Professional zookeepers Kylie and Matt Radnidge were determined to marry at an outdoor venue with plenty of room for dog Jess and their 11 nieces and nephews. It was love at first sight when they found Growwild Wildflower Farm near Mittagong. Photographer Thomas Stewart’s pictures capture their joyful day.
Kylie and Matt Radnidge are not the sort of people who like a lot of attention. As long-time zookeepers at Matt’s family’s business, Symbio Wildlife Park at Helensburgh between Sydney and Wollongong, their days are spent caring for the zoo’s 500 full-time residents.
‘Working within a wildlife park is very rewarding but hard work emotionally, mentally and physically,’ says Kylie. ‘It’s a job you can’t switch off from as caring for animals is a 365-day commitment. Symbio is not only our office, we live on-site so it’s our home too. Work is not a job. It’s a lifestyle.’
Kylie joined the zoo in 2008, and the pair became an item in 2011.
‘Matt was a great mentor and a hard worker. I always admired him. We were both dedicated to work, and had a lot in common. What we didn’t realise was many of our nearest and dearest had been waiting for us to date for years.’
The couple became engaged while on safari in South Africa. Once home, they began looking for relaxed, casual, dog-friendly venues.
‘After receiving quote after quote from expensive venues, we were beginning to doubt we could afford a wedding. We also knew we wanted an outdoor wedding in a more casual setting, with either a barn or marquee.’
They came across Growwild by chance. A visit to the farm near Alpine, ten minutes from Mittagong and an hour’s drive from Sydney, ticked all their boxes.
‘From the moment we turned into the driveway we knew it was the place,’ recalls Kylie. ‘Matt particularly loves Australian natives so everything about Growwild was exactly what we wanted and more.’
Growwild is a working native flower farm that supplies the Sydney market, started by locals Peter and Sue Stewart in 2006. Set on 25 acres it has a barn, a marquee and plenty of space for weddings. Importantly, says Kylie, Sue and Peter accommodated Jess, their kelpie.
‘We knew we wouldn’t be able to incorporate any animals from Symbio in our big day, but we had to have Jess because she’s a big part of lives. Peter even helped look after her during the ceremony.’
The couple booked Growwild for three days, enabling family and friends to help set up, and pack down the day after the wedding.
‘Growwild let us create what we wanted,’ says Kylie. ‘We didn’t have the funds for a stylist, so everyone mucked in and helped bring our ideas to life. Nothing was formal. We all spent the morning getting ready together, and we did bridal photographs before the ceremony so we could relax afterwards. It was just a really wonderful day. I think our family and friends loved it almost as much as we did.’
Growwild, 916 Old Hume Highway, growwild.com.au
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