Alanna + James by BG Photography Co

For me I knew pretty instantly he was someone I wanted to know in my life. I think he’s SO gorgeous, but my first thought was I’d love to be his friend. After his first trip to Sydney, I knew he was someone special, but honestly, there hasn’t been just one moment, it’s all the moments combined.

Tell us a little about yourselves, what you do, what you love…

I’m a Sydney sider who moved to Wagga in July 2020. I work remotely as a Change Manager for NSW state government. I have a background in law and comms, but my love (besides James) is yoga! After training in Sydney, I now teach yoga classes in a studio here in Wagga and online for my mates back in Sydney under Aligned by Alanna. Otherwise, i’ll be tending to our newly adopted fernery or going camping by some water. James is a paramedic and musician….a dream. Not only a beautiful voice but a wicked drummer, guitarist and songwriter. After being in a few different bands, he decided to start bringing to life some of the 70 odd songs he has written in his notebook and has been releasing them under the name Catseye Parish since 2019. We’ve just bought our very first home together here in Wagga and are so in love with it, learning what it is to take care of it – we feel like we’re just children playing adult! -A

2. How/where/when did you meet – and what were your first impressions?

We first met at a housemate and friends breakfast at a Cafe in Wagga Wagga. I was living with Lana’s best friend Berns at the time and Lana came to town to visit. I remember noticing Lana as she approached and just recognising how beautiful she was, and then feeling immensely glad that she sat down next to me! I didn’t think too much about this first meeting and remember mainly that the conversation came easily and we seemed to agree about the topics discussed. Lana has since remarked that she liked how capable and quietly confident I seemed, and even felt a strange urge to rub her leg against mine at one point. We then ventured home and I bought her and Berns some fresh fruit before heading to work (a marvellous idea, it later turned out to be!). After leaving Wagga, Lana shot me a text to thank me for the fruit and told me to let her know if I was ever in Sydney. Of course, I promptly organised a trip to Sydney and two weeks later we spent a beautiful day at Milk Beach together. The next three days together were magic…and two and half years later here we are. -J

3. When did you first realise that this was someone you’d like to spend the rest of your life with?

For me I knew pretty instantly he was someone I wanted to know in my life. I think he’s SO gorgeous, but my first thought was I’d love to be his friend. After his first trip to Sydney, I knew he was someone special, but honestly, there hasn’t been just one moment, it’s all the moments combined. We’ve been through a lot already in the relatively short time we’ve known each other, and every time we’ve come out the other side stronger, more grown, more refined – my father and sister both passing away in the two years we’d known each other, and most recently my mother. For me it feels fated, we were casually talking about money and children on his second visit to Sydney. Nothing has been off-limits, nothing has been ‘too hard, every moment of our relationship has felt natural and calm. -A 

4. Was there a proposal? Tell us a little about it….

There was! I actually bought the ring in October 2020 and had complete support from both my parents and Lana’s mum. I looked at her ring so many times before I gave it to her that I actually broke the box! I was waiting for the right time when both Lana’s mum and my parents started getting antsy asking when I was going to do it! So finally in March this year, I made it happen. The original plan was to take Lana up in an air balloon in Canowindra, but at the last minute (the afternoon before) the weather turned a bit too rough and that idea was kaput. Luckily I had a plan B and that night we drove through Albury, into Victoria and stayed the night in the small town of Porepunkah (near Bright). Before sunrise the next morning we got up and drove to the top of Mt. Buffalo, only to be greeted by a thick, dense fog as the sun rose. Not quite the serene ambience I’d hope for! Nevertheless, we walked a short way and came upon a waterfall. We stood at a magical lookout with some water falling, some misty water rising, and us in between. I got on one knee, cried my way through a few sentences, and within minutes sunshine filled the valley before us. Lana joined me in tears and we lay holding each other on a picnic blanket, engaged, and watching the sun slowly light up everything around us. -J

5. Tell us about the vision you had for the mood or style of your wedding…

James and I had planned to get hitched in Feb 2022 on the far south coast of NSW near his parents in Kalaru. We had a meet the parents weekend down there in April and visited and booked in the venue, our mums spoke of attendees and their dresses, we booked in a celebrant and a photographer, we were all on track. In May during a small window during covid, we managed to have our fairytale theme engagement party (where James was beauty and I was beast haha). James and I bought our first home in Wagga and moved in early June. Then in early July, my mother was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer – time-frames and death are a fickle thing. Sydney had gone into lockdown so instead of her being isolated at home, she moved into our home in Wagga, closely followed by my two sisters, nephew and brother in law. James and I made some quick decisions and decided we wanted my mother at our wedding (much to her delight). So as soon as we’d found a celebrant in Wagga we booked her in for one months time – the 22nd of August. We started off thinking it would be a casual ceremony outside followed by a visit to a local pub as if this wasn’t the ‘real wedding’. We’d wear casual outfits and not even have a cake. But the more we thought about it, the more THIS was the real wedding, and the only one my Mumma would get to be in. So perhaps one week into planning, our budget went out the window and knew the experience we were creating was worth more than any price tag. They were precious memories never to be repeated.

So, we found an AMAZING photographer, got my mum and I flower crowns, got kitted out in our full wedding attire, found a jeweller to make the rings of our dreams, and when we found Wild Vine Vineyard its as if all the stars aligned. I’m a hippy girl at heart and love a vintage/boho look. Their included styling, food and indoor and outdoor venue options were a no brainer. But it was their staff that stood out for me. On our first visit there, my sister took my mum to the bathroom and I burst out in tears with Rebecca from Wild Vine…”I’m concerned she won’t make it to the 22nd” I said to her. “Well let’s check now and see what we have available earlier!, let’s make it work, whatever you need. I understand how quickly things can turn so let’s plan for it”. End of July now and we had palliative care coming to the home every day, a hospital bed set up in our lounge room and each day my mum seemed a little less coherent, a little less with us, a little less herself. just a little. So again, we moved the date…twice.

We called all our vendors and our 13 guests (our immediate family and our best friends) and one week later, on 7th August, we had a proper wedding, my mum walked me down the aisle, we had a mother-daughter dance, and she spoke of how lucky James and I were to have each other now. Just 5 days later on 12th August 2021, my mum passed away with my sisters and I around her holding hands and drinking champagne. Honestly, it was a hard day for me – to celebrate the beginning of a new chapter, knowing the end of another was so so close. But this day will always be a beautiful moment in time for James and I knowing we made sure she got to see her baby girl get married. And it was perfect, an intimate wedding with fireplaces and candles and overcast weather. Honestly, I would never have thought I’d be married in winter in Wagga, but I guess that’s the beauty of life, always surprising you. I’ve learnt to roll with the punches, be fluid like water because it usually ends up even BETTER than you could have dreamed. We’re still going ahead with the big celebration in February because we want to share it with all our other friends and family! But it almost takes any pressure off, knowing next time round it’s really just a big party that I’m sure our family that has passed will be celebrating with us wherever they are. -A

6. What was one element you were happy to splurge on?

Haha ALL OF IT! It’s funny because James and I are quite thrifty, we save as often as we can and aren’t one’s to blow out often. So it’s funny that of all the couples, it is us that will have TWO weddings (and hopefully no others!) Honestly, price went out the window, When you look at money as a form of energy, exchanging it for your effort, or in this case for an experience, it seemed to matter a lot less. Perhaps the car though, I know my mum always wanted to arrive with me in a vintage car, so I organised that one a few days earlier as a surprise! I had to talk myself (and James haha) through money as an energy exchange again when we paid for that one let me tell you! But 100% worth it – A 

7. Did anything happen on your wedding day that you laugh about in hindsight (even if it was stressful at the time)?

Nothing was stressful really, and we certainly value the natural flow of the day over recreating some idea of ‘perfection’ so really there was just a lot of very funny moments on the day. The stand out being we’d live zoomed the ceremony so friends and family in lockdown could attend, and James of course having no underwear on under his kilt…decides very casually just following the ceremony to angle the screen perfectly before flashing his bare naked ass to all online attendees! My immediate thought was ‘oh my god my uncles and aunties who have never met you are seeing this!’ so I promptly jumped in front of him and blocked the view hahaha. He makes me laugh so much. -A 

8. Tell us about your main outfits, what was unique, is there a story?

Oh yes, so James has Scottish heritage and I adore kilts so it was a no brainer he’d be in one. But kilts aren’t easy to come by (especially in Wagga). We had already found the Scottish Accessories Shoppe in Sydney who offers both hiring and buying in your clan colours but given the short timeframe, we were unable to order a kilt in James’ McArthur tartan. Instead, he wore the Black Watch tartan, a regiment his grandfather was a soldier in. His father and my nephew also wore kilts to match and his father blessed our handfasting during the ceremony with a Blackwatch ribbon and his grandfather’s scarf.

My dress I found on Instagram in April on our meet the parents trip. I really didn’t know what I wanted but knew it would be boho and had a lot of faith it would present itself to me, and it did! I was scrolling one night and came across ‘Spell Bride’. I fell in love with it and much to my surprise the next morning my mum had ordered the last one in stock until 2023, along with a duster for the ceremony and a veil to match! She was always very quick to act and could see how much I adored it. I’ve never been one to love the traditional bride look (not that there really is one anymore) so when I saw the veil on it was a gamble – I looked a little like mother Teresa haha – but add a flower crown and hazzar! A boho fairy princess bride I became. Then I topped it off with a big teal fluffy jacket, some tan suede boots and my classic pink sunnies. Somehow all the girls ended up wearing outfits that perfectly matched the vibe of the day too! It was just a perfectly imperfect day. -A

Ceremony + Reception location The Wild Vine Vineyard / Photographer BG Photography co / Celebrant Amber Williams / Styling Connor Crawford / Flora Scooter Flowers / Catering + Beverages The Wild Vine Vineyard / Cake Harans Patisserie / Bride’s dress Spell / Groom’s attire Scottish Accessories / Ring/s Epica Jewellers Wagga / Makeup Lesley Jayne MUA / Hair Ivy Sainsbury Hairstyling