Goosewing Cottage Elopements [Updated 2021]
by Adam Cavanagh
Your Ultimate Guide for Goosewing Cottage Elopements
If you have found this page, chances are you are eloping at Goosewing Cottage or thinking of eloping at Goosewing Cottage. I have photographed over 100 small weddings & elopements at Goosewing and I can say… without a doubt… that it is one of the best places in Australia to elope! Why? Because it is so easy for couples to get married, have an amazing experience and get beautiful photos. It is very affordable, everything happens on-site and you have some of the best wedding vendors in the Hunter Valley looking after you. What more could you ask for?
And Goosewing is becoming so popular! They only offer mid-week elopements, Monday to Thursday for up to twenty of your closest family and friends… and dates fill so quickly… especially since covid. I don’t know the exact number, but I know in 2021 they will do over a hundred elopements!!
I do so many elopements here that I really wanted to write something for couples with hints and tips so that they can get the best experience and get the best wedding & elopement photos.
Goosewing Cottage is a wonderful place for couples to elope and escape all the hassles that a traditional wedding sometimes entails. It is a small family business run by the awesome Stephanie & Daniel, who look after and organise everything for you. It is located up in the mountains of Mount View in the Hunter Valley, hidden away in a beautiful and secluded bushland setting. It overlooks mountains, hills and valleys and is just stunning. It is in a place that most people who visit the Hunter Valley never see.
Most of the Hunter Valley is flat because as the name states it sits in a valley. But Mount View sits high up in the mountain tops and you can see rolling hills full of cows and horses. This unique landscape makes it absolutely beautiful for wedding photography.
Rustic, boho, farm and country is how I would describe the wedding style of Goosewing. The location and setting naturally create this style.
All-Inclusive Elopement Packages
One of the best features of elopements at Goosewing Cottage is that they offer all-inclusive elopement packages. So couples really don’t need to do very much at all. Steph and Dan arrange everything for you with some of the best wedding vendors in the Hunter Valley.
There are a number of elopement packages, but in general they include:
- Hair & makeup
- Wedding cake
So all the hard work is done for you. You don’t need to find wedding vendors for your elopement. Goosewing has found them for you… and trust me when I say… they are some of the best around.
And just a quick note on the wedding photography. There are two photographers to choose from at Goosewing. Me (Cavanagh Photography) and Matt (Matt’s Photography). And you really can’t go wrong with either of us. We both do wedding photography full-time and support our families with it. We both shoot lots of big weddings over the weekend. We have both won lots of photography awards. And we are both really nice guys :) So you can’t go wrong with either of us. And I won’t be offended if you don’t choose me ;)
One of the best features with Goosewing is that there is accommodation available onsite. Which means you can get ready onsite and just walk down to your marriage ceremony when it is time. There is no travel involved.
There are two houses onsite. ‘The Cottage” which is 2 bedrooms (sleeps 4 guests). And ‘The Homestead‘ which is the larger of the two houses. 2 bedrooms, (sleeps 8 guests) and has a larger living, dining area and veranda.
If it is just the two of you, ‘The Cottage’ is a perfect option. If you have family or friends with you, ‘The Homestead’ is a better option as there is more room for you. If your elopement is more like a small wedding, then you should probably book both houses.
If you had the choice of both houses when booking, I would personally choose ‘The Homestead’ even if it’s just the two of you.
With your Goosewing elopement package, I will arrive 30mins before your ceremony start time to start photography. This is enough time to get photos of your wedding details (dress/suit hanging up, shoes, rings, cake etc). And then photos of you getting dressed.
I like to get action shots of the ‘getting dressed’ part. Keeping the process candid, natural and without any posing. And I will only photograph the final part. So I will wait outside while you put the dress on (or pants/shirt). Then I will photograph the lacing or zipping of the dress and then the shoes and jewellery going on.
If you are both getting ready in the same house then I can easily walk back and forth between rooms. Or one of you can get dressed first and then head to the ceremony and then other person can get dressed.
If you are both getting ready in different houses, I will probably need to concentrate more on one person and less on the other.
- Try not to trash the place before I arrive ;) It does look better in photos if the place is neat.
- Have anything you want to be photographed out of bags and placed on a table somewhere so we are not looking for stuff.
- Don’t get dressed before I arrive. If you are fully dressed and ready to go, then there is nothing for me to photograph.
- You can get dressed together. Helping each other get dressed is one of my favourite moments to photograph. It looks beautiful and is perfect for elopements.
A ‘first look’ or no ‘first look’? A ‘first look’ is where the couple see each other for the first time in their wedding attire before the ceremony.
At elopements, we often do first looks if you both intend to walk down the aisle together.
It doesn’t take long to set up and it is a beautiful moment to capture. A first look is totally not necessary if you are walking down the aisle in the traditional sense. ie Groom waiting at the ceremony and watching Bride walking down towards him.
The way I set up a ‘first look’ is I get one person face away, then get the other person to walk up behind them and tap them on the shoulder. Then you see each other for the first time, all dressed up, and have that whole experience.
The Marriage Ceremony
Your ceremony takes place down by the dam towards the bottom of the property. It is just a short walk down the hill to the dam. It is a beautiful, scenic location and depending on your elopement package, the ceremony can by styled and have chairs for your guests.
You get to choose the time for your ceremony but we always recommend that your ceremony takes place towards sunset. Therefore in a perfect world, your ceremony should start 90 minutes before the sun sets so that you get the best light for your photos afterwards.
But I understand that this is not always possible, particularly in Summer when the sun doesn’t set till 8pm. But it is good to be aware that the best light for photos is at sunset. By having your ceremony closer to sunset, it just gives you better light and the best chance for amazing sunset images.
It is probably also worth mentioning that Goosewing is a country, farm property. And the ground at Goosewing is covered in grass, on a slight hill and uneven. So I would recommend to the ladies that they wear flats, boots or a low heel with a thick block.
If you wear stilettoes or really high heels you are going to make walking a really difficult task for yourself. And not being able to walk will impact your enjoyment of the day. If you do decide to wear a heel then it is a good idea to brings flats along for after the ceremony so you can walk around the property easily.
Ceremony tips at Goosewing:
- Aim to have your ceremony 90 mins before sunset if possible.
- Wear flats, boots or low thick heels or bring along flats for later.
- Tell your guests about appropriate shoes for Goosewing.
- Elderly parents or grandparents can be driven down to the ceremony. Just tell Stephanie or Dan.
- Write your own personal vows. This makes such a difference. It doesn’t have to be poetry or an essay. Just a few words from the heart of what you promise and what you mean to each other.
- Try not to stare at your celebrant the whole ceremony. Some couples are so nervous they will be frozen like a deer in headlights. If you get nervous, look at each other, hug each other, laugh at each other, kiss each other… there are no rules at Goosewing.
- Don’t hide your emotions or put up a wall during the ceremony. The beauty of elopements is that they are small and intimate. You are not in front of hundreds of people. And you are in a judgement-free space. Make an emotional commitment during the ceremony and really be in the moment.
- If it is just the two of you with no guests, consider having some romantic background music softly playing in the background. Music with no words or singing. Almost like in a movie soundtrack. I have done two ceremonies where the couple did this and it was really beautiful. I don’t think that this would work if you had guests.
Right after the ceremony at elopements, there can be this moment of…. ” So what happens now?”
If you have people attending, then they would normally hug and kiss you and you would chat with everyone. But this is not really the case if it’s just the two of you or you only have a couple of people attending.
Here are some tips for right after the ceremony for those smaller elopements:
- Organise with Stephanie, to have a flower petal throw. Even if it’s just the two of you. You can throw petals up in the air and celebrate together.
- Do a ‘first dance’ to your favourite song.
- Do an epic Champagne spray… Formula 1 style. It can be symbolic of toasting to all the people who aren’t there, or it can just be a wild celebration of joy. Either way, it looks awesome in photos.
- Sit on the lounge under the pergola and read letters from family and friends sending you their love.
- If you are a musician, pull out your guitar and serenade each other.
Eloping with Kids
One of the most popular reasons couples choose to elope is because they have children. And Goosewing Cottage is such an easy, affordable and kid-friendly place to have a small wedding or elopement. It is a beautiful place for children to stay and explore.
Some of my favourite moments at elopements is when kids act up and just be themselves. So don’t worry at all if they start playing with the decorations or start being noisy. We all have kids ourselves, so we know what it’s like.
I have photographed a lot of elopements with kids, so here are a few tips:
- Bring food and snacks to the ceremony. No one needs a hangry kid.
- You can bring toys to the ceremony. Anything that will keep them happy.
- Go easy on the sugar in the lead up to the ceremony. You may want to bribe them, but it can make things worse by the time the ceremony arrives.
- Consider hiring a babysitter to look after the kids, especially if they are quite young. It can be difficult to be a parent and a bride or groom. It can really take the pressure off you. Stephanie can give you recommendations.
- Give them a job to do during the ceremony. Rings are a popular one. And if it doesn’t work, it will still be fun and a lovely moment.
- Include them in your vows and make a promise to them.
This was one of the most beautiful moments at a recent elopement.
The Bride made a promise to the Grooms son to love him and look after him. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
After the ceremony, we do some really relaxed and fun photos. And seriously… don’t worry about this. My job is to get you guys to relax, have fun and just be yourselves. I hate stiff awkward poses and I would much rather take photos of you running through fields and explore this beautiful countryside as the sun sets over the mountains.
Photographically speaking, one of the great things about Goosewing Cottage elopements, is that Stephanie always tries to encourage you to have the ceremony towards sunset. Having your ceremony and your photos at sunset means that you will be shooting in the best light. This is the single most important factor (other than a good photographer) in getting beautiful images from your elopement. And it seriously has the best sunsets! I have photographed elopements with some of the most stunning sunsets and I have said that everyone will think I photoshopped the sunset in because it just doesn’t look real! Like this one below.
Goosewing Elopement Photos
Here are some of my favourite images from the past few years at Goosewing Cottage :)
Hey, I’m Adam. A wedding photographer who loves to shoot fun, relaxed couples in a natural and candid way.
I shoot weddings all over Australia, so if you are engaged and looking for a photographer, please check out my work. If you can see yourself in these photos, feel free to get in contact to check my availability. Thanks :)