It was a beautiful day in a favourite park when Jess and Hudson tied the knot. The pair ditched absolutely everything that they didn’t want, instead asking just a handful of guests to witness their marriage in a place that holds many happy memories, before they celebrated big time in an after-dark reception. It was just as they wanted, with less of a focus on “things” and all of the focus on people. “It wasn’t about the dress, it wasn’t about the food, it wasn’t about the decorations,” remarks Jess. “Everything special for us was about having all our special people in one place – an opportunity we may not have again (until our funerals).
Notably, it was so cool to be able to share with these people the inner depths of our relationship, the inner depths of our hearts and what makes our relationship OUT OF THIS WORLD!!!

Complete with a polka dot dress (and just wait until you read about a decision Jess made last minute that can we just say is, well brave?) and photographs by Anna Dewar, if you want inspiration to pare everything back, if you want inspiration for the important things to focus on above all else, then let Jess and Hudson’s story be your guide.

The couple first came to be when they both swiped right, in the middle of lockdown. Remembers Jess “We went on a socially distanced walk and then happily agreed to be each other’s State Sanctioned “intimate partner,” the rest is history.
Here’s a killer line from our wedding celebrant’s description of our meeting:
“When Percy Shelley, the poet, met the future Mary Shelley, the author, they kissed and in Percy’s first message to Mary he wrote, ‘soul meets soul on lover’s lips’. When Jess first messaged Hudson, she wrote ‘Wow Hudson, U fulfil my 80s fantasies, gonna dream of u tonight’.”

And the proposal? It came at a moment that was the most perfect of all! He tells “Our engagement came as a surprise to both of us. We were at the tail end of a short trip away in a quiet rural town. staring at a beautiful purple sunset. Despite lacking the typical resources for a proposal (ring and words) the impulse was overwhelming for me (Hudson), and I felt that no amount of preparation could recreate a moment as special as the one we were in. So I proposed right there.

The next day we went to a local market to purchase an engagement ring that we picked out together. I generally stop and think quite a lot before making any decision. So for one of the most impulsive decisions in my life to also be my best one, makes the moment all the more profound for me.”

The couple chose Collins Oval Yarra Bend Park for their ceremony. “A special place for us,” explains Jess. “Before the wedding, we would often have picnics at this spot and use our picnics as an opportunity for connection and checking in with one another.”

Jess walked down the aisle with both of her parents, recalling “I  didn’t want to leave either of them out. The song that was playing in our Spotify shuffle when Hud proposed was called “Diamond Day” by Vashti Bunyan, so we chose this for the processional. It’s a really magical song.”

Jess’s bouquet was a last-minute decision. “We didn’t have any flowers for the day, again cost and resource-saving. However, about two hours before the wedding, I decided it would be good to have something to hold in case I was nervous, so my Dad ran down the road to the local florist and chose a cute little native bouquet for me, it was perfect.”

Already legally married, Jess and Hudson asked a good friend to perform their marriage ceremony on the day. “So we were technically “officially legally married” the week before at the Registry Office, however, we saved the good stuff for the ceremony on 4 Feb. We asked our good friend Nick to become a makeshift celebrant for the day, and Nick knocked it out of the park, you wouldn’t know he had zero celebrant qualifications. Nick actually did a lot of research and interviewed a qualified celebrant to prepare for the role.”

The couple added Jewish tradition to the ceremony. “We just wanted the ceremony to be as authentic, casual and natural as possible, with a highlight on having such a special opportunity to show everyone there how much we loved each other. We recognised that there’s no other occasion in life where your family and friends get to hear the deepest and most intimate parts of your relationship.

Jess is Jewish, so she and her family wanted to include some cultural elements, as a way of paying respect to her ancestors and culture, we did want to make sure that the religious elements were “2023” appropriate, so we made sure we both got to smash a glass at the end of the ceremony. The main part of the ceremony was when we said our “vows” to each other, this was roughly a two min speech each where we shared why we’re so good together and our commitment to each other.”

“TBH we were absolutely sick of wedding planning and didn’t put a lot of effort into the small details. A good friend, Tessa, brought a rug from her living room for us to stand on during the ceremony, which was such a fab idea.
Jess loves making digital art so made a “HUD N JESS FEB 4 EVA” sign to welcome people to our party at the Mess Hall, which picked up on some Y2K themes – dolphins, holographic prints, use your imagination for the rest. We also had some Y2K/vaporwave graphics projected onto the wall above the DJ at Brunswick Mess Hall.”

“There were some important cultural aspects included in the ceremony and reception. Importantly, we symbolically drank out of Jess’s family heirloom “Kiddush cup” that her grandparents, great-grandparents and great-great grandparents also drank out of.
And even more importantly (lol) the first thing that we did when we entered the reception was start the Hora, a Jewish wedding dance, involving being lifted on chairs. It was a first for many of the audience members, but was so much fun!”

“Jess’s 18-month-old nephew, Zach, was our ring bearer. We thought he would be walking by the wedding, alas, he was not (everyone develops at their own pace lol), so we were grateful to have him supported to “walk” to present the rings by Jess’s sister and brother-in-law.”

“We counted all of the close family and friends that came to our intimate ceremony in the park as our “wedding party” (roughly 20 people). We wanted all of them to be recognised as incredibly important people in our lives and relationship. We asked everyone to wear whites and light colours, nothing symbolic, just thought it would look nice in photos next to the earthy greens and browns of the park.

I think in general, just having all of our nearest and dearest in one spot was so special. We had some family and friends come from USA and UK, so humbling and comes back to that point of why we wanted to have a wedding – to get all of the people we loved in one spot on one special day.”

“Our favourite photograph is the one where we are standing on the hill, holding hands, with the light/sky behind us.
We look so majestic!!! Almost like we’re in the sky!! We’re also looking straight into each other’s eyes (kind of seriously actually) and I think it shows exactly how we were feeling after the ceremony – “Omg we really just did that, I’m so proud of you and I’m so freakin in love with you.”

Jess chose a divine (polka dot!) dress from Zimmermann, and made one epic decision just a day before the wedding. “I (Jess) was not sold on the idea of a “traditional wedding dress,” and I’ve always gone “against the grain.” Firstly, for sustainability and cost reasons, I rented the dress from The Volte (the dress is Zimmerman), it arrived 4 days before the wedding, slightly anxiety-inducing when it didn’t fit quite right, but with the pinning skills of Hud’s Mum, we made some temporary fixes and it covered all my bits for the entire day! The dress gives me strong pixie/fairy vibes, I have a low-key obsession with fairies and thought there was something magical about being a fairy in the park on such a special day. I matched the dress with my white Doc Martins, because 1. comfort 2. I don’t do heels and 3. it was a park!!!! Lastly, yes, further anxiety-inducing content for the readers of this, but I decided to shave my head THE DAY BEFORE THE WEDDING, dye it pink and put love hearts in it, as my Maid of Honour said “That’s the most Jess thing you’ve ever done.”

And for Hudson? Well, he also made a last minute change. “I (Hudson) knew exactly what I was going to wear for months before the wedding, a pair of cream suit pants and a collarless white shirt. Unfortunately upon trying it on two days before the big day, the fit was quite awful. To clean it up, I rushed out to purchase a cream waistcoat. Fortunately, I managed to find one that matched the pants perfectly and pulled the outfit together.”

The couple loved working with photographer Anna. “Anna Dewar was our photographer for the ceremony in the park” explains Jess. “We are friends with Anna, she is one of Hud’s good friends from school’s partner. We didn’t just choose Anna because she was a friend though, we chose her because she specialises in weddings/celebrations in nature, and she has photographed some very non-traditional weddings and always amazingly captures the authenticity of the couple. We knew being a quirky, non-conventional duo, that Anna would represent the fun we have together, as well as the deep undertones of care and respect in our relationship.

Anna blew our socks off on the day. Firstly, she was so efficient – she roped the troops in line and made sure every photo we needed was taken, no dawdling! And secondly, she was so so so kind and intuitive, as we mentioned before, she knew that having 20 minutes together to just be peaceful and with the 2 of us would produce the best pictures (and moments). Anna made us feel so comfortable, made us laugh and allowed us to be vulnerable and intimate with each other.
We are so grateful for Anna and cherish the photos she got of us on the day.”

“Our most notable part of the day was the 20 mins we spent alone together, with just our photographer present, taking in everything and being so present after a whirlwind. After a huge morning, spent getting ready, surrounded by lots of people and nerves, and then an overwhelming and emotional ceremony, we were so grateful for a moment of reprieve, when our photographer whisked us away to a quiet nature trail, to take photos of us and allow us to be alone and protected from the busyness of the day. Although so simple, this is one of our favourite times of the day, when we felt most ourselves, and I think this is represented in the photos that Anna captured of us.”

Jess’s three golden pieces of advice? “1. Delegate – we learnt this one the week before the wedding – ask people to help, because they do want to and you don’t want to have to worry about anything minor on the day.
2. Take 20 minutes to be alone together and to soak and process all of the emotions from the day.
3. Do you want to do!! It’s so easy to get wrapped up in planning a wedding and thinking about what everyone else wants and the “conventions” of weddings. Think about yourself, think about your relationship and prioritize your enjoyment over others (sounds selfish, but it’s YOUR WEDDING).”

A big beautiful congratulations on your marriage Jess and Hudson, what a special day you had and how lucky you are. Thank you both and thank you to Anna Dewar for sharing this story with us!