How to write wedding vows

Jul 9, 2020

Charis white is a Melbourne wedding celebrant with an enormous amount of experience in weddings large and small all over greater Melbourne and Victoria, for every type of couple you can imagine. With all her experience in running brilliant ceremonies, Charis shares her thoughts on how to write a wedding ceremony, how to write your vows, and how to ensure that it’s a smooth experience – especially for the shy and introverted.

When you consider how to write a wedding ceremony, what are the perfect elements a great one, and how do you personally service them?  

How to write wedding vows


Getting to know the couple well means they will have a great ceremony. At a wedding I did recently, a guest asked if I was a friend of the couples. This is the best compliment ever as it shows I really know them and reflected their story in an awesome way. 

How to write wedding vows

Do you recommend a process for couples to think about their vows content? 


I ask them if they have an idea about what they want to talk about. If not, then I give them some vow inspiration to look over and guide them along. I also read over the vows and offer advice and guidance. 

What are your best tips for couples that are shy at the idea of being vulnerable in front of their community? 

how to write wedding vows


I tell them to face each other, that way they are only seeing the face of their bestie.  If you are nervous, a reassured look can calm you down. I am also up there with them to reassure them and guide them through the process. 

How do you take the inner vibes of your couples and translate that into an overall wedding ceremony that’s meaningful to them and congruent to their vows? 

Laura in the incredible Suzanne Harward songbird gown also featured here.


When I meet my couples, we have a chat about their day, their expectations and the overall vibe they want their ceremony to take. Once we have chatted through their story, I send them a questionnaire with more comprehensive questions. I also give my clients the draft to look over, it reassures them.

In terms of their vows (see Jake writing his wedding vows), I cast my eyes over them to make sure they are both semi aligned. EG, if one vow is very funny, then I will go to the other person and tell them to weave in a little humour.

That way they are both balanced. 

How do you ensure that aside from the couple, their family and community is entertained or spoken to by the ceremony?

Suzanne Harward Songbird Gala Gown


I talk about family and friends in the ceremony. I also love engaging with people prior to the ceremony, especially the oldies and kids.

If there is a way to weave a few friends into the ceremony story, I love to do this and love the relatability of it. 

I see a lot of vows written the morning of the wedding. Brave! What is your advice on writing the vows ahead of time or in the moment on the day? 

How to write wedding vows

Laura and Walker looking super cinematic. See why I shoot film.


My advice is totally against this. Actually, I bully them into giving them to me prior. JK. If the couple wants me to have their vows, so they do not need to carry anything on the day of their wedding. I ask for the vows prior to the ceremony. I then populate them into the final draft.

My timeline on this is at least two weeks prior to the ceremony. Sometimes I get them the morning of.

However, most couples are pretty good with getting them to me on time. I also look over their vows prior to the ceremony.  

Long story short – don’t leave your vows until the last minute!

Your top three parting tips for couples looking to hire a celebrant? 


Follow your gut, trust the process and believe in your team. 

Find Charis White online (and hire her for your Melbourne elopement):

Charis White Celebrant Website
Charis White Celebrant Instagram

See here for how to plan wedding music.

Best modern wedding dresses - Brooke Tyson Ritual

Jun 12, 2020

I’ve been lucky to photograph love and ceremony on all continents, which means seeing so much of the worlds most incredible bridal design on brilliant lovers in all kids of places: these are 5 of the best modern wedding dresses i’ve had the pleasure of working with.

When you look at how Australian and New Zealand designers have to fight for a place at the table with smaller markets and at a geographical disadvantage to the rest of the world, it’s no surprise then that some of the most brilliant and forward-thinking designs have actually come from this corner of the globe as they place tradition a gentle second, and innovation first, pushing the craft of design past the edges.

And so, incidentally, these designers are all from Australia and New Zealand.

As an art-lover, a beautiful and thoughtfully designed gown is captivating to look at and brilliant to photograph (as a kid who grew up on death-metal and martial-arts, this isn’t exactly a sentence I ever thought i’d say).

This is a run-down of 5 of the most beautiful gowns i’ve had the pleasure of photographing.

Best Modern Wedding dresses:

  1. Brooke Tyson Ritual
  2. Suzanne Harward
  3. Alex Perry
  4. One Day Bridal
  5. Paolo Sebastian
  6. Jaime Lee Major

Brooke Tyson Ritual

Brooke Tyson Ritual is what happens when you have a curious kiwi, captivated by the world of cinema and nostalgia and with a childhood spent playing dressups, cast her hand to the fine art of bridal couture.

Brooke Tyson’s Ritual gowns shown here are the Flora gown, and the Luna gown, photographed on Franc on film, on a volcano in New Zealand. You can also view a full feature on Brooke Tyson Ritual here.

Best modern wedding gowns - Brooke Tyson Ritual
Best modern wedding gowns - Brooke Tyson Ritual
Best modern wedding gowns - Brooke Tyson Ritual

Find Brooke Tyson Ritual online:

Brooke Tyson Ritual website

Suzanne Harward

Suzanne Harward is a designer i’ve had the good fortune of working with several times, and you can see a feature on 3 of the best Suzanne Harward wedding dresses here too.

Suzanne Harward is an icon of the Australian bridal design scene, with a rich long history while always staying two steps ahead of the trends. Check out the impossibly brilliant songbird gown.

Suzanne Harward Songbird Gown
Suzanne Harward modern wedding dress
Suzanne Harward Songbird Gala Gown

Suzanne Harward songbird gown.

Suzanne Harward gown for Melbourne Registry office wedding portraits
Suzanne Harward gown for Melbourne Registry office wedding portraits
Suzanne Harward bridal gown at Newstead Butterland

Find Suzanne Harward online

Suzanne Harward website

Alex Perry

Alex Perry isn’t necessarily a name synonymous with bridal design – and this isn’t even a piece from his bridal collection – but that didn’t stop the forward-thinking Liv from adapting one of his other pieces for her wedding to Adam.

These two marvels are featured on Together Journal, where you can see even more glorious images of their day and her incredible sense of style.

Alex Perry Wedding gown
Alex Perry Wedding dress
Alex Perry Wedding dress
If you like this, check out more black and white wedding photos.
Alex Perry Wedding dress
Alex Perry Wedding gown
Alex Perry wedding gown

Find Alex Perry Bride online

Alex Perry Bride website

One Day Bridal

Founded by Kyha Simpson after tying the knot and wanting to bring something new to the industry, One Day Bridal. Designed and handmade in Melbourne, One Day Bridal are one of the early frontrunners of doing things differently, and as a result have inspired an industry-wide shift in risk-taking designs.

One Day Bridal wedding dress
One Day Bridal wedding dress

Find One Day Bridal online

One Day Bridal website

Paolo Sebastian

I hope i’m not the only one who, based on the brand name, initially thought Paolo Sebastian was some kind of lavish octogenarian European designer with over half a century of brilliant work under their belt.

Nope – it’s the work from the genius mind of an impossibly young designer, Paul Vasileff, straight out of Adelaide, Australia.

Paolo Sebastian gowns blend a nod to tradition offset with something resembling the top end of the disney playground of fantasy designs.

Best Modern wedding dress - Paolo Sebastian
Paolo Sebastian wedding gown
Best Modern wedding dress - Paolo Sebastian

Hannah wears Paolo Sebastian. The Royal Mail Hotel wedding of Hannah and Ben, alongside the inimitable Humdrum Films, is featured on Farewell Fiance,

Find Paolo Sebastian online

Paolo Sebastian website

Jaime Lee Major

Jaime Lee Majors designs are from another planet. The Fremantle / Perth designer made a name for herself cutting cloth for every celebrity under the sun, beginning initially with an epic gown for Kimbra right around the time of her career take-off.

Since then, Jaime Lee Major has used her progressive, artistic inspired approach to design gowns that push bridal to the very edge. Check out this incredible piece from the Fremantle wedding of Sarah and Dave.

Fremantle Perth Bridal Designer Jaime Lee Major
Fremantle Perth Bridal Designer Jaime Lee Major
Fremantle Perth Bridal Designer Jaime Lee Major
Fremantle Perth Bridal Designer Jaime Lee Major
Fremantle Perth Bridal Designer Jaime Lee Major
Fremantle Perth Bridal Designer Jaime Lee Major

Find Jaime Lee Major online

Jaime Lee Major on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jaimeleemajor

While you’re here, take a peep at these incredible modern wedding jumpsuits.

Suzanne Harward gown at Melbourne Registry wedding

Jun 9, 2020

If you’re getting married in Melbourne (or anywhere for that matter), it’s hard to go past our own hometown maestros, Suzanne Harward bridal gowns, for world-leading bridal design. In this post, we’ll look at a few of the best Suzanne Harward bridal gowns i’ve seen.

Based in Collingwood, the Suzanne Harward team are responsible for some of the most forward-thinking, design-minded pieces that are not only a joy to photograph (I might have a personal bias), but incredibly decadent pieces for brides.

Most importantly, each and every time I chat with a bride about their choice of gown, they end up falling over backwards in adoration for the team, and it’s pretty easy to see why.

I’ve been fortunate enough to photograph several fashion-forward brides over the years and got to photograph the best modern wedding dresses around – which much of the time happens to be a Suzanne Harward.

Here, i’ve picked three of them, that offer a quick look at what the Suzanne Harward team can do a across the whole spectrum: from elegantly classic, to something from another planet.

All photographs below captured by and remain copyright of Briars Atlas.

Suzanne Harward bridal gowns: The Bluebird Gala Gown

Suzanne Harward Floral gown

Laura and Walker:
Category: From another planet
Gown: The Bluebird Gala gown also: Songbird gown

Laura’s Suzanne Harward gown knocked my socks off as soon as I walked into their Daylesford bridal prep house. Hanging from a rustic door, it was adorned with the most incredibly bright florals etched into it, with gorgeous soft peach/pink tulle layers.

Laura and Walker were married at the Daylesford convent, a beautiful historic location that made for a perfect contrast to Lauras gown.

Suzanne Harward Bluebird Gala Gown
Suzanne Harward Bluebird Gala Gown
Suzanne Harward Bluebird Gala Gown

I’ve just gotta step in here: how incredible is that speckled light above? You can find that yourself by heading to the Daylesford Convent Gallery.

Suzanne Harward Bluebird Gala Gown
aSuzanne Harward Bluebird Gala GownSuzanne Harward Songbird Gala Gown
Suzanne Harward Bluebird Gala Gown
Suzanne Harward Bluebird Gala Gown
Suzanne Harward Bluebird Gala Gown

Treats. Always. Win. Laura and Walker invited their beautiful little scallywag Bonnie along, and she stayed for the entire day and partied well into the evening at the Daylesford Convent.

Suzanne Harward Bluebird Gala Gown
Suzanne Harward Bluebird Gala Gown
Suzanne Harward Bluebird Gala Gown
Suzanne Harward Bluebird Gala Gown

Want to see more of Laura and Walker? They are featured in print, having been published inside issue #19 of Together Journal. Already got your Suzanne Harward gown and want me to photograph it? You can enquire to hire me here.


Suzanne Harward bridal gown

Iro and Alex:
Category: Somewhere from here to there
Gown: Eden (no longer available)

Iro’s stunningly detailed dress is a masterclass in modern classic design. I like to think that I have this gown to thank for this image landing me as a category finalist for International Wedding Photographer of the Year 2018 – a beautiful moment in bridal prep accomodation in rural Victoria, before her wedding to Alex at Newstead Butterland (also featured here on this post about Castlemaine wedding venues).

Suzanne Harward bridal gown at Newstead Butterland
Suzanne Harward bridal gown at Newstead Butterland
Suzanne Harward bridal gown at Newstead Butterland

What they won’t necessarily tell you on the Suzanne Harward website, is that no matter how gloriously decadent their gowns are, they are able to withstand a champagne spray from even the most enthusiastic friend.

Suzanne Harward bridal gown at Newstead Butterland
Suzanne Harward bridal gown at Newstead Butterland
Suzanne Harward bridal gown at Newstead Butterland

Want to see more of Iro and Alex? They are featured here in Together Journal. Already got your Suzanne Harward gown and want me to photograph it? You can enquire to hire me here.


Suzanne Harward gown at Melbourne Registry wedding

Tash and Jacob:
Category: Elegant modern classic
Gown: White Look 5

Just when you think that you can’t be beautifully surprised by a new take on subtle classicism, Suzanne Harward come out with this sleek, elegant gem. Natasha and Jacob were married at the Melbourne registry office, and we spent a little time traipsing around some of my most favourite, secret spots in the city, with gorgeous soft light that played off against the simple shapes of the gown.

These brilliant humans are featured on my website here.

Suzanne Harward gown for Melbourne Registry office wedding portraits
Suzanne Harward gown for Melbourne Registry office wedding portraits
Suzanne Harward gown for Melbourne Registry office wedding portraits
Suzanne Harward gown for Melbourne Registry office wedding portraits
Suzanne Harward gown for Melbourne Registry office wedding portraits
Suzanne Harward gown for Melbourne Registry office wedding portraits
Suzanne Harward gown for Melbourne Registry office wedding portraits

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed this roundup of the best Suzanne Harward wedding dresses (in my humble opinion – don’t let that stop you poring over their incredible range on their website below).

Where to Find Suzanne Harward
www.suzanneharward.com
73 Johnston St, Collingwood VIC 3066

All images taken by Briars Atlas. If you’d like to make an enquiry for me to photograph your wedding, head here.

Suzanne harward songbird gown

Apr 8, 2019

The Suzanne Harward Songbird gown is an impossibly brilliant piece of design by the crew at Suzanne Harward. Featuring embroidered tulle, a circular skirt, and incredible floral and bluebird details from top to bottom.

I photographed the wedding of Laura and Walker held at Daylesford Convent, and this post will feature just images of Laura in her incredible gown. Their dog Bonnie came along for the ride (as in, the entire ride, start to finish, including dance-floor raving at the incredible Daylesford Convent) and what followed was a wild day of rain-dodging and glorious times with their community at one of the gems of regional Victoria.

To see their full wedding in detail, keep your eyes on Together Journal, where it will be featured.

See the Songbird gown also featured here in Modern Wedding Dresses.

Suzanne Harward Songbird Gown hanging
Suzanne Harward Songbird Gown hanging
Suzanne Harward Songbird Gown bridal preparation
Romantic black and white wedding portrait
Bride with her dog at wedding
Suzanne Harward Songbird Gown at Daylesford Convent
Suzanne Harward Songbird Gown at Daylesford Convent
Daylesford Convent Sunset portraits
Suzanne Harward Songbird Gown at Daylesford Convent
Suzanne Harward Songbird Gown at Daylesford Convent
Suzanne Harward Songbird Gown at Daylesford Convent
Suzanne Harward Songbird Gown at Daylesford Convent Reception
Suzanne Harward Songbird Gown at Daylesford Convent
Suzanne Harward Songbird Gown at Daylesford Convent
Suzanne Harward Songbird Gown at Daylesford Convent
Suzanne Harward Songbird Gown at Daylesford Convent
Suzanne Harward Songbird Gown at Daylesford Convent
Suzanne Harward Songbird Gown
Suzanne Harward Songbird Gown
Bride with her dog
Suzanne Harward Songbird Gown

Enquire about Suzanne Harward Songbird gown

Suzanne Harward website: https://www.suzanneharward.com/

Looking for another incredible wedding gown? Check out this modern wedding dress by Jaime Lee Major.

This might be,
the start of,
something