One of my Top Five weddings of all time at Mandalay House // Clementine & Jack

A warm, intimate celebration of the love of Jack and Clementine in the picturesque homestead at Mandalay House and Garden, which could’ve been snatched from the pages of a Jane Austen novel.

This Mandalay House wedding was quite a few years ago, but I don’t think I’ll ever forget what an amazing bunch of people the bridal party were together. I very rarely feel so included and ‘let in’ to the group as I did on this day. A real special Mandalay Garden Wedding. So special.

It was a real family affair, her sister hand-made the wedding gown, and the brother of the bride officiated the ceremony.

We love them! Thank you so so much. Your wonderful photos (and you your self) will remain a most excellent addition to our day. Simply incredible. Plus, you were just a bloody legend to have around all day, and in lead-up. Thank you James – we couldn’t have imagined anyone better.

Jack and Clementine

Jack and Clementine’s Mandalay House wedding was the sort of day where I had to remind myself that I was there to take pictures, not as a part of the family. It was an easy mistake to make—from the first thing in the morning, an atmosphere of warmth and closeness ruled the day, and I was so glad to participate.

We began with Jack and his groomsmen, first a very relaxed morning with the family round for a BBQ. Then, later on, laughter mixed with the rattle of ice cubes in whiskey glasses, as ties were tied and boutonnieres pinned. 

The girls started the day at Clementine’s family home before heading up to Mandalay House and Garden. 

Her sister had hand-made her stunning dress for her, so there were some slight alterations and thread snipping to be done on the morning of the wedding. It was lovely to be there to capture a few of those moments between Clementine and her sister. 

After we drove up past Mt Barker, to Mandalay, Clemmie found a quiet spot to finish her speech. 

Mandalay House can trick you. Wandering through its immaculately manicured grounds to the marquee on the tennis court, laden with fairy lights, feels like stepping back in time.

It may feel like an old estate snatched from the pages of a Jane Austen novel, but owner Deb designed and built it recently as a passion project. It’s a special place, not just for a happy couple, but for a photographer too.

With preparations, ceremony and reception all taking place on site, the relaxed pace of day continued onto the ceremony. 

In keeping with the theme, the ceremony was officiated by Clementine’s brother. As charismatic as his suit, he made sure there was plenty of laughter to accompany the happy tears.

No matter how many weddings I shoot, it’s hard not to get caught up in the sense of celebration. It’s such a thrill to be able to look at my photos from the day and remember how it felt- that’s what I’m trying to give to each couple I shoot.

By luck or blessing, we had perfect light to work with. I’m always eager to make the most of it, and we toured the grounds to some of my favourite spots. I was delighted to see that the bridesmaids’ dresses matched perfectly with the overgrown wall of the garden shed- a beautiful tumble of reds and greens.

I love the contrast at Mandalay House Weddings. It’s only when you stray past the sculpted hedges and swaying conifers that you even remember where you are. Only minutes from the wedding guests you can step outside the fairytale and find yourself in the wildness of the Australian countryside. The rawness of that dusty Australiana felt like a perfect match to the simple, down-to-earth atmosphere of the day.

The reception photos speak for themselves. From moving speeches to constant laughter, there was plenty to capture. Mandalay works so well for night shots, and the strings of lights over the outdoor dance floor, or draped between the trees, made for some of my favourite pictures of the day.

I made sure to keep the shutter firing, as antics got more entertaining the longer the night went on. The band didn’t seem to mind sharing the stage, and I had to laugh as I watched a boozy groomsman commandeer the drum kit to much applause.

Mandalay House weddings are so isolated that there’s no need to keep quiet or finish early. Owner Deb doesn’t set a time limit, so long as she’s welcome to join in for a drink after midnight. Before I knew it the happy couple had been whisked away, and I found myself sharing a nightcap with her under the stars.

Jack and Clementine were such a pleasure to shoot!