Jess + Brent by Chantel Cheah-Hastings

We would always have so much fun together, and he also made me feel really good about myself and I felt like he made me a better person and brought out the best in me.

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

We both love the beach, music, and ice cream!

We always have so much fun swimming in the ocean, body surfing, walking on the beach, any activity at the beach really. We both grew up by the beach and it’s still a really important part of our lives. This was one of the reasons we knew that we wanted to get married at a venue with a view of the beach.

We love music in general just because it’s great, but also because it’s such a cool feeling when you share new music with other people and they also love it. We regularly attend festivals together and we haven’t missed a Splendour in the Grass since we met. I am also a DJ, so most weekends, you will find us at one of my gigs. Brent often comes along to support me and he says he is my biggest fan.

Finally, what’s not to love about ice cream?! We eat it far too often. Our favourite is Messina. My favourite Messina flavour is tiramisu, and Brent’s is pistachio praline. During the week, we are both commercial lawyers. Brent works in property law, and I work in environmental law. The fact that we are both lawyers makes lots of things in life easier because we think about things in the same way, we have a similar outlook on life, and we both have Type A personalities.

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

We met at university in law school. We had two law electives together. From the beginning, it was clear that Brent had a much more relaxed approach to law school than me. I noticed that Brent would often turn up to class without a laptop, and when he did bring his laptop, it would remain closed on the desk in front of him. Meanwhile, I would always diligently take notes and was an active participant in class. In one class, I responded to a question posed to the class, and Brent turned around and called out, “I completely disagree!” It was rare for someone to completely disagree with me and even rarer for someone to yell it out to the class! That definitely got my attention. From there, we became more acquainted with each other in class.

Eventually, Brent messaged me asking if I was out in Brisbane.  I replied that I was not in Brisbane and was instead at home in Nambucca Heads. Brent promised that he would arrange a coffee date when I returned to the Gold Coast, and I laughed it off as a ‘yeah, whatever, sure’ moment. A while passed with no contact between us, until I was leaving the gym early one morning and saw Brent in the on-campus security office in his pajamas. I thought this was hilarious and messaged Brent to ask him if he was in the security office in his pajamas because he had been locked out of a girl’s room. Brent took a while to reply and I thought maybe I had overstepped in my teasing. Finally, Brent replied a few hours later saying that he was in the security office because he was getting the key to the rowing shed and had just finished rowing training. Brent took this opportunity to note that he still owed me a coffee date. We arranged a coffee date at Paddock Bakery (which is still one of our favourite cafes).

The night before this coffee date, Brent lost his phone. Brent arrived at Paddock early, and without his phone, he was unable to contact me and I could not contact Brent. I had planned to arrive at the date a little late, but due to roadworks, I ended up being almost 30 minutes late. By this time, Brent had concluded that I had stood him up and he had decided to leave. When I arrived, Brent had already left and I thought Brent had stood me up! When Brent arrived back home and checked his Facebook messages on his laptop, he saw my messages saying I was delayed in traffic, and that I had arrived at Paddock. Brent messaged saying he would be right back; quickly drove back to Paddock, parked, and made a giant leap over the hedge to arrive at the table where I was sitting drinking coffee and pretending that I had not been stood up. Brent told me what had happened and from there, we had a great coffee date. We left the date and almost immediately arranged to meet up again in a few days.

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

Jess: I knew very early on in our relationship that Brent was special. We would always have so much fun together, and he also made me feel really good about myself and I felt like he made me a better person and brought out the best in me. I loved that feeling and it continued to grow during our years together. I hate to be cliché but I think when you know, you know, and sometimes you’ve known for so long that the exact moment is hard to pinpoint. Maybe I always knew!

Brent: It was our third date and instead of watching the State of Origin with our friends we decided to go on a date to Miami Marketta on the Gold Coast. What is normally a very busy venue was quiet and relaxed which allowed us to chat and get to know each other.  I think we really connected on that date and it was a catalyst that made me think more about our relationship and our connection. Now reflecting on it, I think deep down at the time I knew that Jessica was the one I would love to spend the rest of my life with.

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

Since very early on in our relationship, we have had a list of things that we would like to do together. It ranges from ‘cook a dessert pizza’ to ‘travel to Adelaide together’. We call it “The List”. At the end of The List has always been three dot points – kiss, hug, hold. These items are never ticked off The List, because there is always more kissing, hugging, and holding to do.

In March 2022, we traveled to Adelaide to visit both the McLaren Vale and Barossa wine regions. In the middle of the trip, we booked one night in a dreamy ocean-front location on the Fleurieu Peninsula.  The accommodation was nestled along The Heysen Trail, which is a picturesque walking trail in South Australia. I was very excited about this and wanted to walk along some of the trail that afternoon before sunset. Brent was planning to propose that afternoon, and a hike was not really in the schedule. Before Brent could say anything, I had changed into my exercise clothes and set off. Many times Brent suggested that we should turn back before sunset, and many times I said, “oh yes, we will, but let’s go a bit further first”. Finally, Brent convinced me that we should turn back so we would have a chance to enjoy the sunset with some wine and cheese at our accommodation.

Earlier that day, we had been op-shopping and Brent had thrifted a vintage Ralph Lauren business shirt. When we returned from our hike Brent suggested that we should both change into some nicer clothes so we could get some photos with the beautiful scenery in the background. Brent also said he wanted to wear his new shirt. I thought this was a little strange, but I assumed that Brent was excited to wear his new shirt. I got changed out of my hiking clothes and even decided to put on a little bit of makeup for the sake of the photos.

Brent poured the wine and set up his Go-Pro to take photos. When I came out to join Brent, he asked me if I knew that Naiko Retreat was nearby, which was a fancy hotel we found during our research but was out of our price range. I replied yes and Brent suggested that we should put the retreat on The List so we could remember to visit it in a few years. Brent handed his phone to me with The List already open. I looked at The List and saw the familiar ‘kiss, hug, hold’ at the end, but this time it was followed by ‘Get Married’. I jumped with surprise when I saw the addition and looked up to see Brent down on one knee. Brent proposed and of course, I said yes, and here we are!

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

The mood of our wedding was very important to us. We wanted our guests to feel relaxed, included, and well fed and watered. Of course, we also wanted to have a great party! It was important to us that the day flowed logically and smoothly, and we wanted to fit in lots of time for dancing. In the end, we were so happy with how it worked out – we got to spend time with our guests, we took some stunning location shots around Byron Bay, and we were able to spend the night dancing and partying with our friends.

We also wanted to ensure that our wedding was a true reflection of us as a couple. For this reason, we knew we wanted to get married at a venue near the beach. I made a bespoke DJ mix for our cocktail hour with chilled beats that I loved and that suited the vibe. We decided to have table names rather than numbers, and each table was named after a place that was special to us and our relationship. We also knew we wanted Messina ice cream at our wedding, so we had a Messina tiramisu cake for our wedding cake, and we served our guests a selection of tiramisu and pistachio praline Messina ice cream for dessert rather than wedding cake. This was such a hit and we were so happy that everyone loved our favourite flavours as much as we do!

Our vision for the wedding was a pastel colour palette that reflected the beautiful hues of our surroundings – blues for the ocean, pops of colour for the sunset, and whites for the sand and the waves.

In terms of styling, we were lucky to be able to rely on the beauty of the venue and its surroundings for a lot of the overall ambience. We wanted to incorporate elements of the ocean and our surroundings while keeping the styling relatively classic and timeless. We also focused our budget on larger floral pieces that could be repurposed from the ceremony and used in the reception space. Using plinths also helped to add height and dimension to our ceremony altar and later to the space where we displayed our wedding cake.

What was one element you were happy to splurge on?

For us, the venue was the most important aspect of our wedding. We wanted a venue that was beautiful and located right on the beach (without being on the beach because we don’t like the sand). There are lots of beachfront venues available; however, we wanted a venue that was a little more private – lots of venues are located in places where the general public can walk in front of your wedding. We didn’t want our guests to have to move around on the day, so we knew we needed a venue that could host our ceremony and reception, but preferably in different areas of the same venue.

We found Beach and it was perfect. Right on Clarke’s Beach, tucked away in its own little corner of Byron Bay. It is such a stunning venue; the aesthetics and the backdrop really speak for themselves. It was also a huge relief knowing that the food at our wedding would be spectacular. As an added bonus, Beach was one of the few venues we looked at that let you party till midnight. This was a strong consideration for us because we didn’t want to have to end our wedding day early!

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

Our wedding day was a beautiful day; however, it was also one of the windiest days we have ever experienced in Byron Bay! When we were having photos taken at the Lighthouse, my veil blew out of my hair and we nearly lost it in the wind. Luckily our videographer caught it just in time! The wind meant that it was very hard to get a shot where everyone’s hair wasn’t blowing about wildly, but it also meant that we were able to get some stunning dramatic photos of the veil and the dress caught in the wind. At the time, it was stressful, but now we look back and laugh about it. It rained during our engagement party, so for our wedding, we would take wind over rain any day!

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

Jess: I wore my wedding dress for the whole day. I knew I wanted a dress that I would be able to wear for the whole day because, at the end of the day, it’s my wedding dress and I only get to wear it once! I wanted a dress that felt like me and I ended up picking my wedding dress because it had a beautiful open back with pearl beading. I felt like it really complimented my figure and was a little nod to the beach and the venue at the same time. I also knew we were doing the rumba for our first dance, so I wanted a dress that would work for that style of dancing and also limit the chance of wardrobe malfunctions.

My veil (which I wore for the ceremony and some pictures – before the wind blew it out of my hair at the Byron Bay lighthouse!) was also very special to me. It was my mum’s veil when she got married. I knew I wanted to wear mum’s veil, but I also loved the ‘pearl-core’ veils that I had seen in the bridal boutiques. My grandmother is a very talented seamstress, so I showed her a few pictures on Pinterest of different veils and we discussed what I liked and what I didn’t like, and my grandmother hand-stitched little freshwater pearls onto the veil, and onto the veil comb for me. It turned out beautifully and I was so in love with it. I’m so grateful my mum let me use her veil and was happy for me to add my own flair to it, so it felt like my own.

Brent: I knew I wanted to wear a vintage designer tuxedo, but I didn’t want the price tag. I started researching the best places to buy a vintage tuxedo and spent a long time looking at different styles and fits. Eventually, I came across Vestiaire Collective and after not finding the right vintage fit, I found a beautiful modern Tom Ford Shelton Jacket. However, the only issue was that it only came with the jacket. After many more months of hunting, I had to suck it up and fly down to Sydney to the Tom Ford store in Harrolds and buy the matching pants. I think my suit ended up costing more than Jessica’s dress, but I’m glad I was able to find something I loved (and I can wear it again). The effort put into finding each piece made the ensemble more special, turning it into a tale of determination and love.

CEREMONY + RECEPTION LOCATION Beach Byron Bay, @beachbyronbay / PHOTOGRAPHER Chantel Cheah-Hastings, @wandererandthewild / VIDEOGRAPHER Wild Creative Media, @wild.weddings / FLORA Wilderness Flowers, @wildernessflowers_ / CELEBRANT Shauna Rowe, @shaunarowemarriagecelebrant / ENTERTAINMENT Midnight Groove / HIRE The Wedding Shed, @theweddingshed / CATERING + BEVERAGES Beach Byron Bay, @beachbyronbay / CAKE Messina, @gelatomessina / RINGS Nick Ireland Diamond Jewellery Studio, @diamondjewellerystudio / JEWELLERY + ACCESSORIES Saint Valentine Jewellery, @saint_valentine_jewellery / WEDDING DRESS Pronovias, @pronovias PURCHASED FROM White Lily Couture, @whitelilycouture / BRIDAL SHOES Sam Edelman, @sam_edelman PURCHASED FROM Revolve, @revolve / VEIL Family Heirloom / CLUTH Khya, @kyhastudios / MAKEUP Helena Chapman, @helenachapmanmua / HAIR Mikki Auld, @mikkiauldofficial / BRIDE’S FRAGRANCE A Long Time Ago in Argentina (ALTAIA), @altaia_official PURCHASED FROM Mecca, @meccabeauty / TUXEDO Tom Ford, @tomford PURCHASED FROM Harrolds, @harroldsaus / GROOM’S SHOES RM Williams, @rmwilliams / WATCH Tag Heuer, @tagheuer / GROOM’S FRAGRANCE Maison Margiela – Replica Jazz Club, @maisonmargiela / BRIDESMAIDS’ DRESS Model Chic – Infinity Dress, @modelchicaustralia / GROOMSMAN SUIT Bruno’s Suits, M.J. Bale, Oxford, @brunossuits, @mjbale, @oxfordshop / GIFT REGISTRY Hitchd, @HitchdHQ / DANCE LESSONS Dance Corp, @dancecorpbrisbane