Bernie Divola of Bellingen Bespoke Weddings has a simple philosophy, which is at the very heart of the business she shares with son Jay; “we are local, sustainable, affordable and approach each event as a helpful friend would.” Bernie’s unique collection of vintage pieces and hand-made treasures provide the cornerstone of this business- as she delights in sharing her treasure trove with couples who are looking for a more intimate wedding day. “I love beautiful bits and pieces and I find that most of us find vintage pieces comforting, they remind us of childhood, of growing up, of grandma’s house and of simpler times,” says Bernie.
Bernie’s eclectic creativity is renown in Bellingen. Many of us are treated to a dose of daily creative nourishment just by following Bernie on Instagram under the pseudonym “Queenbernie“. From her stunning watercolour portraits to her tiny embroideries; her ‘mytown’ series of drawings of Bellingen township to her life-size knitted and crocheted granny square Teepee, we remain enthralled by Bernie’s creative productivity.
However, nothing was to prepare me for the wonder of meandering through Bernie’s home, a literal Aladdin’s Cave brimming with collectables from the stunning to the quirky. I could see that Bellingen Bespoke Weddings was born out of a love of family, beauty and meaning, so decided it was time to delve a little deeper.
Bernie, what inspired you to create Bellingen Bespoke Weddings?
My two daughters have married recently and it brought the whole family together to create weddings that were simple and very much reflected them (and our family). We drew from all local resources to create a picnic wedding by the Gleniffer Hall and a two day festival style wedding on a paddock. I collected so many beautiful things that it only seemed logical to start sharing them around.
Does Bellingen Bespoke Weddings have a particular target market?
Too many couples are treated like ‘punters’ when they get married. Bellingen Bespoke is about budget and sustainable weddings. We don’t like disposable wares and we don’t mind washing tablecloths and napkins – it’s a little old school. Our clients don’t have to buy or collect everything and they can give it back after the wedding.
Can you describe those pieces in your collection that you have made yourself?
The knitted and crocheted teepee was actually made for my daughter’s wedding! I make bunting of all descriptions – tassels, triangles, crocheted. If I think I can rent it out again, I’ll make something on request.
We also make custom signs, wooden boxes and anything we can on request.
Your vintage collection is so vast and unique. Where have you sourced your wares?
Inherited, scrounged and curated! I’m always on the lookout for more…
What is your aesthetic?
We call ourselves Bellingen Bespoke Weddings because we take a very handmade approach. We love vintage but try not to be too feminine. We hand make our own boxes, signs and bunting. We love quirky pieces but we don’t have a set style. We work with the client to create what they want. Some clients have had a more traditional country style, some have a boho theme and we have done some bush themes, beach themes and festival themes.
What items can you provide a couple for their big day?
We hope to expand into tables and chairs soon but for now we have table settings for up to 200 – cutlery, napkins, tablecloths, crockery and assorted vintage sturdy glassware. We also have table décor such as quirky mixed brass, silver and glass vessels for flowers.
All of our tableware is mixed vintage. We have lighting, mats, access to bell tents and giant teepees. One of our most popular things is the Kid’s Teepee, it is a bell tent that comes with toys, books, art supplies and lots of fun activities, it is very pretty, covered in pompoms and twinkle lights. We do a lot of ‘stations’ for example; we have everything for signing the register, decorating tables, sparkler send-off and much more. We work with clients to provide what they want- we are very flexible.
Are you basically a romantic?
I would have to admit to that! How lovely it is to really help people create a wonderful wedding day, it’s very satisfying.
Have you got any big events coming up or plans for the future for this business?
This is a small family business. We love supporting our community and working locally. We recommend other Bellingen businesses and plan to grow within this shire. Currently, we are involved in making décor for the Bello Winter Music Festival and we enjoy being involved with collaborations with Big Fig Arts. We also work with The Giant Tipi Company.
I am currently undertaking my Celebrancy accreditation- so watch this space!
What happens when a client contacts you?
We meet for a coffee and a chat. We have developed a very useful guide that lists every little detail involved in planning a wedding. Couples are often a little overwhelmed, but we help them find the businesses, items and services they need. We discuss their ideas about their wedding and suggest how we can help them. We always bring some little samples to give them an idea of what we have. Our clients can pick up their items in the week before their wedding and return them in the next week. In the case of the Kid’s teepee, we can set it up and take it down from the wedding site.
How does your pricing compare to other services?
We are very affordable compared to other hire services but we are also quite different. We have a policy of giving our clients 10% more for those ‘just in case’ situations when unexpected guests arrive or there is a bit of an accident in the kitchen.
How do people contact you?
Bellingen Shire is a secret Australian hamlet along the Waterfall Way on the NSW mid-north coast. This region is popular for its unique landscape where the Great Dividing Range almost touches the sea. It boasts a diverse history and proud indigenous culture, and is home to an eclectic and supportive community of farmers, alternative lifestylers, tree-changers, and families who have called this region home for generations. Interesting in so many ways and with so much to offer, it’s no wonder visitors return time & time again, while other never leave…