It was a family trip that led Jemma and Will to decide to finally plan their wedding, and they did it in just 30 days. “I am from the USA and have been living in Australia for 6 years” explains Jemma. “Because of the pandemic I  hadn’t seen my parents in three years and my brother in four years. Jemma’s parents were coming to Australia for a visit and while the original plan was to get married in 2023, we decided to save everyone a trip and just do it while they were here!”

And so this October, in celebration of The Country Issue, their story gets to be told and it all unfolded on a beautiful country day on a farm just outside of Milawa. In what was set to be a two-day celebration, Georgie James Photography behind the camera, captured a day filled with beautiful autumnal tones, and a wedding filled with handmade details and a sense that Jemma and Will assessed each and every detail and chose only what resonated with them. And from the green velvet wedding gown to the old ute acting as a bar stocked with local wine, this is a day that embraced all the beauty

Jemma and Will’s story begins though thanks to Will’s sister-in-law Ellen, telling Jemma “Ellen and I met filming a movie in Sydney and when I moved to Melbourne, Ellen was the only person I knew. Ellen told me how she and her husband (Will’s brother Simon) thought that we would make a great couple – they’d even mentioned it to Will and Simon’s mum! The initial set-up was a bust as neither of us thought the other was a catch. 6 months later at a barbecue at Ellen and Simon’s house we met again and this time there were sparks!”

On a weekend getaway with close friends to nearby Tahthra, Will decided to ask Jemma to marry him. “One day we went to the beach alone. I was eager to get to the beach and Will was faffing about in the car, I got annoyed. He said “I need to put my phone away”, I said “I already put it in the glove compartment,” he was already flustered but finally got to me and walked to the beach.

On the deserted beach Will hugged me and said “Hey do you want to get married?” I was a bit in shock and thought he was joking and said “Really?” Will said “Yes, and I even got you a present.” Will pulled out a white gold engagement ring with two diamonds on it. It was the ring that his parents had gotten engaged with 30 years prior and it fit my finger perfectly.”

In true country style, the couple married on a farm right outside of Milawa, Tells Jemma” The ceremony and first party took place on the family farm in Milawa Will is the farm manager of. We were married on Will’s mother’s lawn overlooking a paddock and stream, partially under a large oak tree with the leaves changing colour. After the ceremony, everyone walked down the driveway to the farm shed which we had decorated with flowering Eucalyptus branches cut from the farm, stringed lights and long tables rented from the local hall.”

In keeping with the autumnal tone of the day, Will chose green for his wedding attire. “Will wore a heather green, herringbone, wool suit jacket, a sage green button down, brown pants and brown boots.” explains Jemma. “He chose not to wear a tie because it felt too formal for the occasion. Will and his brother Simon went shopping in Melbourne together. Like me, Will wanted to find something that was second-hand but being 6’4″ that proved to be impossible. He did manage to find a red wool blazer that he wore to the second night party with dark jeans, a patterned top and boots.”

Jemma wore a gown of green velvet she found on Facebook Marketplace. “I value sustainability and wanted to wear a second-hand dress. The clothes were never what was important to me but I wanted to feel authentic to myself. A white wedding dress never felt like it would be right and after attending several other weddings I decided I couldn’t picture myself in one.

Mum & I were heading down to Melbourne to explore consignment stores for dresses when I found the dress online. The woman I bought it from had bought it as a bridesmaid’s dress and had it shortened (she was a good 5 inches shorter than me). When we picked it up however it was the perfect length, comfortable and just felt right.

I also wore a second-hand brown leather fringed jacket, second-hand RM Williams, Will’s mother’s necklace and long underwear underneath (it hailed moments before the ceremony!). For the party, the next night I wore a two-piece Shona Joy ensemble which was a bandeau style twist top with high-waisted flowing pants, both in a cream, silky fabric. I paired that outfit with gold, crocodile cowboy boots and a diamond necklace.”

“Be yourself. Don’t do things because you feel like you have to” advises Jemma. “Lots of people will have opinions (and sometimes it is worth relenting to keep the peace), but traditions that don’t feel right when you think about them won’t suddenly feel right on the day. And try to be relaxed, it makes the whole experience better.”

“Georgie James is an absolute legend” gushes  Jemma. “We had worked together previously on photoshoots for my job and she knew immediately that Georgie was the right choice for the wedding. She was calm and collected, took our vibe and direction and made us feel comfortable in front of the camera. She’s hilarious too so all of the laughs are genuine.”

The rustic floral details on the day were beautifully put together by Peppers Run. Says Jemma “Our friend and local flower grower/florist Sarah Heales from Pepper’s Run did our flowers. We let Sarah use her creativity without many constraints. We wanted to use the native flowers and greenery that were on the farm and she worked them in seamlessly. The bridal bouquet included proteas, flowering gums, billy buttons, chrysanthemums, and soft pink roses. The colour pallet was rust, sage/eucalypt green and soft pink. We wanted the colours to fit in with the natural autumn colours of the farm.

Sarah is new to floristry and we were her first wedding! She smashed it out of the park and delivered such a beautiful experience. She took our concept and embellished it perfectly. And worked non-stop to make sure everything was beautiful.

“We decided to do the bulk of our photos before the ceremony so that we could spend time with the guests. As we were taking photos the guests started arriving and we got to meet them all before the ceremony. It made the day feel really special to be sharing it with our nearest and dearest and took a lot of the stress away. We were already a committed couple and this was just a celebration of our love.

Our friends brought their 3 and 5-year-old to the wedding as well. The three-year-old Ella had a flowy tiered dress on and she danced the afternoon away in front of our musician. Jemma joined Ella in dancing to the music and it was such a sweet wholesome moment.”

The pair walked down the aisle hand in hand, choosing ” 1-2-3-4″ by Fiest “The song was a fun song from our teenage years” remembers Jemma. “We decided to walk down together because we didn’t feel that the traditional “giving way” was something we agreed with or wanted to do.”

The vibe of the ceremony was as relaxed as the rest of the occasion and officiated by friend Archibald Jacobs. “We wanted the ceremony to be relaxed and authentic to us as a couple. Neither of us is religious or traditional in any sense. Our friend Archibald Jacobs was the celebrant and he focused the ceremony on us as a couple, our love and story, and our hope for the future. Will and I each wrote our vows. The ceremony was short and sweet and we didn’t have any readings.

It was all outdoors and the weather was inclement. All the guests were told to bring umbrellas and prioritize their warmth over fashion. It hailed moments before we walked down the aisle. All this meant that we didn’t do the signing as part of the ceremony, but rather later on in the shed.”

“I love the confetti shot right after the ceremony. It was cloudy and wet the entire lead-up, then right as we kissed the sun came out. It was perfect!

It was important to both Jemma and Will that they involved their favourite people not just through the day but throughout the plans. “I wore a necklace that Will’s grandfather had given his mum Jan. My mum Jennifer helped me get dressed and came to the hair and make-up appointments with me which was a lovely quiet way to spend the lead-up together. We were pretty non-traditional in most aspects of the day!”

This was a wedding FULL of handmade touches, tell the newlyweds. “The biggest one was that our catering was a homemade soup made by Will’s mum, Will’s aunty and us as the couple. We served it in bowls from the op shop with local bread. Will’s mum made a cake and our friend Sarah (different to the flowers). The day before the ceremony Jemma, Will’s mum Jan and Sarah (florist) took the ute around the farm and cut branches of flowering gums to use in the floral decorations. Will’s brother James made the esky. James also handmade two beautiful benches from redgum logs from the farm. He sanded and polished them and they were the front row for the ceremony. Our family and elderly guests sat alongside them.

Jemma’s brother Ben and his partner Daisy folded the paper cones for the confetti throw, Ben did the design on the shed wall, and Daisy helped Sarah with the flowers. We had a friend playing the music for the ceremony and several hours of the party but then switched to a playlist that all of our guests had added songs to in the weeks preceding. We also didn’t have invitations, we just called everyone and our thank you notes were done by our very close friend Keyna Masin. She did a woodblock print of Jemma’s bouquet and printed them on high-quality paper. Our thoughts were that friends could keep them as an artwork memento of the wedding.”

“Jemma’s younger brother spray painted an artistic J+W on the wall of the shed. Will’s brother James used a fallen River Red Gum tree from the property to create a massive esky ( flattened on top with two big rectangular holes dug out). We also parked our old 1984 Landcruiser ute along the shed with a beautiful garland of flowers along the side and a redgum slab in the tray to use as our bar.”

Remembers Jemma “After the ceremony two friends (aged 55 and 85) came up to me and told me that no man had ever said such beautiful things as Will had said in his vows and how lucky I was.”

The couple did their best to use local vendors wherever possible. “Everything coming together was my favourite part!” tells Jemma. “With such a short time frame it really was a sprint, but things fell into place like they were meant to be. It made me proud to live in this community that is so supportive and flexible and creative!”


The newlyweds celebrated with their guests at an after-party the next day, booking Hotel Jesus for the celebration.  ” The interior is all tiled and the vibe is immaculate” remembers Jemma. “We booked the entire venue and had roving food and cocktails all night. We didn’t take a single picture, but it was awesome.”

Congratulations to you both Jemma and Will! Thank you for sharing such beautiful stories of your beautiful day with us, and thank you to Georgie James Photography for today’s stunning images.