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Sunday, December 6, 2020
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Canberra Weddings: Cooper and Jess

We love love here at Canberra Weekly, and we want to hear all about – and share – the fabulous Canberra weddings of local couples.

For our first ever wedding feature, we’re sharing the luxe Canberra wedding of Cooper and Jess, featuring an intimate gathering of 50 guests, a gown from Pallas Couture and a touch of Italy in the heart of Canberra.

Read on to find out all about the bride and groom’s special day…


The finer details

Ceremony: Brassey Hotel

Reception: Hotel Realm

Guests: 50

Celebrant: Hailey Romeo Celebrant

Photography: Hayley Sefo

Videography: The ceremony was videoed for family who couldn’t make it from America and Queensland

Catering: Hotel Realm  

Cake: Donuts from Italian Continental Bakery & Café

Flowers: Blooms and Beans

Invitations: We made the invitations ourselves

Wedding planner: The groom

Styling: Styled ourselves with olive branches, flannel flowers, neon signs, candles and the wedding favours

Transport: Self-drove a hired Mercedes Van 

DJ: Geordie Whish (family member)

First dance song: Lost Stars by Adam Levine

Wedding favours/bonbonnieres: Homemade limoncello from an Italian family recipe


The style file

The bride and groom

Dress: Pallas Couture

Suit: MJ Bale

Shoes: Christian Louboutin for the bride, and Julius Marlow for the groom

Hair: Kath from 121 Hair

Makeup: Jessica Dorothy Makeup Artistry

Veil: Mrs Minc

Accessories: Chanel earrings and Hugo Boss cufflinks

Fragrances: B. Balenciaga and Versace Eros Flame

Rings: Prouds engagement ring and Cartier wedding bands

Nails: ZandCo Studio

Tan: Malibu Spray

Lashes:  Lashlivvy

The bridal party

Dresses: Shona Joy

Suits: MJ Bale

Shoes: Billini and Julius Marlow

Hair: Kath from 121 hair

Makeup: Alyssa Maree Makeup Artistry

Accessories: Earrings by JT Luxe, cufflinks by Hugo Boss


How they met: Cooper pursued a date with Jessica after first seeing her on his sister, Ellen’s, soccer team. Jessica had been playing for Belwest for close to 18 years. After a couple of months and many denials from Jess, she finally gave into a date with Cooper.


The proposal: After two years, Cooper proposed on a family cruise trip over Christmas/New Year. The location where the big question was popped: off the coast of New Caledonia on Amedee Island, Boxing Day 2018.


How they envisioned their special day: “We didn’t want anything over the top,” Cooper and Jess said. “Our plan was always to have a quick ceremony and get through photos and speeches ASAP so we could celebrate/party with our family and friends.”


On how COVID-19 affected their plans: The couple said COVID did bring a lot of stress into the equation over the last eight months of planning their Canberra wedding. “We had to change the plans more than three times. Restrictions were changing back and forth every few weeks so we would plan for our original 120 guests then had to make the decision to cut numbers to abide to the number restrictions. In the end we thought it would be less stressful (and to avoid losing money or our special date) to split the wedding into two parts: the ceremony followed with a close family reception, and next year we will be having the original reception of 120 guests with a cocktail style party.”


How they got ready on the big day: The bride, Jess, got a much earlier start than planned when her brother-in-law set her alarm for 5.30am instead of 8am. “My twin sister and maid of honor made me a cup of tea, our morning survival ritual, then it was go go go from then. The hairdresser Kath, my bridesmaid, Cooper’s sister Ell and mother-in-law all arrived for 8am sharp. Hair and makeup was done from 8am to 12.30pm, which all ran smoothly thanks to Kath and Alyssa who were perfection, and I suppose to thank my many years of wedding makeup and hair schedule planning for my own business and brides of the last decade.” Jess said the last hour and a half flew by, with photos from 2pm and getting buttoned into her dress. “We popped a bottle of Veuve Vintage 2008, had a special cheers and we were off to the ceremony.”

The groom spent the morning with his brothers, his dad and his sister’s partner setting up the ceremony and reception areas, including setting up the 10m aisle and collecting the donuts for the cake and some lunch for the bridal party. In the Hotel Realm dining room, Cooper and the boys set up: individual bottles of homemade limoncello on every seat; olive leaves and candles on every table; the donut cake and the wishing well table; and the neon lights on stands behind the bridal table and next to the dance floor. “Most importantly, Hudson sent photos to the bride once completed to get the tick of approval!” he said. Once the setup was complete, Cooper and the boys had enough time to “have a beer and a nice scotch with our KFC, whilst watching the first couple of Saturday horse races”. Dressed and ready to go at 1.30pm, Cooper headed home to pick up Paddington, the couple’s 11-year-old Lhasa Apso dog, also dressed in his tuxedo. “We then headed to Hotel Realm to get some pre-wedding photos before the ceremony at 3.30pm.”


On the ceremony: “The ceremony was perfect,” said Cooper. “I was so overcome with emotions and the relief of all the stress I had built up over the past six months of planning that I was in tears the entire 30 minutes.” Jess said although she was nervous as she arrived for the ceremony, a few deep breaths and taking in the beautiful surroundings made it all okay. “I walked around the corner to the aisle where I saw all my beautiful family and I could not take the big smile of my face or let go of my dad’s hand tight.” She said “everything felt right, I saw my handsome man (bawling his eyes out); I wasn’t nervous anymore and I was filled with calmness”. The sun came shining through as the ceremony got underway with an Acknowledgement of Country and a reading from the groom’s sister. “We exchanged our vows with the kids next door yelling ‘are they kissing yet?’, signed the registry, kissed, and celebrated with joy as we walked down the aisle.”


On the reception: There were no outfit changes, but there was a first dance. “I tried to teach Cooper before the day with not a lot of luck, but surprisingly he pulled through with the slow swaying one-two step,” Jess said. “Our bridal party and parents and grandparents then joined us on the dance floor for the rest of the song.”


What was your best moment of the day? For the groom? The whole day! “From setting up with my brothers, to finally seeing Jess at 3.30pm walking down the aisle and marrying her, to partying all night with family. I would love to do it all again.” “The best part for me was the ceremony,” Jess said. “Finally seeing my man after a night apart, as we are always together so doesn’t happen much, and just seeing his beautiful heart on his sleeve and everyone there to witness our love, it was truly perfect.”


What was the funniest moment of the day? Did anything not go according to plan? “There were a lot of funny moments, but I guess the one that stuck with us the most was a part in my sister’s speech to Cooper,” Jess said. “She made a typical joke and said, ‘Cooper Pike, you are the Pike of the Bunch’. It stuck with us so much, Cooper got ‘Pike of the Bunch’ tattooed on his arm on our honeymoon!”


Did you have gifts, or did you ask guests for a contribution to your wishing well? We just had a wishing well and said “with all that we’ve been truly blessed, your presence and joy are all that we request. But if you desire to give nonetheless, a monetary gift is one we suggest”.  


On their honeymoon plans: The couple originally had plans to travel around Italy for a month, but thanks to COVID-19 they had to make a change, heading north to Byron Bay’s Elements resort. “It was a perfect place to spend time off. A more expensive destination, but we will only have one honeymoon,” the couple said. “Byron Bay was extremely busy, it seemed like everyone in NSW/ACT who had time off was holidaying in the area. COVID had also affected the way the restaurants were running so when we arrived, we could not get into dinner anywhere. Locals said once the borders opened everyone was holidaying there, so you had to book about one week or more in advance to get a seat at most of the restaurants, even the main top pub!” Jess and Cooper managed to book into some of the more popular restaurants, including the Top Pub where they ended up sitting next to Melissa McCarthy!  


Any advice for future couples? Cooper and Jess say their plan was to keep their Canberra wedding as cost-effective as possible, but after months of trying to stick to the budget they decided to spend a little bit more on certain elements, while saving money elsewhere. They did the styling themselves, which was a saving of around $5,000. “Honestly, no matter what you plan for the day and all the stress you go through, the day will be perfect. We got to marry the person we want to spend the rest of our lives with, and that’s all that mattered on the day,” they say. “Really enjoy the day, it’s such a special moment and goes by so quickly.”


If you want to share your Canberra wedding with us (and our readers) get in touch: [email protected]