Ralph Hogan, Founder of Villa Botanica, Wrote This Letter to the Weekend Australian in Support of Marriage Equality in 2011. 7 Years Later, It Finally Happened

This week we have been celebrating the momentous and resounding YES vote in the Australian marriage equality survey. It's been a very long time in coming - in fact in 2011 Ralph Hogan, who founded Villa Botanica with his wife Janet, wrote this letter to the editor of the Weekend Australian, articulating his strong support for marriage equality.

This seemed like a beautiful occasion to share it again.

My wife and I own Australia’s most exquisite wedding venue in north Queensland. We have been together for 30 years and have three wonderful daughters, so from a gay perspective, we’re pretty much your typical boring middle-class breeders with the benefit of some additional insight as to the ritualistic significance of the marriage act. I was born into a traditional heterosexual mum and dad unit with two siblings and a family experience which delivered me a catastrophic childhood from which I am only now emerging in my 60s.

One of the most significant lessons I’ve learnt from my own life as a child and a father of three is that a child’s life and outcomes have little to do with the sexual orientation of the individuals who sign up to it by getting married. In reality, raising normal children is contained not in the ritual, its sanctity or its significance but in the awareness, maturity, love and commitment of parents. Straight or gay. Married or single. Way before a child needs a traditional family structure, he or she needs absolute love and security and that can come from anywhere. Traumatised, unready mothers and unloving, uncommitted fathers like mine were, make a massive negative impact in a child’s life both in their presence and their absence. Like so many boys, I was left to seek out my values and gender role models from the strangers of my life and in literature.

All the gay parents I’ve known are every bit as capable of providing the gender modelling necessary for boys and girls so the child can assume their natural sexual orientation without bias. Like all good parents, they are only concerned with creating for their children the optimum environment for them to become happy and fulfilled adults. Gay parents only want what straight parents want, successful, balanced children with enough awareness and love to understand that we are all equal and that any form of prejudice is unacceptable. It’s time to call the anti-gay marriage lobby exactly what it is; anti-gay and hiding behind the bullshit of lofty rhetoric. To say they are totally accepting gay rights but we need to protect the institution of marriage by rejecting their fundamental right to have children and be treated as are other parents, is grotesquely hypocritical.

It only makes sense when you remember that these people still believe that being gay is a choice and that to them the prized fossil on your coffee table was put there by the devil to test your faith. The marriage ceremony is a giant act of faith which finds its value in providing an emotional and social gravitas to the occasion of a couple’s greatest ever act of commitment. Buoyed by the good wishes and immense power of intent from loved ones and strangers alike, they find themselves briefly sanctified by society’s greatest accolade of acceptance and stamp of approval. It’s very very powerful stuff and is the most perfect send-off possible for a new couple. It is simply not an institution which can be corrupted by being expanded from its artificial fortress around straight love to incorporate gay relationships, and it’s everyone’s essential right to have their lifelong commitment to another ratified this way. Healthy kids are a product of this commitment, not the ritual. How can we criticise the higher failure rate of gay relationships when it’s this very prejudice which is one of the key reasons for the fragility of many gay relationships. A relationship without hope of acceptance from a society which constantly attacks its legitimacy is like a life without a clear vision of its future, doomed to failure. It is cruel beyond comprehension to treat our fellow human beings this way. To set in cement a prejudice first inflicted on gays as children so that they will never, ever be allowed to achieve our society’s most precious endorsement is unforgivable.

I know that if I had the choice to be raised within a small-minded, homophobic family by parents who felt it their God-given right to indoctrinate their kids with the inanity of religion and all its attendant bigotry or a gay couple who valued above all their child’s right to a loving, open-minded environment, I wouldn’t hesitate to choose the latter. 
— Ralph Hogan  Whitsundays, Qld

Botanica an ABIA Finalist with a 99.75% Satisfaction Rating


We don’t like to brag but we’re beyond delighted to announce that Botanica Weddings won second place at the prestigious 2017 ABIA Awards. Villa Botanica,  our Airlie Beach venue, was number two out of 275 statewide nominees, and 22 finalists, all rated 95% or more by their clients. An absolutely outstanding score of 99.75% gave us the runner up spot. We missed out on the gold by less than 0.5% but we’re thrilled regardless to be recognised by ABIA  for all of our hard work. Mr John O’ Meara, Chairman of the ABIA, congratulated us on our stunning achievement in our category. Mr O' Meara went on to say that Villa Botanica has demonstrated the necessary skills and determination for succeeding in the fiercely competitive wedding market place. O’Meara urged that Botanica Weddings should:

“Be extremely proud of the accomplishment which honoured the pride, passion and professionalism in which they delivered their product and service to their brides and grooms.”


Botanica Weddings Recognised For Top Ceremony Venue
(Image gratefully credited to Ben Adams)

(Image gratefully credited to Ben Adams)

We have been winning ABIA awards since our second year of operation in 2010 and have been a top Queensland wedding destination for years now, but being officially voted as a finalist for the country’s Best Ceremony Venue is such an honour. Villa Botanica was chosen for the ABIA award based on the quality of our products, quality of services, value for money and the overall attitude and demeanour of the staff who tended to the Bride’s every need in the lead up to the wedding, during the wedding and afterwards.

Botanica Weddings co-founder Janet Hogan says she couldn't have been prouder of our success! "We've won best in Queensland before but never been placed at the national level and this is a testimony to the dedication of the amazing team we have at Villa Botanica," she said.

"And also to the very devoted community of wedding suppliers we are so blessed to have in Airlie Beach: photographers, cake makers, decorators, florists, celebrants, hair and makeup artists, even limo drivers...every single one makes a significant contribution to the overall wedding experience we deliver and I am truly grateful to you all."

What Does an ABIA Award Mean?

(Image gratefully credited to Playback Studios)

(Image gratefully credited to Playback Studios)

ABIA stands for The Australian Bridal Industry Academy, which was founded 1997. The organisation aims to protect bridal customers and help to promote the best bridal suppliers in Australia. The award is prestigious and highly regarded by those in the Australian wedding business. Given the multitude of wedding supplier services available, ABIA has made the selection process streamlined. Their awards select the best suppliers in every category and are determined by amassing the votes of past brides. Who better to judge the quality of the services? Every year, more than 30,000 brides are registered to vote for their favourite wedding suppliers.

Brides rate their favourite wedding suppliers according to four categories: Quality of Product, Quality of Service, Value for Money and the Attitude of Staff. ABIA then take this data and use a mathematical calculation to determine the winner and runner-ups.

Using The ABIA Directory For Your Wedding

(Image gratefully credited to Playback Studios)

(Image gratefully credited to Playback Studios)

Helpfully, ABIA also has a directory so you can view the awards history and bridal ratings of over 30,000 Australian wedding suppliers. The directory listings have been ranked in order of their ABIA Accreditation level and award placement. Both the ABIA awards & accreditations logos help to provide couples and the bridal industry with a recognisable and trusted mark of quality. So before you choose a supplier, make sure you check out how past couples have rated them. To think that we came second in our category amongst all the suppliers in Australia is quite something. Botanica Weddings are so proud to offer a high-quality product, excellent service, value for money and to have staff who are passionate about weddings.

We've Been Winning Awards Since 2008

(Image gratefully credited to Playback Studios)

(Image gratefully credited to Playback Studios)

The ABIA awards are certainly highly coveted, but they’re not the only awards we’ve won that are worth mentioning. According to The Whitsunday Times, we’re currently “riding a wave of success”, having recently won both the Whitsunday and Queensland tourism awardsfor specialised services.  We’re pleased to announce we’ve also recently been awarded a “special incentive prize” as part of the “Queensland Pledge”.

The Queensland Pledge is part of the Tourism Queensland initiative, which intends to provide customers with the best service experiences possible. Winners of the Queensland pledge go into a weekly draw for $1000 with a major $10,000 up for grabs at the end of the month. Villa Botanica won the $1000 which we rightly gave to our staff member, Kate Henley in recognition of her Wedding Planning service.

The fan mailspeaks volumes about this wonderful organisation who go above and beyond for couples on their big day".

- Tourism, Manufacturing and Small Business Minister, Jan Jarratt

There are also many examples of our commitment to be found in the testimonials of couples who have chosen us for their special day. And, in a nod to our amazing staff, our Brides are always in full praise our planning team. One bride, in particular, recalls how Botanica Weddings Coordinator, Kate Henley, helped her to calm down from the pre-wedding nerves with a soothing drink in the cooler room.

Our Couples Come First

(Image gratefully credited to Playback Studios)

(Image gratefully credited to Playback Studios)

With so many wedding planning companies out there, it’s important to have organisations like the ABIA and others to provide customers with this important information on the best services. It’s also great to give companies that work hard to exceed expectations the recognition they deserve and we’re pleased to be nominated and recognised with so many awards. However, what’s more important to us is the couples we work with every day.

You see we know your wedding should be the most special day of your life. All couples have an expectation that it’s going to be a phenomenal day, and with all the money spent, it’s important for companies to deliver above and beyond those expectations.

Botanica Weddings consistently exceeds the experiences that couples have hoped for and this is reflected in both our testimonialsand the many awards that we’ve won over the years. We’re proud to hold these marks of quality and look forward to achieving much more over the years.

If you’re planning a wedding and need some help, don’t hesitate to contact us.  We have a large team of experienced and dedicated staff that are waiting to help you plan the wedding of your dreams. Whether you’re envisioning something small and intimate or grand and lavish, we’ll be there to help you all the way up to and beyond the big day.

(Image gratefully credited to Iconic Bride)

(Image gratefully credited to Iconic Bride)

Amy and Ryland

We had a vision of what our day was going to be like. We knew we wanted a tropical Bali style all in one venue that was pure style. After looking for two years we found Villa Botanica and it was perfect.

A destination wedding for us meant one big family holiday that we just happened to get married on. My dad still is talking about how great it was all of our guests stayed with us, most of them for five days. It’s something the entire family will cherish forever.

We did an ice breaker dinner at the marina with all but six of our guests who were yet to arrive. It was fabulous as everybody got to know everyone and Ryland got to thank everyone for travelling. The next night we had another family dinner at the Trivia Night held at The Big 4 Adventure Park which was another night full of fun. We stayed in Airlie Beach for five days then once everybody went home we went on our honeymoon to Hamilton Island.

The theme was white, ivory and elegant but if I’m going to be completely honest the entire styling started years before with the dress which then dictated every decision from color theme to the cake. I found pictures of personalized M&M’s on an American wedding site and thought I would stay up one night (due to the time difference) and call M&M’s USA customer support and just ask if they could ship me some personalized M&M’s. Turns out this is not normally done but they did it and a week later we had our own M&M’s with our faces on them. I also did a personalized illustration of us holding balloons for all our guests to sign in the balloons which was cute.

We had 50 close family and friends attend and we opted for sit down meal. Ryland wanted to make sure it was a sit down proper meal.

We had our hens and bucks on the Gold Coast where we live and because every one had to travel to Queensland for the wedding we had the hens and bucks the weekend before the wedding on the same night. The hens started with a spa day then a party at home complete with a topless waiter and lots of punch.The boys went go-carting and had themselves an apartment in Surfers Paradise where their shenanigans continued. We joined parties later on in the night and partied Gold Coast style like we were young again.

At first it was for the beauty and Bali styling as we had just spent two weeks looking at Bali venues. Then it was the appeal of everything at one location which was what we really really wanted, then we had a skype meeting with Craig and Ryland was really impressed with the level of professionalism and built a good rapport with him. Then it was the whole wedding planner help, the childcare… I guess what I am trying to say it was the entire package that SOLD us.

You must must must must get married at Villa Botanica if total beauty, style and a stress free wedding is in your dreams. I think every bride thinks they have the best wedding but WE truly believe we had the BEST wedding full of intimate moments , no stress and lots of fun.

Something that we say to people is that the day didn’t fly by for us, it wasn’t a blur and we remember it all, we soaked it in and we know that ifwe were married anywhere else other than Villa Botanica our day would have had stress and hiccups. We were able to think about nothing else other then how much we loved each other, there were no chores for anyone and that’s because we had an army of people dedicated to our day from Tanya, our wedding coordinator, Annie our celebrant, Norina our photographer, the decorators, the waiters to the beautiful lady who greeted us in the morningwith our breakfast who congratulated us like we were family. Even the the gardeners chirpy congratulations in the morning chat was wonderful. The list goes on and on and so could I!

Photography by Iconic Bride Photography

Killian and Amanda

Myself and Killian were high school sweet hearts, we dated very young but then went our separate ways. Killian moved to Australia but we always kept in contact through the years. Ten years later I reached out to Killian my sister and I were planning to move to Australia. We met up and the rest is history. Three years later he proposed in a beautiful park over looking all of Sydney.

We always wanted a destination wedding as we wanted our family and friends to travel over from Ireland not only for our wedding but also for them to have an amazing holiday. The day we visited Villa Botanica we were blown away and knew we had picked the perfect wedding venue.

Killian had visited the Whitsundays before but I hadn’t so I really didn’t know what to expect but it was the most beautiful place.

We stayed in the Whitsundays for a week and so did most of our family and friends so our wedding was a week long celebration. We took day trips to Whitehaven Beach and Daydream Island and some of our friends went to stay on Hamilton Island after the wedding.

We didn’t have a theme but wanted to keep in sync with the style of Villa Botanica so we decided to keep with the Balinese feel when choosing our flowers and decorations.

We had 40 guests and it was a sit down dinner. It’s tradition in Ireland to have a sit down meal for your wedding celebration so we wanted to stick to that.

We splurged on everything really! Like the full free flow bar at the reception and we upgraded most things. We also payed for our parents flights to Sydney from Ireland for the wedding so that was a big splurge but we included that into our wedding budget

We chose Villa Botanica as it was rated the top wedding venue in the ABIA awards and when I did my research on it and read the reviews I knew it was the venue I wanted and dreamed of.

Villa Botanica really is the most amazing place, from start to finish of my wedding planning they did a wonderful job. They took away all the stress of planning a wedding as they did everything for me. I cannot thank Botanica Weddings enough for my dream wedding.

Photography by Angelica Sotelo Sanchez

Mikala and Julian

Mikala and Julian were married at Villa Botanica on the 27th April 2010. A number of their wedding images captured by the very talented Todd Hunter McGaw became some of our most prominent promotional photos over the following years. This month marks their 6 year wedding anniversary and to help them celebrate we are reliving their wedding day with you.

Can you tell us a little bit about your love story?

We met in 2006 in Dubai.  I was living there whilst working as a Flight Attendant and Julian was living and working in Bahrain.  He flew to Dubai for the weekend with his step brother and we met in an English pub!  Funnily enough I wasn’t going to go out that night as I had spent all day in the sun at the beach but for whatever reason I changed my mind at the last minute.  We had a long distance relationship until he asked me to move to Switzerland with him 1 year after we met.  It was scary but obviously paid off.  Julian proposed to me early 2009 while we were on holiday in Australia.  It was the day we flew out back to Switzerland, it had been difficult to get me alone!  He took me to a local forest where we fed some wild Wallabies and then next thing you know he was down on one knee with a beautiful ring.

You have been married 6 years now, can you tell us your secrets to maintaining a happy and healthy marriage and love for one another?

It’s hard to answer that as 6 years is still kind of fresh, it feels like yesterday we were at the villa saying I Do.  I think it’s important to make time for each other, especially when children come along (we have 3 now!).  It’s difficult for us as we don’t have any family in the same country to help out but it’s important to make the effort to spend time alone.  It’s important to keep having fun together and also to remember why you married each other in first place, before you were parents etc.  Trying not to take each other for granted is also something we make an effort not to do.  Luckily for us we made the right decision to marry each other and we love and appreciate each other more now than we did 6 years ago.

Did your wedding have a theme or a particular style? If so do you look back at this style and feel it is timeless or was a trend?

We went for an earthy, natural theme with a wee bit of bling.  We didn’t have particularly traditional flowers or table decorations (for example we had brown table covers) but we were so happy with how it turned out.  We feel it was a timeless style and really suited the feeling of the Villa in it’s tropical surroundings.  We wouldn’t change a thing!

Why did you choose Villa Botanica?

I first saw it while googling wedding locations in Australia, from Switzerland.  I saw one picture of the aisle and fell in love with it.  Nothing else compared from what I could see.  I sent my mother and sister to have a look for me and they knew straight away it was perfect for us.  It’s such a beautiful, unique, world class place to get married and suited us perfectly.  It’s still the best venue we’ve ever seen.

If you were to hold your wedding in April this year, what would you do differently?

There isn’t really anything that we would change honestly.  We had such a magical day and some of our guests still comment on how beautiful it was and how amazing Villa Botanica and their staff were.  As it was a destination wedding, there were a few people we would’ve liked to have come that couldn’t make it but apart from that it was perfect for us.  We only wish the day was a bit longer so it didn’t have to end….and a little less hot!

Aundrea and Dan

Mutual friends and fate are what brought Aundrea and Dan together. After meeting a few times, their connection really sparked while watching a game of American football at a bar with friends. Fast forward to just over a year and a half later they were celebrating their Whitsundays wedding with friends and family.

Aundrea and Dan share an interest in the outdoors, a love of travel, music and dancing. These were things that influenced their choices for the wedding. Having friends and family from all over the world meant that the choosing the destination for their wedding was going to be a difficult choice. Aundrea, being from Hawaii, had always wanted to get married there, but after moving to Australia shortly after their engagement, they decided to embrace their love of travel and embrace a Whitsundays wedding.

A view of the ocean and lush tropical gardens combined with a desire to explore the Great Barrier Reef took Aundrea on a search to find the ultimate Whitsundays wedding venue. Through a casual search online for ‘ocean view wedding venues’, Aundrea found Villa Botanica and immediately loved what this Whitsundays wedding venue had to offer.

Aundrea and Dan’s Whitsunday wedding was just as adventurous as their engagement. Dan had proposed to Aundrea on a mountaintop with 360-degree views whilst hiking. Similarly, during their stay in the Whitsundays, they toured the area, adventuring and exploring the grandeur of the islands with their closest friends and family.

For the wedding, Aundrea wore a trumpet style dress that she chose while shopping with her mum and sister. The bridesmaids wore crimson chiffon and the groomsmen looked handsome in charcoal grey suits which matched Dan’s.

It was a day to remember; a Whitsundays wedding they were able to share with loved ones, listening to the special songs they chose, and especially the moment when they saw each other as Aundrea walked down the aisle.

Congratulations Aundrea and Dan!
Married 4 September 2016

Wedding Planner: Botanica Weddings
Venue: Villa Botanica
Photographer: Luke Middlemiss Photography
Celebrant: Kieran McCarthy Whitsunday Celebrant
Florist: Flower Hut Whitsundays
Decorator: The Event Company Whitsundays
Hair and Makeup: Amanda Fearn
Jeweller: T. Anthony Jewellers (USA)

Toni-Leigh and Ben

Toni-Leigh and Ben’s courtship, wedding and honeymoon all took place in and around the Whitsundays. It is a story of romance, beginning with a chance meeting at a bar for a dress up party. Toni-Leigh, being a nurse, didn’t have to really dress up to fit the theme of doctors and nurses so it was a spur of the moment decision to go and one that led her to meeting to future husband. After exchanging numbers with Ben, it wasn’t until several months later that their romance began.

Ben proposed to Toni-Leigh over a candlelit dinner with champagne and pink roses. There was a card inside the bouquet of roses that read ‘Will you marry me?’ and of course Toni-Leigh said yes!

For the wedding, Toni-Leigh had her own surprise card planned for Ben as four days prior to their wedding she found out that she was expecting their first bundle of joy. Her card read, ‘I can’t wait to marry you. P.S. You are going to be a daddy.’ Toni-Leigh included this card within a gift box that she had made for Ben and their wedding photographer captured Ben’s look of pure joy the moment he opened it.

The romance and elegance continued for the Whitsundays wedding. Toni-Leigh chose soft white and pinks to compliment the natural beauty of Villa Botanica. Stumbling across Botanica Weddings while looking through a friends wedding photos, Toni-Leigh instantly knew it was the place she wanted to spend her special day. A very memorable moment for Toni-Leigh was having her grandfather (who had flown out from South Africa on his first trip overseas and whom she hadn’t seen in ten years) walk her down the aisle.

Living in Mackay, meant a Whitsundays wedding was a perfect choice for Toni-Leigh and Ben. They wanted their guests who were travelling to be able to combine the wedding with a holiday, so after the wedding they spent a week on Hamilton Island with friends and family continuing the celebrations. Afterwards Toni-Leigh and Ben enjoyed some time alone together in Cairns, Port Douglas and Palm Cove.

Congratulations Toni-Leigh and Ben. Let the romance continue!
Married 24 October 2015.

“A special thank you goes to Tanya (wedding coordinator) who was absolutely amazing planning my dream wedding” – Toni-Leigh & Ben

Venue: Villa Botanica
Wedding Planner: Botanica Weddings
Photographer: Norina
Celebrant: Donna Fornaserio
Florist: The Flower Hut
Decorator: I Do Events Whitsundays
Jeweller: Michael Hill Jeweller
Dress: Anna Campbell Bridal
Cake Maker: Sweet Ideas
Hair and Makeup: Amanda Fearn
DJ: Ben Marsh  
Transport: Whitsunday Transit

Megan and Allan

After fifteen years and much water under the bridge, Megan had resigned herself to not being married to Allan. After all, they were a stable and loving couple that had stuck together through thick and thin. They had survived the hardest of times and come out the other side with beautiful children and an unshakeable bond. They were even from the same hometown so it seemed un-necessary to spend money and time on making it legal when they were already beyond legitimate in each other’s eyes.

It all began with a friendship forged when they were young but these two became an exclusive couple within year. They initially devoted themselves to furthering their careers, but after four years together, decided to change things up and take their team on the road. They packed down the house and bought a campervan with the intent to travel Australia together in what can only be described as close quarters!

They bonded with adventure, exploration and an unforgettable journey

The next two years formed the foundation of their relationship as they crossed the Australian countryside. Sticking together through mechanical breakdowns, running out of fuel, getting lost without maps, dust storms, droughts and even the occasional tropical cyclone. The adventures came thick and fast, putting their bond to the test over and over. After two years of wandering wherever the wind took them (and waking up looking over cliff tops) the pair decided to settle down on the gorgeous Sunshine Coast.

 It took 13 years for Alan to pop the question. By this time, they’d already had two beautiful children together and had established themselves financially, emotionally and spiritually as a team. One weekend, the couple decided to hire a babysitter and have a few days off together in Noosa. Alan checked them into a Penthouse suite but it wasn’t until the next day, while they were taking a stroll on the beach that Megan turned around to find him down on one knee with a sparkling diamond in his hand. It was an unbelievable moment. After all of the exotic destinations they’d travelled to where she’d anticipated him proposing, this was one of the times where she had not suspected a thing! And that’s what made all the difference. For Megan, it was the most perfect proposal she could ever have dreamed of.

An unexpected blessing changed their plans entirely

They planned to get married exactly one year after the proposal, on January 16th 2016. But, after paying all the deposits, sending out invites, ordering a wedding dress and even organising the groomsmen’s outfits, they got some unexpected, amazing news when they discovered they were pregnant with their third baby! Ironically, the baby was due only two weeks after their planned wedding date so this added more than expected to the pair’s plate. They were already building a new house, and planning a traditional wedding together was taking up a huge amount of energy.

Despite their plans, the baby had to come first. You see Megan and Alan faced their share of heartache in the fifteen years they’d been together. They had struggled to conceive their first baby and endured years of unsuccessful IVF attempts. But instead of breaking them, the process only made them stronger – a testament to how firm their relationship is. With so much at stake they made the decision to cancel their existing wedding plans and simply elope to be married with 40 of their closest friends and family members. This is where Botanica Weddings came in.

They found the perfect venue and wedding planner

We were thrilled to be able to host their small but gorgeous wedding at Villa Botanica. As soon as Megan saw the venue and met Gemma, her wedding planner, she knew it was the right place for her special day. The wedding itself was incredibly elegant. The pair wanted it to convey a theme of simple classical romance – much like their relationship – rather than something grandiose. It turned out Gemma was the perfect person to help them choose the colours and dress the venue accordingly. As a mother herself she immediately clicked with Megan and the pair were able to work together as a team, changing nappies, solving problems and pulling together a day that Megan will never forget.

One of our photographers, Simon Coulson was there to cover their day and remarked that “Megan and Alan were such an easygoing couple, it hardly felt like work at all.” He captured some beautiful moments that really reflect the couple’s love for each other and their vibrant personalities. Megan says one of her most treasured memories was during the photography session. She looked over at Alan and felt completely blown away by how in love with him she was. Then, during his speech, Alan broke down into tears. It was a side of him that not many had seen and a beautiful moment, which captured how deeply in love they are. It was a pleasure for Gemma and Simon to be part of Alan and Megan’s experience and we’re sure it was a sublime day that’s indelibly etched into the couple’s minds.

So what did they wear?

As for the frills – the bride wore a gorgeous dress embellished with tiny, cut out flowers designed by talented a local dressmaker in Noosa. When she first saw it, Megan didn’t expect much. But then she put it on and was blown away by the intricate detailing and the way it made her look. It’s common wisdom with wedding dresses that when you find the one, you know instantly. And at that moment, Megan was absolutely sure that this was her dress. In nervous anticipation and awe, she gazed at herself in the mirror. She couldn’t wait to walk down the aisle in it.

And on the day, the groomsmen outdid themselves too! They looked every bit the part in their Roger David navy suits, crisp white shirts and smart tanned shoes. The bridesmaids wore stylish, floor-length nude dresses with a low back, and were adorned in simple but stunning Mimco jewellery. The venue made a simply magnificent backdrop and family and friends were pleased to enjoy a little holiday while celebrating the union.

A shared honeymoon with their newest family member

Of course their story continues. After the wedding, Megan and Alan went on a family holiday to Hamilton Island for a week with their children. It wasn’t your traditional honeymoon, but they relished every moment spent together as a family. They continue to live in the Sunshine Coast but plan to visit Bali as a couple to celebrate their ‘one year’ anniversary of marriage in September.

It’s so inspiring to see a couple enjoy such an electrifying, love-filled wedding after 15-years together and three beautiful children. Gemma and Simon said it was magical to connect with such a cool, easygoing and loving couple.

“From the moment we met them, until the moment they released the doves, it was an absolute pleasure to be part of their wedding and we’d like to thank them for choosing Botanica.”

Phillip and Jessica

When Doctor Philip met Nurse Jessica while they were both working in a hospital in Canberra, a classic workplace romance dynamic turned to gold. The pair were no strangers to long shifts and tiring working conditions, but Jessica had caught Phillip’s eye, so very thoughtfully, he would wait in the hospital foyer with a coffee for her every morning before she started her shift.

This sweet gesture moved her greatly, and sparks started to fly between the Doctor and Nurse. Despite her already early wake up call, Jessica began to leave home earlier and earlier to spend a little more time with Phillip before work. Slowly, the couple realised that they had something very special. After only two months together, Philip felt it was time to introduce this amazing woman to his family and they set off on a trip to the UK together. There’s no need to say that the trip went well because just four months later, Philip knew it was time to pop the question.

On the day of the engagement, Jessica had been travelling from Canberra to see Philip who had recently moved to the central coast. On her arrival, he came to greet her at her car and, she remembers, he was dressed very sharply. She recalls being incredibly unaware and hugged him whilst swinging a bag of broccoli that she had brought along from Canberra so as not to waste it.

Chocolates, Candles, Flowers And A Proposal She Couldn’t Resist

Thinking about what she would make for dinner, Jessica walked into the house nonchalantly and found herself amongst dozens of lit candles placed around the room. On the floor were petals and flowers as well as chocolates and some framed photographs of the couple. The room looked like something out of a romance novel.

“Philip sat her down on the couch and started playing the piano while singing ‘A Thousand Years’ by Christina Perri.”

Then he professed his undying love, promising that he would take care of her forever, before pulling out a breathtaking ring from under the cushion next to Jessica. He got down on one knee and was crying from the emotion and excitement. She knew there was no other answer but yes.

The Pair Are True Romantics

Before the wedding, the couple reluctantly parted for a separate hen and stag do. Philip indulged in a boys’ weekend away with friends while Jessica was thrown a surprise party by her bridesmaids. The girls had the affair at her parent’s house enjoying lovely food and champagne while playing some classic hen’s games that had them in fits of giggles. When asked, they said it was a fun to spend time with their friends and family, but both were longing for the big day to arrive.

In true romantic fashion, Jessica says that before she met Philip, she didn’t believe in soul mates, perfect matches, or anything of the sort. But as time went on, she realised what a magical union they share. She shares that it feels as if they are absolutely perfect together. Philip compliments Jessica’s personality to the core and she truly believes that there is no other man that she could be with. Of course, he feels the same way about her. The two insist that they are “meant” to be together if there is such a thing. Philip and Jessica chose to have their wedding day exactly two years after their first date on April 21st, 2017.

They Fell in Love with The Relaxed, Tropical Beauty

The couple decided to have a wedding away from their hometown so their busy guests could squeeze in a little holiday along the way. After doing a fair amount of research and looking at some pictures of different venues, they decided on the sweeping views and lush green gardens of Villa Botanica. They came for a visit and fell in love with the relaxing, tropical beauty of the villa. “It was so us” said Jessica, recalling how thrilled she was when she saw it. Philip and Jessica chose to upgrade their package to add some little luxuries to their special day such as a welcome drink and all the extra frills for lunch, morning tea and the bridal party. Many of the guests mentioned it was the most beautiful wedding they had ever been to.

Jessica shared with us that the day itself went incredibly quickly. Her favourite part of the wedding was walking down the aisle “to marry her beautiful man.” She couldn’t wait to take in his face when he saw her all dressed up. She also recalls loving the speeches and beautiful memories that were shared about the couple as well as some of the more embarrassing, but highly amusing stories. The whole event was high with emotion, and Jessica says she shed many tears of joy throughout. After the formalities were over, she and Philip were thrilled to be able to do a bang up job of partying and celebrating with all of their loved ones.

The Couple Enjoyed Some Tradition in their Wedding

In true romantic fashion, Philip and Jessica wanted to uphold some old wedding traditions. They partook in the garter toss as well as a bouquet toss and had their magical first dance together. To build anticipation they also stayed separately the night before the wedding and the groom did not see the bride before she walked down the aisle.

As for the dress, Jessica thought she had an idea of what she wanted. But after trying on a selection of simple dresses, she found them all to be too unflattering and opted for a much more feminine gown that featured a long train. Her final choice was an elegant strapless gown that featured pearl embellishments around the waist. She was glad to have chosen a dress with a very long train and remembers feeling like a princess the entire time. To accentuate her gown, she wore a simple pearl necklace and a bracelet as well as some flowers in her hair. The bridesmaids looked ravishing in their oyster-coloured halter dresses while the groomsmen wore three-piece suits with patterned ties that matched the bridesmaids’’ dresses.

Philip and Jessica didn’t really have a wedding theme in mind when they planned their big day and opted for a simple, classic style rather than something over the top. By adding a few extras, the simple wedding was made even more luxurious and special. Their wedding planner, Gemma, from Villa Botanica ensured that every detail was completely flawless from start to finish. Gemma tells us she loved working with the couple:

“They were super fun and such lovely people, but it was his Irish accent and her beauty that made them one of my favourite couples this year.”

They also splurged a little on photography and videography, and with such a gorgeous venue it would have been a shame not to. They were absolutely delighted with how stunning the photographs turned out. Wedding photographer Luke Middlemiss had captured the emotion and venue perfectly. The couple had their honeymoon in Cyprus for ten nights followed by another four nights in Poland. They’re currently in the UK and have just booked another romantic trip together to Tuscany.