Alex & Jesse

We talk a lot about doing things your way, and for Alex and Jesse, their wedding, or rather, elopement, was about celebrating each other quietly and beautifully. The pair centring their day around the vibe of “Chill AF with a hint of low key romance.” There was no processional, no grand reception, no first look, no first dance, there weren’t even wedding vows.

What there was though, was thought, intention through every element of the day, every ritual carefully considered. With a guest list of just their immediate families, This is a wedding that is so very true to itself, captured beautifully by Em Jensen.

“We went into the elopement with the full intention of keeping it minimal and low fuss – and this extended to the planning part” explain the newlyweds. “There were some logistics – like making sure our parents kept the secret – which was a little harder to manage, but all in all, it was pretty simple and easy. Alex was still slipping into her outfit 10 minutes before we had to leave, so the pressure to meet expectations wasn’t really there for us…”

“We met in the traditional pre-Tinder way – drunkenly at a close friend’s party” tells Alex. Jesse continues

“From there, we were pretty much constantly messaging each other over Facebook or text message, and then we never really stopped messaging each other…”

Of course, in keeping in line with the spirit of planning their wedding together, Alex and Jesse didn’t have a “proposal”, rather they came to a solid agreement, sharing “We didn’t really do the proposal thing, we just sort of came to an agreement that we wanted to get married – mainly for boring reasons like medical stuff and travel purposes (and of course, you know, we like each other a lot). However, we discussed it after the most romantic dinner ever in the Sonoma Valley. We were just sitting on the edge of our bed at Beltane Ranch, watching the nightfall and the rain set in, so still very idyllic to us.”

The couple prepared for their day together. “We both really engage with the simple moments. Alex’s beautiful friend Alice did her make up in the morning. We spent the whole morning just singing and dancing to Elvis Presley which was the ultimate way to stay relaxed. The other stand out was when half of Jen and Paul’s neighbours came around to sip champagne with us – it was the first time we had met most of them and they were so kind!”

Alex wore a gown with ruffled sleeves from designer Nevenka, she topped it with a floral jacket, also by the same designer, sharing “I didn’t plan to wear white at all, but I did plan to wear electric pink glitter boots, so my whole outfit stemmed from there. It wasn’t until I remembered this sweet little shop I once walked past when I worked in the city that I even thought of Nevenka. My mum and I went in for a secret fitting and Rosemary and Sam took incredible care of us.

I tried on two dresses and picked the one I came in to try almost instantly. Even though she was predominantly white (with amazing pink embroidery), the ‘Shadows of a Woman’ dress was the perfect representation of who I am and who I want to be. It was freezing on the day so I matched her with my Markaska Blazer (also by Nevenka) which is covered with beautiful flowers.” And of course, she dressed with the assistance of Jesse.

For Jesse, he chose pieces he already owned. “Given that we had planned for it to be a low-key event, I didn’t go the full black suit. Instead, I went with chinos, a jacket, and a button-up shirt. For sentimental reasons, I also had a bow tie that Alex had got for me years ago, along with a lucky dart pin.

I chose to wear brighter colours as we were heading into warmer weather, and the fact we would be surrounded by the lushness of the Ballarat Botanical Gardens.

All of my outfit, except for the shirt, were items I already owned. I’m fortunate enough to have plenty of decent clothes and didn’t feel the need to splurge – plus I can wear the shirt/jacket/chinos with an extra special memory attached.”

“We have a lot of sweet and nostalgic traditions in our lives. One is taking little polaroids of interesting moments and places. Alex would often post Jesse snaps on her travels, especially when she was in Japan, so it kind of began there. Once we were dressed, we thought we should take a little snap of each other for the fridge. They happen to be two of our most favourite photos of the day.”

“Don’t feel like you have to do everything on the ‘traditional’ wedding list” advises Alex. “You can get away with surprisingly less and still keep the wedding ‘feel’. Also, roll with the day no matter what. Things don’t always go to plan, but these often become memorable parts. And laugh a lot.”

The couple and their families, walked to the wedding together. “We didn’t do an aisle because that’s not the bride’s thing. Instead, we all walked from Alex’s parent’s house to the gardens as a group. It was a bit gusty, but it was a good laugh and no one seemed stressed.”

Alex and Jesse wed at Ballarat Botanical Gardens. “In terms of venues, it was just the ceremony at the Ballarat Botanical Gardens, followed by a lunch at Alex’s parent’s apartment.

We chose the Botanical Gardens primarily because of the open space and the conservatory. Price was a factor (so cheap!) too, but less so. We got lucky with the conservatory as the flowers on display were meant to have been removed at the time – we think they were nice enough to leave them for a few extra days just to help us out.”

Their ceremony was just as personal, just as beautiful as you would expect, officiated by  Mrs Moss, who just happens to be the groom’s mum. “Once the decision was made, we knew we wanted Jesse’s Mum, Tiffany, to marry us. I think that might have even been our first call, to let her know and ask her if she would. That was honestly one of the most special parts about it and we know that connection in that space cannot be replicated. The other ‘must-have’ was the dog, Archie. Jen (Alex’s Mum) even made him wear a special bow-tie with Rosemary attached for luck.”

Alex says of the ceremony “We wanted the whole day to be easy. No stress or fuss. Our ceremony was under the old oak tree on the Tom Beaumont Lawn where we all stood in a circle. Jesse and I read letters to each other that we typed on our old typewriter with paper we chose in Venice. We didn’t want to do vows as it’s not really something we believe in. My father, Paul, read a poem by Padraig O Tuama to start it all off. We just wanted the space to feel shared and equal.”

Alex and d Jesse opted out of a first dance, but they did share a private moment over very special music, remembering “As our wedding wasn’t traditional, we didn’t do the first dance. Instead, we went away on our own to the statuary pavilion, where we played ‘Between the Tea and the Toast’ by Clare Bowditch. Alex sang and Jesse played the guitar. This was something that we wanted to just keep between ourselves and as a ‘one time only’ lovers duet.”

“We laughed a lot, we rode the waves that came along with the day (like the crazy wind and freezing air), we put value in the things that really meant something to us, we shared the simple moments and made them feel big, and most of all we got to snuggle the puppy dog for the whole day.”

“Em was a dream to work with” rave the newlyweds of their chosen photographer. “We knew she was shooting our friend’s super-secret backyard wedding, so we kind of knew her deal style-wise. Her eye and vision were exactly what we wanted, something more tactile and vintage feeling without being too much of a throwback, but super quirky. We felt like she would understand where we were coming from with all the weird traditions and she absolutely did. We never felt posed and it just felt like we were hanging out with a friend. Em is frankly, the best in the biz.”

After that special first song? A poignant moment for Jesse. “One standout memory was as we finished our song, we walked out of the gazebo only to find a feather perfectly placed on the ground. I put it in my pocket as a lucky feather and have kept it ever since.”

The newlyweds celebrated their marriage with their families with lunch at Alex’s parent’s apartment in the Old Monastery. “Alex’s parents stayed up late the night before to cook up some family favourites, with Alex’s Dad nearly running late just to finish it off.

For dinner, we drove to Torquay for fish and chips, which is a little tradition we have. This is something we wanted to do for ourselves, a quiet dinner by the beach. They were nearly closing up when we arrived, but we got in just in time.”

There were no formal flower arrangements, but the reception luncheon did include some beauties. “As we were surrounded by flowers in the gardens, holding or carrying flowers was not at all essential for us. Jen (Alex’s Mum) arranged the flowers on the lunch table with a collection of blooms that reminded us of our differing family stories and some friends who we had lost. Sunflowers and peonies were the real statement pieces.”

There were little personal touches everywhere. “Alex is kind of superstitious about the number eight and the idea of luck, so we included a lot of elements that referenced that. At its craziest point, we even considered getting a mini Zoltar for the lunch table, but we settled for a classic magic eight ball and a lucky cat cake topper. Jesse wore lucky dice cuff-links and Alex wore a lucky horseshoe and clover pin her Mum gave her many years before.”

And one final touch we can’t help but share? “We didn’t really DIY, however, we asked the wonderful Bridget Bodenham if she could custom make a cake plate for us, so we could add it to our collection of her work. Jen and Alex handmade the cake themselves the night before, so that also had that lovely ‘homemade by your grandma’ vibe.”

It was such a delight to share your day Alex & Jesse! Thank you so much! Thank you also to Em Jensen for sharing this stunner of a day with us.