can undermine the ability to finish. Because anxiety driven thoughts are dominating the creative part of the brain, it lowers the quality of what can be produced.
Unfortunately this anxiety can become worse the more proficient people become at their craft. More knowledge means anxiety can judge more harshly. Work that is a baby waiting to grow up can be tossed aside as useless because it hasn't arrived fully formed. Judging has to happen after the work is produced so that it can be refined and developed further. But performance anxiety, armed with knowledge, disparages the seedling for not being a fully bloomed rose.
I have asked myself the question, if I did this before, surely I can do it again. But asking questions is dangerous because anxiety will answer. It will say, that past success was luck, you can't do it again. This time is different and you won't be able to do it again. Blahhh. That's enough of that.
I've tuned to inspiring writing quotes, and I've seen a lot in my ten years of writing. They have their place but when it comes to performance anxiety there really aren't any that help me. But the words of prolific romance author, Maisy Yates, stayed with me. I heard her speak about her writing life at a Romance Writers of Australia conference. She said that she protects her joy of writing because her writing supports her family. That is the clue that led me to finding a practical way to get the words flowing. Remember the joy.
What I did, is remember how good it felt to be sitting and typing at my desk. How amazing it is to me that something that never existed before is now here. I don't communicate with my performance anxiety, I shift my focus away from worry to what I enjoy doing. A simple remembrance of a time I was enjoying my writing seems to beat that performance anxiety energy. Joy is powerful, it has energy changing properties. It builds a desire to turn on my computer and sit in the chair and start typing.
It's the process of being at my computer and typing that I like. I enjoy being a writer and eventually there will be a story. The baby will be refined and edited and even grow up into something surprising. I don't think about if it will sell, if I will like it. I stay in the present and enjoy writing. Eventually the characters start to take form in my mind and they starts to say and do things like I'm watching a movie. I'm typing as fast as I can so that I catch it and bring it into the physical world where it can be shared with others.
This brings me to the other element that helps keep me coming back to my computer. That writing my stories instead of letting them just play out in my head means I'm sharing them with others. It's an act of generosity to tell stories and that energy is loving. It matters that I am willing to share and have made a contribution. It's my contribution for others to enjoy or not, that doesn't matter really, only that I was willing to let something of my creation go out into the world.
Being an author means I will not be liked by everyone. I can't know exactly how much pleasure my work might bring to other people or for how long, but that's not my concern. Writing the stories is my business, and I enjoy doing it.
My next project is to start the second draft of a story about a girl born into a musical family. When her mother dies she is sent to live with her grandmother in another state. Now grown up she's come home after inheriting her father's nightclub.
However, she discovers the guitarist from her father's band has already made a home there and expects her to sell it to him. She finds out that he's become the adopted son her father always wanted.
This romance explores how our sense of home informs our identity. It isn't just a place on a map but a place that holds the secrets of who we think we are.
I'm going to enjoy developing this story and bringing it into the day light. It's the joy of creating that is going to bring me to my keyboard, open the file and pick up where I left off each day.
Dora Bramden writes heart melting, passionate romance.
My most treasured things are second hand. Even though new things are very nice, there's nothing like the character only a second hand find delivers.
This second hand cane lounge suite is my favorite possie to drink my morning coffee. I looked everywhere to find an affordable romantic looking outdoor setting for this space, without any luck. This second hand suite was given to me after my sister sold her beach house. Her husband originally found it in an op-shop. I find that to get the character I want, second hand is most often where I find it.
When searching for a shabby-chic mirror, I went online to the usual home ware sites, like Ikea. I had no luck at all, but in the second hand Facebook market place, I found the one I adore.
The roses and ribbon that crown this curvy mirror say romantic, shabby-chic to me. Although I love the gold, I need a light and bright color scheme in this room. There are veranda's outside both windows which can make it quite dark. I have plans to paint it white using a little pot Annie Sloan chalk paint. The dark brown lounge is too dominant for the space. I'd really like a new one but I can't afford that. I'll make do with what I have and recover it in a cream or beige fabric.
You can see the chandelier refection in the mirror. This will also get painted white.
I've been visiting op-shops (thrift stores) in search of cardigans for winter. I did find some, but I also found some shabby chic picture frames and some very pretty tall glasses. The picture frames will be painted white and I'm going to get out my paints and create a still life of pink roses from my garden to go in them.
When walking in my garden I love noticing my second hand plants that add character. Plants I've taken from diving clumps of iris in Mum's garden and lambs ears from my sister's garden have taken off very well.
Cuttings of hydrangea, a neighbors gave me, have all grown well this year. A little burnt in our very hot summer, but they are budding up beautifully for next spring.
Dad gave me his grandfather's crown of rhubarb. It makes a lovely show of foliage in the border and I think of Dad every time I see it. Recently, I harvested some for a Rhubarb sponge desert to have for Easter lunch.
I harvested about a dozen stems and washed them well before cutting them into one inch peices. I placed them into a saucepan, covered them with water and added half a cup of sugar. I let this come to the boil and simmer until the Rhubarb was soft. I overcooked it a bit but it still worked out great. I added a little cornflour dissolved in water to thicken the syrup before turning off the gas. I spread it into a greased lasagna dish and then set it aside to cool a bit while I whipped up a packet mix of GF sponge cake.
I tipped a ribbon of cake mix over the top of the Rhubarb, moving the bowl up and down until the top was almost all covered. I lightly filled in the gaps with a spoon.
I baked it for about 40mins on 175C until the top was golden and the sponge bounced back when pressed in the middle. I can't believe how nice it tasted. As I'm writing this I'm sorry to discover that I don't have an after picture to post. It was Easter Sunday and I'd had a few glasses of wine so I'll hope you forgive me.
Imagine the sponge puffed and golden with the sweet and tart stewed rhubarb base steaming hot. I served it with whipped cream and it was very popular.
Because I feel bad, I'm posting this pic of some Easter eggs instead. By the way, they are sitting on a marble table that I bought second hand.
Creating a romantic home and garden doesn't have to be prohibitively expensive. Not only do I get to have fun seeing how far I can make my money stretch, decorating and creating a garden in my romantic style, but I also find the character filled pieces that bring my home and garden to life.
It's not something you can achieve quickly. A romantic home and garden is curated over time, but it's absolutely worth it and you always have a reason to drift through your local thrift store and see what treasures you might find for a song.
I hope you all had a lovely Easter and I wish you happy thrifting for items that will add character to your romantic home.
Dora Bramden writes heart-melting, passionate romance.
Romance author and lifestyle blogger
My whole life is inspired by romance. I write romance novels of course but also love creating DIY's and decorating in a romantic style. I'm rejuvenating an old garden, recusing roses and planting new ones.