If you’re looking for a wedding that is utter sunshine, then might we introduce you to Jessica and Neil? Because despite lockdown changing plenty of their plans, the couple managed to create a day that was warm, fun, and full of endless summer style (right down to the Calippo ice blocks served post-ceremony!).”
“I think the main focus for our style, theme and atmosphere was that we had our family and friends celebrating with us (COVID saw us reschedule the wedding once)” shares Jessica. “We wanted an atmosphere of warm hospitality and to create a happy and fun day for everyone! Our styling had a bit of colour and was influenced by the vendors we chose – most of them we had a connection to already – we trusted them with the details as they are all so capable and they helped create a really beautiful day.”
Making the most of Brisbane’s beautiful backdrop, the merry band were joined by wedding photographer Wildflower Weddings who captured every bit of the colour, the life and the party of this sweet & fun Brisbane wedding.
It’s a tale of two cities for these two, who met randomly at the races back in 2009. Jessica filled us in on the story. “Neil is from Sydney. I am originally from Brisbane. We met each by chance in 2009 while we were both at the races at Randwick, and I was in town visiting a friend. We both share a love of racing and all things sport, so it’s funny this is how we met. After I returned home, he sent me a sportsbook including a note with a tip for a race the following week – it won, paid a nice price and we have been together ever since! We did the long-distance thing for a while, before living in Brisbane, Port Macquarie, Melbourne and now Sydney.
And the warm, relaxed vibes that these two are known for? Well, it of course makes sense that it’s that special vibe that inspired just how Neil popped the question. “We live in Balmain, Sydney and Neil took me on our usual local walk around the harbour on a Sunday afternoon. He proposed in a quiet spot at Ballast Point, a park on the water with a ring that was his late grandmother’s and something his mum had given him before she passed away. Afterwards, we celebrated together at a little Italian restaurant nearby. Neil had also arranged for a jewellery designer to make my engagement ring which we did together afterwards – the stones from his grandmother’s ring are in my wedding band, and the gold band was recreated to make Neil’s wedding ring.
Neil and his groomsmen wore suits from Suitably Tailor Made, remembers Jess “Neil took the lead on the boys’ outfits and worked with Alexander, from Suitably to tailor their black tuxedos for the big day. On Alexander’s advice, Neil chose a different trim on his jacket to distinguish his suit from the groomsmen. They looked very dapper! Neil had personalised cufflinks I had given to him years ago and arranged for MJ Bale cufflinks for the boys. His shoes were from Aquila and the boys wore their own.”
“Unfortunately, two of our wedding party could not be there on the day (Neil’s brother Ev and my friend Emma) due to a snap Melbourne lockdown the week of the wedding. The bridesmaids arranged for cardboard cutouts of the bridesmaid and groomsmen which was thoughtful and hilarious. We made sure they were part of the whole day and came with us everywhere!
Something we are so appreciative of is how our florist offered to work with Melbourne florist, Flowers Vasette to create and deliver a bouquet and buttonhole for them and my Nana who couldn’t be there for the same reasons. The arrangements matched what we had. We loved that Anja and Alicia understood how much we wanted them to be there – the effort they went to make sure they felt part of the day was incredible.”
Jessica knew she didn’t want to stick to tradition for her wedding day look, finding a midi length Roksanda dress at David Jones. She tells “I didn’t want a traditional wedding dress and was looking for something simple, that wasn’t full-length and maybe had a bow. Just before the pandemic hit, my mum and sister flew down to Sydney for a wedding shopping weekend and my wedding dress was the first one I tried on – the bows on the sleeves and simple structure sealed it. It was a Roksanda dress from David Jones Bridal and I feel so fortunate to have shared the experience with my family. I then had it altered so it fit just right by Sew Special Sydney, who were brilliant.
I had a headpiece made (I love a hat!) and reached out to Stephanie Spencer Millinery, a Melbourne-based milliner who had made a hat for me previously. I let Steph do her thing which was a modern take on a classic look. It was stunning and one of my favourite pieces from the day and was also an experience I got to share with my Melbourne based bridesmaid who couldn’t make the wedding due to a snap lockdown. I found slingback pump heels from Aquazzura (they were a total splurge). With the bows and a headpiece, I kept my earrings simple – they were Keshi pearls by Natasha Schweitzer and they are something I wear all the time and love. I felt so comfortable in my outfit all day and couldn’t have been happier.”
Jessica and Neil held their ceremony at Mater Dei Catholic Church Ashgrove, the same church on the grounds of Jessica’s primary school, and a church where her parents are still strongly connected. The couple had a family friend arrange the flowers in the church, a note left for the couple to read about each of the flowers chosen and the meaning behind them.
Jessica walked down the aisle beside her dad. “I walked down the aisle with my dad, Ron (he got very emotional!). It was something he was very proud to be part of. We walked down the aisle to Yellow by Coldplay – our family friend played it on piano and he put together the arrangement himself. I was so happy to meet a smiling Neil at the end of it!”
“Both Neil and I felt comfortable getting married in a church we were familiar with. We wanted a personalised ceremony, which made our family and friends feel welcome but most of all was a celebration. The church and our Priest were accommodating of all our requests and suggestions. Something that made the ceremony was my dad and his three friends (The Tatty Tenors!) singing ‘Just the way you are’ by Billy Joel during the signing of the register. They also sang an Irish Blessing. We walked out of the church to ‘Can’t take my eyes off you’ by Frankie Vallie (they also sang this). It kicked off the celebrations!
We involved family and close friends as part of readings and had the lighting of family candles with my Mum and Neil’s dad.”
In his memories and notes of the day, Neil shares “I wasn’t expecting the day to have such an impact on me. To have our friends and family so excited to celebrate our wedding with us was very special. The atmosphere and enjoyment across the reception were amazing.”
The wedding party hopped on a bus from MiLimo Brisbane Luxury Limousine Service to get around the city, “Neil organised for buses to take guests from the church to the reception” remembers Jess. “For the wedding party and our photographer, we had a black Mercedes VIP sprinter minibus– such a brilliant way to travel together and a lot of fun!”
“It was so special that our family and friends were able to celebrate with us, after what had been a challenging year for everyone. We loved all of the personal touches we and others helped contribute to the day – from the ceremony to the reception.”
As high school friends, there was never any doubt who Jessica and Neil would choose as their wedding photographer. “I went to high school with Kirsty and have known her for a long time – she is just a delight. I couldn’t recommend her more highly – her photos are beautiful and she is the most capable, talented but super chill person. She made Neil, myself, our family and friends feel so comfortable and we loved her calming but fun nature. Kirsty is also incredibly organised and has made the entire process as easy as it could be from start to finish. We are so happy to have such a beautiful record of our day.”
Time to celebrate! Jessica and Neil gathered with their guests for a sit-down reception at The Calile Hotel. Jess remarked “It’s a beautiful venue, and as many people were flying in from Sydney, it gave guests the option to stay for the weekend if they wanted. They were also so flexible – I don’t think there was one request we threw their way that couldn’t be accommodated. The experience was second to none – we have had so much positive feedback from our guests about our wedding – including the hotel, the food, the drink, the service of the waitstaff, the spritz cocktail hour, the set-up of the room and the whole vibe of our day.
At the end of the night when we returned to our room at the Calile, Kate our wedding event coordinator left a wedding gift with champagne, treats and a framed photo she had taken of Neil and me while we were getting photos done on the rooftop. We had no idea and it was a beautiful surprise.”
The wedding party flower arrangements and reception flowers were styled by Flowers of the World. “I have known Anja and Alicia for years and wouldn’t go anywhere else! I showed them a few styles, flowers I liked and didn’t like, but left it up to them. My bouquet was a cascade with white orchids, roses and other flowers which was a little bit of a 50s look and something they suggested and designed. Once we had the bridesmaid’s dresses sorted, they arranged their flowers and those for the reception in this theme along with colours that worked with the Calile.
We chose to use the Anna Varendorf vases that the Calile can provide for the reception room, and Anja worked with these as a feature for the tables, creating low arrangements with hydrangeas to complement. The boys had white rose buttonholes with an olive leaf sprig. The olive leaf was something small Anja included in all of the floral arrangements on the day to symbolise friendship.”
The couple switched to their timeline to ensure they could spend plenty of time with their guests, explains Jess, “We made sure our wedding party photos were completed in time so we could spend this with guests. It’s one of the few times in life you have all your loved ones together and was a relaxed and fun way to begin the night’s festivities.”
“The most important thing for us was ensuring our guests and family felt welcome and we created a fun and happy day! We gave people special to us particular roles, which we did in various ways. We also wanted it to be a celebration with great food, drink and live music! Speeches from our family and friends were also really important and they were all brilliant.”
The couple also chose EventLive to live stream their day to absent guests. “After the last minute lockdown impacted many family and friends from attending, we arranged a live-stream of the ceremony through EventLive. I couldn’t recommend this more highly. The app cost $80 and we used an iPhone and gimble to live-stream our ceremony, reception & speeches. My nana’s feedback ‘it felt like we were in the room with you’ meant everything to us and we are so glad we could make people who couldn’t be there feel part of the day. The live-streaming was a last-minute decision we are so glad we did – it was easy to use and the quality was incredible.”
The newlyweds took to the dance floor to the sounds of “Love is in the Air” by John Paul Young. “It’s one of our favourite songs” admits Jess. “Neil’s brother is a talented musician (Joyride) and we asked the band we had for our reception (Hamilton) if he could sing the song, backed by their band. They couldn’t be more obliging and worked together before the day. By the end of the song everyone was on the dancefloor.”
Jessica and Neil credit much of the success of their day to the incredible vendor team they worked with – right down to their musicians Hamilton Band. “Our experience with all the vendors was incredible, and we think that’s because we used people/businesses that we had a connection to. We knew they were so capable and would deliver – we didn’t need to provide too much of a brief and let them do their thing! The church and our priest, flowers, photography, wedding reception, our hire car driver, hair and make-up were all stand-outs!
I will give a special shout-out to the Hamilton Band – live music was a non-negotiable for us. We chose a 5-piece band which included horns. They play music that caters to all ages and bring so much energy! They came highly recommended by a few people including our photographer and The Calile. The Calile also provided a stage which worked so well.”
“At the end of the night was finished with the band playing ‘Horses’ and ‘Simply the Best’ – Neil and I ended up on the shoulders of friends. We had an enthusiastic crowd!”
The biggest congratulations to you both Jessica and Neil! What a joy it was today to share your stories. Thank you for telling them and thank you to Wildflower Weddings for sharing today’s beautiful celebration.