Real Weddings

Real Wedding: Jo and Jim


It was a case of right place, right time for Joanne Thies and Jim O’Donnell. After crossing paths for years the pair finally met at a 30th birthday party. Learning early on in the wedding planning process “aiming for perfection is a trap,” the pair eschewed several traditions and opted for their own customs – from walking down the aisle together to wearing elements they already owned. Their vision of an outdoor wedding amongst the trees was fulfilled in their rustic venue imbued with creative DIY touches, seamlessly blending the duo’s personalities.The bride’s short vintage dress accessorised with a brooch from her own collection proved to be a QB favourite, while earning brownie points for her cool yet sentimental mode of transport. We’ll admit we’ve got a serious crush on this couple.


Date: 31 October 2014

The Couple:  Joanne Thies and Jim O’Donnell

Location: Hitched at Boomerang Farm, Mudgeeraba, Gold Coast

No. of Guests: 50

Theme: Rough around the edges with a polished heart

First Dance Song:  Let’s Dance – David Bowie






























How did you meet? 

We both were tag alongs to a 30th birthday party, Jim approached me and asked me the dorkiest question I’ve ever heard in my adult years… ‘what school did you go go?” He claimed it was because I looked familiar, which turned out to be true as our paths have been crossing for years and the timing happened to be just right for us to finally meet.  Also, earlier in the night I spied him playing air-base from across the room to Ladyhawke which may have helped things along…

Tell us about the proposal… 

I unknowingly laid the ground work for a pretty dreamy proposal weekend by booking a villa in the hills of Mapleton for a surprise weekend away to celebrate Jim’s 31st birthday. On the Saturday we packed the picnic basket with patisserie and deli treats before stopping into and stocking up at Flame Hill Winery. We went for a drive to find a good birthday picnic spot and ended up at Lake Baroona, we had the place to ourselves.

He really started to really knock back the red wines which was a little unsocial, but I just thought he must of really wanted to celebrate! As we approached the Nanna nap stage of the picnic Jim broke the silence, he said had a present for me. I instantly sat up to attention… I couldn’t believe it, was this really happening? I got really excited. He must of brought me DESSERT! Expecting him to hand me a chocolate brownie, he reached out and handed me a little box with a ribbon. It still gives me goosebumps thinking about it. I opened it slowly to find the most gorgeous bespoke art deco engagement ring. Next, as a true romantic, I swore. I swore like a sailor drunk on rum… then of course said yes. It all happened on a picnic blanket under an overcast sky on a cold July afternoon.

Why did you choose Hitched at Boomerang Farm for your wedding?

The beautiful old barn, it has so much character and is really rough around the edges with plenty of potential to set your own tone. There is a touch of old Australia about the place that we were really attracted to. Another big factor for us was the lush, green setting. It was important for us to get married outside amongst the trees. During the ceremony there was a light breeze, the leaves were falling on us, the afternoon light was beautiful, and to everyones delight we had kookaburras laugh right on cue after cracking a few jokes during the ceremony.

What did you do for your hens and bucks? 

Jo: Drinks at Sixes & Sevens, dinner at Mecca Bar and then a few sneaky cocktails.

Jim: Golf at Bulimia Golf Club, lunch at Newstead Brewery and then karaoke.

DIY Details

Wedding stationery name tags and menus

I illustrated and hand wrote every individual wedding invitation, luckily we had a small wedding!  Elements of the wedding illustrations were used throughout the styling, the wedding ceremony backdrop, name tags and menus.

Reception and guest gifts

For the reception and ceremony decor, we had a firm vision and worked hard at it! We spent months foraging and collecting a range of cactus and succulents and propagating them on our deck. We recycled nearly all the glass jars we used in six months, we raided my parents garden and took cuttings from all over Brisbane, we found succulents growing in the most unexpected of places!

I got pretty obsessed and took it too far and one day by climbing into someones front yard in Sandgate to take a small clipping from a prickly pear, I had painful spines in my hands for a week – I leant my lesson! The plants doubled not only as centre table pieces and venue decorations but also guest gifts. I made name tag flags and we asked guests to claim their favourite plant, It was also a sneaky strategy to get our guests moving around, it got a bit competitive by the end of the night and had people negotiating plant swaps. We’ve asked out guest to send us a picture of their chosen plant on our 1st anniversary, and if it’s still alive they get a prize! My mum has a gigantic rosemary plant in her front yard, so we had bunches of fragrant rosemary bunches all over the place.

Ceremony backdrop

My Dad made the wooden ceremony backdrop frame and Jim and I screen printed a strip of calico fabric with one of my floral illustrations from the wedding invites. We wanted to stand in front of something that we made, and it framed the two of us with Paul Voge our celebrant really nicely. Nothing like a wedding to get the creative motivation really flowing.


My sisters backed lemon tarts, cupcakes and salty caramel treats and friend Megan made caramel slice and blueberry cheesecake. We bought a about a hundred Tunnock’s Tea Cakes (Scottish chocolate-coated marshmallow treat) because they are the most amazing thing in this world and a nod to Jim’s Scottish heritage.

Key Styling Inspiration

Lighting and ambiance was number one for us to really set the tone, we wanted a warm reception venue with festoon lighting and candles. The other key element was filling the space with our succulents and cactus, they brought so much life and character to the reception. The crazy looking plants really reflected the personalities of our guests and family members!

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

We absolutely splurged on the honeymoon and on room service the next day. Our first breakfast as a married couple was like being in a movie, we ordered everything and hung out in our fluffy robes all morning.

We saved money on a lot of small things and did our vendor research. We learnt early that aiming for perfection is a trap. We felt it was fine to wear and re-use elements we already had like my shoes, wedding brooch, Jim’s suit. We are also lucky we have such amazing family members to help us with the desserts, backdrop, and plants.

What was the funniest moment of the day? 

Our photographer Tricia climbed a Jacaranda tree to take some pictures from a higher perspective, as she was doing her thing, her skirt totally ripped…  the rip echoed across the golf green!  But she got the shot,  so it was totally worth it.

What was the most special memory from the day? 

The ceremony. The words we said to each other, I remember our sweaty hands, we were holding on to each other so tight.

Secretly meeting before the ceremony and arriving together in my Dad’s 1968 HK Monaro. Dad has been restoring it my entire life, he taught me how to drive in it when I was 12 so that was pretty special for me. Walking down the aisle hand in hand with Jim through all those bright smiling faces was pretty cool.

What did you do for your honeymoon?

We spent three and a half weeks in Thailand. The first half was like a dream, nothing but unforgettable luxury. The highlight was Pimalai in Koh Lanta, I don’t think we’ll ever have the chance to stay in such an amazing place like that ever again. The most magical place either of us have ever experienced.

The other half was an epic adventure in Northern Thailand. Exploring the northern villages and eating as much street food as possible, we were in our element there and it was so much fun.

Special thanks to…

Our photographer Tricia for making us feel so comfortable during our couple shots, we were both really anxious about that part. Canoodling and making out in front of her camera was surprisingly easy.

Paul Voge our celebrant for inspiring us to break the ‘vow’ rules

Missy La’Belle for creating such a killer bouquet, this was a last minute decision to have a bouquet and it made an impact!

Our close family members who helped and supported us during the whole process and especially on the day!

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

Question traditions and feel liberated to break some rules. If a decision gets too stressful, put things into perspective – it’s cliche but my best advice is to prompt each other during any stressful moments of planning, to think about the bigger picture.

Ceremony: Hitched at Boomerang Farm
Reception: Hitched at Boomerang Farm
Gown: Vintage dress from Woolloongabba Antique Centre
Groom's Suit: Roger David
Flowers: Missy La'Belle
Hair: Stacey, Black Bird Makeup Artistry
Makeup: Whitney, Dollhouse Makeup Artistry
Shoes & Accessories: Own cream wedges and a vintage brooch from my collection
Cake: Dessert bar of homemade treats and Tunnock’s Tea Cakes
Transport: Dad’s 1968 HK Monaro
Stationery: Pen on paper
Music: Fazz shreading the banjo during our ceremony entrance, iPod at the garden party and reception
Photographer: Tricia King
Honeymoon: Thailand
Celebrant: Paul Voge
Engagement Ring: Jody Timms Designs
Bride's Wedding Ring: Jody Timms Designs
Groom's Wedding Ring: Jody Timms Designs

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