Jay & Laura's story is so very special. It starts way back when they were just 11 years old, going fishing together, kicking a footy outside the basketball stadium and playing 'miniball'. At just 15 years old they started dating, and have been inseparable ever since!
I had the pleasure of venturing outside of the Hunter Valley and heading to Jay & Laura's hometown of Glen Innes for the first time, and what an experience. Jay and Laura had told me so much about their hometown during their engagement session and I just couldn't believe just how relaxed and friendly everyone was (and also how cold it was haha! More jumpers next time!).
A quick trip to Woolies and it was easy to see that everyone really did know everyone! No one had their phones out, everyone said "G'day", everyone was present, people were talking to each other. It sounds silly but it was so refreshing!
I met up with Laura and Jay the night before their wedding so they could show me around their venue and family property and we could find some locations. I was in photographer heaven - paddocks, horses, long dirt roads, and clear open country skies, what a dream.
Laura told me she had spent her entire childhood playing, exploring, herding sheep and cattle, riding horses (the list goes on) all around her parents property and the neighbouring paddocks. I kept thinking how special is this, that we are back here, and tomorrow they are starting the next chapter of their lives in a place that means so much to them.
Jay & Laura's day was full of so many amazing moments that really had me pinching myself. It was easily the largest wedding I had photographed, with over 150 guests!
The week of Laura and Jay's wedding was very eventful to say the least, and knocked their plans around quite a bit. Laura had mentioned since we had started talking about her plans that she wanted photos with her beloved horse, Secret. Secret almost passed away while giving birth the week before the wedding, but managed a full recovery before the day (she is the beautiful horse in the photos!)
Then the unthinkable happened. Laura's Dad unfortunately suffered a heart attack the week of her wedding and was transported to John Hunter Hospital. It was a truly heart breaking time for her family. She told me how her Dad had organised over 10 minutes of fireworks to go off after their first dance, and I knew how important it was for me to stay back and capture such an important moment so they would have the photos to show her Dad.
Jay & Laura spent most of the week by her Dad's side in hospital. While they were gone, their friends and family brought their whole day to life, setting up the marquee, decorations, tables, lights, organising food and drinks, her Aunty foraged flowers from Yamba for the bouquets (which were put together by her best friend and sister!)
I was just so overwhelmed by the small town community spirit. Everyone came together and helped out where they could to make the day as easy as possible for Laura & Jay. Laura said herself that they didn't do any of it, they just turned up and they were so so grateful of everyone's generosity and hard work while they were gone.
I was blown away by how much Laura & Jay just adore, support and respect each other. They are each others first love and true love. It's easy to see that the way they look at each other after all their years together that they are soul mates. They have done so much and achieved so much together, include moving from their hometown to the city to chase Jay's professional football career. I know their hearts belong back at home in Glen, where they plan to own their own property and build a house to raise a family of their own.
I love that their day was all about the things that really matter on a wedding day - their love for each other and those around them.
We were blessed with the most amazing afternoon light out on location.. which is pretty much my favourite thing ever! Jay & Laura sitting in a row boat in the middle of a dam on her parents property, while the sun set behind them and 20 or so cows watched on right beside me was a moment I will never forget!
The day was so emotional, fun, and breathtakingly beautiful in so many ways.
I left Glen Innes with a very full heart, new friends and a greater appreciation for the simple country life. I will be forever grateful you invited me into your world!