Jess & Jordan
You know how much we love a truly personalised wedding and for Jess & Jordan, their big day was so very beautifully theirs. They chose a drop-dead gorgeous location (hello The Calile Hotel) and their goal? “Finding things to make it feel like ‘our’ wedding, not just another wedding. Even if some people look at the wedding and just see basic wedding elements, to Jordan and I everything was handpicked to try to represent us and who we are and what we like so that it became a representation of us as a couple.”
Jess was on the money with that – because it truly was completely customised (as evident in every beautiful image by Tessa Shannon Photography). From the song the bride walked down the aisle to (written by Jordan’s dad) to their heartfelt vows said along against the setting sun. Jess and Jordan have so graciously shared every detail of their plans, so read on for their stories!
The pair met while working in a youth program, tells Jess “We both were volunteering in a youth program. I instantly saw Jordan and was attracted to him, he was born in the UK and had come to Australia to study/work so obviously meeting a guy with a British accent when I’m just used to the Aussie accents instantly ticked my box, also he’s just hot.
It took a good couple years to get his attention, even though he claims he was attracted to me from the beginning (but never made a move). I decided to text him randomly (after three years of volunteering together) just to throw out some bait to see whether it would amount to anything, I remember it being something silly like ‘hey I know this is random but there’s a guy at work that’s from the UK and I keep expecting to see you when I hear him speak’ honestly so cringe to think back on. He took the lead from there but I like to boast that I made the first move (GIRL POWER).”
Everything on the day was held at The Calile Hotel. Jess noting “We didn’t have a preference which made the search a bit more difficult. I knew that it would determine the style and theme of the wedding and until that was set in place nothing else could go forward with planning. I had started looking for places maybe six months before the proposal just to get a feel of what was out there.
After months and months of continuously looking at places and having no luck, I started to feel deflated and turned to an Instagram scroll break. I had started following The Calile Hotel because I wanted to visit there with Jordan, the thought never crossed my mind to hold the wedding there until during my little scroll break I stopped on a post of the hotel pool and was thinking about how badly I would love to be there. I pretty much had a lightbulb moment and realised it was a hotel, they held events and weddings. This could be our location. I enquired straight away, heard back from Kate almost immediately and got on board trying to convince my family and Jordan that this is our wedding location.
I flew out to Brisbane (because Jordan was living in the UK) for the venue viewing and was locked in from the moment I stepped out of the Uber and looked at the hotel. It was stunning. Every part of the hotel was just drenched in style & the architecture was gorgeous. When Jordan saw photos/videos he was sold. We decided because the wedding was going to be in Brisbane with all our friends and family having to travel interstate (and some international) we wanted to try to make the wedding as accessible as possible for them. The Calile hotel was a 20-minute drive from the airport, and decided to hold both the ceremony and reception at the Calile so there was no need for any commuting between locations, even giving them an accommodation choice to stay at the hotel to make it easier.”
Getting ready didn’t completely go to plan, admits Jordan who chose a taupe suit from Asos. “The colour of the tan suit was chosen based off matching the complexion of the hotel, I wanted to wear something that suited the surroundings of the venue as well as suited our skin tones. I didn’t want to do the traditional black suit that I am used to when it comes to dressing up and attending previous weddings and wanted something that would be special and different for the wedding.
Because all of us were international one of the groomsman bought what he thought was going to be a matching suit colour to the rest of us. The morning of I decided to check to find that he had more of a white linen suit compared to all our tan suits. I called him straight away to tell him and he rushed to David Jones, demanded the attention of the sales assistants to try to help him find a suit that was as close to the colour of the rest of the groomsman suits. He succeeded.”
One of Jess’s favourite memories of the day? “The morning getting ready with my bridesmaids. We had a lot of time on our shoulders in the lead up to the ceremony. Makeup started at 8 am and the ceremony started at 4 pm. So it was just a lot of sitting around and chatting altogether and laughing, even just the fact that the girls that I hold closest in my heart were surrounding me and all together in one room was precious.”
The bride’s stunning gown? It’s a Madi Lane Bridal gown from Luv Bridal. She shares “If anyone knows me, they know that I like to wear classic foundation pieces (really just trying to say I’ve got a monochrome wardrobe and only wear basics), so when it came to picking out my wedding dress I had a firm idea in my head that I was going to wear a classic white sliming bridal dress. I didn’t want any lace, beading pretty much didn’t want anything that seemed too or resembled a princess dress because that’s just not me.
I went to my first bridal shop, Luv Bridal, with my mum, younger sister and best friend (who was my maid of honour). I knew previously from looking at their dresses online that I probably wasn’t going to find much that I liked but decided to go ahead with the appointment just to start trying on dresses. I told my dresser that I didn’t want off the shoulders, anything that didn’t have sleeves (for any fuss of constantly pulling up my dress if it started slipping down), no lace or details, just a classic simple white dress. We tried on about 4 dresses and none of them felt right, slowly we started picking out dresses that had a bit of detail, and started going out at the waist. Finally, after trying on about 10 dresses, the shop assistant pulled out a dress and started with “I know you said you didn’t want anything like this but maybe just try it on”. It was a strapless with little off the shoulder sleeves, laced from top to bottom and wasn’t slimming, everything I didn’t want. I walked out, saw my mum and best friends face and they instantly started crying, I quickly walked over to the mirror and looked at myself and felt like a beautiful bride. I started crying too. I had found my dress and it was absolutely everything I said I didn’t want but somehow felt like the dress I was destined to find.
Most people were surprised with my dress, even when I asked Jordan multiple times what he thought my dress looked like he described the dress I went in thinking I wanted, my friends were the same. My veil was vintage, I wasn’t sure whether I wanted a veil or wanted to do something else, it was able 3 or 4 weeks before the wedding, my mum had given up asking about me wearing a veil when I went thrift shopping (which is something I do all the time), for the first time I found a veil that was lined with lace and had an old fashioned comb attached. I was in love and thought it would be the best addition to my dress. Everyone I told was gobsmacked that it was purchased from a thrift shop and worked so well with the lace that was already on my dress. It’s still my favourite element of my attire.”
Let’s talk blooms! Jess and Jordan chose to work with Mrs Gibbons Flowers on their wedding day flowers, the bride sharing “For the bridal bouquet I just wanted white roses, I find them to be so elegant and wanted to keep it simple with all the details that my dress and veil provided. The bridesmaid’s bouquets were small green foliage with some brown leaves in them. The groomsman had buttonholes of a combination of both the bride and bridesmaids bouquets with a white rose and green foliage.
The florals for the ceremony were mainly in the arbour that was our alter. It was filled with white roses and flowers with an assortment of different types of green foliage. It was decorated on just one corner of the arbour, as was inspired by photos I found on Pinterest. It was the biggest piece and was designed in mind to then bring it into the reception room to be placed behind Jordan and my chairs.”
The bride chose a big reveal with her treasured father .”I did a first look with my dad on the rooftop because I had excluded the daddy & daughter dance but still wanted to give him something more than just walking my down the aisle. That moment meant a lot to the both of us and gave us the privacy to just live in that moment without any busyness of people around us and him seeing me in my suite getting ready. It was a moment to just pause.”
Jess and Jordan held their ceremony at The Calile Hotel’s amphitheatre, noting “Our location for the ceremony was outdoors in their Amphitheatre space that was two levels up from the ground which made it feel like it was just sky around us and allowed us to create the vision we had for the layout. We had drinks and canapés served directly under the ceremony spot, overlooking the pool in a private area in front of the doors to the beautiful reception room. This made it easier for family, especially grandparents and our friends with children to not have to wander around far and be able to become accustomed to the surroundings if they needed to go to the bathroom etc throughout our entire wedding. Our reception room was just one open space, which again gave the blank canvas feel for us to design with the help of the events coordinator, Kate, to create the setting we wanted for the reception.”
“Seeing Jordan’s reaction when I walked down the aisle” was one of Jess’s favourite parts of the day. “I kept telling him in the lead up that he either has to cry or have a massive smile on his face because everyone looks at the groom and I want a good reaction. We made him turn around so that I could position himself properly in front of him and get my dress fluffed out before I walked down the rest of the aisle. When he turned, his face just broke down and he started crying and it was the most beautiful moment. It makes me cry every time I see photos or that part in our wedding video.”
The bride walked down the aisle with her father to a very very special song. “My father in law wrote a piano piece for me to walk down the aisle to, which was absolutely beautiful. My bridesmaids and I cried the first time we listened to it. As said previously we wanted to make our wedding personal so we tried to utilise the different talents our friends and family have to include in our wedding. He also was the one to marry Jordan and I. My dad walked me down the aisle which I think was one of his favourite parts of the whole day.”
Jess and Jordan were married by Jordan’s father, in a very special and sensitive ceremony, the bride remembering “We wanted to make sure that everything important to us was included in our ceremony including music and religious practices. We didn’t want to have a long ceremony so we spoke to Jordan’s dad about what we wanted to include and didn’t.
We decided that we were going to participate in Communion and had two of our friends play a worship song, “Build my life” by Housefires, to give us the privacy to share that moment and have our guests enjoying the item. We asked Jordan’s dad to just make it personal and no need for any formal language and to share stories or just whatever felt comfortable while he was performing the ceremony so that he could enjoy the moment as well. We didn’t do any Bible readings from anyone other than Russ, Jordan’s dad. During the wedding rehearsal, the night before we all agreed that we were going to do a tunnel exit that the wedding party formed for Jordan and me to leave/dance through just to make it a bit more fun and different to what we’ve seen from the different weddings we’ve been to. It was to show our cheeky and not so serious side and that we’re still two big kids having fun.”
Jess’s favourite part of wedding planning? “Finding things to make it feel like ‘our’ wedding, not just another wedding. Even if some people look at the wedding and just see basic wedding elements, to Jordan and I everything was handpicked to try to represent us and who we are and what we like so that it became a representation of us as a couple.
Even just the feeling of being a little bit rebellious and cutting out some traditions that were expected to stamp that it was something we planned & felt like doing.”
The wedding day style was chic, elegant and modern, just as Jess and Jordan designed it. “The style was minimalistic with clean lines and small bursts of greenery. We wanted the atmosphere of the wedding to feel personal, we didn’t invite a lot of people and made sure that every element of the wedding reflected either Jordan or me. Even our vendors became friends which made the wedding feel even more special.”
“It was two days after we got married that wedding restrictions came into play because of COVID-19. It was really special that we were able to go through with our wedding with no changes and all our guests still able to come and go back home in time before lockdowns came into play without any worries.”
Jess cannot sing photographer Tessa Shannon’s praises highly enough. “I love Tessa, I think anyone I’ve spoken to about my wedding, whether it was in the lead-up or the aftermath always just heard me singing her praises.
I found Tessa months & months before our engagement, she was the first vendor I locked in. When I found her Instagram page, which was by chance, I fell in love with her photographs. I knew that I would be able to trust her and that she would be the perfect fit for us, even before enquiring to her. Once we make contact I was sold. She’s become one of my friends and was someone that made one element of the wedding just easy.
The photographs she sent us were filled with all the emotions that were being felt in those moments, whether it was heavy emotional moments or the fun that was being had on the dance floor. Every photo is priceless.
Funny story. Before Jordan and I got engaged (but after I found her and pretty much locked her in) she ended up shooting one of Jordan’s best friend’s wedding. We both didn’t know she was one of the photographers and we would be at the same wedding. When I was getting ready alone in the bathroom (because Jordan was a groomsman) I got a message from her apologising. I was so confused and thought maybe she was going to tell me she wasn’t going to be able to try to save us a spot in March for our wedding. Turns out that she had recognised Jordan from my posts on Instagram and had introduced herself and told him in front of the groomsman that she was going to be the one shooting our wedding. From her story, they were shocked and kept joking that I must be proposing to him soon based off that. It was the funniest moment ever. The boys to this day probably think I’m still crazy for organising a photographer before we were engaged but Tessa was too good to wait to try to lock-in. ”
In something was a little bit different, Jess and Jordan exchanged vows after the wedding ceremony, alone. “We decided that we were going to do traditional vows during the ceremony and then proceeded to do our written vows to each other on the rooftop with just the photographer, Tessa, and Videographer, Jake, to capture the moment.”
Jordan adding “My favourite detail was probably doing our vows in private to one another. It made it more special and I wasn’t worried about trying to use fancy words or sentences that would impress or showcase to our friends and family how much Jordan means to me and how much I love him, but I was just telling my best friend all the promises I intend to keep.”
Got to make sure we get Jess and Jordan’s proposal story into this feature because it’s a story too good not to share! “During our period of dating, Jordan had moved back to the UK while I waited in Sydney working to save up for a move to the UK once we were married (which we both agreed was the time I would move over so I could plan the wedding in Australia), because of the long-distance we had a lot of discussions about time frames of when we would get engaged so it wasn’t an out-of-the-blue surprise proposal.
I had planned to visit him in September 2019 so that we could catch the last of long summer days in Rome, Italy (which is my favourite place in the world). I knew it was going to happen there, mainly because my best friend kept giving me updates about my engagement ring status that was solely inflicted by me with the amount of pressure and questions I kept asking but had no idea when.
I’m known to be very cheeky and surprises never work out because I take notice of details and things that seem out of place or character so before we arrived in Rome I had already found the ring box when Jordan was at work and located what day & place it was going to happen which was our first full day in Rome. I didn’t tell him I knew, just FaceTimed my best friend freaking out.
That morning when I went to have a shower I came out to find him writing a letter and at that moment when we locked eyes, he knew I had figured it out and for the most part, the surprise was ruined. He was upset and was unsure about how to proceed with his proposal plan, I sat him down and told him that we were in Rome and that I was so excited for the day ahead with or without a proposal that if he wanted to change the day he could and I would still have the best day exploring the streets and eating yummy Italian food with him, OR we could call it ‘Proposal Day’ and do all the things we had originally planned for the day and then when he planned to propose he could and it would top off the best day. We chose the latter.
We set off to walk the streets to the Trevi Fountain. We ate pizza shortly and had the BEST bruschetta either of us has ever had and continued walking around in awe of the beautiful city we were in. I had forgotten during the day what was still expected to happen because we were having so much fun and making so many memories. My cousin from Australia had ended up in Rome for an extra day so we made plans to go to dinner with him (who conveniently was a photographer & Jordan had asked shortly after to sneak around and video/photograph the proposal), it was only during dinner that I noticed how quiet and nervous Jordan looked. Then I remembered.
The sun started setting and Jordan practically jumped out of his seat saying he wanted to catch the sunset and we needed to start heading to a lookout he had located. My cousin was playing along as he didn’t know I knew, I was trying to act the part and be confused by what was happening. When my cousin ‘excused’ himself just before we entered the lookout location to ‘take photos over there’, I turned to Jordan and started teasing him and getting hyped up to try to get rid of the nerves that were making him stiff. It worked until we both walked through the entryway of the lookout location which was The Orange Garden, I started crying and Jordan started frantically walking around trying to find the perfect spot. Finally, we set our stuff down & I do not remember a single word he said. Before the proposal I had a lot of friends say they didn’t remember the words said so I was determined to remember every.single.word. That flew out that day because as soon as he started speaking I was sobbing so hard and all I was thinking was ‘oh my god this is happening, this is the moment I’ve been waiting for’. I didn’t even hear him say “Will you marry me?” I was just staring at him sobbing that he had to say a bit louder, “Is that a yes?”. We had created a bit of an audience so when I finally started nodding my head there was a burst of applause. My cousin joined us shortly after and took some more photos, we watched the rest of the sunset altogether and then left my cousin to go celebrate in a restaurant overlooking the town square, with some wine in our hands, whilst listening to live music in the streets. It was the most perfect day & I wouldn’t have wanted to change anything.”
If Jess had to give any advice to couples yet to tie the knot? “Make sure to surround yourself with people that have done a wedding before, they can always help you if you’re stuck or unsure about what to do because they’ve most likely been in a situation like you are in before and can offer advice and wisdom.
Remember that it’s just about marrying your best friend. Try not to stress too much (even though that’s something you’ll probably roll your eyes over) but at the end of the day, all you remember is the memories you create with your partner and friends and family on that day. You don’t pay a lot of attention to the details of the wedding that you spend months stressing about and getting frustrated about.”
“I think a theme for the day for us was just fun,” notes Jess. “The getting ready with the girls, to heading off to the ceremony and photos afterwards and the reception, we just had a lot of fun so I can mainly think of funny stories. A special moment though was probably my first look with my dad on the rooftop. It was so fun to head up in the elevator and see dad standing with his back turned knowing I was going to get a loving reaction from him. He turned around and his hands shot up to his mouth and he looked like he was going to break down crying. He couldn’t talk and I could only hear a whisper from him for a good while before he was able to collect himself to talk again. It was a really special moment.”
The reception was decorated with fresh floral details, many of which were re-used from the ceremony, explains Jess. “All the flowers on the day I had spoken to the florist to be used both at the ceremony and the reception so that there was no unnecessary waste created. We had little bundles of greenery that were placed on the ground sporadically to create the illusion of the aisle. They were then brought inside to line the head table and some were placed on the end of the guest’s tables closest to us. For the guest tables within the reception, we were provided with beautiful gold decor from the venue that could also act as little vases with only enough room at the top for a couple of flower stalks to fit. The florist and I decided to get different flowers in colours that would compliment the reception room. I trusted my florist to make it happen or change things that she thought in her professional opinion would be better”
“Wedding favours were something that I just couldn’t figure out, we wanted it to still be personal and that would be special to each guest. The idea of the polaroid for the seating card came from my wedding viewing at the hotel and then I decided to put a bit more thought into each polaroid for each guest and make it the wedding favour as well, because who doesn’t love polaroids!”
The newlywed’s debut on the dance floor took much discussion shares Jess. “Choosing the first dance song was a battle. Jordan and I have different styles in music, which was only one factor. While I wanted something romantic and what he called, cheesy, he wanted something indie sounding with all his suggestions just not fitting the brief of what I pictured for our first dance.
We had asked one of our good friends, Tim, to play our first dance song for us, it was probably a month before the wedding we by chance came across the song ‘Couldn’t love you more’ by John Martyn which was the first song we both instantly agreed to. Since we were doing long distance and I only saw him for a day from when he arrived in Australia and the wedding, we didn’t get a chance to practice our first dance or make a little game plan. My dress had a train so when we weren’t hugging and kissing each other I was telling him to stop moving around in a circle because it was twisting my dress too much haha that was probably the only thing we didn’t plan for, my dress and the fact we’ve never really slow danced before.”
“I loved all our vendors. The florist, Amber, was such a sweetheart. She was constantly checking in on me and asking how I was. We had countless photo conversations that were meant to be professional but would end up chatting about movies and other non-wedding related things.
Our events coordinator Kate was a lifesaver. From the beginning she was someone I just trusted, she was so kind and accommodating. She listened to any concerns I had and helped be a buffer when I needed. She tried to make not only myself and Jordan feel confident but also was happy to talk to my dad and help with any requests and concerns he had. She made planning out the wedding so easy, helped me when I was unsure or didn’t know how to proceed further or would make an idea I had in my head come to life without me getting a headache trying to figure out logistics.”
The dance floor never stopped. “We had given the DJ’s portal list to our wedding party to help make sure that we had good tunes throughout the night. It was fun watching everyone get into it and seeing the progress of people starting to dance, to seeing the alcohol kick in and the confidence in others to start dancing. We even had a dance-off between the boys and girls in the middle of the dance floor. Boys won.”
Jess and Jordan chose MadRose Films to capture their day on film.
A big congratulations to you both Jess & Jordan! How wonderful to be able to share your day! Thank you both and thank you to Tessa Shannon Photography for today’s beautiful wedding.
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