Nothing was going to rain on Natasha and Yonatan’s wedding at splendid Mali Brae Farm; even looming thunderstorms couldn’t dampen the spirits. Photographer Ben Newman captured the couple’s beautiful marital festival of culture, colour, and of course, love.
Natasha Daga and Yonatan Bley moved to Sydney from different corners of the world to study. Natasha, who grew up in Dubai and Yonatan, who comes from Germany and now works in telecommunications management, first crossed paths more than a decade ago as students at Sydney University’s International House.
‘We both moved to Sydney in February 2008 and became friends a few months after. We ended up being best friends for about a year until we started dating in August 2009,’ says Natasha, who studied medicine and is now a doctor.
Friendship was the basis of their growing attraction, recalls Yonatan although theirs was a partnership that always felt right.
‘Having known each other for so long now, looking back it’s difficult to pinpoint a specific thing that drew us together,’ he says.
‘I think though a solid friendship has been our foundation and I feel like we can trust and love each other unconditionally. Even early on in our relationship, we each felt like we had found the perfect partner.’
During her medical training, Natasha lived a year on placement in the Southern Highlands, and the couple spent weekends together around Bowral and Moss Vale. In November 2916 they became engaged on the Three Peaks hike in Kangaroo Valley. Later the venue for their wedding was agreed upon as easily as Natasha said yes to Yonatan’s proposal.
‘We just love everything about the Southern Highlands and wanted to our outdoor two day wedding here,’ says Natasha.
‘We wanted an outdoor summery wedding so the greenery, the beautiful reception hall, the fact we could hold our ceremony in the stunning grounds and have our photographs taken near the lake, and mostly meeting Mali Brae’s owners, Shelley and Greg Dark sealed the deal for us. It was crucial to us to make it as personal as possible and they helped us to achieve that.’
With guests flying in from Hong Kong, the UK and USA and also from across Australia, Natasha and Yonatan were understandably keen everything went to plan on their big day. But there was one factor completely out of anyone’s hands; the Highlands weather.
‘The weather was incredibly unpredictable,’ says Natasha. ‘The last few days prior to the wedding, we kept a really close eye on the weather forecast, and with thunderstorms predicted all our carefully arranged plans had to be changed to our Plan B.’
Wedding decorator Dee from Shagun Events pulled out all stops to face off the storms by making necessary changing with their planned decorations, and Natasha and Yonatan hired a marquee and bought umbrellas for their guests.
‘Dee was absolutely amazing and went above and beyond to change all decorations on the last day but all our suppliers were incredible helping out at the last moment to ensure our day was as perfect,’ says Natasha.
Many of the 85 guests also dressed in traditional Indian saree, kurti, lehenga and sherwani, and Natasha’s exquisite wedding dress was bought all the way from India by her Mum, who also picked out her green sari and jewellery for the first day of wedding celebrations.
‘Neither of us are religious so even though we had a Hindu ceremony, the reason we had an Indian wedding was for cultural reasons,’ explains Yonatan.
‘We wanted lots of colour, music, Indian outfits and really, an excuse to have a two day wedding.’
Natasha says her favourite moment during the whole celebration came early.
‘My favourite moment was peeking through the window in the lovely cottage at Mali Brae to see Yonatan being carried by his friends and family to music and Indian drums played by our friends. This is an Indian tradition called Baarat.’
Yonatan will never forget Natasha walking into the Pavilion at Mali Brae for their ceremony which was presided over by a Hindu priest.
‘We were so unbelievably happy that nothing mattered on the
day and our Plan B was absolutely stunning. All our guests had a wonderful time and our families finally got a chance to come together and celebrate which was so important to us. More than anything, I married my best friend, so there is nothing I would change about the day in retrospect, not even the thunderstorms which ended up making our wedding even more spectacular.’
The couple honeymooned in Borneo for two weeks and one year on happily married newlyweds, look back on their summer Highlands wedding with great affection.
‘We will always remember the immense amount of effort put in by families, suppliers and our friends into making that day what it was,’ says Natasha.
Mali Brae Farm, Moss Vale
Ben Newman Photography
Binita Tanna, Mumbai
Poonam Ahuja and Poonam Bhatiya, Mumbai
Pandit Rami Sivan
Makeup & Hair Artist
June Rose Bridal Makeup & Hair
Bonnie’s Yonatan’s sister did the playlists. Friend Jacob was DJ