PHOEBE ROSE WHITE and JONATHAN BUSH’S romance began at a historic homestead in country New South Wales. After years living abroad, it was to here they returned to tie the knot. By TRACEY WITHERS
Phoebe Rose White Bush marries at Belltrees estate. Photographed by SOPHIE FRAZER By TRACEY WITHERS
We always get a warm, fuzzy feeling hearing newlyweds bat banter back and forth like old mates — it’s how we know things are really right.and so it goes when BAZAAR meets Phoebe Rose White Bush and Jonathan Bush, a couple still basking in the gloriousness of their nuptials. First, there’s razz about who fancied whom first. then who made the first move. “maybe it’s because it was 10 years ago that we have different stories,” Phoebe says with a laugh. “we were friends, and then something changed. Our friends say we were in denial.” we tend to agree: with this kind of chemistry, there must have been a spark right away.
The fact is, these two country kids first crossed paths in the Upper Hunter town of Scone, in New South Wales’s Hunter Valley, where Phoebe, now 28, grew up on her family’s farm. Jono, who hails from Camden in southern NSW, was her next-door neighbour Ed’s best friend and had got to know Phoebe’s brothers, father and uncles on the polo circuit. Scone is, of course, deepest horse country, and Phoebe is an accomplished rider too. Jono, now 32, says it all began “one day while I was staying at Ed’s. He and I invited Phoebe over for dinner, like good country people ...”
And when you know, you know. Jono realised Phoebe was his forever love when, after a while together, he landed a dream job in sports marketing that would take him to London. “I’d found this country girl, who loves the outdoors and all the things I do, and it felt rare and exciting,” he recalls. “i knew, even as I left, I wasn’t going to let her go.” But Phoebe knew much earlier. “One day, I just remember thinking, I don’t care what we’re doing, I just want to be in your company. I can’t imagine not being with you all the time.”
Before long, “massive homebody” Phoebe joined Jono in London, and from there the pair moved to Miami, where Phoebe worked in property development as a real-estate associate and Jono started working with another Australian who calls Florida home: Elle Macpherson. “it was a broad role within her private life — looking after her kids and her own health,” he says. For Phoebe, seeing her man in nurturing mode, as Jono was with Macpherson’s boys, Flynn and Cy, was “certainly very attractive”. Now an ambassador for Macpherson’s wellness brand, Welleco, Jono says he became
involved in the business side of things because of his and Macpherson’s shared passion for sports management and branding, and his expertise in marketing, health and wellness. Miami life became low-key glamorous.“we’d weekend in the Bahamas, but we loved it because it’s so raw and natural,” he says.“that’s us.”
Travel is a relationship’s pressure test, and it turned these two into diamonds.“miami was a completely new chapter for both of us,” Phoebe says. “New people, places, culture — change in everything.” When Phoebe missed her family, Jono felt like home.“we grew together.a lot. Everything we’ve experienced together has me excited about the future.”
The proposal scene? A Bahaman beach house, August 2016. One evening, Jono called Phoebe’s father for his blessing, then played it cool as he and Phoebe ate pizza and listened to Bob Marley. Jono popped the question the next morning after a run on the beach. Phoebe tells: “I’d been taking the longest possible time in the shower — no idea that Jono was outside on the grass pacing. I cruised down the stairs, he drops to a knee ...” Perfect.
They were never going to get married anywhere but back at Phoebe’s farm. It’s not just any farm — it’s Belltrees, one of the state’s most iconic rural properties and home to the White family since 1831. Idyllic heartland. “The tree we were married under was my grandmother’s tree,” Phoebe explains. “It was her source of strength after my grandfather died — he was a very special man in all of our lives.” Jono and Phoebe’s brothers spent months spit-polishing the old woolshed for the reception.the aisle was simply the grass of home: no arches, no flowers, no tricks.
Family and friends flew in from London, Aspen, New York, New Zealand, Hawaii, Singapore and all over Australia. Macpherson and Cy were there. Phoebe’s best friend Phoebe Burgess was a bridesmaid. Jono’s best mate’s partner, Pip Best, who is Phoebe’s yoga/meditation “mentor”, was the celebrant. Among Jono’s groomsmen was Raul, a Colombian mate he met in Florida.“having all of those people come to her special place on the day was so important to Phoebe. [Thinking about] it makes me want to cry, even now,” Jono admits.
On the morning of the wedding, the bride fed the horses with her mum and Macpherson, “knowing I was marrying my best friend”. Jono and his groomsmen sat by the river, had a beer and fine-tuned his speech.“it was a really simple day,” Phoebe says.“we had local caterers, my godmother found the bunches of palm leaves that we put in old wool baskets in the shed, and I had decided three days before the wedding I’d carry white roses — we got them from the local florist.”they didn’t do cake or any tradition just for the sake of it.“time with people is really important at a wedding, and we thought, you can waste a lot of it by adding in things that don’t mean much to you,” Jono says.“we’re not by-the-book people.”
So the bride wore cotton in a design she sketched herself.an artisan in Mumbai stitched and embroidered the fabric by hand, and Sydney-based dressmaker Rhonda Hemmingway crafted the dress. “I wanted to represent all the facets of my being: something clean yet classic in natural fabrics,” Phoebe says.“i wanted an element of conservatism with a dramatic openness, so I kept the entire back open and had a high neck, long sleeves and a small puddle [hem].to make the cotton exciting, I added pearls, then a silk shawl.” Of Hemmingway’s skills, Phoebe says it was “difficult with the open back [to have] structure, but she’s bloody talented!”
We’ll let Jono replay the moment he saw the dress.“waiting for her was euphoric. I must have had a grin from ear to ear. Watching Phoebe come down that aisle was the best part, for sure.” Nerves not necessary.you know when you know.
The bride and groom just married, the bride’s cousin Ollie White having serenaded her down the aisle on the bagpipes. Left: the wedding car, a vintage Rolls-royce. Below left: Phoebe with her bridesmaids, from left, Ellie Macdiarmid, Dearne Cooper, Phoebe Burgess and Penelope Pfahl.
The bride wears a dress she designed herself, made by Rhonda Hemmingway Couture in Sydney, and the groom wears a P. Johnson Tailors suit with R.M. Williams boots. Flowers by local Scone florist Chocolate & Moss. Below: historic Belltrees estate.
Opposite page, clockwise from top left: the couple exchange vows; the woolshed turned reception venue for 187 guests, styled by The Event Storeroom; the bridesmaids in French silk dresses designed by Phoebe and made by Rhonda Hemmingway Couture. This page: the bride and groom sit for dinner, catered by The Hunted Gourmet.
The couple’s first dance was to “Leather and Lace” by Stevie Nicks and Don Henley.