Local Love – Vanessa and Ian

Pictures: Rebecca Hosking

Words: Elissa Friday Pictures: Rebecca Hosking

From working in the outback to marrying in the Otways then sailing the seas, ex-Torquay girl Vanessa Beach and Melburnian husband Ian Pinniger prove that some loves travel very well indeed.


“We were both working up at Ayers Rock in 2014,” Vanessa says.

“Ian was flying helicopters and I was working at the airport for Qantas. It was a small town.

“We knew each other’s friends and I’d see him every now and then.”

“I checked him into an airline flight and gave him a good seat. That was the first conversation we had and how we met, I guess.”

The pair returned to Victoria in 2015 when Vanessa joined the navy. Ian joined her aboard two years later in a logistics role.


“We used to have a joke that, because helicopter pilots didn’t get paid very well, if Ian proposed he’d save three months’ wages and still afford only a Cheezel for an engagement ring,” Vanessa laughs.

“So when he did propose he gave me a whole box of Cheezels as a joke.”

Vanessa helped Ian choose a ring at a shop at Torquay.

“He had the final choice,” she says.

“My ring has an aquamarine on it, which is his birth stone. Also, it’s historically supposed to keep sailors safe at sea, so it had that extra meaning to it, which is why he chose that stone.”


“We didn’t have an engagement party or anything,” Vanessa admits.

The couple was engaged in September and married by March.

“It was bit of a rush,” Vanessa says.


“My engagement ring is a bit different and modern. I wanted some colour in it,” Vanessa explains.

“That’s why I ended up with that stone with the meaning behind it.”

However, the nature of their careers with the navy prompted Vanessa and Ian to choose something more simple for their wedding rings.

“Because of the work we do often we can’t wear rings, so we went for more practical types of rings to wear at sea,” she explains.

“Mine’s a plain white gold band.”


Vanessa was still in training in the months before the big day, so she had minimal spare time.

“Ian chose the venue without me seeing it,” she reveals.

“I did get to see it before the wedding but we’d already booked it.”

The couple crafted some of the wedding furniture themselves.

“We made some of the tables out of old doors and tins from beer cans and stuff like that,” Vanessa says.

With Vanessa unsure of how much time she would have to spend on the planning, the couple opted to employ a wedding planner to help.


“My sister insisted I had a hen’s, even though I wasn’t going to have one,” Vanessa says.

Vanessa partied in Melbourne with family and a few friends, some from her school days, others colleagues in the navy.

The hens enjoyed a life-drawing experience before dinner at a restaurant and “a few drinks”.

“My husband had a buck’s but it was quite low key. They all just wanted to catch-up, so they went go-carting and to the pub.”


Vanessa enlisted an auntie for her mission to find the right dress.

“I liked a few but nothing grabbed me,” she recalls.

Then Vanessa looked online, finding an image of a dress in a Gold Coast shop, meaning she couldn’t try it on first due to the travel restraints. It was online or nothing.

“I was nervous buying over the internet”, she says.

“But mum said, ‘That’s your dress and I think you should just get it’.”

Vanessa sent her measurements and soon received her dress, trying it on for the first time at her parents’ house.

“It was comfy,” she says.

“I knew that this was my dress.”


“I had my sister and my best friend, who’s male,” Vanessa says.

“I said to my sister I wanted something vintage but that I didn’t really mind what she wore.

“Ian had two groomsmen. One was his best friend from kinder and the other was a friend from airforce cadets.”


The couple held their ceremony on the property at King Parrot Cottages, at picturesque Pennyroyal in the Otway Ranges.

With a lot of the couple’s friends from interstate, around half of the wedding guests stayed overnight within accommodation on the property.

“We had people sitting on chairs and hay bales,” Vanessa says.

Vanessa walked down the aisle to the tune of Great Big Sea’s Walk on the Moon.

“My sister’s friend’s dad married us,” she says.

The couple wrote their own vows, including references to the time they would spend apart due to their navy careers.

“Ian was just about to start as a logistics officer. I was already in the navy as a communications sailor.

“Since we’ve been married we’ve lived with each other maybe six months in two years.”


“We were a bit pressed for time with the light, more than we thought we would be,” Vanessa remembers.

The couple had their photos taken at a creek, on a hill and at an “interesting toilet block”.

“We also had photos taken with some of the animals up in the paddock,” Vanessa adds.

The shoot didn’t all go to plan – never work with animals and all.

“The lama spat on my face, and the horse picked up my dress in his mouth and started to eat it, so that was quite funny,” Vanessa giggles.

“I think my dress was ripped and stuff by the end of the night but I thought, ‘Oh, I’ll only wear it once’.”


The couple chose purple and cream flowers.

“We got them in Geelong and had so many comments, like how they did a beautiful job,” Vanessa says.

The couple also had bouquets and flowers for the table and a hanging overhead piece of branches, flowers and lights.


“We had the food served from the paella dish and we bought heaps of cheese and had a big lolly and dessert bar that was set up beautifully by Kara for us,” Vanessa says.

“We also had a truck serving food for ages and meringues from a Geelong company on the dessert bar. We still have lollies left!”

Ian’s auntie made the cake, which was decorated by a florist.

Musician Cameron Capp performed throughout the reception and ceremony.

The couple adorned the outdoor site with picnic rugs and festoon lights to create a relaxed atmosphere.

“We only had a couple of tables where people were seated,” she says.

The couple’s first dance was to A Life That’s Good, by Lennon and Maisy.

“That’s a song from a TV show we both watch. I really love Lennon and Maisy’s music,” Vanessa says.


“Ian’s auntie traditionally makes all the cakes in their family,” Vanessa says.

The couple wanted something simple, so Ian’s auntie whipped up a white and dark chocolate mud cake with rustic icing.

“It was decorated with flowers,” Vanessa says.

“We did have a cake topper but in the commotion of the day it wasn’t put on the cake.”