With family living on opposite sides of the world, it would always mean that Gwen and Chelsea would have trouble planning a wedding. So, they decided to elope. In Byron Bay, they shared vows in a rainforest before they celebrated with champagne and dinner.
We met in 2012 in the lobby of the Byron at Byron Resort. Gwen was working as an editor for a travel magazine and was at the resort writing a story. At the time, Megan was a corporate conference organizer and was at the resort, checking it out for one of her clients. We were both hosted by the resort and had our first in-depth conversation sitting next to each other at a hosted lunch. The resort set the lunch up down in the rainforest area where there’s a large lotus pond.
We became fast friends, and Gwen (who was living in Sydney) and Megan (living Melbourne) stayed in touch for about a year. We traveled to Vietnam together in 2013 and became “official.” Gwen moved to Melbourne, and the rest is history.
When we went back to Byron on our anniversary to elope, we were walking around the property looking for good spots to get photos. We wandered down to where the lotus pond area was and realized it was the perfect spot to do our ceremony. It was literally the exact place where we sat next to each other and had our first chat!
Tell us about the proposal.
We’d both talked about getting married but never really discussed who would pop the question.
We talked about what type of ring we’d like and had a ring designer make our rings together. The rings were put away, and we decided that we’d leave it to fate as to who would ask and when. One night we’d booked a date night and met at a restaurant where we had our first date, we arrived and we were coincidently seated at the same table. Unbeknownst to both of us, we’d each planned to propose that night. So it was all a bit funny and awkward and very us.
And, decided to elope, why?
Gwen’s parents live in the United States and Megan’s family is in Australia. Either way, someone’s side of the family would have to pay a fortune to go to another country for our wedding. We’d tried several times to work it out. We thought to have two separate weddings or find somewhere in the middle like Hawaii. But, it always just got too complicated.
We’d decided that at the end of the day, it was about us simply celebrating our relationship. So we went back to Byron Bay, where it all began. Did the elopement, came home, and told everyone. We threw a small party in Australia to celebrate and when we visit the United States later this year, we’ll have a small party with Gwen’s family.
Tell us about the elopement day.
We decided to elope only about six-seven weeks before the wedding, so we really had to keep things simple. We booked our flights and our stay at The Byron at Byron and flew up on a Friday morning. Our flight was delayed by a few hours, but we arrived and bought some native flowers for our cake topper, picked up a few bottles of champagne to celebrate and went out for dinner together that night.
The next morning we met our celebrant early for a coffee, had our cake dropped off at the hotel, and did our hair and makeup. The ceremony began in the afternoon and all up lasted less than ten minutes. We wrote our own vows and had no guests. It was us, our celebrant, photographer and videographer (both of whom were our witnesses!). It was just us, and it was exactly as we wanted it.
We returned to our suite to cut the cake. It was a sticky date with caramel sauce that we chose because Gwen made Megan a sticky date pudding the first time she ever cooked her a meal. Then, we celebrated with champagne, plenty of photos. And, that night, we went out to dinner at Three Blue Ducks, a local Byron Bay institution for dinner.
We stayed on in Byron for another day. Then, flew back to Melbourne to share the news with our friends and family.
Later, when we received our wedding video, we shared it with everyone in a smaller celebration.
Photography by Wine Lane Studios
Cake Let Them Eat Cake Byron Bay
Celebrant Michelle Shannon
Ceremony Venue Byron at Byron Resort
Cinematographer Wallflower Weddings
Dinner Three Blue Ducks
H&MU Byron Bay Wedding Hair Co
Wedding Rings Windfall Jewelry