Nicole Slarke is the very definition of an unconventional bride. For starters, she wore a black dress.
“I’m not comfortable in white and wanted to feel like myself on my wedding day,” Nicole tells 9Honey.
“I went all over Sydney trying to find a black dress, they’re so hard to find. In bridal stores, when I told them I wanted to wear colour, they were like, ‘We’ve got ivory, blush, eggshell’ and I’m like, ‘All of those are white’.”
Nicole, 30, eventually found her dream dress, which she’s worn twice since she and husband Stephen Baines, 31, tied the knot in the Blue Mountains in June.
The couple, from western Sydney, opted for a brunch reception in another break from the norm.
“Every wedding I’ve attended has been a dinner so I wanted something that wasn’t the same as everyone else,” Nicole explains.
“Plus, Stephen and I always go to brunch together, so it’s a meal we both enjoy.”
Their 60 guests dined on three courses of breakfast foods including hash browns, bacon and egg sliders, and bruschetta topped with smoked salmon and avocado.
As a special treat the couple set up a s’mores bar, a campfire snack popular in the United States consisting of marshmallows and chocolate sandwiched between two sweet crackers. They roasted the s’mores by the fireplace inside the barn.
“While they waited for us before the ceremony our guests could help themselves to the coffee cart and a cereal buffet, because we knew it was an early start,” Nicole adds.
Their ceremony, which began at 10.30am, was held at the historic Collits Inn under gum trees and then inside the barn, which dates back more than 190 years.
“It has a lot of history to it which is cool,” Nicole says.
“We tried to find something that was unique, a little different to everything else and this place was amazing, it was so peaceful.”
The newlyweds’ decision to shun many common wedding traditions resulted in a day they will will cherish forever.
Nicole says she and Stephen didn’t have any bridesmaids or groomsmen because she doesn’t like the idea of “picking your friends and then ranking them because they stand in a certain order”.
“Plus, I’ve been a bridesmaid a few times now and it’s the most stressful experience and I didn’t want to put any of my friends through it,” she adds.
Instead, Nicole’s 26-year-old brother served as their unofficial ‘flower girl’. He even wore a flower crown.
“That made everyone laugh and really set the tone,” Nicole says.
Her nan, Neryl, walked her down the aisle.
“Mum, being mother-of the-bride, already had a status on the day so this was a way to include Nan – she was always the second parental figure for me.”
While the couple signed the register, a string quartet played Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, prompting a sing-a-long from the guests.
Nicole and Stephen did raise some eyebrows when they informed guests there’d be no dance floor. But they had something more creative in store to keep everyone entertained.
“We don’t dance and it was in the middle of the day,” Nicole explains.
“A few people were a little put out when I told them there was no dancing and no DJ and I was like, ‘Well, have your own wedding and you can have what you want, or don’t come if it’s that big of a deal’.
“Instead, we had board games: Pictionary, giant Scrabble and Jenga, so people had things to do.”
Nicole’s highlight of the day was her ‘first look’ photo shoot with Stephen shortly before their ceremony.
“I would advise everyone 100 per cent to do a first look because it calmed our nerves and it didn’t take anything away from when you first appear at the aisle – you’re still doing that walk, but you’re not nervous,” she tells 9Honey.
“It was a really nice moment.”
And Stephen’s reaction when he first saw his bride-to-be?
“It was what you want, he was happy,” Nicole laughs.
What happened on your wedding day? Share your story with me, Natalie, as I prepare to marry my fiancé, Jason, after 13 years together. Emailnoliveri@nine.com.au