It really is a month-long celebration of backyard bliss on The Home Issue and Jess and Stui’s modern, relaxed backyard wedding is no different.
When their original plans got cancelled due to a certain pandemic, the pair decided that a backyard wedding, celebrating what they wanted most of all, was just what they needed. “This venue was probably the single most important thing to us about the wedding” explains beautiful Jess. “It’s the place I spent most of my childhood, we raised our firstborn there for her first few years. Every Easter, Birthday, Christmas etc we come together as a family at that house. We felt it held such fond memories and was such a big part of our lives that it would be perfect to FINALLY get married there after seven years of engagement and two kids.”
Jess and Stui asked Zach Taylor along for the celebration, to make sure every moment was captured (I mean, wait until you see the incredible flowers Sir Botanical styled up!) for a day that really made the most of the backyard setting. Says Jess “We wanted our day to be a relaxed, casual, party in a backyard!”
Jess shares the story of how these two began. “We met at a mutual friend’s birthday drinks. He was able to strike up a conversation after he accidentally spilt his pint of beer down my back, whilst I was wearing a low back top. Our relationship started the same way it has always stayed; full of laughter and banter.” Stui popping the question over a celebratory diet coke! “I came home from work one day and a bag was already packed for me (mum had helped, thank god!). It was our anniversary so I had assumed I was being surprised by that. We checked into a hotel and sat on the balcony to have a celebratory diet coke (I was pregnant at the time) and he got down on one knee and started sweating profusely as he asked me. It was lovely, he planned it really well. I think the overall best part for me was that although we were locked in and were having a baby, he was still so nervous when it came to asking!”
Stu chose a relaxed look, with a very special piece, Says Jess “Stu wanted to be comfortable and casual. He chose a colour scheme and then added in some sentimental and personal parts. Chinos and a white shirt off the rack, but then added footy socks, and the blazer he had custom made for his best friend’s wedding. The best friend was a groomsman who passed away 4 months before our wedding. It was a really important element for him to wear the jacket that he wore at that friend’s wedding and I loved that idea too.”
Jess purchased her stunning beaded Rachel Gilbert gown off the rack. She shares “I had looked at the bridal gowns on their website and seen some that I liked. Went to their boutique for an impromptu try on with just my mum and daughter (4 yo at the time). I tried on the bridal dresses and couldn’t stop laughing. I just felt ridiculous and out of place in them. Then I decided to try on one of their gowns – not part of a bridal collection.
It was off the rack and fit like a glove, and I just felt comfortable and like myself. I loved the colour. I guess I knew deep down I was never going to go traditional. I thought it was crazy to buy it after one shop and 4 dresses tried on, so I left it. I then went running back in there an hour later and purchased it!”
The flowers were incredible, all styled by Sir Botanical. Says Jess “I went with toffee and blush tones, with pampas and dried grass for texture. We added in some dark features for contrast, and the florist used the most beautiful sky blue orchids that really popped. For the bouquet, I wanted simple statements. I added the ribbon to my bouquet as I loved that look. Once we had the colour palette sorted, I really let the florist do their thing. They have such a great eye for detail that I had full trust in them.”
Jess even lent her hand to a few little elements to help the day come together. “I used the trash to terracotta inspo from Geneva Vanderzeil to upcycle some op shop vases for the tables. We also did our own signage, playlists, and set up for the day.”
For her own walk down the aisle, Jess chose “Secret Garden” by Bruce Springsteen. “My dad walked me down the aisle. Anyone that knows him knows that he is the blokiest bloke you will ever meet. It was a surreal experience to see him emotional and how much it meant to him to do it.
For Jess and Stui, it was really important their children were a big part of the day. “We had our kids as flower girl and page boy. The celebrant (our friend) had secretly organised with my daughter that she would read out the final two lines of the ceremony and we had no idea so that was a special moment. We had a photo frame of our late friend that was held by groomsmen during the ceremony and placed in a focal point throughout the night. It even came with us to photos! It was important to us to still make him a part of the day. Overall we just made sure we had plenty of food, drinks and dancing tunes!”
The ceremony completely kept in line with the relaxed vibe of the day, officiated by Damian Martin. “We didn’t do any readings, we really just wanted it to be short and sweet. We wrote our own vows, which was nice because it felt like our personalities shone through the formalities, and made it even more genuine. It was quite a lighthearted ceremony. Our best friend is a celebrant and married us, so that was really special. He made the ceremony personal and seeing the photos of the guests during it, you could tell they really enjoyed it also. We just wanted it to make people smile, and to be relaxed.”
The most special part of the day to Stui? “The venue. What it meant to us to have it there, and how well it all visually came together on the day. It was really special to have all of our friends and closest family gathered at that house to finally see us married. It’s such a good backyard, and it was perfect for what we wanted.”
Jess’ bridesmaids wore skirts and camisoles from Seed. A plan which changed many times! Explains Jess”I had my sister (maid of honour) and three of my closest friends as bridesmaids. Because we had to cancel our first wedding (meant to be March 2020 – so covid happened and we cancelled 5 days out), there was a lot of time between selecting the first outfit and the actual wedding. In that time we had pregnancies and birth, and a knee surgery. So this resulted in 2 outfit changes for half, and three outfit changes for the other half of the bridal party. In the end, we went with a cami and skirt from Seed Heritage. Adjustable, elastic, and flowy – pure comfort and simple style that fit everyone well, and didn’t cost the earth.”
Jess gives you this sage advice. “The day flies by, and all those small things you agonised over for weeks are the things you don’t give a second thought to on the day. Make sure you allow yourself enough time to actually enjoy your own party! Use the photos as a chance to actually relish in it all. Wear something you know you will be comfortable in, and definitely kick your shoes off at 10 pm to achieve longevity on the floor.”
“He was nothing short of amazing” raves Jess, of the couple’s choice to hire Zach Taylor. “I have recommended him to anyone that will listen! He made us feel so at ease. I am really not comfortable with other people taking my photo, but he made it fun. The boys had a great time with him during the prep photos. He just has this innate ability to make people feel at ease no matter what is going on around them. He was really respectful around our friend that had passed and put in such effort to capture shots that included him and his memory. I love every single photo.”
Guests enjoyed a cocktail style, relaxed feast catered by Nosh Catering. “The caterer’s were great. The food was delicious, they catered to all dietary requirements so well. They set up out the front and did their thing and the wait staff were lovely. Everyone commented on the service, and how friendly they were. I didn’t have to give a single thought to it the whole day/night, they just came and did their thing and left.”
There were so many moments of perfection throughout the day, tells the bride. “I think another special one was the best man speech. Only he and Stu spoke, and he is the most politically incorrect person I know, so I was a little worried as to what he was going to say. His speech was perfect. I never see him cry, and he did as he spoke about me, our kids and our relationship. It was really special. Zach did a great job of capturing everyone’s reactions to the speeches too which has been so nice to look back on.”
The first dance? Just another tradition that these two didn’t want. “We didn’t do the first dance. We aren’t very traditional when it comes to this stuff, so we decided to scrap some of the “formalities”” explains the bride. “We only had two speeches, I didn’t throw my bouquet, and we didn’t have a cutting of the cake or first dance. We just made sure that once we had eaten and said hello to everyone we hit the dancefloor and stayed there the rest of the night!”
Congratulations Jess and Stui! How wonderful it was to share your story, Thank you both and thank you to Zach Taylor for sharing today’s celebration!