How did you meet, and fall in love?
Back in 2014, Jackson and I were both living in Perth. We had been single for a while and were both ready to start dating again. I was working with my bridesmaid, Bo, who was living with Jackson! Bo was always talking about Jackson; about how close they were and what a cool guy he was! I was pretty intrigued by this ‘Jackson’ so I asked to see a picture of him! I was taken aback when I saw him. He was so handsome and had the most amazing big smile, so I instantly asked Bo, to “Set a girl up!”. Funnily enough, Bo had also told Jackson all about me and how (to quote) “beautiful and incredible I was”, to which Jackson replied, “Hook a brother up!”. Bo said that she thought we were perfect for each other, but that we were at really different points in our lives (Jackson is 10 years older than me and was just about to move across the country to Brisbane).
A few weeks later, Bo and Jackson were having a fancy-dress party at their house. I arrived at their party late, stone cold sober, dressed as Wednesday from the Addams Family. I was super excited on the way to the party, knowing that I would be meeting the famous Jackson. I arrived, walked straight up to an incredibly intoxicated Jackson and gave him a big hug. He seemed pretty shocked, but got over it quickly and then proceeded to take his shirt off, swing it around his head and throw it at me. This is something I later realized was standard behaviour for him.
The night consisted of a lot of laughter and back and forth flirting. I LOVE dancing so when a favourite song of mine came on I asked Jackson to dance! He told me he HATED dancing, but I encouraged him to close his eyes, put his arms around me and let the music lead him. Jackson had other ideas in mind though and said, “If I close my eyes I’m going to want to kiss you, is that ok?”, to which I replied “No”. Jackson still says dancing with me that night was the most out of control he’d ever felt before! This lack of control might then explain why he later looked me up and uttered the world’s best (worst) pick-up-line, “Damn girl, show me how that body moves”. I could not stop laughing. For most girls, this would have been enough to send them running, but for me, the kind of guy who had the confidence to use such a dorky line was the kind of guy for me!!
We only had one month together before Jackson moved to Brisbane! When he left, I thought that would be the last time I’d ever see him but within two weeks he was back in Perth for business and locked me in for a date the moment he got off the plane! We then began a one-and-a-half-year long distance relationship, until I finally decided to move to Brisbane to be with him in December 2015. We have since bought a beautiful cottage in Paddington, have a fur baby, named Paddy, got engaged on 24 November 2016 and married on 14 December 2018.
Tell us about your engagement story:
We got engaged on 24 November 2016. Jackson had been working in China for 10 days and he told me he had a surprise date for us planned for the day he returned. He seemed really excited and told me I had to wear a summery dress and be ready immediately after work. I had no idea what to expect – the last time he told me to dress a certain way for a date he took me to the outdoor cinema to watch the Entourage movie! He arrived home from the airport and we immediately set off for our date.
We arrived at Roma Street Parklands, just 5 minutes from our house and he told me we were going for a walk around the Parklands. We walked around the park but I was really on edge. It was just three days before my birthday and I was half expecting my mum or my best friends to jump out at me. I couldn’t stop looking over my shoulder and was clearly distressed so Jackson told me he’d organised a surprise picnic for us. I breathed a sigh of relief and was able to start enjoying myself!
We picked a nice level spot on the grass to sit and Jackson went over to his car and grabbed a pre-prepared picnic basket (courtesy of his mum!). We popped open a bottle of champagne, which instantly relieved me of all my stress. No sooner had I had my first sip of champagne, he said he had another surprise for me! Oh god, I thought – I can’t handle this (turns out I do NOT like surprises). He whipped out a blindfold and ordered me to put it on. I could hear him faffing about and then it dawned on me – I WAS GETTING A PUPPY!!!! I couldn’t believe it! I was so desperate for a puppy and here it was! But wait… where had the puppy been all this time? It was a pretty hot day… surely it hadn’t been in the car that whole time… surely he didn’t squeeze it into that picnic basket… if he did, that would have been animal cruelty… could I be in a relationship with someone who would do that!?!?
My mind was SPIRALLING!! I was absolutely convinced I was getting a puppy, so I had to pretend I was oblivious to his ‘surprise’. I jokingly said “you’re not going to propose, are you!? HAHA”, to which Jackson said… “no….”. I exhaled dramatically and said, “THANK GOD!”. Oh my god, the poor thing! Eventually, he told me to take off my blindfold and there was no sign of a puppy. Just Jackson down on one knee, beautiful ring in hand, looking at me with a face like a robot… and out came “Laaaaren” (he forgot my name). And that was how we became engaged!
What made you decide on your wedding venue and location?
Bryon has always been a special place for us. Jackson’s mum lives there and when he was trying to convince me to move to Brisbane he took me to Byron for the weekend. It’s such an incredible place and we always feel our most balanced and happy when we’re there. With Jackson being from Darwin, me being from Perth, and us living in Brisbane, we have family and friends scattered all around Australia (plus some overseas). No matter where we had the wedding more than half of our guests were always going to have to travel so we picked a destination we knew everyone would love and be able to make a holiday out of! We encouraged our guests to stay an extra week following the wedding, which allowed us more time with them and gave them the opportunity to explore Byron!
Any advice for other couples in the planning stages, regarding how to avoid what can sometimes be seen as an unavoidable budget blow-out?
* Pick your priorities before you start planning the wedding. We both wanted the wedding to be FUN and LAID BACK! Music and food were most important to me and alcohol and photos/videos were most important to Jackson, so we spent most of our budget on those. Ways we cut costs elsewhere included:
* Ordering single flowers for my bridesmaids (this single flower was then the feature flower of my bouquet)
* Ordering loose bunches of flowers and assembling these ourselves in jars found on Gumtree. I simply sent through pictures of the general colour scheme we wanted and Estelle at The French Petal sent the most beautiful mix of flowers!
* Where possible, pay your vendors in CASH. This will avoid the additional GST costs
* Pick a venue that allows BYO alcohol – you’ll probably score some AMAZING discounts and some liquor stores often accept returns on booze you don’t drink
* Get a wedding COORDINATOR as opposed to a wedding PLANNER. This will require you to do most of the planning yourself but will save you lots of pennies. Wedding coordinators often give you around 10 hours of styling/planning time and then take over all the wedding coordination/bump in/bump out of vendors etc. on the day of the wedding! We booked the Canavan and they were an absolute DREAM and made the whole process stress-free and enjoyable.
The biggest highlight of the day?
For me, it was walking down the aisle! I have never been so happy in my life. I was linking arms with my mum, my favourite Irish song was playing, all our friends and family were stood cheering us on, and the love of my life was waiting for me at the end of the aisle, bawling his eyes out (it was the first time I’d ever seen him cry). Runner up was a surprise performance by Jackson and his groomsmen – a dance to One Direction’s ‘That’s What Makes You Beautiful’.
For Jackson, it was the moment the celebrant pronounced us ‘husband and wife’ and we were allowed to kiss! By this point, he had stopped crying and all the nerves and stress had disappeared and we were finally MARRIED!
Did you have any hiccups either during the planning journey or on the day itself? And if so, in retrospect, could they have been avoided?
We received phone calls from various vendors the week leading up to the wedding telling us that a cyclone/storm was coming and we needed a wet weather plan. While the venue would have allowed for an additional pavilion, we had already reached our budget and we really had our hearts set on the layout we’d already planned. Instead, we said to the vendors “if it rains, we will dance in the rain!” The only thing that mattered to us was that we ended up married, and that would happen regardless of the weather! I think that state of mind really transferred to every aspect of the wedding, and our guests said they felt the day was truly just about two people in love.
The best piece of advice you could give to other couples planning their wedding?
* Stay true to yourselves – plan a wedding that represents YOU!!! Pick the kind of music YOU like, order the style of furniture YOU like, invite the people YOU want there! If you do this, you will have the best day ever and your guests will really feel like they are celebrating YOU as a COUPLE
* Don’t sweat the small stuff – just keep reminding yourself that as long as you and your partner end up married, that’s all that matters!
* Do little bits at a time – We had a two-year engagement! Having so much time meant that I could just chip away at it each month. By the time the wedding came around, I was so ZEN. I could enjoy every moment, spend quality time with all our guests, and I didn’t feel remotely stressed or overwhelmed.
* Schedule a welcome event and/or a recovery event – This will give you time to greet and catch up with people before the wedding so that you can just dance, drink and have fun at the wedding. A recovery event then provides you with an opportunity to spend more time with the people you may not have had the chance to over those two days. Your guests will REALLY appreciate this and you won’t be left with any regrets!
What style, theme or ‘vibe’, of a wedding, were you both drawn to from the onset of planning (or perhaps before)?
Love. Laughter. Fun. Happy. Bright. Colourful. Eclectic. Welcoming. Thoughtful. Relaxed.
And how did you incorporate these sentiments throughout the wedding, via details both large and small?
* A spectacular welcome sign made by the left half of my maid of honour.
* Unbelievable invitations made by one of my closest friends
* Personal and meaningful readings (Jackson’s Grandma’s Creed and an extract from The Velveteen Rabbit) read by Jackson’s sisters
* Compulsory fireball shots immediately after the ceremony
* A 4-piece Irish band who made it impossible to sit still
* A DJ for later in the evening who played a range of 80’s party classics
* A range of eclectic/bright/colourful furniture (lounges, picnic blankets, cushions, bar stools, wine barrels, cushions around a firepit, trestle tables and benches) and flowers
* Old family/childhood photos scattered all over the place
* NO sit-down meal – 2.5m grazing table immediately after the wedding, 12-hour cooked Texas style BBQ buffet for appetites and dinner, and a gelato food truck with 4 different gelato flavours for dessert
* Toiletry hampers for every bathroom containing: mints, floss, deodorant, insect repellant, hair ties, bobby pins, Neurofen etc.
What does marriage mean to you?
To us, being married means having a partner, a confidante, a best friend and a lover for the rest of your life. It means having someone you can share all aspects of your life with (the good, the bad and the ugly) and someone who will stick by you no matter what. It means having someone who loves you for you but always challenges you to grow and think more, explain more and understand more. It means having someone who believes in you and is your biggest fan and someone who will cheer you on and celebrate your wins or console you after your losses (with a tub of ice cream). It means having someone you can laugh with, dance with, snuggle with and go on adventures with, but also means having someone who gives you your space to grow, mature and experience. Being married means you must sometimes swallow your pride and admit that you were wrong, or forgive gracefully and let go of grudges. As a newly married couple, we vowed to always show one another love, respect, patience and kindness, and to never take the other or our relationship for granted.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Other things that made our day awesome:
* A polaroid camera – it was so much fun looking at all the photos our friends/family had taken throughout the night. I’m just about to turn these photos into a coffee table!
* Boots boots boots – I changed into my RM’s immediately after the ceremony which meant I could boogie all night long and wasn’t in any pain the following day
* Fireball shots – because it’s the best alcohol EVER
* Stubby coolers – we ordered 100 custom made stubby coolers for guests to use at the wedding and take home with them as a memento!
* Keep speeches under 5 minutes each – this allowed us more time to partay!
LAUREN & JACKSON’S WEDDING SUPPLIER LIST (AKA ‘THE DREAM TEAM’)
Ceremony + Reception Venue + Accommodation Tooraloo Farm Stay / Photography/Videography Florido Weddings / Coordination + Drink Service The Canavan / Music The Barleyshakes (4-piece Irish Band), Kirby Marshall (DJ) / Florist The French Petal /Hair Byron Bay Wedding Hair Co / Makeup Makeup Maree / Celebrant Noosa Style Ceremonies / Audio Byron Audio / Catering Poor Girls Pantry (Grazing Table), JR’s Smokehouse BBQ (Appetizers + Dinner), Baylato (Gelato) / Decor Frank & Joy, Byron Bay Pavilions / Honeymoon San Juan Surfers Cottage / Transport Byron Bay Coaches / Wedding Dress Susan Ogg (custom-made) / Bridesmaid’s Dresses Retrospec’d / Grooms + Groomsmen Suits SABA / Bride’s Engagement Ring (Originally belonged to Jackson’s mother. The original sapphire was chipped so Lily Jewels, Paddington, sourced and fitted a new sapphire, making it ‘something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue’) / Wedding Bands Jackson’s father gave all of his children a gold nugget that his friend had mined. Lily Jewels, Paddington used this gold make both of our wedding bands. Jackson’s band also included the original sapphire from his mum’s ring, carved down into a small circle / Bride’s Pearl Earrings Michael Hill / Bride’s Heels (worn during the ceremony) Rachel Simpson / Bride’s Boots (worn during reception) RM Williams / Groom’s Bolo Tie & Pendant Tandy Leather / Groom & Groomsmen Belt & Boots RM Williams