Real Wedding – Jess & Jackson, South Yarra VIC
Real Wedding – Jess & Jackson, South Yarra VIC
Real Wedding – Jess & Jackson, South Yarra VIC
Real Wedding – Jess & Jackson, South Yarra VIC

Real Wedding – Jess & Jackson, South Yarra VIC


If a sun-kissed, lushly luxe garden party is your kind of vibe, Jess and Jackson’s sweet soiree is the perfect prescription. Modern elegance enhances each styling moment, providing a beautiful backdrop for the fabulous festivities to unfold.

As lovers of a traditional Melbourne tan track walk and soaking up the gorgeous botanic gardens, choosing Gardens House as the venue for their celebrations made absolute sense for Jess and Jackson. Throw in a festoon-lit dance floor, fab entertainment by Jack & Jordan, and post-lockdown excitement, and the day was destined to be nothing short of epic.

Jess went with her instincts in selecting the dream dress for the day, choosing a gown by Chosen by Kyha. A classic silhouette elevated with contemporary lines and a chicly modern headpiece by Claire Hahn Millinery, our bride looked every bit like a glowing goddess.

And of course, Jackson’s smile says he entirely agrees! Scroll on to soak up every moment of this gorgeous gathering, captured to perfection by Tess Follett.

The meeting.

We met at Derby Day in 2016. We were at the same carpark site at Flemington. We didn’t talk at all during the day but then ended up at the Laurel Hotel in Ascot Vale afterwards, which is when we officially met. Not where you’d assume great love stories begin, but here we are! We went on our first date two nights later at The Smith Hotel in Prahran.


The ‘one’.

It sounds very cliché but the night we went on our first date and Jackson picked me up from my apartment, I knew there was something different about him. I felt as though without knowing him or anything about him I could see the date turning into something bigger. The first year or so of our relationship was challenging as we did long distance from Melbourne to Adelaide. Jackson then decided to move to Melbourne and it really seemed like we were just destined to stay together.
Jackson agrees that after doing long distance for six months or so and realising the commitment we had to the relationship, we were on the right path to staying together.


The proposal.

Jackson and I got engaged in November 2020. The first weekend that Covid travel restrictions were lifted and we could travel more than 20km from our house, we went to Mornington for an afternoon. We took our then puppy to the beach for the first time and Jackson proposed to me there while we were having fish and chips. Unbeknownst to me, Jackson had been hiding the engagement ring in his footy bag since April that year. We had been in and out of lockdowns for months and he wanted to wait until he knew we could share the moment somewhere meaningful to us, and then celebrate with our friends and family afterwards.


Planning process.

Fortunately, when we began planning the wedding, we already knew all of the suppliers we wanted! Getting married in this post-Covid era, we knew everyone would be in high demand and booking up fast, so made sure to get in quick. We booked all our suppliers in January 2021, so 13 months in advance. This ensured we could get everyone who we wanted to work with (and we are thrilled everyone was available on our date!) and then we could work backwards from our wedding date to ensure we were organised financially. Of course, there were last-minute things that inevitably popped up the week of the wedding, but for the most part, the planning process was seamless and not stress-inducing. The biggest stresses in the lead-up were the weather forecast and guests pulling out due to having Covid!


Style inspiration. 

Long before we were engaged, I had my heart set on getting married at Gardens House. I love everything about it. Luckily for me, Jackson wasn’t set on any particular venue. We spend a lot of time at the Botanic Gardens and more specifically, walking around the Tan track. We spent an increased amount of time there in the Covid lockdowns and it really cemented our decision to get married there!

We wanted the event to essentially be a massive garden party! We manifested sunny weather for our day and were very lucky that mother nature delivered. The entire wedding was set up outdoors, there was festoon lighting set up around the dance floor and the gorgeous Botanic Gardens and summer sunset as the backdrop.

We had our acoustic players Jack & Jordan playing from before the ceremony until the end of the evening. They were fantastic and cultivated such an amazing vibe. We just wanted everyone to catch up, chat, dance, drink, eat and have fun!  For most of our guests it was their first wedding since the 2021 lockdown, and for many guests, the first post-Covid wedding. Fair to say everyone was just excited to be there celebrating and that’s exactly what we wanted.

I definitely sought the most inspiration from other people’s weddings, seeing how things looked and were presented in real life was really helpful in narrowing down things we wanted. I got a lot of inspiration and found most things I wanted via Instagram, which was fantastic. Watching suppliers’ stories was helpful, seeing what was implemented at other people’s weddings, as well as watching all their story highlights and checking out tagged photos.


The ceremony.

We wanted the ceremony to be casual and not too serious, whilst simultaneously capturing our story, our personalities and our journey to our wedding day. Our celebrant Georgia was fantastic and summed everything up perfectly! It was a 30-minute ceremony which seems long but it flew by and Georgia had everyone captivated with every word.
We wrote our own vows and I am so happy we did that. They were heartfelt and funny and captured the funny side of our relationship.


The look.

I had saved a few pictures on Instagram of a particular dress from Chosen by Kyha which I loved. One of their stockists, Sphere Gallery, who I also followed on Instagram, posted about having it in stock, and I purchased it online via Instagram, without ever going to try it on or ever once walking into a bridal store. I still never have! I found an amazing dressmaker, Anne Stowers, who tailored the dress to fit me perfectly. I just knew the dress style was exactly what I wanted. I didn’t want to confuse or distract myself by trying on an abundance of dresses just for the sake of it. I am thrilled with how the dress worked out, I wanted something minimalist, classic and timeless. Once again, I was feeling organised and purchased the dress in January 2021.
Jackson, on the other hand, likes to go with the flow and organised his suits in January 2022!


Favourite moments.

We both agree the ceremony was our favourite. Looking out and seeing all of our favourite people in one place to celebrate with us was so special and it was wonderful for everyone to get to hear our story and witness our union. We had our ceremony outside in the back garden of Gardens House and the weather was perfect. We were very fortunate.


Meaning of marriage.

Everyone keeps asking us how married life is going and it is true what people say – not much really changes! Getting married was really important to us and we wanted to celebrate our union and have the big celebration with all of our friends and family. For us, it highlighted the importance of working together collaboratively in all of the things we want to do together as a couple and as individuals. Supporting each other on our ventures and planning for the future. The wedding was such a wonderful opportunity to look back and reflect on our journey and relationship together as a couple, thank all of the people who shaped us and help us get to where we are today and remind us why we are a great pair.


Wedding soundtrack.

Aisle: Stand by Me by John Lennon,

Reception entry: Sexual by Neiked (very random selection but thing song came out when we first met and we used to sing it all the time)

First dance: You’ve got the love by Florence and the Machine


Funny stories or near disasters.

A very random story from the eve before the wedding! We organised to visit the venue the day before to drop off lots of supplies and when trying to get into the Botanic Gardens and surrounds, we were met with hundreds of federal police. We tried to explain to them we were trying to get into our wedding venue and were on a strict timeline. Needless to say, they weren’t very helpful. We eventually gained access to the venue and were told that the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, who was visiting Melbourne, had coincidentally decided to do a press conference and photo shoot inside Gardens House. Here we were in our activewear carrying candles, signage, slabs of beer and boxes of rosé, chatting to Mr Blinken’s security team about our wedding day while they waited for him to leave the venue. It was so bizarre but funny that he of all people held us up. It also meant that I couldn’t get a pedicure for the wedding because it took us so long to leave the Botanic Gardens following their convoy of cars! Lucky my dress was so long that you couldn’t tell on the day anyway.


Planning surprises.

Even though we were very organised with our planning, I was surprised by how stressed and unorganised I felt the week of the wedding. I was procrastinating about making little decisions and stressing over absolutely everything. In the end everything, of course, was fine! If there were minuscule things on the day which I knew weren’t 100% how I envisaged them – nobody else knew or cared! It’s important to let go just a little bit about things you can’t control in the week of the wedding or the day of, and just embrace it.


Words of wisdom.

Definitely try to enjoy the process – or at least, don’t hate it! It is overwhelming and there’s so much inspiration out there online. Trust word-of-mouth recommendations and take note of things you like at other people’s weddings and perhaps of the suppliers they are using. This is how we found some of our suppliers and we couldn’t be happier with how everything turned out. Definitely be organised and forward plan in this post-Covid era, particularly if you are set on certain suppliers. You will need to book everyone in quite far in advance to ensure you get everyone on the date that you want.

It is very cliché, but try to soak in as much as you can on the day. It’s true what everyone says, it went by in a flash. A lot of it is a blur and I can’t remember a lot of the night because I was trying my best to get around to everyone and do all the things. We really tried our best to be present and observe everyone enjoying the party. Also – stay hydrated! The smiling and talking will make your mouth so dry! I only had a couple of champagnes at the wedding and the rest of the evening I was sculling glasses of water which surprised me.




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Ceremony & reception venue: Gardens House, Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne

Celebrant: Georgia Mills 

Photography: Tess Follett 

Florist: Little Stag Floral Couture

Hair: Natalie Ragusa at Aerial Studio

Make-up: Amelia Webb

The dress: Chosen by Kyha from Sphere Bridal Gallery

Veil / headwear: Headband from Claire Hahn Millinery and veil by Anne Stowers

Shoes: Loeffler Randall

Rings: Simon West Fine Jewellery

Bridesmaid’s dresses: Shona Joy

Suits & bow ties / ties: Myer Men’s Suiting at Myer Melbourne – Jackson had a fantastic experience here

Catering & bar: Atlantic Group

Stationery / Signage: Vahst Studio

Entertainment: Jack & Jordan

Honeymoon: we went on a quick trip to Noosa and the Gold Coast right after the wedding. We hope to go to Bali at the end of the year for a more substantial break!



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