Twelve years ago at a 60th birthday party, Alyssa and James’ paths crossed for the first time. “It was a meeting by complete chance, which happened 12 years ago. I was 16, James was 17 – we met under very unusual circumstances at a 60th where I was a waitress and James a guest” remembers Alyssa. “I had my eye on him all night and when he came to ask for a drink I noticed his piercing blue eyes. It wasn’t until the end of the night when he asked for my number. Since we’ve both learnt how much we had been keeping an eye out for each other the entire night. (I did however spot him first, dressed in a pink shirt, I was hooked from the start).”
And after a decade together, the pair finally tied the knot in a stunningly elegant black-tie occasion in the beautiful Hunter Valley, The day captured beautifully by Zoe of Maple and June. Every detail stunning (wait until you lay eyes on Alyssa’s incredible gown) and heartfelt – the pair evolving traditions to suit them (a little kiss on the morning of the wedding!) and involving things that meant a lot to them in others (the greenery decorating the reception from James’ family farm.). It was exactly the dream day they wanted, says Alyssa. “It was just us. Understated, elegant and simple. We had no theme but wanted to ensure it felt more like a party for all, over anything else. It had been a long 10 years in the making we all felt like we had a lot to celebrate.”
The pair celebrated another milestone date when James proposed. “It was the week of our 10th anniversary, I was a bit cheeky and the pressure was on. James knew I was expecting something big and wow did he go big. He had planned a ‘casual’ Sunday evening dinner at North Bondi Fish. However that weekend he also had a bucks party on his agenda. So whilst he went off to the Hunter Valley on the Friday night to celebrate, I had my own plans (which included crying to my girlfriends at the thought he may never propose HA!). Then came Sunday afternoon and James was acting odd, I knew something was up. We were dropped at the opposite end of Bondi. I was unimpressed at having to walk the entire boulevard to dinner, but James insisted. Halfway down the boulevard, he starts pointing to the end of the beach excited about what he could see. I was more focused on getting to dinner and at this point couldn’t see what the hype was about.
Once we got closer and could see through the crowd we were greeted with a huge sandcastle surrounded by rose petals and candles. James wanted to get close and view it, I was reluctant and after a little persuasion (and some serious eyes) I followed. It was then the crowd parted and James took my hand to the sandcastle where he told me how much he loved me, how incredible the past 10 years had been and that he wanted to marry me! As much as I knew it was coming it still surprised me at the effort he had put into this moment. The sandcastle had special memories carved into it. We drank champagne on the beach, were also greeted with friends and family and basked in our happiness.”
Alyssa honoured plenty of “something olds” to start the day. “I wore my Grandma’s sapphire and diamond ring, which was my something blue. I had also started my day in a long ivory silk slip matched back with a vintage silk ivory dressing gown that was my Mums.
The couple embraced tradition and yet, they still did it their way. “James and I didn’t believe in not seeing each other the day of our wedding. And so with our family’s permission was able to give each other a quick excited kiss and it was ‘see you down the aisle’ and off we went to get ready for the day.”
“There is nothing I love more than James in a tuxedo” laughs Alyssa, James opting for a navy MJ Bale tuxedo. “There is something about it that is so sharp, so gentleman like. With this in mind, we wanted to tone it down slightly, going with a softer palette of navy.”
The bride’s incredible gown was by Dan Jones. She tells “My style for the day went in the complete opposite direction I had initially planned for (and yes I am so glad it did). I wanted something unexpected, that wasn’t what anyone had ever seen before. I certainly ticked these boxes with my dress from Dan Jones. I did make some subtle changes to my dress to ensure it was special to me. I added a matching cover-up for the ceremony in matching fabric, which was later removed for the reception.”
Alyssa and James were married at beautiful Morpeth venue Wallalong House. “Wallalong House from the day we viewed it together took our breath away (it wasn’t until later I realised I had been a flower girl at that venue 15+ years before). There was something homely (I suppose you could now say familiar) about the property. It had incredible gardens and the view from the house was beautiful. It was important for us to have our ceremony and reception on the same property and the tent that Wallalong House offered was the exact feel we wanted. Romantic, unexpected and magical.”
The moment Alyssa remembers and treasures the most? “The most special – the feeling of my stomach dropping when my Mum pulled my veil over my head right before I walked down the aisle.” Alyssa chose Lana Del Ray’s “Young & Beautiful” to play as she walked down the aisle with her mum and stepfather. “There is something eerily beautiful about the song. I wanted a wow moment.”
The couple wanted their day to feel like a “theme” so they married the weekend before so that they’re on the day ceremony would be less formal. “We kept our ceremony short and simple and were officially married the weekend before. We wanted it intimate and short to capture the attention of guests and have the documentation signage out of the way. Our guests could enjoy the afternoon drinking champagne and listening to our acoustic singer Anyerin.”
Alyssa and James loved popping bubbles, the couple drinking champagne from 2009 together – the year they met.
The couple’s chosen photographer was a decision they completely stand behind. “Our incredible photographer Zoe from Maple & June was introduced to us through a great friend of mine. From day one Zoe listened to my (long) list of requests. I was adamant I wanted snapshots of moments, nothing too posed and photos that expressed the love, respect and admiration James and I have for each other. She truly was incredible and through heavy rain, she not only captured these emotions between the two of us but also the love from our friends and family. I still to this day am in complete awe by the shots she took.
I cannot name one favourite. Zoe captured so many intimate moments between James and me. I suppose one of my favourites is James and I at the end of the aisle, I’m holding his face and we’re about to kiss, but there is a stillness, we are in the moment taking it in. It is magic. My other favourite would be one where I am holding my dress and James is too. I’m laughing and James is looking at me smiling. I remember it was raining, my dress was soaked but I didn’t care. I could hear music I felt like I was in a dream.”
Alyssa’s favourite part of wedding planning? “Planning the party we would have to celebrate 10 years of love and happiness. Having all our friends and family around in one place was truly special. The buzz in the house the day of the wedding with our bridal parties and family and seeing the smiles on everyone’s faces. It was a really happy time.”
Says Alyssa “It’s true, marry your best friend. Find that person who loves what you love and vice versa. Find someone who is caring, sensitive and humble. Don’t let others try and change what you want for your day, stick to your gut and you’ll never be happier.”
The tables were decorated with greenery from the groom’s family farm, explains Alyssa. “Over the years James and I have spent many days at his family farm. It was important to us to incorporate these memories into our wedding day. We did this by taking branches from their family olive orchard and laying them down on the tables at our reception. We had thick, lush, bushy branches, which not only brought back special farm memories but also our trips to Italy.”
“I had a strict colour palette of white and greenery. Katie from The Botanical Workshop understood my brief completely and ran with it. She created the most incredible arrangements of white roses, phalaenopsis orchids and dahlias.”
“It was essential we acknowledged those who are no longer with us – my dad as well as both sets of our grandparents. We had three large candles that glistened all evening dedicated to them.”
Alyssa and James entered their reception to the groom’s favourite song “What Is Love” by Haddaway.
Alyssa and James adore every single one of their dream team. “Just to name a few, Zoe from Maple & June who shot our wedding, we are forever grateful for her work! Katie from The Botanical Workshop listened to every detail I wanted for flowers. Hayley Wilson who also did my hair! Our caterers, Fennel & Co who did the food for our reception as well as our recovery day. Anyerin our acoustic singer (who learnt three songs we requested the week prior). Kurt from The Barefoot Bride who shot our wedding film. We were lucky to have such an incredible team who all played such big parts in our day.”
James shares his favourite moment of the day. “Well apart from the obvious, seeing the most incredible woman walk down the aisle, it was the few times when Alyssa and I consciously took a few minutes to break away from it all and reflect, as a new married couple, that everyone was here to celebrate this important milestone in our lives. At one point in the night, we left the tent, just us two, and looked back at all the guests in the glowing lights under the tent, watching them laughing, singing, and having fun – and they were all there to celebrate this day with us.”
Another of the bride’s favourite moments? During her husband’s speech “James’ speech when he spoke of my Dad, he said, “To Peter, I hope that I am the man you envisioned for your daughter, I promise to keep her feeling loved, laughing and smiling throughout our life’s journey together, even if that means ruining the sad scenes in movies that we watch together – just to make sure she is never crying.”
The newlyweds chose a Billie Eilish tune to play for their first dance. “One you wouldn’t expect for a wedding, however perfect for us, ‘Ocean Eyes’ by Billie Eilish. The lyrics ‘can’t stop staring at those ocean eyes’ sums up James’ crystal blue eyes that stole my heart from the day I met him. There is something incredible about singing and intimately dancing looking into a set of eyes that changed your life.”
The Barefoot Bride was chosen by Alyssa and James to capture their day on film.
Congratulations Alyssa and James! What a beautiful day you shared and what an honour to be able to publish it. Thank you both and thank you to Maple and June for sharing today’s beautiful occasion with us!