For this Hazelbrook couple, being surrounded by rolling countryside and their loved ones made their wedding day perfect.

ALL PHOTOS: Sue White Photography

“We looked at Seclusions and fell in love – the whole place was so ‘us’, right down to the last detail.”

It was love at first sight for Ellie van Megen, who was in Year 12 when she had a chance encounter with Hayden Hofland. “My first car needed a CD player installed and my Dad knew a mechanic from our local Rural Fire Service, so asked him to come and help,” she says. “Hayden and I spent around three hours in the car, soldering wires and getting to know each other. I thought he was funny, down to earth and a bit cheeky.”

Keen to catch up again, Ellie did some detective work and discovered that, like her, Hayden had lived in Hazelbrook all of his life. She left a ‘Thank You’ note at his door that asked if she could help out on his next car job. They met up a week later.

After four years together, the pair became engaged in March 2015. “I had missed Valentine’s Day that year because I was in Western Australia fighting fires, so on my return I surprised Ellie with a romantic weekend away,” Hayden explains. “We drove to Berry in a blue 1966 Mustang and stayed in a beautiful room overlooking Kangaroo Valley.”

Hayden proposed the following day by producing the ring and simply asking Ellie: ‘Will you marry me?’

Setting their wedding date for 21 April 2018, Ellie and Hayden had 18 months to plan their big day. “The first thing we did was book the venue,” says Ellie. We looked at Seclusions and fell in love – the whole place was so ‘us’, right down to the last detail.”

Located in Rydal, 40 minutes west of Katoomba, Seclusions Blue Mountains is set on 20 acres and boasts north-facing views of rolling countryside and Mount Walker. The property also houses six boutique spa cabins, allowing wedding parties to be accommodated onsite.

“Having the whole property to ourselves meant we had lots of options, and everyone could flow from one location to another with ease.”

Although the venue was perfect, it wasn’t all smooth sailing in the lead-up to the wedding. “I had quit my full-time job to start a business, then we lost a friend to cancer,” Ellie explains. “Hayden had a trip to hospital, the original caterers we booked told us they couldn’t do the job and, close to the day, my childhood friend Ellen – one of my bridesmaids – had emergency surgery and was unable to attend.”

Despite the challenges, the couple forged ahead with help from family and friends. “The day ended up being perfect,” says Hayden. “It was warm and sunny with a cool night, which we enjoyed around the fire pit. And we had the wonderful Evelyn from Blue Mountains Celebrant conduct our ceremony – she made it a fun experience for everyone.”

The ceremony was held under the wisteria-laden arbour, with all 95 guests heading to the Pavilion for the reception and then into the barn for dancing and dessert. “Having the whole property to ourselves meant we had lots of options, and everyone could flow from one location to another with ease,” Ellie adds.

To represent how they first met, the couple had two old fire trucks parked on the hill at Seclusions. “The trucks also symbolised our joint love of community and old vehicles,” says Ellie. “We also included a few traditional dances throughout the reception to celebrate my Greek heritage.”

As for their standout moments, Hayden says it was marrying his best friend and watching Ellie walk down the aisle. “For me it was seeing Hayden’s expression as I walked towards him, and he had a few tears as we said our vows, which made me love him even more.”

This real wedding was featured in Blue Mountains Love magazine Issue #5.

VENUE Seclusions Blue Mountains, Rydal
CELEBRANT Evelyn Calaunan of Blue Mountains Celebrant
BRIDE’S DRESS Anna Campbell worn with shoes from Birdsnest and a handmade belt
BRIDESMAIDS Dresses and accessories from Model Chic worn with Zulily boots
FLOWER GIRLS & PAGE BOYS All clothing and shoes from Zulily
JEWELLERY Handmade necklace, Lovis earrings and Prouds The Jewellers bangle
GROOM & GROOMSMEN Suits from Connor, Orange, worn with Betts shoes and cufflinks from Teddy Sinclair, Leura
WEDDING RINGS Michael Hill, Penrith
MAKEUP Makeup by Marina Chiellini
HAIR Samantha Morely
FLOWERS Native flowers purchased from Sydney Flower Markets and arranged by Ellie and Hayden
CAKE Caramel mud cake by Nikki’s Cake Creations, Springwood
CATERING Buffet by Mountain Bites Catering, Blaxland
MUSIC Ellie and Hayden’s Spotify playlist
INVITATIONS Designed by Ellie and Hayden using Canva
PHOTOS Sue White of Sue White Photography (formerly White Wedding Photographers)