Jessica & Sean
There is something so special about a winter wedding. A cool, clear day makes you appreciate it even more when the sun comes out, even just fleetingly.
The proposal took place on a particularly icy winter’s day. Sean was very secretive about a night away that he had planned as a surprise. He met me at work on a Friday afternoon and whisked me off to a quaint little B&B in quirky Prahran. I suspected that some larger plans may be at work but I didn’t want to get too excited.
As soon as we walked into the room though, there was an enormous bunch of my favourite flowers – white roses and tulips. Sean was so nervous when he asked me to marry him… but, of course, I said yes!
We celebrated with champagne on the balcony and enjoyed a wine-matched dégustation at a French restaurant just around the corner (Chez Olivier). It was such a magical evening. We didn’t tell anyone until after dinner when we were walking to a cocktail bar, to celebrate some more! Even if only for a few hours, it was so special to enjoy being engaged in secret.
Over the next year we enjoyed the crazy roller coaster that is planning a wedding. The very first thing that we did was book the venue. It seems odd to think about it now but we were just chatting and said to each other how cool it would be to have the reception at an old theatre. So, we Googled it and found the Thornbury Theatre, built in 1926. It was absolutely perfect. This set the tone for the whole wedding; we decided to go with a 1920’s/30’s, ‘old Hollywood’ feel.
The second thing we did was lock in our band. We always knew we wanted a band and The Bombastics were the obvious choice. We’d seen them play numerous times and they were always fantastic.
Shortly after, I went shopping on High Street, Armadale for my dress with Mom and we found it in the first couple of hours. The design was simple and classic but also had vintage rhinestone detail and an old Hollywood look to it. I added a rhinestone belt and wore a floor length, two tier custom veil. My wedding shoes were a 1920’s-inspired style, with six inch heels (Sean is 6′ 5″ so I needed some extra height at the altar!)
As the wedding was in winter, we dressed the bridesmaids in elegant floor length gowns in navy, with a matching cardigan and pearl jewellery.
Sean wore a light grey three-piece suit with caramel belt and shoes, a navy bow-tie and a silver pocket watch. The page boys, Sean’s nephews, were in mini outfits matching their uncle and the groomsmen were in darker grey three-piece suits and silver bow-ties. The contrast worked really well and achieved the old-world look we were going for.
We also had a little flower girl, Sean’s niece. She wore a white and navy tutu dress with a white cardigan, white stockings and sparkly navy ballet slippers.
Our bridal party and our parents were incredible in the lead up to the wedding. They helped ease the stress and made it such an unforgettable experience.
We both celebrated the last weeks of our ‘single’ life with weekends away by the beach. Sean and the guys headed to Torquay and the girls and I went to Philip Island. It was such a great way to catch our breath before the formality of the wedding and to remind ourselves of the amazing support network we have around us.
On the big day, Sean and the groomsmen got ready at our house and the girls got ready at my parents’ house. While they drank whisky, we sipped champagne. Sean and I wrote each other cards to read on the morning of the wedding. It was a lovely reminder of how much we love and care about each other and what an exciting life we have to look forward to.
The morning was busy and there was a lot going on from the moment we woke up. When our flowers arrived, we were over the moon. A close family friend did all of our flower arrangements and they were absolutely beautiful. A mixture of white blooms like roses and baby’s breath, juxtaposed with a touch of greenery. We were taken to the church by a fleet of vintage cars, with the main car being a two-tone 1929 Dodge.
The ceremony was in a lovely old church in Thornbury with stunning stained glass windows and a high wooden ceiling. I walked down the aisle to a male solo guitarist, from The Bombastics, singing Roberta Flack’s ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.’ We had family and friends do a number of readings and it was a relatively short but romantic service.
When our witnesses were signing the papers, Sean gave me a kiss on the forehead, most of the ceremony is a blur but that was a very sweet moment that I won’t forget. We walked out to Bob Marley’s ‘Three Little Birds’ and the old church bells ringing out across Melbourne.
We had family photos in front of the church and then we spent some time walking around Thornbury to some eclectic photo locations with only the bridal party. We had an image in our head of us walking up cobbled streets and standing in front of interesting old buildings.
Our photographers, Shot from the Heart, were amazing. They completely understood our vision and even went to Thornbury in the lead up to the wedding to scout some great shots. One of the best places they found was a rundown weatherboard corner shop that had operated as a butcher many years ago and the old sign was still up.
We also took the bridal party to one of Thornbury’s many hip bars along High Street. Sipping champagne and having a bit of time just to chill out before the reception, with our closest friends, was something that we will never forget. The videographer, Sasha from Apertura (also incredible), and our photographers, captured the moments so beautifully and professionally. A lot of the time we forgot they were there, as they were so subtle and inconspicuous.
During the photo shoot, our guests enjoyed cocktail hour in the Theatre foyer before being invited to take their seats in the grand ballroom, as the five-piece band began to play their first set. The bridal party went through a secret passage to the mezzanine level where we could all watch the guests’ reactions to the décor as they found their tables.
Each table was named after Sean and my favourite films and the centrepieces were light-boxes with the film names and mismatched vintage vases with arrangements of baby’s breath. Each place had a glittery gold star with a swing tag instead of place cards (a nod to my love of Christmas).
The MC, one of our close friends, introduced the bridal party two by two and we made our way down the intricate staircase from the mezzanine level into the ballroom. The first dance was ‘Stand By Me’ by Ben E King, beautifully covered by our amazing band.
The wedding cake was a traditional three-tier fruitcake made by our mothers and topped with a vintage cake topper of a little married couple. Guests danced the night away to 60’s and 70’s jukebox classics with some modern hits thrown in.
Just when everyone thought the evening was wrapping up, wait staff, in red waistcoats, came around with trays of choc tops to tie in with our theatre venue. In the blink of an eye, it was time for us to say goodbye and head to our gorgeous room overlooking the park at Melbourne’s iconic Hotel Windsor. A couple of days later we departed for our European honeymoon, first stop: Paris!
Some words of ‘wisdom’…
There are so many things that you learn and experience throughout the process of meeting the person you want to spend your life with and finally getting to the day when you say your vows. Some of the most important pieces of advice I can share would be…
- Remember to enjoy the planning stage. If it’s all feeling a bit much, have a weekend where you don’t talk about the wedding and do something else to take your mind off it and relax.
- Don’t be afraid to call on your friends and family to help you. Most of the time people are more than happy to help and are honoured to be a part of the preparation and the day.
- Go to lots of wedding events. You only get married once so make the most of the perks! We enjoyed many glasses of free champagne, delicious canapés and cake samples in the lead up to the wedding and got to explore some of the most amazing venues.
- Spend money on photography and videography. It’s the only tangible thing you have left after it’s all said and done. Photos and a video are such special treasures to look back at and share with your children one day.
- Be super organised. Don’t shy away from spreadsheets, checklists and timelines. You will be thankful that you have them in the long run.
- Stay somewhere amazing on your wedding night and make sure you ask, in advance, for a late check out. It was so nice at the end of what is a very long day to head to somewhere exciting. It extends that special wedding day feeling to the next day.
- Go on your honeymoon straight away! I can’t stress this enough. It was the most incredible feeling to fly out a couple of days after the wedding and not have to worry about going back to work or deal with everyday tasks!
Ms Chinoiserie Says: Congratulations Jessica and Sean; what a beautifully romantic ‘old Hollywood’ wedding – so elegant!
About Jessica: I am a 28 year old Communications and Marketing Advisor with a love of Christmas, 70s music and travel. I grew up in the same town as my now husband but we never met until years after I moved away to the other side of Melbourne. Our stories have been intertwined from a young age – our brothers knew each other and our primary schools were across the road from each other. I guess we weren’t supposed to meet until after Sean had grown out of having blonde tips in his hair during his teenage years!