A wedding on their own terms.
Samara and Caitlin Watson who have known each other for the better part of a decade were married recently in a ceremony attended by no friends, no family and only a handful of wedding staff.
Unlike many couples who are bemoaning the effect COVID-19 has had on their wedding plans, Samara and Caitlin both agree that they managed to turn a bad situation into the wedding of their dreams and say they wouldn't change a single thing.
After Caitlin proposed to Samara on their second anniversary, they soon began planning for their wedding, but quickly realised that what was on offer wasn't for them.
"The thing is we started to plan the typical big venue winery sort of wedding and it just wasn't for us. Nothing felt right about it, nothing reflected us, and the fact of the matter is that the prices were unreasonable. You're paying $30,000 for a venue and that's literally a house deposit," Samara said.
"It wasn't going to happen, there's no way that was right for us. Then we came across this place called Mystwood in the Hunter Valley, a venue we really liked but we couldn't get all our family all the way over there, it's four hours away.
"So I followed them and looked at their posts and saw that they had a Coronavirus package where you just elope and it was cheap and we were like 'yep 100 per cent that's it, that's us.'"
Eloping meant none of the hassles usually associated with planning a wedding. Something Samara said was very appealing.
"100 per cent, that was one of the most attractive things for us, we've always been private in our relationship. You don't have to worry about who to cull off the invite list, it was just the two of us, we did almost no planning. We organised it in six weeks I think," Samara said.
I think that there's no way we could have connected and realised our love the way that we did if we had other people around.Samara Watson
"All we did on our part was buy a dress and get that tailored, Caitlin's sister Maddie is a baker and she put together a cake for us and that's all we did.
"It literally just meant we could do it this way and maybe offend some people but in the end everyone would be on the same playing field."
Caitlin and Samara both told their parents ahead of time though Samara told her dad a little closer to the date because as Samara described it 'he loves us so much and he has a big mouth, God bless him.'
"It was the most stress-free day you can imagine, there was no one breathing down our necks, we were on no one else's time it was just how we wanted it, and then you get the fun of revealing it too, like 'Yo look what we just did'," Caitlin said.
The big day
Apart from Caitin and Samara, the only people in attendance were a videographer, a photographer and the celebrant. There was also a hairdresser on hand if needed and Samara did all her own makeup.
They stayed in a cabin at the Mystwood Retreat and the ceremony location was directly across from where they were staying.
"We literally walked from our cabin for five seconds to get there," Samara said.
"The day was the most magical thing that could have happened. It was so relaxed and so chill. We woke up when we felt like it, had breakfast and a coffee. I did my own makeup, Caitlin sat on the bed with me and had a chat. All day I think we saw five people in total.
"The time came and they took Caitlin down, I got into my dress, one of the workers helped me with that and then that's it. She said 'when you hear the music start walking' and an hour later our photos were done and we were eating a cheese board and drinking champagne in our cabin which had a hot tub. It was amazing, it was incredible."
The venue is located in an area with no wifi and no mobile service and Samara and Caitlin both agree doing on their own was the right choice.
"You're completely secluded out there we had no phone service and no internet, we were off the grid," Samara said.
"I think that there's no way we could have connected and realised our love the way that we did if we had other people around.
"There was no one pulling us away from each other, we just did whatever we wanted to do. There was not an awkward second in the entire day. We could not be more happy with how everything went."
Samara walked down the aisle to Parallel Line by Keith Urban, a song that meant a lot to them both and one they picked out soon after they were engaged.
Everyone was shocked when Samara and Caitlin revealed they had eloped.
"Everyone was bloody happy, they were just so stoked," Caitlin said.
"The people that are the closest to us are like 'we get it, we should be sad that we missed it' but they see how happy we are they saw the photos, they know how amazing the day was and everyone's has been overwhelmingly supportive," Samara said.
"We didn't think we'd get that much of a reaction. We just thought it'd be like 'Oh yeah, it happened'. But everyone's been messaging us - our phones have been blowing up," Caitlin said.
"At the end of the day it was an opportunity we couldn't turn down. It was literally the weekend of a lifetime, our day was the most perfect it could have ever been and it we could go back and do it all again we would. We wouldn't change it for the world," Samara said.
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