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Jess and Simon

Jess and Simon lent a bohemian feel to their handmade picnic wedding. Jess ditched her shoes (never comfortable for her anyway!) guests dined on tacos and treats from food trucks and made themselves comfortable on rugs and the grass before the first dance – on a giant Persian rug. It’s this kind of wedding that makes you happy to pull up a chair with a cup of tea (or if you’re really fancy, a cocktail!) and soak it all in. Every moment, every detail. All captured beautifully by Elle DS Photography.

The couple tell their story of how they came to be. “Jess met Simon through her little brother on the opening night of Jess’ first solo art exhibition. It was already a much anticipated event in Jess’s life… but little did she know her soon to be husband was amongst the crowd! Simon bought a piece from the show & not long after they went on their first coffee date.. the afternoon soon turned into night & when Simon asked if Jess was hungry enough to eat dinner, she lied & said yes just so the date wouldn’t be over!! She didn’t want it to end! They were engaged just 8 months later.”

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Jess designed the stationery herself. Fun and whimsical, it set the tone for the day.

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“One of our favourite moments was when the flower girls (Simon’s goddaughter & her beautiful sister) carried our rings down the aisle to us in a birds nest. Birds nests have a bit of a quirky-special meaning to us & the girls were so breathtaking. I don’t think anyone could take their eyes off them!”

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Graham Agnew married Jess and Simon, Jess telling, “Having Graham marry us was pretty amazing. He has been in my life for 25 years & having a connection with that person who announces you husband & wife felt pretty wonderful. Graham has such a warm & genuine presence & the words he spoke on the day rang true to both of us. Nothing felt over-rehearsed which was also very important to us. We wrote our own vows which we didn’t share with each other until the day & that made our ceremony feel very personal.”

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Jess and Simon chose Wairoa in the Adelaide Hills for their wedding day. “Choosing our venue was possibly the easiest part of organising our wedding! I had seen Wairoa in all it’s summery glory at a dear friend’s wedding previously but wanted to make sure Simon genuinely loved it too.. and that he did! It was the first & only venue we looked at and when the date in late January was available, it just seemed too good to be true. We were sold!”

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The couple really thought through the experience their guests would have on the day. Jess remembering, “Simon really wanted the opportunity to welcome guests as they arrived & be able to chat & relax with them before the ceremony. It was a really good way for us to ensure our friends & family felt appreciated after their trip into the hills for us & also for them to experience the stunning surroundings at their own pace rather than rushing in & sitting straight away.

Once people arrived, they were directed to a giant weeping tree where they could grab a cool drink & just catch their breath, cuddle loved ones & say g’day to Simon. Simon’s sister Jo hand-knitted 130 completely individual hearts (enough for each guest to take one home at the end!) in the few months leading up to our day, & these were lovingly hung by Simon’s Mum in the trees, marking a path for our treasured guests all the way from the car park to each ‘stage’ of our wedding. It looked so magical & when we watched a little video of the day, it was so wonderful watching people smile as they passed them or reach out & touch them, like something from a fairytale! Again, we were so humbled by the time & effort that was involved to make this day so unique.”

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Jess’ bridesmaids wore red and pink dresses from Dangerfield and Review

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Of their photographer, Jess tells, “Elle & I went to highschool together but it wasn’t until recently connecting through the little art-world of Adelaide that we reunited as adults. Simon & I had both admired Elle’s work in the past & loved her natural, candid style of photography. Elle was an absolute dream to have involved both on the day of & in the lead up to our wedding, with her ease, sense of humour, professionalism & charm. Nothing was too much trouble, she was incredibly patient & made all of us feel so relaxed. We never once felt as though we were being asked to act unnaturally. The results were unbelievable & nothing could beat the feeling of seeing her photos for the first time.. there were tears aplenty! Elle captured precious moments during our wedding, things that gave us goosebumps & allowed us to relive the joy all over again in the most wonderful way.”

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Jess found her gorgeous wedding gown at The Vintage Bride Boutique.

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Florist Zoe Koulioubas created the luscious floral arrangements for the day. Jess remarking, “The garden that our wedding was held in was so incredibly stunning, it required little help from any of us to make it look beautiful but we were in awe when we saw the love & hardwork that had gone into the flowers & set up by our friend & mightily talented florist, Zoe. Simon & I were there til late the evening before laying out picnic rugs & pushing couches under trees but Zoe took it to a whole other level of jaw-dropping! I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the amount of detail & colour & texture. I think seeing our creative friends doing their thing just for us really gave us the warm-fuzzies. Zoe knows I’m not a fan of things that match or anything looking too ‘overstyled’ & I trusted her instincts.. the picnic area looked so incredible, I wanted to freeze moments of the day just to take it all in! ”

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“To be truthful, the whole kit & kaboodle was DIY! Being an artist, I was really keen to get my hands dirty & make things from scratch, be a little imaginative & try to work with things we already had or scavenged along the way! From the invitations to the seating chart, the programs & the set up, we did it ourselves with the help of our amazing (and patient!) family & friends. People that know us best knew we wanted to be very ‘hands on’ with it all & really understood the ‘feel’ we wanted to create, which helped the setting up flow quite nicely. Simon made amazing speakers out of vintage suitcases that provided our music for the day & our furniture was collected from hard rubbish, garage sales & salvage stores.”

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“When it came to planning our wedding together, Simon & I were really conscious of remaining true to who we are both as individuals & as a couple. It’s inevitable to be bombarded with opinions & ideas of what other people expect or what their experience was of planning their own which only made us extra determined to do things our way & steer clear of unnecessary drama. I loved that Simon was so willing to sit with me & nut things out (often initiating a good ol’ chat about the logistics of the day!) & we really did most of it together. We had a lot of fun, sitting in my studio til all hours, putting our invitations together & figuring out the details.”

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Guests were given designated “areas” rather than seats, but in keeping with the relaxed feel of the day, it was kept comfortable and easy, especially when food truck the Sneaky Pickle showed up for dinner! Jess explaining, “When it came to ‘seating arrangements’ for our picnic tea, Simon & I really wanted to ensure that our guests felt free to roam around & sit wherever they wanted. We had numbered picnic ‘areas’ purely for the sake of helping out with the allocation of food for our fabulous vendor ‘Sneaky Pickle’, but aside from that our MC emphasized on our behalf that there was by no means a set place for everyone. This allowed for a very chilled out meal time, where couches were lazed on, hay bails were perched on & people could potter to their hearts content. I loved looking around & seeing our relatives & friends mingling & laughing & digging into their food, just like a big happy family BBQ! Drinks were in old wheelbarrows & tubs, so people were free to help themselves whenever they wanted.”

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Friend Sophia Kaidonis made the couple incredible wedding cakes! Jess remembers, “Simon got the idea for our incredibly talented friend, Sophia, to make an individual cake for each guest based on the painted succulent pots I create for my business. After hours of research & hard work by Soph & with Simon’s enthusiasm & encouragement, the result was something that far exceeded our wildest expectations. Each ‘pot-plant’ was completely unique & I even catered to each individual dietary requirement. To say we were blown away was an understatement! People are STILL talking about these incredible cakes & the best part was that they tasted just as amazing as they looked.”

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The first dance, on a giant Persian rug was utterly romantic. Jess telling, “We danced to ‘All Of Me’ by John Legend. We knew that would be our wedding song from the very first time we ever heard it & it definitely became a bit of an anthem in the weeks leading up. Simon would play it in the car when we were driving somewhere & or if I was feeling a slightly overwhelmed & it was a really lovely way of reminding us what was important, not to let the little silly things get in the way. During our first dance it was very easy to feel as though we were the only ones there & we were quite caught up in the moment. Because our reception was all in the garden, our makeshift ‘dance floor’ was a giant Persian rug on the grass! ”

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Guests joined in with the relaxed feel of the day, which is one of Jess’s favourite memories of the day. She recalls “In the ceremony, our guests sat on hay bails covered in rugs & blankets we had gathered & borrowed. The day before our wedding, however, we realised we had underestimated just how many we needed to have all bails covered & my Mum had to race home to grab whatever she could find. As the reception went on & the weather in the hills started to cool, guests were using these covers to keep themselves warm. We suddenly realised that our relatives were pottering around happily wearing drop sheets, bed sheets & old curtains!!

One of the most memorable & hilarious moments of the day was Simon’s Mum sidling up to me to say ‘I think someone over there is wearing a bath mat’… sure enough, she was right! It may sound like a horrifying scenario but because it was such a chilled out, easy-going afternoon, somehow the sight didn’t seem at all out of place! I loved that the people we wanted to share this with were great enough to go with the flow & embrace the joy of it all!”

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Congratulations Jess and Simon! Thank you for sharing your story with us! Thank you also to Elle DS Photography, for sharing today’s story and photographs!