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Hunter Valley features in Bride of the Year award


A Hunter Valley nuptial has been chosen as a finalist in a nationwide 2021 Bride of the Year competition.

The exchange of I-Do’s that took place in March 2020, is one of 22 weddings in the running for the coveted annual True Bride crown.

Keen to represent the region in a quest that has been attracting entrants for more than 20 years, the new Mrs Shanelle Pescud says winning the $2,000 prize money would represent more than a cash bonus.

“I represent the Hunter Valley wedding industry that endured so much loss during the pandemic, so to win this, would be an absolute credit to the local vendors,” she said.

Shanelle, who grew up on land between Branxton and Singleton, was one of two brides selected as a finalist in April 2021 after her wedding attracted the most number of votes.

Her ‘Real Life Wedding’ story reads as a celebration of the Hunter Valley and a thank you to local vendors who made her dream day come true.

“When we first started thinking about our wedding, I was lost,” she said.

“I had never actually wanted to get married and had never envisioned my ‘perfect day’ as a little girl. It’s probably the thing I struggled with the most throughout the duration of the wedding planning stages.”

Shanelle and her now-husband Hayden had their ceremony on her grandparents’ property in Leconfield.

Her reception was held nearby at Calvin Estate.

“We picked a date by flipping the numbers of the day of our anniversary so that we could keep it close to our anniversary date [and] from that everything else just seemed to fall into place and I had all my vendors booked months in advance,” the Ashtonfield resident said. 

But nothing is “set in stone” when you’re planning an event during a global pandemic.

“The week of our wedding was touch and go with the pandemic taking full throttle,” Shanelle told Newcastle Weekly.

“Every day there was a new change and limitations, restrictions, and I just didn’t think the day was going to be allowed to go ahead. 

“Before I knew it, it was full steam ahead with all my vendors pulling every string to ensure the day was perfect.”

Weather was another uncontrollable element.

“The day was meant to rain and it turned out to be a beautiful sunny day, with lots of flies and a fair bit of wind (which I didn’t realise until looking back at our wedding video),” she admits.

“The morning of the wedding began with the arrival of Olivia Richards Makeup Artistry and Luxe Hair by Britt Smith ready to turn us into real-life princesses. 

“My bridesmaids helped me get into my dress by White April so I could do a special ‘first look’ for my pop and my mum which was very emotional. 

“I don’t remember much from the wedding morning. This was probably because I didn’t think I would be able to have a wedding with COVID lingering. 

“However, all that went away when I saw Hayden waiting for me at the end of the aisle. 

“All the emotion came out at once and I started crying which was thankfully hidden by my veil.”

Luckily, COVID only had a slight influence on plans.

“Unfortunately, due to the recent development of COVID a lot of people couldn’t make it,” Shanelle says.

“But we still managed to share the day with our nearest and dearest which made it all the more special in such difficult times, dancing the night away.”

The ceremony, held on her grandparents’ property, took place under a large gum tree featuring an oversized chandelier that her grandfather had made especially for the occasion.

“Then WOW Flowers added their magic touch to give it some colour,” Shanelle adds.

“It was the most exquisite backdrop.”

Still living in wedded bliss Shanelle is now asking her community to help put the Hunter Valley on the state’s wedding map.

“Now I’m after Newcastle and the Hunter to help crown me the 2021 Bride of the Year,” she said.

To vote for Shanelle go to www.truebride.com.au/vote_final.asp?id=15716

Voting closes 31 March.

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