Real Wedding – Ash & Joe, Noosa NSW
When it came time to plan her own stunning soiree, event planner Ash knew precisely how to create an unforgettable event. Even with last-minute lockdowns, this was an epic occasion, filled with impeccable style notes and the sweetest personal touches.
No one expects to get the call on the morning of their wedding that lockdown is to kick in that afternoon. But Ash and Joe rose to the challenge, gathering friends and family for a celebration to lift everyone well above the covid blues.
A monochrome pallet of sleek black and white contrasted perfectly with the lush green surrounds of the sun-drenched garden, setting the tone for a freshly modern yet timeless moment. Pillars of soft cloud-like florals created a uniquely breathtaking backdrop, against which Ash and Joe exchanged their I Do’s. Ash wore a dress designed and made by her Grandma, a true vision of stylish simplicity and effortless elegance, incorporating her mothers own wedding pearls as a perfectly personal finishing touch.
A Livestream to over 700 people around the world, video messages from afar and satellite parties across the globe meant that distance didn’t stop the love for these two stunners from flowing. As they concluded the day together on a deserted beach, bathed in golden sunset, the incredible emotions of the day were evident – all captured to perfection by Tessa Shannon Photography.
Joe and I met ski instructing in Thredbo in 2016.
I knew Joe was the one after our first long-distance stint. It was six months of phone calls, facetime and cards. Things were still the same, if not stronger, after the distance. We did another few stints apart until we decided it was time to settle down in one place and made the move back from London to Australia in 2019.
Joe asked me in the flat we were living in, over one of my favourite movies, bottles of wine, and takeaway. It was perfect for us.
COVID had just hit when we got engaged, and we weren’t sure how long things were going to last or how long it would be for life to return to “normal”, but I was so excited to finally be my own client (being an events planner myself) and bring to life our wedding day in a way I’d always imagined, and in a way we would never forget. So, naturally, I started planning. It gave everyone something to look forward to, and I was able to focus on all the parts of an event I love myself, which is always the memorable details.
I was going for a modern, black and white themed wedding. We had decided to get married in my family’s beautiful backyard in the Noosa Hinterland with our reception to follow cruising down the Noosa River at Sunset on the Catalina. Being in a coastal town, I wanted to avoid too many cliché coastal touches and instead wanted to focus on the ‘less is more’ kind of vibe whilst having touches all over the wedding that people remembered. COVID had other plans for the day, but the end result was better than I ever could have imagined.
I was inspired most by real weddings and I actually spent a lot of time researching suppliers that didn’t necessarily focus on weddings only as I found them receptive to different ways of doing things. Tessa, our photographer, and Emilia from Bloodwood Botanica were the biggest support during the planning process and on the day for me, bouncing ideas both creatively and logistically with me and really made the experience so fun – as planning a wedding definitely has its stressful days (global pandemic aside)!
With Joe being from the UK, we had a lot of uncertainty surrounding our wedding day. As it got closer, COVID was still causing lockdowns, and border closures and restrictions were changing regularly. With uncertainty being the common theme in everyone’s conversations, Joe and I realised that we simply just wanted to be married. Craving some stability during all the uncertainty surrounding us meant that the decision to go ahead regardless of restrictions made it easier for us to let go of some of the plans we’d made, and unfortunately, the hope of international guests coming.
It was so important to me that Joe’s family and friends and my interstate friends and family felt like they were just as much a part of our special day. Joe’s parents even opted to host a garden soiree in their home in the UK. A good photographer and videographer were the only non-negotiable parts of our day, especially when we knew that it was going to be the best way to share our day with friends and family who couldn’t be there. We had even lined up a Livestream for all our international guests. This was the best decision we could have made because little did we know what would unfold next.
As we approached the 14-day countdown to the wedding, the borders shut to NSW. My best friend and maid of honour, who had been with me through it all, was frantically working out how to get into QLD via hotel quarantine, along with the 65 other guests (and another bridesmaid) based in Sydney who had no intentions of missing the day. It turned out that, unfortunately, it just wasn’t meant to be, and our wedding that started at 130 guests had gone to 90 and then overnight very quickly dwindled down to 45.
I was devastated to not have half of my bridal party and so many other important people in my life there with me, but I just had to keep reminding myself that being married to Joe was what the whole day was about and that we could always celebrate again when things settled, and the borders reopened.
So fast forward to the morning of the wedding. I was sitting in the hair and makeup chair, with my two local bridesmaids in the room and my maid of honour and two other bridesmaids on FaceTime when we received the news that at 4pm that day, Queensland would be going into a snap lockdown.
Our ceremony started at 2pm, and our florist and caterers were all set up, and I had NO idea what to do. I called Joe, who, of course, thought I was joking, and we both decided that it was not an option to postpone. All my bridesmaids were amazing; they got on the phone to all the guests whilst I contacted all our other vendors and told them the ceremony would still go ahead, but our plans of cruising on the Catalina would not be happening, and instead, we’d be having a ceremony followed by some canapés, cocktails, and speeches before everyone had to leave by 4pm.
Also, because Joe’s bridal party was missing and we had some friends “fill in” with him, and I was missing two of my bridal party too, we decided that Joe & I would stand up at the alter on our own so that no one felt that they were missing out.
We had over 700 people tune in to our Livestream from all over the world, and we’re so glad we could share our wedding day with everyone who we wished could have been celebrating with us and more!
I was incredibly lucky as my amazing Grandma used to be a bridal dressmaker. At 82 years of age, she offered to make her first granddaughter’s wedding dress, and I would have to say I am the luckiest girl alive. It was perfect and everything I could have imagined. My dress had my mum’s wedding pearls as the straps as well as my drop earrings, and my mum hand-beaded the denim jacket I wore at sunset. My beautiful godmother also got me a fur for the evening, which I absolutely adored. My shoes were Valentino and were my “something blue”.
The bridesmaid’s dresses were also made by my Grandma in a beautiful beige colour that matched the groomsmen’s linen jackets. The boys just wore black chinos and their staple RM’s.
I think we had two favourite moments of the day. One would be having the whole beach to ourselves at sunset for our portraits. It was just us there (and a few swimmers), and it was so nice for us to take a big deep breath and think, “what on earth happened today!”
Another special moment for us would have had to have been playing Joe’s dad’s speech on a screen alongside my dad & sister, who read a speech on behalf of my maid of honour, Jess. Joe’s brother and best friends also filmed speeches, but given the time restriction, we watched these later in the evening. I had also made a surprise video for Joe that had over 40 of our friends from overseas send quick messages, which Joe got really emotional seeing, and that was so special for me too.
Meaning of marriage.
Marriage to us means we are in the ultimate partnership – the true meaning of ‘in it together’ through the good, the bad, and the ‘did that actually just happen?’ moments. For all the important moments in life, we are a team.
Aisle: The Luckiest by Ben Folds
Signing: Chateau by Angus & Julia Stone
Recessional: This will be by Natalie Cole
Funny stories or near disasters.
The snap lockdown ticked almost every box; it is now a funny story and a near disaster all in one!
Words of wisdom.
Have backup plans and be content with them! I think because we had a rainy-day backup and a restricted number back up when the lockdown happened, we were prepared for things to be not exactly as we planned and dreamed, and it made the day a lot easier for everyone.
Some of the touches that I loved on the day were that all the graphics I had designed we mimicked and sent over to the UK with Joe’s family. I arranged the same cake and presents for his “OG” groomsmen for the morning and even had his dad, best friends and brother film their speeches so we could play them here as if they were there. It was honestly these touches that I thought would be the standout details of our wedding, everything from the #meetthebirds branded coasters, the champagne tower, the video speeches and the custom cocktail made with all of Joe’s favourite ingredients.
Surrounding yourself with a team of fabulous professionals means that no matter what happens (and let’s face it, in covid times, who knows what could derail your perfect plans), you’ll be in the best possible hands. We’ve stepped through the key things to consider to ensure you’ll end up with an absolute A team, over on the blog.
ASH & JOE’S VENDORS
Ceremony venue: Family Home
Celebrant: Dan Ford Celebrant
Photography: Tessa Shannon Photography. Phenomenal, We felt so comfortable with Tessa and knew that she would deliver the most incredible memories for us in her photos. She is more than just our wedding photographer now; she is our friend!
Styling & decor: Flocked Collective (bride’s business)
Florist: Bloodwood Botanica – Emilia is a floral genius, and I trusted her wholeheartedly with whatever she thought would be best; and I’m so glad we did because everything she touched turned to pure magic.
Hair: Maddison Warner (Close friend of the bride)
Make-up: Natalie Hunter Makeup
The dress & veil: Bride’s Grandmother
Shoes: Maison Valentino
Rings: Melissa Crennan Jewellery
Bridesmaid’s dresses: Bride’s Grandmother
Bow ties: H&M
Bar: The Sip Adviser
Cake: Chocolate 2 Chilli
Stationery / Signage: Bride & groom’s close friend
Hire and on the day coordination: Gatherings Co