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Renny & Matt – Southern Highlands Wedding

Matt & Renny were married on a private property in the Southern Highlands. But that’s not the beginning of this story. These two peas in a pod came into my world over a year ago when they booked me in for their wedding. Like most of my clients, I got to build a friendship with these two during their wedding-planning period. These long engagements can sometimes feel like forever, but I really believe it makes the payoff all the more rewarding when you’ve been waiting so long.

This glorious Southern Highlands wedding had so many notable moments. From feeding the llamas, to Matt writing a crossword for Renny using clues about their relationship, and of course, the moment when Renny screamed “I DOOO” at the top of her lungs in the ceremony.

From my first interaction with this incredible couple, the word that stuck in my mind was “cherished”. It was clear to me, and to any other ordinary observer, the level to which Matt & Renny cherish each other. Their words of affection, their body language, their cheeky smiles, and their generosity toward the other person are all traits I admire and hoped to distil in their wedding photos.

This wedding was a hearty, laughter-filled celebration that brought together two of the most energetic and fun-loving families I have come across. It was a pleasure to meet the parents of Matt & Renny, as well as the extended families on both sides. You would have had no idea that half the guests were strangers to the other half, as they all seemed to blend into one unified group cheering Matt & Renny into the next chapter of their lives.

floral pines design co weddingsouthern highlands wedding venuesouthern highlands wedding photographersouthern highlands weddinghenry paul photographyfloral pines design cosouthern highlands wedding venuesouthern highlands weddingbride and groom first dancethe loch southern highlands wedding

Photographer: Henry Paul Photography | Florist: Floral Pines Design Co | Engagement Ring: Dustins | Videographer: Way Up High | Celebrant: Heart2Heart Marriage Celebrant | Wedding Venue: Private Property (The Loch, Southern Highlands) | Catering: Brigid Kennedy, The Loch | Entertainment: Larissa McKay | Cake: CakeArcade | Cake Topper: Fudge and Mabel | Decorations: Flora lPines Design Co | Wedding Bands: Angus and Coote | Bridal Boutique: LuvBridal | Veil: LuvBridal | Shoes: ASOS | Hair: Kay Del Rosario | Makeup: Alissa Morada | Groom’s Suit: Oxford | Tie: Myer | Shoes: Rivers

Belle & Layne – Shellharbour DIY Wedding

Belle & Layne’s wedding was entirely an expression of who they are and how they love. The amount of community involvement in putting the day together showed how much they value and rely on the people in their circles. The DIY elements of the day, including Belle’s dress, articulated their creative spirits. And ultimately, the prioritisation of making memories over “being trendy” was a clear assertion of their “IDGAF” attitude in life.

Although both of them had newly relocated to Kiama when they met, it’s a wonder how much of a community they have built for themselves since arriving. The wedding was hosted on the property of a family friend and the flowers designed by an old floristry colleague of Belle’s. I, too, count it an honour to have been at this wedding not only as “photographer Hank” but also as “friend Hank”.

Belle & Layne chose to play their cards close to their chest when it came to announcing the wedding. In fact, they didn’t announce it was a wedding until guests arrived at the property.

You’ll find oodles of wedding inspiration in these images ahead. But one thing I’ll say about these two humans is their ability to completely buck the trend and do what makes them happy. Many of the choices around the wedding day are extremely unique. This kind of uniqueness is one of the elements I love about my job: every wedding is different. Every couple expresses themselves differently.

And on that note, I present Belle & Layne’s wedding: full of creative expression and full-on emotions.


“So, Layne thinks we met in August 2017 at my brother’s birthday party in Coffs Harbour. I’m pretty sure I would have remembered him though! Instead, I remember meeting him when I drove down to Kiama and stayed with some friends for a weekend to start moving some things down in November 2017. He happened to be having a trial week at a job down here at the same time. He was moving down from Coffs, great timing really. He got out of the car and he was wearing a bright orange long-sleeved top and he had a freshly completely shaved head, it was awesome! I also noticed his incredibly muscly arms. Thank God for strong men!”

“I love the fact that Belle doesn’t let anyone push her around, tell her how to dress or how to act. She is one of a kind.”

Florist: Steph Allan, Thistle & Fox Floral Studio | Engagement Ring: Belle’s Great Grandmother | Celebrant: Ps. Ben Staines | Ceremony Venue: Private Property | Catering: Family and friends | Cake: Montana Pratt | Decorations: Salvos ??  Invitations: Em Kadwell | Event Furniture: Wrendelle | Photobooth: The OG Photobooth Company | Wedding Bands: Layne’s Grandparents | Bridal Gown Designer: Belle Shoes: Barefoot | Hair: Chelsea Taylor Hairstylist | Makeup: Lou Cosmetics Groom’s Shirt: Myer | Pants: Myer | Bow Tie: YD | Bridesmaid Attire: Sewn by Belle | Groomsmen Attire: Myer

Reducing Stress in Relationships Whilst Wedding Planning

Reducing Stress in Relationships Whilst Wedding Planning

Let’s talk about reducing stress whilst wedding planning. For those who missed it, Zola released a report that 96% of couples cited wedding planning as “stressful”, with 40% of couples going on to say that wedding planning was “extremely” or “very” stressful.

Although I am not entirely surprised by these statistics, it shows that there is a growing acceptance around wedding planning and how it will impede on your mental health. And I am all about promoting good mental health!! (seriously, I started a charity about it.)

So last week I wrote a piece on reducing financial wedding stress. However, money isn’t the only contributing factor in high-stress wedding planning. So this week we’re shifting gears a little bit. One of the most overlooked sources of stress and anxiety comes from those closest to you. Yes, that right! Today I’m talking about relationships. Reducing stress in relationships while planning your wedding needs to be a high priority, especially if you plan on speaking with these people again after the wedding.


“blood runs thicker than… champagne?”

Reducing stress in relationships whilst wedding planning begins with one word: Ex-pec-tations. Expectations! The key to keeping your relationships with your family from devolving into a nasty game of Hungry Hippos is to be unequivocally clear about expectations as early as possible.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it will be easy. In fact, you might have to have some really uncomfortable conversations with some loved ones early on. Here’s some helpful phrasing to be sensitive to your family members whilst still being assertive about what you want:

  • “Hey Dad, I wanted to let you know that [Fiancé] and I have made the decision not to invite [Uncle Jerry] to the wedding. We know he means a lot to you, so how about we all go out for a drink once we’re back from our honeymoon?”
  • “Hey sis, thanks so much for offering to make our bouquets. [Fiancé] and I have made the decision to hire a professional florist instead. I have found a few fantastic options, would you like to come and meet them with me?”

Things to note:

  1. You don’t owe them an apology, so don’t say sorry! Be sensitive to their feelings, but know that they ultimately want the best thing for you.
  2. Be clear and assertive, rather than beating around the bush or delaying the conversation.
  3. Extend them an opportunity to take the next step in the process with you. If they are prone to steamrolling, don’t feel obligated to invite them to meet with your vendors. Instead, consider delegating a low-risk task to them to take ownership of.

Bride Sarah with her siblings


“here comes the Bride, and her 17 best friends”

You do not have to do anything at your wedding because your friends: (a) did it at theirs; (b) begged you to do it so they can live vicariously through you; (c) offered to pay for/organise it. Keeping your friends in the loop is always a great way to invest in those relationships, but ultimately the decisions about the wedding should be you and your fiancé’s to make.

I’ve heard multiple stories of people wanting to “demote” their friend out of the wedding party. This can be a huge point of stress and anxiety if you are worried about the repercussions the might flow on from that conversation. Wedding Wire wrote a fantastic piece about how to navigate the situation. The key thing to remember is that relationships should be more valuable than any wedding dispute you may have, so getting to the root of the problem is a fantastic way of honouring the other person and the friendship you have with them.

Reducing Stress in Relationships Whilst Wedding Planning

Your Fiancé

“a bicycle built for two…”

If anything I say in this blog sticks today, I hope it is this: no wedding, I repeat, NO WEDDING is more important than the relationship behind it. Having disagreements about the budget and guest list are natural and need to be discussed (or argued). However, if planning a wedding has taken your relationship to a place where you are struggling to be with your fiancé, then you may need to rethink what’s important right here.

If in doubt, here are a few questions to ask your partner, and yourself:
(remember that “having a wedding” and “being married” are two different things)

  1. Why are we having a wedding?
  2. Do we want/need to have this kind of wedding?
  3. Is there anything you’d like to change about our wedding plans to make you more excited?
  4. Does our wedding reflect the marriage we want to have?

Henry Paul is a wedding photographer based in Sydney, Australia. Take the first step in reducing your wedding stress by meeting with him. For more information, click here.


How to Reduce Financial Wedding Stress

Reduce Financial Wedding StressIt’s hard to ignore the link between wedding planning and stress. According to research by Zola, 96% of newlyweds found wedding planning to be stressful. NINETY-SIX PERCENT?! And, surprise surprise, the number one contributing factor was wedding finances. I can’t profess to be an expert, but having photographed over 100 weddings to date, I definitely have some experience under my belt. If you or someone you know is getting married, buckle in.

We’re about to get real.

Here are some of Hank’s hot tips to reduce financial wedding stress.

1. Setting the budget

Ever heard of SMART goals? Well, setting your wedding budget is today’s first SMART goal. Your budget will need to be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely.

First up, it would be unwise to pick a number out of thin air. Let’s be realistic. I’ve taken the liberty of doing some research on your behalf. In 2012, research done by Moneysmart showed that the average cost of a wedding $36,200 AUD. I’ve gone ahead and adjusted that for today’s terms, which equals $41,124 AUD.

Don’t get me wrong, this is by no means an indication of what you HAVE to spend. Merely the average amount that Australian couples are spending as of 2012. I have photographed my fair share of weddings on a budget, and some of them have been extremely intimate and romantic. Likewise, I have photographed weddings with budgets well in excess of $100K. So no matter where you sit on the spectrum, it’s SMART to figure it out sooner rather than later.

Hank’s Hot Tip: Having a single figure is going to be extremely challenging to work to when considering all the purchasing options. I would recommend choosing a bracket (i.e. $40K-$45K) which gives you space to stretch if you stumble across the perrrrrfect wedding dress that is slightly beyond your initial budget.

Reduce Financial Wedding Stress

2. Pick your top 5.

Another SMART goal (sort of). I’ve spoken about this in an earlier blog post, but the reason I mention it again is because of how effective it is. Here is how it works:

  • You and your partner get together and each writes down your own “top 5” things you want for the wedding. Options could include a photographer (ding ding ding!), food, flowers, makeup, venue, cars, DJ, celebrant, cake, clothing etc.
  • Then you will compare each other’s top 5, and see what you have in common. If you both wrote down flowers and a DJ, then voila! You already have two that you agree on!
  • Finally, you will have a conversation about each remaining item you’ve written down until you have a happy compromise. This method will absolutely help reduce financial wedding stress by prioritising what to spend your money on.

Hank’s Hot Tip: For me, I already know that live music is at the top of my list (okay, maybe a photographer is at the top, but I’m trying not to be biased). I wrote an entire blog post about why live music is great at a wedding.

wedding budgeting and planning

3. Ask your vendors about payment plans

So your wedding is 12 months away. Splitting up payments across 12 months is certainly an easy way to budget appropriately. Be sure to speak with your vendors about their payment terms, and ask if you can make regular payments rather than needing to pay a stack of lump sums 28 days before the wedding.

Payment plans are a win-win for both you and the business owner, as it breaks down your large expenses and it guarantees regular cash flow for the business! Cashflow baby! This is why I have made payment plans the default option for all of my new clients.

WARNING: Don’t let the lure of “Afterpay” and similar setups put your finances in a compromising position. Paying off your wedding should never be more important than rent and food on the table.

Extra tips:

  • Open bar? Consider limiting the choices of bevvys you are willing to pay for. Perhaps keep the 50-year-old Glenfiddich off the list.
  • Got a lot of mouths to feed? Consider a vegetarian menu. Both your wallet and the planet will thank you for it.
  • In fact, there are plenty of eco-friendly decisions you can make regarding your wedding which will also help your bottom line. Read more about how to plan an environmentally friendly wedding here.

Henry Paul is a wedding photographer based in Sydney, Australia. You can find out more about him here.




Jonathan & Simon – Country Manor House Elopement

Escaping to the country has never felt so good.

No really, it has literally never made me feel as good as it did on this particular trip. Given all of the emotions that are associated with a typical wedding, the atypical-ness of this particular union only amplified those “feels”.

“I love that Simon is intelligent and always extremely thoughtful of everyone else. I love the way he loves me.” – Jonathan

Rewind to December last year when Jonathan & Simon came and visited me at my studio in Newtown. They simply strolled down the road from their home, walked through my front door and right into my heart.

They told me they met through work. They told me that Jonathan was courting Simon for quite a while, however, Simon was slow to pick up on the clues. They told me that they shared their first kiss at a work Christmas party. And they shared their desire to be married, in a low-key fashion, surrounded by their closest mates.

Anybody who knows me knows how much I resonate with “low-key” when it comes to celebrating a marriage. I am particularly drawn to the intimacy and humanity that comes from these kinds of commitments. It is also worth acknowledging that Jonathan and Simon have fought an uphill battle in order to have the right to have their marriage recognised in their home country.

The wedding itself did not disappoint. It was classy. It was intimate. There was no single element that did not speak to who Jonathan & Simon are as a couple, and now, as husbands.

“I love Jonathan’s kindness. My favourite sound in the world is the sound of his laugh. He is my big, friendly, sexy giant!” – Simon

To me, this was an exciting opportunity to capture a beautiful couple.
To Jonathan and Simon, this was a significant milestone, a stake in the ground, and an opportunity to celebrate the fabulous relationship they have formed together over the years.

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