When the long-awaited time came to exchange their vows at beautiful Waldara Farm in Oberon, Renée and Felicity didn’t horse around.
PHOTOS: Pepper Image
“We love the Australian countryside and wanted to create a rustic yet elegant wedding.”
Cupid’s arrow, in the form of an accurately aimed paint ball, left indelible marks on the hearts of policewomen Renée and Felicity Baird-Jones. “I shot Felicity (Fliss) in the neck first and by the final round we were the last two standing,” Renée recalls. “Fliss then inflicted as many shots on me as possible and we still joke that she was hit with Cupid’s arrow.”
Renée was 20 years old at the time and had recently joined the New South Wales Police Force, working as a Constable at Campbelltown Police Station. Felicity was 29, running her own horse business, which involved breaking in horses, conducting horse transportations and operating as a farrier.
“Over time we developed strong feelings for each other but neither of us let on,” says Renée. “Then about six months after the paint-ball game, Fliss confronted me with how she felt. I panicked at first and told her we would never be together because I was straight! But the following day, I drove to her place and that was the beginning of our history together.”
“I booked a private horse ride and when we stopped for a picnic, I got down on one knee and proposed”, Renee remembers.
The soulmates spent the next seven happy years together (during which time Felicity also joined the Police Force) but yearned to make their relationship official. “Marriage equality was still a way off for Australia,” Renée remembers. “We talked about an illegal wedding, but this just confused my family, who thought we could go to jail!”
In January 2017, Renée surprised Fliss with a proposal at the luxurious Emirates One & Only Resort, Wolgan Valley. “I booked a private horse ride and when we stopped for a picnic, I got down on one knee and proposed,” she remembers. “Fliss said ‘Yes’ and I was so emotional that I was shaking and crying.”
As soon as legislation on same-sex marriage was passed, the couple started planning their special day. “We wanted to arrive at the ceremony on our horses, so we needed to find a venue that would cater for them,” says Felicity. “We love the Australian countryside and wanted to create a rustic yet elegant wedding.”
After a wide search, the pair discovered Waldara Farm at Oberon and knew they didn’t need to look any further. “Not only did Waldara have a big paddock for our horses, it also had stables and a beautiful timber barn for the reception,” Felicity explains. DIY decorations allowed Renée and Felicity to theme the venue their way and the long, tree-lined drive provided a perfect entrance for the girls to arrive on horseback.
The big day started out cold and rainy and Renée confesses she was stressing out about the weather ruining their wedding. The thoughtful pair had provided knitted blankets and throws for guests to keep warm, arranged in a wooden crate with a sign saying, ‘To have and to hold in case you get cold’. Thankfully though, about an hour before the ceremony the rain stopped and the sun came out.
The ceremony, conducted by Sue Jack of Truly Yours, was held on an island accessed by a cobblestone bridge. While family and friends waited on the island, Felicity and Renée rode down the drive and across the bridge with their chiffon dresses draped elegantly over the horses. After dismounting, the happy couple exchanged vows under a white gazebo decorated with more chiffon and native floral arrangements. Cheers of delight followed emotional vows and the signing of the marriage certificate as Mrs and Mrs Baird-Jones triumphantly raised their bouquets with their hands clasped. Then it was on to the reception.
The carefully curated, rustic-themed reception was held in Waldara’s purpose-built barn, where 100 guests enjoyed a magical spectacle of fairy lights and flowers. Candle-lit horseshoes and strings of lights were draped through the rafters and a three-metre-long antique ladder, suspended from the central roof beam and filled with native flowers, provided the wow factor.
After enjoying a sumptuous two-course meal, speeches, a dessert buffet and the traditional cake cutting, the pair shared their first dance as Mrs and Mrs to Ben E King’s ‘Stand by Me’. They were then joined on the dance floor by Renée’s father and Felicity’s mother, for a special father/daughter and mother/daughter dance to Otis Redding’s ‘My Girl’, and soon everyone was up dancing. The party didn’t stop until midnight, when a flotilla of buses came to collect the guests and transport them back to their accommodation.
As for the mountains backdrop, the pair couldn’t have asked for better. “Felicity and I have always enjoyed spending time in the Blue Mountains,” Renée says. “We had our first date at the Three Sisters, got engaged in Wolgan Valley and married in Oberon. “The natural beauty and tranquil atmosphere attracted us to the region and choosing to marry in April allowed us to make the most of the beautiful colours of autumn.”
The location may have been easy to choose but not so a highlight from their big day. “The whole day was a highlight – from the moment we woke at 7am to the chirpy voice of talented hair-and-makeup artist Paul Bedggood, to when we saw each other in our wedding dresses,” says Renée.
“Being able to ride our stunning, well-behaved horses to the ceremony where we were met with beaming smiles, through to being legally married and then having the best party ever, was just magic!” Felicity adds. “It was a day we will never forget.”
This real wedding was featured in Blue Mountains Love magazine Issue #5.
VENUE Waldara Farm, Oberon
CELEBRANT Sue Jack of Truly Yours
DRESSES Both brides designed and bought fabric for their dresses and then had them made by True Love Bridal Couture, Cabramatta. Dresses worn with Ariat knee-high riding boots
JEWELLERY Swarovski earrings, Tiffany & Co necklace, Emporio Armani watch and Gucci bracelet
WEDDING RINGS Evans and Son Jewellers, Englorie Park
HAIR & MAKEUP Paul Bedggood, Katoomba
FLOWERS Blooms purchased from Sydney Flower Markets and arranged by Renee and Felicity
CAKE made with love by a family friend
CATERING Felicity Thompson of Cooking Capers
CEREMONY MUSIC Steve Crocker
ENTERTAINMENT Steve Crocker and band
TRANSPORT FOR BRIDES Renee and Felicity rode their own horses
TRANSPORT FOR GUESTS Oberon Mini Buses
PHOTOS & VIDEOGRAPHY Pepper Image