https://www.hilarycam.com.au/Mark and Erika de Riviere’s wedding at Bendooley Estate, Berrima was a hot affair amid last year’s bushfires. Photographer Hilary Cam was there to capture their joyous wedding heat.
SOME love can take years to smoulder, flicker and catch alight. Ask Mark and Erika de Riviere.
“We met in Year 9 and started off as best friends,’ recalls Erika, a clinical nurse educator.
“We always kept in contact, even after we graduated and we were about 19 when we realised there was something more and that was that.”
The couple, who live in western Sydney, found their budding union was helped by their commonalities.
“We soon realised we are each other’s perfect match,” says Mark, general manager of ABC Products.
“We had the same love for travel and the same goals for the future.”
On New Year’s Day 2019 in Paris under the Eiffel Tower, Mark proposed to Erika. After saying ‘yes’, her thought soon turned to Bendooley Estate.
“Years ago, probably in 2014/15, I came across a wedding photo that Hilary Cam took of the Book Barn at Bendooley Estate. I instantly fell in love and throughout the years, I never felt the same about any venue,” Erika says.
“After Mark and I got engaged, I started looking at other venues and nothing really hit it for me. We knew we wanted to have a convenient wedding for our guests in one location where they didn’t have to travel or wait between the ceremony and reception. We also wanted to make sure everyone was fed straight after the ceremony.”
The couple made a visit to Bendooley Estate, just two months after becoming engaged, and seeing The Stables sealed the deal.
“We wanted an open, rustic and barn-like feel for the reception and The Stables ticked all the boxes for us,” says Mark.
“It felt warm and didn’t need much décor to make it look beautiful. We also wanted a good meal and had heard nothing but great things about Bendooley’s wedding menu. We looked at The Stables while we were at Bendooley and that was it. Erika fell in love! We knew it had to be it.”
At the time they booked their wedding date December 22, Erika and Mark gave little thought to the possible summer weather or conditions, rather “we thought it would be a good time as guests wouldn’t need to take work off as it was Christmas break”, says Erika.
However, as they travelled to prepare for their Sunday wedding, the Southern Highlands was in the grip of catastrophic fire conditions on several fronts.
“The Saturday before the wedding, it was over 40 degrees and the roads were closed because of the bushfires. We had rehearsals and could barely breathe in the weather. We were so shocked because we thought the Southern Highlands never gets that hot,” says Mark.
“But in the evening the roads opened up and on the day of the wedding, it was a nice 23 degrees day. It was actually a little bit chilly, so everything just worked out for us.”
Despite the fiery conditions, the couple’s 121 guests including five international attendees, all arrived safely and were on hand to see Erika, in a stunning Pallas Couture dress, walk down the outside courtyard aisle to Mark.
“Mark and I will always remember the ceremony and despite having more than 100 people present, we genuinely felt like time stood still and it was just us,” says Erika.
“Mark was crying hysterically, which made everyone else cry and I think keeping it unplugged, by asking everyone to put away their phones and devices, really helped everyone be in the moment with us.”
Ceremony over, Mark and Erika’s guests mingled and enjoyed champagne and canapes and outside games, while the bridal party had some shots taken with some of the more rural neighbours.
“No, the cows were not fazed by any of us at all,’ laughs Erika. “If anything, we were scared of them. They were so calm.”
Mingling over, the wedding guests dined on Atlantic salmon, slow-roasted lamb or roast pork belly and a Bendooley dessert bar with eight choices including prune and Armagnac custard tarts, vanilla bean panna cotta and spiced blueberries and pistachios.
“Bendooley offers a menu tasting for the bride and groom free of charge so we were able to customise the menu as we wanted,” says Mark.
After dinner, the wedding party got down to the serious business of celebrating.
“We had an excellent DJ and we just loved how everything was in one place,” says Erika.
“We were able to just step out of the reception for the sunset shots we wanted and we also loved how open The Stables is, which allowed for some great dancing into the night.”
Later, the couple spent their first night as Mr and Mrs at Bendooley’s Patrick White Cottage.
“I will never forget the day,’ says Mark, “in particular the moment Erika got to the end of the aisle and stood beside me.”
On Boxing Day, the newlyweds travelled for their honeymoon to the Maldives, where they spent New Years’ Day. It was a perfect ending to a wonderful start to their married life.
“Our wedding day was everything we ever dreamt of,” says Erika. “From my dream dress, to the florals, to the venue, to the music and the food. Everything was the way we wanted it to be and Bendooley was absolutely amazing and made sure it was the wedding of our dreams.”
The Stables, Bendooley Estate, Berrima
Groom’s suit and groomsmen
M.J. Bale Australia
Black Ribbon Desserts
Rochelle Buttenshaw Florals
Married by Matty
Bless Khin Beauty BKB