Jodi & Mark

Newlyweds Jodi and Mark say their wedding was a study in international cooperation! Jodi (a local WA born and bred girl) lives and working in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Mark, her groom, is an Englishman living and working in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Their wedding took place in the Margaret River region. They admit that planning a wedding from three different countries was at first stressful, as they couldn’t go and meet with their suppliers to make final decisions! They soon realised they’d have to trust their gut and their talented team of vendors. And what a day they managed to create from afar! There to capture it was Photogerson and Ben Delfs. Below, Jodi recalls how she and Mark met, how their wedding came to life and gives some advice on planning your big day from overseas.

Mark and I met in Saudi Arabia where we both worked. Mark is English and I’m a local WA girl. We were friends, then went on our first date nine months after I moved to London. On that date we took a walk in Green Park and Mark got a blister from his new shoes. We sat down and he took his chance to kiss me and the rest was history!

When it came time to get married, Mark wanted a big wedding as he was only getting married once! I do not like being the centre of attention. We came to a happy medium of a laid-back rustic type theme at a very chilled winery. We just wanted an atmosphere of friends gathering to have a fab afternoon/evening in a beautiful location with great food wine and music!

The wedding took place on March 7, 2020 (just before the COVID lockdown) at Swings and Roundabouts Winery in Yallingup, WA.

Throughout the planning process I was able to make two three-day trips home to find my dress and view the winery! I am not a dress person and all I knew was that I wanted something light and comfortable to wear that I could enjoy all of our yummy food in! I found my dress at Samantha Wynne in Perth. Samantha helped me find the dress, did all of the alterations two weeks before the wedding and generally kept me calm about how I was going to look on the day! If any brides are wanting a personalised dress experience, then Samantha is your lady!

My bridesmaids wore burnt orange dresses from Goddess By Nature. The colour went so well with our laid-back rustic view, and it was the first bright colour that Mark liked so I ran with it!

My florist Nikki from Botanical Blooms delivered all of the bouquets and other flowers fresh on the day. My bouquet was spectacular. I had a large arrangement of natives combined with greenery and roses that Nikki had colour matched to my shoes and the bridesmaid dresses. She also set up all of the flowers and table decorations at the venue on the day. I had so many compliments on the flowers, I don’t think we could have chosen anyone better.

I wore my great nanna’s ring as my something old. I also had one of my grandma’s handkerchiefs in my bouquet.

Mark carried his grandad’s watch in his waistcoat.

For the groom’s attire, all I told Mark was no black as it would be hot! He was more bothered about everything matching and looking good than me! I think a large part of this is that he is English and likes things just so! In the end he chose navy trousers, white shirts and a navy and grey waistcoat with light blue ties. They looked great!

We had our ceremony and reception at Swings and Roundabouts Winery. We did not want separate venues and having the guests have to drive all over the place when they had already come from all over Australia and the world.

We chose the Margaret River Wine region in WA as I spent all of my childhood holidays there and it’s beautiful. Mark was keen on the idea of a winey and Swings had the relaxed feel that we wanted. Mark did not see it until the day before the wedding so thank goodness he liked it! Kaitlyn, Mindy and the team at Swings were wonderful and helped with all of the planning and making the day run smoothly. We wanted to be outside and discussed a marquee. We came across giant tipis from Yallingup Event Hire and Mark decided that’s what we were having. They turned out brilliantly. Hayley helped us organise all of the furnishings, the tipis, lighting, dancefloor and she did all of the set up for the day!

It was raining before the ceremony. Mark texted me while I was with my dad being driven to the venue and told me we would quickly do the legal part and then go undercover to read our vows. I lost it. The driver had to put up with my colourful language as I told him that in no uncertain terms would that be happening! If I was going to be romantic in public then everyone would be listening during the ceremony not later on when they had all started the celebrations! It all turned out alright though as when I pulled up the rain stopped, and we got the full outdoor ceremony we wanted!

I walked down the aisle to ‘Canon in D Major’ by Pachelbel as Mark loves classical music. Our DJ, Rob Southgate from Private Pickle, was brilliant. He organised the music for the whole day, was MC for us, and dealt with last minute speech requests! Our ceremony was super special because we made personal vows to each other which really meant a lot to me as I am quite practical, and this was my chance to show Mark I could be romantic.

We wanted a short meaningful ceremony I was dead set on having us create and read personal vows to each other. Our celebrant Caz Copeman helped us to create the ceremony and we each wrote our personal vows the night before the wedding! I loved Mark’s to me, and he was super surprised and loved mine. I even got all of my new in-laws crying when I borrowed a quote from Winston Churchill (Mark adores him!).

Mark’s favourite memory is walking back up the aisle holding my hand finally married and seeing the happy faces of all of our family and friends!

In remembrance of my grandad (my mum’s father) we chose a beautiful vintage soft top mustang as our wedding car. Lisa from Pop a Cork Tours was the driver, she had done a test drive to check the timing and put up with my rather uncouth stress during the drive as it was raining at the time! All was well though as we pulled up, the rain stopped, the sun came out and we had the outdoor ceremony we wanted!

Mark had his three brothers as his groomsmen: Adam, Jonathan and Tom. I had my sister Cassandra and two friends from when I used to work in Saudi Arabia: Ashley and Sarah. Unfortunately, due to COVID flight cancellations, Ashley was not able to make it from Canada to Australia so at the last minute my dear friend from Saudi Arabia, Sarah (and my current housemate in Abu Dhabi), stepped in and luckily the dress we had ordered for Ashley fit her!

Luke Gerson from Photogerson was our photographer. He was amazing. We both wanted more candid shots than posed. And we don’t like being photographed. We did a FaceTime call with him from Abu Dhabi (difficult as video calling is banned there) and he knew sunset time on the day we had chosen. He was the one for us. He also did an engagement shoot for us a couple of days before the wedding so we could get pics at sentimental spots for me from my childhood. He just blended seamlessly into the day and our pictures are everything we wanted.

On the day Luke worked as a team with our videographer Ben Delfs. Mark stated that we had to have a drone if we had a videographer and Ben sure did deliver his wish! Luke and Ben both blended into the background and were there for all of the candid shots and moments that we wanted captured. I could not recommend a better pair of blokes to capture the day!

Our styling was from Yallingup Event Hire. Hayley and her team were fantastic and for those having a destination wedding I highly recommend organising something like this so you can just enjoy your day!

Guests were also able to choose their own wedding favours from a trunk of Australian nick knacks that my sister had put together. We saw many of the guests the next day using their gifts, which we were really happy about!

We had chosen to have a feast style sit down dinner under the tipis. Every table had mains and sides and the guests could choose what they liked to eat. The food was amazing, and our guests loved the style of dinner as many had never experienced it before.

During the dinner my mum gave a speech and then unveiled her surprise. She had organised for a solo artist Karin Page to sing her song ‘Kings and Queens’ as a wedding present. Karin was kind enough to gift us a signed copy of the single after her performance!

Guests were able to take home cupcakes from our wedding cake. It was made for us by Summa Taylor from Sweet Stylin. We had a naked fruit cake and yummy lemon drizzle and red velvet cupcakes. Due to the time scale of us arriving in Australia for the wedding, we were not able to do a taste test which we were nervous about. But Summa was a champion and the cake and cupcakes were divine!

We chose ‘It’s a Wonderful World’ by Louis Armstrong for our first dance. It is a beautiful slow song and perfect for me as I am not the world’s best dancer! From there we went straight into ‘LOVE’ by Nat King Cole and then we danced the night away. The dancefloor was under the stars and all of the guests pulled out their best moves including my cousin showing us his version of ‘The Worm’!

Our last song was ‘My Way’ by Frank Sinatra, which is played at the end of many English weddings. It was a great end to the night and then our guests were transported back to the hotel by Gannaways. Mark and I joined the guests for the journey back and we all had a great sing along on the coach which was a perfect end to the evening!

Despite all of the difficulties of organising an international wedding, I would say to anyone wanting to do it just go for it. Trust your gut, go on recommendations from your major suppliers as they all tend to work together and know each other from the wedding circuit in the area.

Make sure you have a dedicated organiser on the day and have someone else to do the set up and take down so that you can enjoy your day.

Jodi and Mark’s wedding film by Benjamin Delfs

Ms Floral Says: Wow Jodi and Mark! A huge congratulations on pulling off such a stunning and joyful wedding from the other side of the world. I can feel your happiness radiating from your words and the incredible imagery. Wishing you both all the very best!