Real Wedding: Gemma & Jesse – Photography by Chasewild

Tell us a little about yourselves, what you do, what you love, what is unique about you and your relationship…

We’re both New Zealanders living in London. Jesse is a graphic designer and I’m a workplace consultant.

We met as teenagers 12 years ago at design school in Wellington through a mutual friend. I was a country girl from Hawkes Bay and Jess was a city boy, having grown up in Wellington. Jesse played ‘tour guide’ to me and showed me all his favourite places and best food spots. We basically just hung out a lot, went to parties together and discovered each other’s love for the great outdoors, music and food. We have been inseparable ever since.

The proposal:

(Jesse) We always wondered whether we’d ever actually get married. For a long time we told each other we didn’t need to symbolise our love. We always talked about it in a near-future sort of way. But on our 10th anniversary, I had just renewed my visa after spending some time back in NZ, and while relieved from the pressures and stress of busy London was able to get some headspace. The penny had finally dropped and I knew I wanted to surprise Gemma on my return and pop the question.

(Gem) Jesse pulled off an amazing surprise, which is no mean feat when I’m involved. He faked his flight details and arrived at the flat a day before he was expected, flowers in hand, candles lit and ‘our song’ playing. It was pretty sweet. We spent the evening drinking bubbles and watching the sunset.

Tell us about your special day, was there a specific theme or style? Tell us a little about the setting, the styling and some of your favourite details…

It was an intimate wedding of just 40 of our closest family and friends.

We originally had ideas of wanting to elope in Tuscany. We spent two weeks at a villa there in the summer of 2015, eating al fresco at sunset most nights, nicking grapes from the local vineyards and just fell in love with the place. But ultimately we decided our wedding needs to be spent with our favourite people all around us in our homeland of NZ.

We wanted to capture the same feeling we had in Italy, a big beautiful house and garden set in amongst the grapevines, with a big focus on everyone being outside in the beautiful garden and terrace. People were free to walk the vines and explore the property.

We had family banquet style dining, loads of greenery down the middle of the table, candles, and wildflowers everywhere. There was one long table with no seating hierarchy, and a jazz quartet playing in the background.

Everyone loved the graphic details Jesse made, the table and cake labels, ‘pocket guides’ and the entrance sign out front.

Tell us about your main outfits:

Jess wore a classic French dark navy suit, with cigar brown shoes, classic white shirt and black tie and a matching pinhole to my bouquet.

I wore a full silk lace, long-sleeved dress with a really low back and wine coloured heels. My engagement ring was actually from a tiny vintage boutique store in Brighton, UK after a day trip exploring the little alleyways.

All of my girls wore white which enhanced the magical, forest vibe.

What were some of the most memorable/unique moments from the day?

  • Watching everyone passing the plates along the table during dinner, with soft jazz playing and the sun setting in the background. Also, some pretty memorable speeches which had alot of us in tears. The dance floor was off the hook, we didn’t know our family were all such amazing dancers!
  • Our first dance was relatively unplanned, but I always wanted to be lifted. Jesse went for an ambitious 540º spin and then fell to the ground. There was no harm to me!
  • Also, the cakes: my mum’s labour of love, making all four delicious cakes of different variety. The best spontaneous moment was when the first piece of cake was shared throughout the crowd in a weird, animalistic, ceremonial feast – a right of passage. It’s all about creating new traditions!

Any advice for other couples planning to spend the rest of their lives together?

(Jesse) Getting married to your best friend is the best thing in the world you can do. Just looking into their eyes when you’re both standing in front of everyone, about to make the biggest commitment to each other, you just know that this moment will elevate your love to the next level. Then everything after is pure bliss.

Photographer: Cameron Thorp, Chasewild | Ceremony and reception location: Lismore House & Vineyard | Celebrant: Whitney Mae Greene | Jazz band: Phantasticus | DJ: DJ Unseen | Furniture and cutlery: Two Foxes | Flora: Yvette Edwards | Catering: Dale Keith, White Swan | Cake: Mother of the bride | Hair and makeup: Penny Rose | Wedding dress: One Day Bridal | Shoes: Chaos and Harmony | Groom’s suit: Sandro | Groom’s shoes: J.Crew | Rings: Orla James