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A Rustic Byron Bay Wedding

— Jess & Jarrod


29 October 2016


116 people


Van Middleton

Jess & Jarrod by Van Middleton
Jess & Jarrod by Van Middleton

Falling in love at first sight in Byron Bay, and then later getting engaged at the iconic lighthouse, it was only fitting Jess and Jarrod found a private acreage to exchange vows in the region's picturesque hinterland. 

The epitome of classic elegance, Jess opted for a pure silk gown with exquisitely beaded French lace on silk faille and sheer long sleeves.

Imbued with details of native blooms and raw timber, the reception spilled with rustic elegance. Olive branches were interwoven with centrepieces of pillar candles, laid upon chic white table linen...

Romantically documented by LANE handpicked photographer, Van Middleton 

NAMES: Jessica Lee Irving and Jarrod Luke Irving

WEDDING DATE: Saturday, 29 October 2016


HOW WE MET: Jarrod and I met on separate holidays in Byron Bay over New Year’s just under two years ago. Jarrod, who is originally from Melbourne, had recently moved to Adelaide for work, and I was living in Brisbane at the time. We only spent a few days together in Byron but had an immediate, unbelievable connection, with Jarrod even proposing to me at Miss Margarita on the last night as a joke! Despite the distance, we didn’t stop speaking to each other after we left Byron (we barely even slept between all the messaging and FaceTiming!) and the following week, Jarrod flew up to see me to make sure it wasn’t just a summer romance, and the rest is history. From that weekend we continued to fly between Brisbane and Adelaide most weekends, and planned some longer holidays, including going to Queenstown for a week and Vietnam and Cambodia for a month, so that we could spend as much time with each other as we could. After eight months, we were both transferred to Sydney with our work to take up great career opportunities and be in the same city. 

OUR ENGAGEMENT STORY: Jarrod flew up to Brisbane to help me drive all my things down to our new life in Sydney. On the way, we stopped in Byron Bay for the night. It’s not unusual for us to wake up to catch the sunrise wherever we are, so I didn’t really suspect anything when Jarrod suggested we drive up to the lighthouse when we woke early that morning. Just as the sun was rising, Jarrod gave me a book he had made with pictures of all our adventures leading to that moment with some beautiful words. I didn’t realise as I was reading it that some of the words throughout the pages were larger and capitalised, spelling out, “Will you marry me?” across the pages. The last page of the book had those pages again with all the other words blurred out and as I realised what it said, Jarrod dropped to his knee and asked me to spend the rest of my life with him!

MARRIAGE TO US MEANS: Being an unbreakable team. Encouraging and supporting each other through not only life’s challenges, but all the mundane things. Bringing out the best in each other and helping each other be the best versions of ourselves. Most of all, loving and caring for each other always.

WEDDING LOCATION: We knew that we wanted to get married in the Byron area as it was so special to us, given that we had met and got engaged there. Fortunately for us, one of our friends, Tilly got married at her family’s property at Goremans Road, Eureka, in the Byron Bay hinterland not long after we got engaged. We were overseas at the time and as soon as I showed Jarrod pictures of their wedding our minds were set. At risk of sounding like a crazy bride, I messaged Tilly and asked if it was ok if we could also get married there the following year. Tilly’s family are amongst the most remarkably kind, generous, beautiful people we have ever met, which made the venue even more special to us. We are so grateful to have been married on a property owned by family whose qualities are so inspirational to us. 

(Interview contiues beneath gallery)

THEME/STYLE: Timelessly elegant in style, but relaxed and fun in feel. 

PHOTOGRAPHY: We chose Van Middleton to help capture our amazing day. Van also captured Tilly’s wedding, and after looking at his photos, he was an obvious choice to us. We were immediately drawn to his astonishing ability to capture intimate moments and emotions, as well as his breathtaking landscape photography. 

BRIDE’S DRESS: I had serious difficulty finding a dress and spent many weekends trying on way too many dresses before I met the magical Rhonda Hemmingway. Rhonda helped bring my vision of a simple, elegant gown to life, designing a custom couture gown that was more than I could have ever dreamed of. The dress had a shaped V neckline at the front and low V cut to the waist at the back. It was in pure silk faille with an exquisitely beaded French lace on the bodice and sheer long sleeves. The skirt was a fitted half circle with a long train in silk faille.

BRIDE’S SHOES: I wore an ivory peep-toe bootie with a four-inch heel by Alan Pinkus.  

BRIDESMAIDS' DRESSES: The bridesmaids wore Zimmermann’s stunning "Silk Ray Long Dress" in navy. 

BRIDESMAIDS' SHOES: Simple black strappy heels from Betts.

FLOWERGIRLS/PAGEBOY OUTFITS: Our three nieces wore gorgeous white dresses with lace and pearl beading from Ollie’s Place. Our three nephews wore adorable navy shorts and bow ties with white shirts and navy suspenders, also sourced from Ollie’s Place.

WEDDING RINGS: Jarrod worked with a family friend in Melbourne with a long history in the jewelry industry to design the most exquisitely beautiful wedding band and engagement ring set. The engagement ring is 18ct white gold French cut pavé setting with a round brilliant, hearts and arrows cut centre diamond, surrounded by 4 smaller diamonds on each side. The engagement ring sits flush (an important prerequisite for Jarrod) with the matching French cut pavé diamond wedding band. Jarrod’s wedding band is 14ct brushed white gold. 

JEWELLERY/ACCESSORIES: On the day, I also wore Samantha Wills earrings and gave each of the bridesmaids a Samantha Wills ring to wear as a gift. Jarrod wore a Daniel Wellington watch and gave Daniel Wellington watches to each of the groomsmen as a gift.

GROOMSMEN ATTIRE: The boys were faced with the difficulty of having to dress an extremely tall bridal party (up to 6'7”), and found a striking navy Peter Jackson suit that worked for each of them perfectly. Each of the groomsmen wore a dark navy bow tie and Jarrod wore a lighter coloured patterned blue bow tie. The guys complemented their suits with chestnut shoes and belts, and fun Happy Socks, which Jarrod also gave each of them as a gift.

HAIR: I took my hair and makeup inspiration for the day from classic icons like Grace Kelly and Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy. Ron from Byron Hair did an incredible job with my hair, which was styled back into a low textured bun.

MAKEUP: Julie Corbet used neutral colours and natural highlighting to create a simple, fresh, natural look.

STATIONERY/INVITATIONS: In order to limit paper waste and provide our guests with as much information as possible given that everyone had to travel, Jarrod created a website setting out all of the important details for the weekend, including transport, accommodation, and details of the key events. The website details were provided on invitations, also designed and hand made by Jarrod. He not only assembled each one individually, but also created a unique font and digital stencil of one of the beautiful trees on the property at Goremans Road, which was then used throughout the rest of the stationery, including the menus, name cards, and personalised Pinot Noir that we served on the day.

FAVORS/BONBONNIERE: We gave our guests custom peppermint tea bonbonnieres by Everything Peppermint. Everything Peppermint is a small business owned by two local Sydney guys who make incredible natural peppermint products including an amazing peppermint body scrub that I used in the lead up to the wedding. The guys are the kindest, most thoughtful pair you will ever meet and treated us like family from day one. Knowing that we were spending the week up at the Gold Coast before the wedding, they gave us Everything Peppermint hats the day before we left and when we returned from the wedding ready to take off on our honeymoon to Tanzania, they surprised us with their insect repellent for our trip! They really went above and beyond for us and all the little things were so special!

FLOWERS & BOUQUETS: I don’t like generally like the look of anything too perfect and structured, and I absolutely adore natives, so that was a fairly easy decision for me. Jess from Poppy & Fern created the most stunning, free-flowing, natural stem bouquets consisting of mixed protea, large open roses, wax flower, gum and textual native foliage in a combination of cream, white, pale pinks, silver/grey and green, with stems bound with twine. I still have my bouquet hanging upside down at home because it is too beautiful to throw! 

PREPARATION: Being the perfectionists that we are, Jarrod and I were both up at 5am setting up the venue with our families and best mates until 11.30am on the morning of the wedding. As it turns out, this was one of our favourite parts of the day. We were all working together watching all of the final details come together. It was exhilarating, overwhelming and fun at the same time. Jarrod and I went to bed at about 2.30am the night before/morning of and had a really special moment together – we were so exhausted, having only had a few hours sleep each night in the lead up as we finalised all the last details, and we wondered whether we would actually pull it all off in time, but we were so grateful to be with each other and already proud of all of our hard work. Just before we went to sleep we exchanged gifts, which was one of our favourite moments ever.  

CEREMONY DÉCOR/ RECEPTION DÉCOR: Goremans Road is a simply breathtaking landscape, so we kept our ceremony and reception décor fairly minimal. We hired our handmade wedding furniture and styling pieces from Tilly and I Hire and a stunning clear marquee for a weatherproof dining under the stars experience from Mullum hire. Jarrod was also incredible at sourcing and making amazing pieces for the day, including gorgeous lighting, and ivy leaf hedging walls, which we used behind the bridal table and for the outdoor photobooth he impressively built himself. He also made the amazing illuminated marquee "LOVE" sign, which was hung above the dance floor. 

WEDDING PLANNER/ WEDDING STYLIST: Jarrod and I both planned and styled our wedding ourselves, which was both incredibly challenging and rewarding. We gathered inspiration from multiple sources, with both of us combining to scour blogs, Instagram feeds and setting up shared Pinterest boards to capture thoughts and ideas. These were at most times discussed in bed after late nights at work.

CAKE: We had a three-tier semi-naked cake with a chocolate mud base, white chocolate middle layer, and blueberry cheesecake top. We forgot to arrange florals for the cake topper from our florist, so our amazing MC picked some flowers on the property and decorated it himself just before it was brought it out without us even knowing!


Song walking down the aisle: "XO" - John Mayer

Song when papers signed: "Sky Full of Stars" - Coldplay (Jarrod's sister-in-law performed this alongside our wedding band), and "Home" - Phillip Phillips

Song after married (recessional song): "Feel so Close" - Calvin Harris 

Entrance to reception: "I Love You Always Forever" - Betty Who

First dance: "Fire and the Flood" - Vance Joy

ENTERTAINMENT: We had an incredible band, JAM, who travelled up from Melbourne to perform for us on the day. The guys were unbelievable and you can see from the photos that there wasn’t a moment that the dancefloor wasn’t completely packed. They played right from the beginning of our ceremony, through to the very end of the night, whilst somehow also managing to help move furniture and the speakers and mic around for speeches so everything was seamless.

FOOD & BEVERAGES: We served a selection of cocktails and canapes by the pool immediately after the ceremony, before a large banquet-style sit-down dinner to provide a relaxed, family-style dinner feel that we love so much. Canapes included, cumin scented lamb kofta brochettes, char-grilled Malay chicken satay with peanut sambal, prawn and avocado crostini, Greek vegetables, halloumi and kataifi pastry roulades, as well as grazing tables of rustic breads, olives and olive oil. The dinner menu included grilled beef medallions with caramelised onion and red wine reduction, Atlantic salmon with preserved lemon and herb crust, char-grilled Mediterranean vegetables, rosemary roasted sweet potato, vegetable couscous with orange and saffron, and a selection of salads. The food and service by The Larder was impeccable and we received so many comments that the food served was the best food many of our guests had been served at a wedding! As we have a special place for Pinot Noir we thought it was only fitting that we personally customised our own bottles, which featured our wedding logo on the front designed by Jarrod, and a cute story of our meeting in Byron at the back, which he surprised me with. 

TRANSPORT: We arranged for buses to pick up our guests from the centre of Byron and drop them back there at the end of the night. Jarrod and I both ended up on the party bus back to Byron at the end of the night to party with everyone (still in our gown and suit!).

HONEYMOON: Jarrod and I love an adventure and to be challenged, so decided to climb world’s tallest free-standing mountain, Mt Kilimanjaro, in Tanzania for our honeymoon. Following the hike, we went on safari in the Serengeti National Park and Ngorongo Crater and camped in the national park, falling asleep to the sound of hyenas and lions close to our site each night! To finish our trip we thought it wouldn’t be a proper honeymoon without the cocktails and swimming, so we stayed in a beautiful bungalow with a private beach in Zanzibar were we soaked up the last week of our trip. Our favourite memory was definitely reaching the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro after about six days of hiking through intense heat, torrential rain, snow and ice winds. It was undoubtedly the most unforgettable, challenging and rewarding experience of our lives (if having just planned our wedding wasn’t enough).

GIFT REGISTRY: Given that people had to travel to Byron for the wedding, we thought that the easiest option for anyone who wished to give a gift was to have a wishing well on the day. We were also surprised with the most incredible present from our best man, who built a custom wooden decanter and glass holder, and had the names of the groomsmen engraved on each scotch glass. He gave these to Jarrod when they were getting ready and was placed at the front of our bridal table when we were announced into the reception.

CELEBRANT: Our celebrant was Chiquita Mitchell. As we were researching celebrants, we were immediately drawn by Chiquita’s warm, bespoke, modern approach to wedding ceremonies (and also because she was formerly Bob Geldof’s PA!). Chiquita was so lovely to work with – she was so patient with us despite not having our vows to her until the day before, and was completely organised so we didn’t have to worry at all about all the official stuff.

READINGS: We each wrote our own vows, which we kept from each other until the day. We also asked Jarrod’s little sister, Keelea to choose something to read during the ceremony. She selected the most moving piece, which she read so beautifully and had most of the guests in tears.

SOURCES OF INSPIRATION: The LANE, Instagram, Pinterest.

A MEMORABLE MOMENT: This is almost as hard as selecting our favourite wedding shots! Without a doubt, we both have so many unforgettable moments both in the lead up to the wedding and on the day. I think our first memorable moment was our first project building the light up marquee "LOVE" sign together – this is when we really decided to take it all in and enjoy every moment of the lead up together, which in our eyes was just as important as the actual day. On the day, we can’t take ourselves away from the first moment our eyes met as I walked down the aisle, with Jarrod saying it was the most amazing moment of his life. Also Jarrod’s sister’s reading, and hearing each other’s vows for the first time. Finally, our first dance can only be described as unforgettable for us. It was so much fun - everyone from the wedding ended up on the dancefloor halfway through and we were spontaneously swept up onto the MC and a couple of the groomsmen’s shoulders. Looking across at my new husband and down at all of our closest friends and family having a ball was an unbelievable feeling. 

ONE THING I WISH I KNEW BEFORE I STARTED MY WEDDING PLANS…No matter how busy you are or how difficult it is fitting wedding planning into everything else you have going on, everything will get done and it will be perfect.

IF I COULD GIVE OTHER BRIDES TO BE ONE PIECE OF ADVICE… Work as a team with your fiancé and make the most of each other’s strengths to create a day that is truly your own. Planning a wedding can be a lot of hard work but we cannot begin to put into words how proud we were of each other and of ourselves seeing all of our hard work come into fruition on the day. The whole process is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so really enjoy and savor every moment. 


PHOTOGRAPHY: Van Middleton

BRIDE'S DRESS: Rhonda Hemmingway Couture

BRIDE’S SHOES: Alan Pinkus





JEWELLERY & ACCESSORIES:  Samantha Wills & Daniel Wellington

HAIR: Byron Hair

MAKEUP: Julie Corbet

FLORIST: Poppy & Fern

CAKE: The Larder

CATERING: The Larder

CELEBRANT: Chiquita Mitchell

WEDDING VENUE: Goremans Road

HONEYMOON DESTINATION: Tanzania – Mt Kilimanjaro, safari in the Serengeti and Ngorogoro Crater, Zanzibar


VIDEOGRAPHER: White Leaf Films

WEDDING HIRE: Tilly and I Hire


FAVORS/BONBONNIERE: Everything Peppermint

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