August 22, 2023

Donna Coster

Styled Content Shoot -The Edgy, Unconventional Elopement

Planning a styled shoot used to give me major butterflies, and the idea of pitching it to other vendors was nerve-wracking! What if they hated my idea? What if it wasn’t considered “on trend” or didn’t fit their style? As I plunged into the world of wedding photography, I realised there are amazing creatives out there who are bold enough to trust an idea and make magic happen, regardless of how unconventional it may be.

After my first styled shoot with Ness & Lachie (see my very first blog for details on this magical day) I gained a newfound sense of confidence when it came to bringing my ideas to life

I learned that the shoot didn’t have to be extravagant, but it was crucial for me to have a clear vision in mind. For this shoot, I wanted to create a fun, unconventional elopement styled shoot which was edgy and real.


There is truly nothing like photographing a real-life couple that shares an incredible connection and can truly be themselves. For me, I chose my brother Tane and his amazing fiancé Lilly to be my guinea pigs. When I approached Lilly, the sassiest, most unique chick I’ve ever met (seriously, I can’t wait for her to become my sister-in-law!), she was all in!

With Lilly’s enthusiastic approval, my brother (as chilled as he is) agreed with minimal fuss.  


When I mentioned styled shoots don’t have to be extravagant, I meant it. In my vision board I had a cute white dress with an edgy vibe and after browsing marketplace, I scored a gorgeous little Spell number for $80. Perfect condition, right size- WIN

Next up was Tane’s outfit. Fortunately for me, my plan was to go for a classic look – a crisp white shirt paired with sleek black pants and jacket. A quick trip to Myer, Fountain Gate and we were able to knock over his outfit within a few hours!


Staging an elopement was all coming along well until I realised, crap-they’re meant to be married and I have no wedding rings. That’s when I was connected with the amazing Janita from Ladasha Jewellery in Cowes, Phillip Island.

Janita is an incredible jeweller who designs and creates custom jewellery instore as well as repairs and remodelling (creating new jewellery from old) and the quality of her work is next level!

When I first spoke with Janita, I was so excited to share my ideas with her and soon after, I ventured down to Cowes to meet with her in person. After arriving at her store, I was overwhelmed with all the stunning pieces she had on display including a stunning range of delicate bracelets, high end engagement rings, wedding bands and elegant pearl earrings.

Janita and I selected the items that were going to be featured in the shoot and I officially had rings (and a variety of other gorgeous pieces) to make my elopement look like the real deal.


Searching for a beautiful old car with a tonne of character was going to be hard to find, especially in Gippsland but I was on a mission to find one.

My initial vision had a cute little white beetle and florals on a coastal lookout but-, plans change and seeking out a cute little beetle was harder than I anticipated. I put out a final plea out to friends on Facebook to help me find a car that would be the perfect addition to the shoot. A gorgeous friend of mine, Megan responded within the hour “She’s not white. Say hello to Sanchez”. Sanchez was a mint green Ford Falcon XP oozing SOOO much character and she was perfect!

Models, outfits, accessories, car- check….. next was flowers.

One thing I know for certain is Victorian weather is bloody unpredictable and in winter, the odds aren’t in your favour. With this in mind, I wanted a contingency plan just in case I had to postpone the day and the florals were a HUGE factor for me. I wanted stunning flowers, but I didn’t want to run the risk of having fresh arrangements if the day didn’t go ahead. This is where Botanical Theory came to the rescue.

Botanical Theory are wedding and event faux florists based in the southeast suburbs with a studio in Berwick. The lovely ladies Hollie & Olivia cover all things weddings & events and have an INCREDIBLE range to suit literally any vibe. I had the pleasure of shooting some of their bouquets at a recent wedding and knew the quality of their florals was top notch, so it was a no-brainer I wanted to collaborate with them for my shoot.

After speaking with Hollie and sending across some inspo pics, she put together a stunning bouquet and floor piece…finally I could see the day coming together!


Far out I was conflicted with this one. Originally, I was looking at a coastal lookout, before I decided unconventional meant doing something a little different.

I spent hours driving around Bass Coast looking at two separate locations that would give me too different looks when I cruised into the little town of Archies Creek.

This gorgeous little town doesn’t have much (other than a few shops and a gorgeous little pub that hosts some awesome live music) but it is full of character. One stand-out building is the old dairy factory which closed in 1983. With a huge street front for that WOW factor, it was rustic, charming and the perfect place for my first location.

Second location saw us in an off-road location along the Tarwin River between Venus Bay and Tarwin Lower where Sanchez made her appearance with owner, Dek & his son Chase ….and she was magnificent!

After losing light quickly and clouds that weren’t budging, we shot quickly and had a few laughs realising that we were moments away from a shower!

Sun had set, rain set in, and our day was done.

I was stoked with how the day went. We had crazy, unpredictable weather but Tane and Lilly were absolute superstars. They fearlessly embraced the chilly rain and stuck it out with me, creating some epic, picture-perfect moments which I was so happy to capture.

A huge thank you to everyone that put their best work forward and collaborated with me on the day.

Final note- one of these images sneaked into this years issue of I do I do Gippsland!

Photography: Donna Lee Photography

Accessories: Ladasha Jewellery

Florals: Botanical Theory

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