It is said that your wedding day is one of the happiest days of your life.

But what if a loved one is no longer present to walk beside you, hold your hand and offer their love and support on your special day?

When Mel Coulstock was planning her wedding to now-husband Gary, she knew that honouring her mother’s spirit was a must.

“We were married on October 27 last year,” Mel says with a smile in her voice.

“We had it planned, and then postponed two years in row. Finally last year we said, ‘regardless of what happens with COVID, we are not waiting anymore’. It was always that date. It was super special as that was my mum’s birthday. She died at the age of 60, overnight and completely unexpected. That is why that date is so important.”

Believe it or not, Mel’s mum made sure her daughter knew she was there in spirit to oversee the celebrations.

“Mum died nine years ago. The kids were little. They were super close to mum and really missed her,” Mel tells salt.

“I said to them at the time, ‘whenever you see a rainbow, no matter if you are sad or happy, know that Grandma is walking beside you in that time’.

The venue

“On my wedding day, it was a beautiful hot day. It was so hot. By the time we had the ceremony, the sky was overcast and clouds had come over. By the reception it was raining and there was a little storm. All of my friends kept coming inside and saying, ‘there’s a rainbow’. It was a double rainbow too. It was extremely significant.’’

Although Gary never had the chance to meet his mother-in-law, he understands the value Mel places on family, which is why he chose to propose in a large and festive way.

It was Christmas 2019 and the couple were celebrating with their extended families, including Mel’s three children, and Gary’s daughter.

“I am Christmas crazy. A lot Christmas crazy,” Mel laughs. “We had talked about getting engaged, but I didn’t see it coming. All the family were there… Gary’s parents, siblings, kids, the lot. I knew exactly what presents were under the tree.

“I looked back and noticed one present left. I was looking at the present and thinking ‘what is this?’. My dad came over, bent down and picked up this present. He gave it to Gaz and before I realised what was happening, he was on bended knee.”

Mel and Gary were married at the charming Montville Chapel in front of around 100 guests. They chose to celebrate with a reception at the beautiful Flaxton Gardens.

“One of the things we were super keen on was that everyone had an amazing time, one big party,” Mel tells salt. “I think we were the last to leave. We used every single minute at Flaxton. It was stunning.”

The couple opted for a romantic theme featuring natural shades of pink and white, with “lots and lots” of flowers – peonies, roses and white orchids.

“We added a couple of personal touches,” Mel says. “One was the date, and the other one was the orchids. My mum loved orchids. We had the white orchids flown in. They were really beautiful.”

The reception was held in the venue’s Winery function space where the guests danced the night away under a ceiling of fairy lights and fresh flowers.

There was no stress, no ‘bridezilla’ moment – just a lot of love and laughter, even when the bride was 45 minutes late to the ceremony.

“The car broke down. It was hilarious. This random guy pulled over and helped us push it off the road. The guests didn’t find it funny sitting in the chapel on that super hot day. The limo that was taking the girls came back and drove me. I was like, oh well, that’s so funny,” Mel says with a laugh.

“Life happens. The heat of the day affected the flowers, but the [florist] girls did amazing with what they had. You can’t control the weather. I said to every single supplier the week before my wedding that I would leave it all with them. This is what they do every single week. Don’t be a bridezilla, just let it flow. What is meant to be, will be.

“My only tip for a bride to be is to take your glasses if you need them! I wear glasses for reading. It didn’t dawn on me to take my glasses and I had to borrow someone’s glasses to read the ceremony.

“I would do my wedding day over and over again.”

And the best part?

“Getting married to my husband, and saying I do,” Mel says with a smile.

THE VENUE

Flaxton Gardens is one of the Sunshine Coast’s premier wedding venues. Nestled in the lush hinterland and offering sweeping coastal views, it hosts luxury weddings and events. Couples are assigned a professional wedding planner to help design their perfect wedding, with options ranging from a Tuscan-themed terrace celebration to an elegant marquee that offers views of the night sky above.

“I fell in love with the venue,” Mel says. “I wouldn’t change a thing at Flaxton. The wedding planner Alicia was so easy to deal with, and organised. She was the bomb. There was no reason for stress.”

Visit flaxtongardens.com.au