Tell us a little about yourselves, what you do, what you love, what is unique about you and your relationship…
Caleb grew up on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, whilst Bethany grew up in Bowral. We met on a mission trip to the Philippines, in the back of a tuk-tuk, in the slums of Manila.
Bethany is a writer, Caleb is a photographer and has a passion for business, together we are a nomadic duo who travel around the world working alongside humanitarian organisations. The business we co-founded in 2016 is called ‘The Messengers Global’. We have travelled to Indonesia and documented sulphur miners in a volcano, worked with girls rescued from sex trafficking in India, told the story of family working in a slum community in Bali, travelled to China to find out what life was like for persecuted Christians, and currently work and are based on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, Australia.
Caleb proposed in Inner Mongolia, asking if Bethany wanted to do humanitarian/missionary work together for the rest of their lives.
The bridal gown was designed by best friend and Maid of Honour. Grace (maid of honour) and I (bride) were bridal shopping in Melbourne and I just realised the experience simply didn’t reflect what I valued at all.
With the humanitarian work we do, and the organisations we support, there is so much significant placed on valuing human life. And if I walked down the aisle in a dress not knowing where it came from or whether the maker was paid a living wage, I would not be doing that person justice. In every element of my outfit, I wanted to take human cost into consideration.
The lace top of the dress was bought second hand from savers. The skirt was made out of curtain fabric by my maid of honour. All sewn together with love!
My engagement ring is also a conflict-free black diamond from a maker in America we found on Etsy. She sourced the gemstone ethically, with the certificate to prove it and all the metal is recycled gold.
I wore a flower crown, reminiscent of my mum when she was married.
The groom wore his favourite shirt- a linen button up that belonged to his dad, who passed away suddenly in 2016. Whilst he couldn’t be there on the day, we knew he was there in spirit, in this shirt reminded us of that.
Tell us about your special day, was there a specific theme or style? Tell us a little about the setting, the styling and some of your favourite details…
We looked at every aspect of the wedding day and asked ourselves what each element meant to us. We dissected and pulled apart tradition, and kept only what mattered to us. We also had a huge focus on our friends and family.
Many people say a wedding day is all about you…we disagree. It’s about the friends and family around you who brought you to that point. It takes a village to raise a child, and it certainly takes a strong community to support a couple down the road of marriage. We wanted our day to be a giant thank you to our community, and have such a focus on the love of God, which has transformed and changed the direction of our personal lives.
The styling was done by ourselves to fully reflect our nomadic, adventurous, journey of a life. We love to travel, other cultures and languages, we love the outdoors and we love simplicity. By having our reception and ceremony in the same place, overlooking a wild national park, with two tipi tents, festoon lights and a bonfire, we thought we could transport people to a place where they got back to basics and remembered what was most important.
All the food, flowers, photography, videography even Bridal dress was done by friends and local businesses we wanted to support.
We somehow ended up eloping AND having a wedding. We wanted to do the signing of the papers somewhere private and decided to meet together at a local waterfall earlier that day. It turned into a first look, just bride, groom, our dear friend who was a celebrant, and our photographer and videographer as our witnesses.
Our celebrant, Carole, prayed over us and shared an Indian blessing:
An Apache wedding blessing:
Now you will feel no rain,
for each of you will be shelter for the other.
Now you will feel no cold,
for each of you will be warmth to the other.
Now there will be no loneliness,
for each of you will be companion to the other.
Now you are two persons,
But there is only one life before you.
May beauty surround you both in the journey ahead and through all the years.
May happiness be your companion to the place where the river meets the sun.
And may your days be good and long upon the earth.
We followed this with vows completely off the cuff and in the moment and saved our prepared vows for family and friends.
We went down to North Narrabeen Beach to meet our bridal party and take photos. This is a place we both spent a lot of time together whilst dating, it was also where Caleb spent his days growing up. After the photos were taken we let the bridal party go ahead so we could make a stop at somewhere special.
When Caleb’s dad passed away, instead of a tombstone in a cemetery we contacted the council and had a bench built overlooking the sea. It was his favourite beach and the place he had his last swim hours before he died. On his plague it says “take a seat, but be sure to leave it here”, he was the ultimate punmaster.
We sat together and listened to Cat Steven’s ‘Father and Son’ – the last son Caleb and his Dad listened to before his death. It was emotional and beautifully raw. We felt so honoured to be able to spend some time remembering a great dad that was. We know how much he would have enjoyed the day.
With so many sacred moments, it’s almost hard to pick a favourite. But the ceremony with friends and family was by far the most magical moment of our wedding day. We had 120 people gathered at the edge of the national park, looking out across the bushland and sea. I walked down the aisle to my favourite worship song with the lyrics ringing in my ear “this is the story of the son of God, hanging on a cross for me, and it ends with a bride and groom and a wedding by a glassy sea.”
We stood beneath a tipi arch the groom made, with our dear friend leading the ceremony. We prayed together, cried together and declared our vows together before friends and family. It was unforgettable and we felt our hearts were overflowing.
The reception was full of great music and even better food. Instead of cutting the cake, which is way too boring, we decided to smash one! Our great friends at Rukus café provided us a with a meringue wedding cake, that when obliterated into little pieces spilled over a table full of sponge cake and fruits.
The first dance with my Dad was priceless. I chose a song to surprise him with ‘Butterfly Kisses’ by Bob Carlisle. I remember him playing it for me when I was 5 and kissing me by gently fluttering his eyelashes on my cheeks. He would always get emotional and I wanted to remind him on the day that whilst he was giving me away and had done his job as a dad, I would always be his daughter.
The father-daughter dance was first so he could hand the bride over to her groom, in another symbolic act of passing on responsibility and giving the bride away. Our first dance was ‘Dela’ by Johnny Clegg, another childhood favourite from ‘George of the Jungle’.
My mum (mother of the bride) cried when I showed her the first dance song. She said she could remember me sitting in front of the tv watching ‘George of the Jungle’ with googly eyes as they got married surrounded by animal friends in their treetop home.
Your wedding day is sacred and special, but it’s just the start. Make it even richer by focusing less on yourselves, and the small stresses of the day, and focus instead on those who love you and are there to celebrate your love. Value people, plan your day with them in mind. You will need a community around you when times get tough.
Some of the best advice we were given on the day was “ remember, we all want to see you make it.” Your friends and family want to see you succeed. Because in an age where many believe love is dead, you can show them that it’s not, in fact, Love is well and truly alive.
Photographer– Kings and Thieves | Elopement Location- Irrawong Waterfall | Ceremony & Reception Location- Friends backyard, Belrose, Northern Beaches | Celebrant- Carole Clark | Entertainment- The Suits, and friends Max Carpenter, Lewis and Fiona New | Tipi’s- Matakata Hire & Events | Florals- Osaler Floristry | Catering, Beverages & Cake- Rukus Café | Brides Dress- Created by Maid of Honour | Grooms Attire- Late fathers linen shirt, suspenders and olive pants | Rings- Windfall Jewellery