Luke and Damien’s ‘White Luxe Country Wonderland Million Dollar Wedding’. It’s announced they are back from their honeymoon and their wedding is soon to be seen on Channel 7 show Extreme Weddings later this year. A million dollar wedding is outside the reach for many, however this extravagant dream wedding was reality for Luke Williams, 31 and Damien Kolbas, 29, on March 23rd 2019, bestowed ‘Australia’s Wedding of the Year’.
Planning the Million Dollar Wedding
I remember talking to Luke later in the year of 2018, when everything was hush hush. All of the elaborate planning for your extravagant no-expense spared wedding was coming together brilliantly. We initially thought it would be held over two or three days, and the lavish wedding was over four days.
“When save the dates went out it was 2 days so kind of normal. By the time the invites were getting printed it was 3 days but when we hand delivered all 175 invites it was a 4 day extravaganza – we thought why not!!! Day 1 was meeting everyone, day 2 the big ‘ I DO’ day, day 3 recovery and ending day 4 with a fun day.”
The Happy Couple
We know that Luke is a professional wedding design planner, and is the creative director for LUKdesign & events, and Damien a childcare director, and professionally trained ballroom dancer Luke has an impressive 12 year retail executive background working his way up through the ranks of leading companies in the country. At the same time he studied a double degree of landscape architecture and environmental science at the university of Canberra which he completed in 2014. Damien dappled in university in Newcastle doing commerce, arts and in the final units of his early childhood teaching degree whilst also being a professionally trained ballroom dancer competing all over the world for Australia. After finishing uni Luke moved to Newcastle to be near family and Damien born and bred in Newcastle is where they met by mutual friends. Both in separate relationships they got on very well and socialized regularly for 2.5 years before fate would bring them together as boyfriends. 6 weeks into the relationship they did 2 months in Europe and this only made them stronger. Fast track over 2 years in 2016 – buying a house, opening business’s and starting a life together saw the subject of engagement come about. Although not legal in Australia at the time the deal was Luke initiated the romance so Damien had to propose.
“At this stage we were thinking Spain for an intimate close group of family and friends. Wow our wedding was quite the event being lucky that the law got passed for same sex in Dec 2017.”
Damien is polish in heritage so everything happens slowly – Luke is prompt and on the go go go. Damien was looking at venues and rings the very weekend Luke was taking him out for an early Birthday lunch so he thought. All very hush hush but catching a sea plane to a hatted restaurant on the Hawkesbury was the start of the proposal event. After their meal they got some pics on the wharf and as Damien walked away he turned around to Luke on one knee holding a blue box that was sparkling inside. Returning that evening to a suite at the Hilton and dinner with close friends it was 100% a day to remember.
“Planning a wedding is fun but we struggled after seeing over 40 wedding planners to find someone keen and up to the job of our wedding event. We laugh now but at one stage we were going to have 3 different wedding planners do our wedding so it was manageable but Luke ended up doing it all and be the groom haha! So why not open a brand.” And that is what Luke did after all when he sets his mind to something he makes it work and succeed. So from 1 day to 4 days, the planning of their own wedding happened over less than 4 months – it was easy and stress free. The big secret is having amazing suppliers and to be organized and structured in every aspect of your dealings. Fast track 2 months post their wedding Luke has a part time assistant and over 45 weddings secured for 2019 and 2020 – what a way to bounce into the event industry!
Venue Built From Blank Canvas
The location was at family owned B&B Palmyra, Forster, NSW, the setting has stunning, tranquil bushland, making it the perfect backdrop for your ‘White Luxe Country Wonderland Wedding Event’. The grounds of the Estate offer complete privacy where a coastal retreat meets a country experience. Luke, being a creative director of LUKdesign & events and a renowned wedding design planner, used his uni degree to design, plan and build the grounds of Palmyra from the long grass paddock.
“You didn’t walk thru by fear of snakes to what you see in the pictures today. We had just 12 months to transform the design dream into the magnitude of unique spaces the guests that visit Palmyra experience today. We knew we had all 17 acres to use and the gentle slope made for amazing vistas to be accentuated with smart design principles.”
“When we discuss the ceremony the couples goal was to WOW all the guests. The design was of enormous proportions & on a grand scale in the country setting of Palmyra. 150 metres of imported luxe Columbian roses formed a curvy dual walkway from the house to the ceremony stage. The stage was white acrylic framed with a 15 meter white floral structure that supported the 250k individual Swarovski custom curtains. When the sun hit the crystals it just sparkled like you could only imagine – the weather in the wedding day was spectacular and OMG did they make a statement. Think there was more bling in the 15 meter wall than most Swarovski shops as they only have a 2.5 meter wall haha! The weight of all the crystals required string truss systems to hold it all up safely so we had bespoke frame covers made for the uprights which featured over 1 million diamantes – they were absolutely stunning in the sunlight also. The celebrant had the guests participating in the ceremony doing vows and the like – the energy was superb! Honestly the engagement party was more than most do for a wedding so guests expected something nice but the comments were beyond words and facial expressions were priceless at their amazement.”
Four Day Extravaganza
As part of the planning Damien and Luke envisioned that their 320 guests would be entertained & pampered over the four days. The guests each packed nine smart casual outfits for this grand event. There were over one hundred glamping tents for guests, a wonderful white jumping castle for the bridal party, photography shoots, fine dining experiences, luxury wine tastings, spectacular fireworks, and so much more.
“The event base designed of only the best guest experience. From the moment the guests arrived until they departed we want memories and experiences to be only the best and unforgettable.”
“Day 1 saw all guests be transported to a beautiful winery – Bago Maze. The laughs on the journey were endless, the new friends that were made between guests very evident but the idea of mingling and getting to know everyone was achieved from all the planning. The food for lunch was delicious whilst enjoying the views of the valley and maze sipping on delightful wine selections – guests were relaxed and enjoying every bit of the experience. The funny bit was after lunch guests all had to navigate through the maze – its 2 acres, over 6kms in length plus the walls are all 2 meter high hedges and unless you’re a bush walker and have a good sense of direction on a good day it was going to be quite the task to get to the end when you have a full tummy & wine in the system haha. But after 2-3 hours most guests made it to the end before departing to the evening experience.”
Friday evening was the meet & greet dinner – all guests had arrived and what a night celebrating the event with a real country feel around large tables and counter meal options. Luke & Damien have so many circles of friends that this type of environment worked extremely well to share stories in a relaxed space & get to know everyone that was attending the wedding and see friends they had not caught up with in a while. Guests talked and drank well into the evening before being transported back to Palmyra.
Saturday was the big day – brunch, three reveals, three experiences & the marriage of Luke & Damien. Brunch was served in the glamping area for all the guests & the bridal party having an exquisite champagne brunch in the manor dining room. Guests gathered on the front lawn of the house for champagne only to see glimpses of the ceremony spaces over the rise. Guests each walked the full length of the roses before beings seated for the boys entry. The bridal party arrived in three Phantom Rolls Royce vehicles and we knew this by the incredible sounds of the live band Limited Edition coming to life singing Halo by Beyonce. “Guests only now got to see the dresses – the gown – the dresses most brides don’t dream of wearing – not one, not two, not three – but six of them all custom pieces made by the super talented Nicky from Velani. Luke’s bridesmaids walked before him followed by the flower girls in their coco blush boutique dresses. Then came Damien in his out of this world couture by George Elsissa & custom crown by John Khoury design featuring over 500 Swarovski crystals – he was a beacon of absolute royalty and dazzle.
While the bridal party did the ceremony pictures, guests all enjoyed four different flavors of gelato by Hugo’s Cartel before the first reception commenced. Guests entered the first reception via a grand staircase to grazing tables for days by Fennel & co Catering, the beverage caravan by August & Lucy and entertainment by Chantelle Sings and the Limited Edition Band under the trees. The design in this space was a blues fest – boho atmosphere of teepees, rustic furniture, Persian rugs and wine barrels under festoon lighting near the large lake. Guests had the best time here until the bridal party returned from their location photoshoots.
The bridal party made the most incredible entrance to twelve Lebanese drummers by C’Darz Entertainment which were 100% heard before seen and took the first reception party to a whole new level. The bridal party dance down the staircase to the centre stage of the first reception which saw all the guests dance and enjoy what an amazing day it was so far. Guests loved the dramatic entry but made way for all the pictures to be made with the lake and gardens in the background before the next reveal and evening experiences to begin.
Luke & Damien personally greeted and welcomed every guest into the formal marquee – this was the personal touch to ensure they kissed, cuddled and saw every guest on their wedding day one on one. The reactions of guests were out of this world – speechless, amazed and beside themselves – noone that was seated that evening in the marquee had ever seen such beauty and execution perfection on this scale in their lives.
The marquee had custom white draping on the roof and every wall, flowers suspended from the ceiling that literally looked like they were floating in the roof space and sparkling chandeliers that formed the structure of head height and above for the full length of the marquee. Every one of the tables featured enormous candelabras, dozens of pillar candles and massed luxe white florals that bounced opulent emotions on the mirror topped gold edged custom tables throughout. The bridal table was custom from the stage, the table, the wall and the ceiling – it oozed drama, romance and arches of life all in tones and textures of white which the lighting accentuated well. The dance floor featured an 8 x 8 meter gold foil decal, which had never been done in Australia before on this scale, to balance the magnificent install of bling, floral and colour above as the centerpiece of the masterplan marquee design. The bridal waltz was heart jerking with The Limited Edition performing ‘Love Me Like You Do’ by Ellie Goulding live, and with Damien being a professionally trained ballroom dancer, it was nothing short of amazing. The firework surprise was a spectacular display – going for well over ten minutes and of Sydney Harbour New Years Eve quality by All Occasions Pyrotechnics – it 100% lit up the sky with a BANG.
Sunday was a seated brunch on the front drive complete with over 100 meters of luxe white florals and the barista making your coffee on request, chefs serving a hot breakfast with everything cooked as you like it and fresh juices & gelato to finish off so every guest was full. The music by Scion Audio was beautiful and heard around the house as people made themselves comfortable for some R&R. All the guests were in recovery mode around the pool or ventured to the fun park for a fun day experience in the afternoon before departing. Monday saw guests that stayed Sunday evening relax around the house Sunday and enjoy the fun park all day Monday.
Nine Tier Cake
The nine tier Wedding Cake designed by Sweet Blooms, worked with Flexineon Lighting to create a standout masterpiece cake that would be enjoyed both visually and tasted delicious. The cake looked amazing and was far from the 3-5 tier cake we discussed in the first consult. Dewi creates over 4500 cakes a year and the biggest has been seven tiers but we smashed that when we went to nine and then added a further seven tiers for the lighting component. Yes, we created, designed and had the first illuminated cake in Australia. It took four ladies over 20 hours to decorate on site working well into the night, adding over 500 handmade edible roses that you see attached to the outside of the cake. Yes, parts were edible but we also had four kitchen cakes made in addition as the flavours of Suit & Tie, Salted Caramel, Pistachio Perfection and Chocolate Love were to die to – literally delicious!!!
Travel In Style
Arriving at the wedding destination in the pinnacle of Rolls Royce, the Drophead and two Phantoms, provides pure elegance to the event. Luke and Damien had three vehicles transported in a truck from Forster by current 2019 ABIA National Designer of Dream Awards – Finalist Rolls Royce Hire Sydney. This ensured that they were in immaculate condition for their million dollar wedding. The couple had every detail planned, even down to the personalised number plates, KOLBAS-WILLIAMS. Traffic stopped on the bridge connecting Tuncurry and Forster NSW. Locals were provided with an event that will truly be remembered. What a spectacular way to start celebrations with many spectators cheering them on. Photographers set up for the perfect wedding shot with the many angles that the bridge provided. The couple walked hand in hand together with a stream of vehicles behind them, the first three being the Rolls Royce.
“The bridal party joined in with the couples shots and they are joyful images.
What a four day extravaganza – a pure luxe & opulent affair where nothing was spared or missed. Everything went to plan 100% with guests absolutely delighted. Our wedding has reached the UK, USA, Spain, Asia & all over Europe with comments of love and amazement of the design. We are absolutely overwhelmed by the positivity and far reach our wedding has gained. I attend wedding seminars and everyone knows about and comments on the opulent styling. We are back to normal life now but our wedding brand which we launched from our wedding is going exceptionally well – four overseas weddings secured & just short of 50 all over Australia in the coming 18 months. Big things are happening!!”
“Nothing was traditional about our wedding – when you’re meeting Australia’s best wedding and event planners and they say this is no normal wedding it’s a large scale event you know it’s not normal. We were the first same sex wedding on this scale in Australia and titled ‘Wedding of the year 2019 in Australia’ also so every detail was designed, executed and thought out well. Most coupled get read separate and sleep apart the night before – we slept together for the few hours we did get of sleep and got ready in hair, makeup and dress together – we do everything together!! We are not Lebanese but having the drums was a must for the energy – our guests were blown away with this additional cultural touch. To take the edge off the bridal party we have a 30 minute session of jumping crazy in our huge white jumping castle to take away all the nerves – this was incredible and guests later really enjoyed it too.”
White Luxe Country Wonderland
“We decided early on the destination being country played a big part in the theme when planning. We loved white but knew we could be creating unique experiences over the four days and the only word that could go close to sum that up would be wonderland – guests would wonder what was planned in the land – the spaces of Palmyra. For everyone that knows us, luxe and opulent are given in our nature. So once we had the one sentence that put our vision in words we went about breaking down every part that would make it all come to life.”
“We wanted our bridesmaids to be dressed by leading couture design Velani in gowns most brides would only dream of – the guys dressed in George Elsissa who brought to life every detail of our brief and more – now life long friends with both professionals. The jewellery for the girls and Damien was all bespoke creations from John personally created from scratch – personalised and quality second to none! The whole marquee was custom décor designed and created for our wedding and manufactured overseas before arriving into the country in large shipping containers – who in Australia has ever done a whole reception with no linen – we did!! I am a landscape architect by trade so having flowers and lots of them was a given – we had over 1,000,000 stems plus all the foliage filling florals!! Pretty sure the week of our wedding no supplier had flowers cause I had them all – in 30 years never has a vendor to the flowers delivered direct to a venue – for us we couldn’t book enough trucks to deliver it all so they arrived direct – whole day to unload the endless supply of flowers haha. Vesna from Vesna Grasso achieved, delivered probably the best floral install Australia has seen on this scale this year and finishing hours ahead of schedule because of the absolute professionalism and organisational skills she has. We added pops of black with the bonbonniere elements by
LUKdesign and chairs to add masculinity to the design. We then took it to another level doing suede grey menus with matching gold acrylic foils by Ooh Ahh Invitations and name tags to tie back the styling to the décor of the charger plates and cutlery, all designed and imported just for our wedding. All of this on mirror topped tables custom made by Harbourside Decorators so the florals and chandeliers suspended from the ceiling bounced reflections off everywhere.”
Showstopper Designer Suits
Damien who wore a show stopper Swarovski crystal beaded jacket designed by George Elsissa, with a spend of $20,000 weighing 12kg and stunning $15,000 crown designed by John Khoury Design – both pieces were breathtaking and tied the crystal together with the ceremony backdrop as part of the master plan. Luke wore a magnificent Chanel inspired designer encrusted jacket by George Elsissa valued at $15,000. He opted for no crown but his lavish Louis Louboutin shoes and Tom Ford accessories were stunning. “Both the evening outfits for the reception were by Brent Wilson Fashion in fabrics imported from Italy in the bold prints and styling we designed and brought to life to bounce off the white base of the marquee internals.
Crystals Never Seen Before
The wedding was truly beautiful with a magnificent 250k Swarovski crystal wall install as the backdrop over the white stage. The exquisite crystal as the backdrop over the white stage for the ceremony by Chandeliers to Die, was definitely an elaborate focal point for guests that floated into the surround natural landscape. The sparkle was so beautiful, the crystals added a sense of magic to this romantic elaborate setting. “But it was the million plus diamantes on the truss uprights which were bespoke pieces created just for this structure that bling at the same rate and scale as the crystal – unforgettable picture-perfect ceremony experience. The design from this started as an arch of flowers but then I wanted a walkway experience to build flow into the design. Then came the need for elevation to make it float into the surrounding landscape. Then our white theme had to be incorporated, as did the flowers. The crystal began with one meter squares, as it comes like that from the supplier in Europe. We then went about making the upside down tier shape, with round edges on the sides to soften its connection in the surroundings, with gaps of nothing to see the trees and sky thru it in the distance – what a shot!!”
Containers of Flowers
Guests would have been in awe, spellbound by the creation of the two sided aisle of flowers by multi award winning floral designer, Vesna Grasso Floral Designer. The aisle led from the house leading to the ceremony stage down the slope of the grounds. This signature masterpiece of flowers was overwhelming and was memorable for all in attendance. The amazingly beautiful creation must have sent many joyful emotions to all, and reach every continent on wedding blogs for the grand scale and pure beauty it visually delivered. There were twenty-one florists that worked under Vesna to execute the preparation for this scale of wedding – they worked day and night to bring the floral design to life – it was executed to perfection!!
Do you have any advice for other couples planning their wedding?
“Biggest piece of advice is secure a wedding planner from day 1. Pick someone you can go for dinner or have a drink with – you will be very close and personal with them for the whole planning and lead up to your wedding. Even if your organised and a structured plan you need to enjoy your wedding and not stress over the production – leave that to a professional and enjoy your wedding – it comes and goes so quickly!!”
Gelato & Coffee Station
Lighting & Sound
Wedding Ceremony Suits
Groomsmen and Reception Suits
Jewellery & Crown
Girls Make Up