Real Wedding: Jessica & Michael


Michael and Jessica spent years as friends during university, before realising their chemistry went beyond being study partners. The duo chose to wed at St Mary’s Church in the tropical haven of Port Douglas, which held sentimental meaning for the bride. Eschewing a handful of wedding traditions including multiple events for their hens and bucks, a first look before the ceremony, a picnic-style setup for their outdoor reception and the groom proudly making the cake, we’ve got a lot to learn from this über modern pair!


Date: 12 September 2014

The Couple: Michael Rehe Dean Downling and Jessica Masters

Location: Port Douglas, Queensland

No. of Guests: 70

Theme: Seaside Spring Soirée

Budget: $20, 000

Photography: Peppermint Lane Photography














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How did you meet? 

Michael and I met at university and we were friends for some years before sparks ignited. We very suddenly realised we meant more to each other than just a great assignment partner.

Tell us about the proposal…

The first trip Michael and I took together was to visit his family in Tasmania in 2010, where we climbed the mountain over into Wineglass Bay. It was such a beautiful experience and I think that is where we truly fell in love. So in 2012 Michael took me back to Tasmania and we climbed Cradle Mountain together, where he got down on bended knee and popped the question. Through tears of joy, it was an instant ‘yes’ from me!

Why did you choose Port Douglas for your wedding? 

I spent much of my childhood in Port Douglas and my parents were an integral part of the community’s development in the 1980s. St Mary’s has a very special place in my heart after my parents helped raise the funds to move the church to where it is today and provided the bell which hangs outside. After my mother passed away in 2012, having our ceremony there felt like another way we could still have her with us.

What did you do for your hens and bucks? 

The majority of our guests were from across the country and the world, so we opted for several smaller events around the wedding day rather than a big hens or bucks, giving us more time to spend with loved ones who had travelled great distances to be with us. Events included a girls trip to Brisbane, a meet & greet lawn bowls night, a his and her day to local attractions, dinners, and a sunset sail off Port Douglas.

DIY Details

We had many DIY elements in our wedding to create a more personal experience, including using items and materials that had been given to us by family and friends. We made all the boutonnieres, table decorations, signage and stationary ourselves and I created a website with information on accommodation, location and of course the big day and surrounding events. I also made a game of noughts and crosses out of paper-mache hearts, which we renamed ‘Life & Love’ to form part of the lawn games on offer. On the day my bridesmaids and guests made all the flower arrangements and helped set up, while Michael lovingly made our wedding cake which we were both really proud of.

Key Styling Inspiration 

We loved the natural environment of our reception location, drawing our inspiration from the beautiful sunshine filled surrounds and the lazily lapping ocean to create a relaxed and intimate seaside soiree in the spring, with great food and sounds, shared with loved ones. To enhance this feeling we forwent the traditional table setup, instead opting for a large sofa, cushions and rugs, inviting our guests to lay by the seaside. Our colours were white, gold and navy with small pops of bright colours from the flowers.

What did you splurge on and what did you save on for your wedding? 

By far, our biggest spends were on catering, event set-up, music and photography, as these were integral to creating and capturing the day we wanted. Together they accounted for over 50% of our total budget. We then had to be smart with everything else to ensure we could still achieve our wedding day vision within our budget. We saved by planning and hunted around for ideas and deals, shopping sales and doing a lot of DIY – although at times DIY did not seem any less costly!

What was the funniest moment of the day? 

Michael is from New Zealand and fiercely proud of his Māori heritage and to everyone’s surprise, he had organised to make a very grand entrance, with his groomsmen and closest mates, into our reception with a traditional Haka. It was a sight indeed, with all our guests, and surrounding public completely taken aback. The bridesmaids’ speeches were also hilarious and a beautiful highlight of our day.

What was the most special memory from the day? 

I have Type 1 Diabetes which plays an enormous part in both my life and Michael’s, and we wanted our wedding day to reflect this while also raising general awareness. We gifted all our guests with a blue circle pin, the international symbol of diabetes, and it has been an especially heart warming experience to look back at our wedding photos to see everyone wearing them. I am also very thankful that we chose to do a first look. The day really does go so fast, and a lot of it was spent apart; from getting ready, chatting to guests and so on, so it was really special to have that time together.

What did you do for your honeymoon? 

We are very excited to be spending two weeks in Thailand, beach hoping in March 2015.

Special thanks to… 

Our beautiful family and friends for each playing a different part on our wedding: from musicians to set-up assistants, videographers and advice givers. And to every one of our suppliers who together created the wedding day we had dreamed of.

What advice would you give future brides-to-be? 

Spend time selecting your suppliers carefully to ensure you are surrounded by people who understand your vision and don’t add stress. Pick a great photographer, they are well worth the money. Finally, know that not everything along the wedding journey is going to go perfectly. And smile, it’s your day (and your photographer is looking!).

Ceremony: St Mary’s by the Sea, Port Douglas Weddings
Reception: Rex Smeal Park
Gown: Designed and hand made by Bubpha Wedding,Thailand
Bridesmaid Attire: Forever New
Groom's Suit: Tailor made in Thailand
Groomsmen Attire: Trousers by Blaq (Myer), Bowties and suspenders by Connor
Decorator: Designed by Bride, Hire and Set Up by Port Douglas Catering and Events
Flowers: My bridesmaids and guests created our arrangements with flowers personally selected from Flower Central
Hair: Tropical Beauty
Makeup: Tropical Beauty
Cake: Michael Dowling (Husband)
Caterer: Port Douglas Catering and Events
Transport: Our own
Stationery: Designed by the bride, printed with Vistaprint
Music: Montgomery Brothers
Photographer: Peppermint Lane Photography
Honeymoon: Thailand
Celebrant: Rosina Santarossa
Engagement Ring: Hobart
Bride's Wedding Ring: Walker and Hall, Auckland

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