At Anika & James Plowman’s Whimsical Garden Wedding, There Were Dusty Pink Dresses & An Extensive Tasting Menu

Anika says she and James "felt an abundance of love" on their wedding day. Photo / Kaitlyn Clark

Anika Plowman (nee Joshi-Smith), director-founder of Sage Agency, reflects on her Melbourne wedding to UX design consultant James, unveiling their romantic celebration across two beautiful Melbourne locations.


A relaxed, intimate garden soiree, followed by an inner-city party. My bridesmaids wore dusty pink dresses by my dear friends at


Our guests travelled from all over, and we wanted to show them different sides of Melbourne, so we chose separate venues for our ceremony and reception. The ceremony was held at Rippon Lea Estate, a historic estate and botanic garden, just outside of the city.

My parents had their ceremony in a Melbourne-based garden many moons ago. Our ceremony was a nod to their special day, while still feeling like us.


The reception was at Hazel, a beautiful restaurant located on Melbourne’s iconic Flinders Lane. The ceremony was feminine and romantic, so we wanted a slight juxtaposition for the reception, which was more urban and modern, in the heart of the city.

Textural bouquets line the aisle. Photos / Kaitlyn Clark
Textural bouquets line the aisle. Photos / Kaitlyn Clark


We always thought we’d get married in New Zealand but, due to time constraints, it proved difficult to organise and plan ourselves. Melbourne is so special to us. Although we’re both from Auckland originally, Melbourne is where we first met and where our love story began, so it was the perfect choice for us.

We always planned to get married on our 10-year anniversary, which is January 5, 2024. Our plans quickly changed when uncertainty arose around my dad’s health, and we ended up planning our wedding in two months.

This was no easy feat but with the support of our friends and family, we pulled through. My maid of honour was the real MVP. Her guidance, reassurance, and unwavering commitment to ensuring our special day was perfect, is something for which James and I will forever be grateful. We love you, Jules.

James and Anika Plowman. Photo / Kaitlyn Clark
James and Anika Plowman. Photo / Kaitlyn Clark


My style is quite masculine and trend-driven, so when it came to “the dress” I wanted to explore my more feminine side. I wanted a minimal dress with subtle yet sexy elements, complemented by traditional touches. I opted for a form-fitting gown, with a corseted bodice and thigh-high leg split by Australian designer Mariana Hardwick. The look was modern yet timeless, which I loved. To tone down the sexiness, I added an antique lace-trimmed veil and sculptural pointed heels by Bottega Veneta, which were the perfect finishing touches.

My second look was Paris Georgia. I wanted something more comfortable and less traditional to dance the night away in, while adding an element of surprise. The dream team at PG recoloured one of their bodices in dusty pink for me, which was paired with their signature maxi skirt, so I could match my bridesmaids. It was the perfect party ensemble and pieces I will cherish and wear for years to come.

My first choice was a beautiful dress from Vivienne Westwood. Unfortunately the lead times were 10 months, so I looked into local designers who could accommodate my timelines. My mum was with me when we found the dress, I will never forget the look on her face (or tears in her eyes!) when I came out of the fitting room, I instantly knew it was the one.


James’ attire was from P Johnson. He wore a bespoke Italian herringbone linen suit, tailored shirt and moss-green tie, complemented by Gucci loafers.

Anika leads her bridesmaids to the dancefloor in dusty pink dresses. Photos / Kaitlyn Clark
Anika leads her bridesmaids to the dancefloor in dusty pink dresses. Photos / Kaitlyn Clark


The divine Nat Schorer of Wild Flos went above and beyond to bring our vision to life. The brief was unpolished and textural, with a focus on layering, with additions of grapes, artichokes and pears as styling pieces.

Nat created growing arrangements to dress up the aisle, which featured peonies, calla lilies, cymbidium, hydrangeas, amaranth and foliage. The arrangements were then transported to Hazel and scattered over plinths and stairs, complemented by overflowing bowls of fruit. It was unique and truly exquisite.


Food was an incredibly important element of the day. James and I are both foodies and we wanted to ensure our guests had a complete Melbourne culinary experience, featuring our favourite cuisines — seafood and Italian.

Fellow Kiwi and friend Lauren Matthews of Pearl Oyster Cart designed our menu for the ceremony. It featured oysters, scallops, Māori fried bread, spanner crab sliders and fritto gnocchi, accompanied by Champagne, pet-nat, and Peronis. It was perfect.

Hazel is renowned for its familiar yet unique menu, and the food did not disappoint. James and I selected 10 dishes from the tasting menu, including raw fish, beef tartare, snapper brandade, woodfired lamb ribs and mini pavlovas with berries.

The elegant wedding cake is dressed up with pressed flowers. Photos / Kaitlyn Clark
The elegant wedding cake is dressed up with pressed flowers. Photos / Kaitlyn Clark


Following the formalities, we danced the night away at Hazel. The space transformed into a dance floor and our dear friend Alex Jeffrey helped compile our party playlist, which literally got everybody moving and grooving — it was the best!

Our wedding felt like a week-long celebration. We had an intimate dinner with our families, the bridal party, and some of our close friends who had travelled to Melbourne the night before the wedding, which was really special. The day after was low-key, we had pizzas and cocktails at a rooftop bar in Collingwood, which was the perfect end to our wedding celebrations.


Our photographer was Kaitlyn Clark, someone I had the privilege of working alongside previously, who I knew would capture our day so well. We didn’t want traditional wedding photos and her style is more contemporary, which perfectly suited our style and personalities.


It was a short, romantic whirlwind and, as cliche as it sounds, it really was the best day of our lives.

Guests gather at Rippon Lea Estate.  Photos / Kaitlyn Clark
Guests gather at Rippon Lea Estate. Photos / Kaitlyn Clark


The entire day was so special and filled with so many memorable moments, but a highlight was walking down the aisle with my dad and marrying the man of my dreams in front of our favourite people (in-person and via live stream). James and I felt an abundance of love and even though so many of our nearest and dearest friends and family couldn’t be there, we felt their presence.

At the end of the speeches, my brother Joel, led the haka, which was supported by my dad and aunties. I still get chills reliving this moment, it was so meaningful to our Māori heritage and an incredibly proud moment honouring our family.


Don’t sweat the small stuff. The day really does go by so quickly and all the small things I worried about in the lead-up really didn’t faze me on the day at all. The day can also be very overwhelming, so make sure you find moments of calm to take it all in with your other half.

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