Jay & Laura's story is so very special and one that I will never forget.
The week of Laura and Jay's wedding was very eventful to say the least. Laura had mentioned since we had started talking about her plans that she really wanted photos with her beloved horse, Secret.
Secret had almost passed away while giving birth the week before the wedding and things were not looking good, but Secret miraculously managed to make a full recovery before the day (she is the beautiful horse in the photos below!)
Then the unthinkable happened... Laura's Dad (Howard) suffered a heart attack the week of her wedding and was transported from Glen Innes to John Hunter Hospital. Her family received the news that Howard was too unwell to travel back to Glen Innes for the wedding, which was absolutely heart breaking for Howard and for Laura and her family.
Laura was devastated. She had told me how her Dad had organised over 10 minutes of fireworks to go off after their first dance, and he was so excited to see them.
I knew how important it was for me capture such an important moment so Laura would have the photos to show her Dad.
This whole experience changed me. It was so important for me to document the day, not only for their memories, but for Laura to show Howard.
Jay & Laura's wedding was held in their hometown of Glen Innes. Jay and Laura had told me so much about their hometown during their engagement session in the Hunter Valley and once I arrived there, it all made sense. I just couldn't believe how relaxed and friendly everyone was (and also how cold it was haha! More jumpers next time!).
A quick trip down to the local Woolworths 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.
Jay & Laura had spent most of the week by Howard's side in hospital, but while they were gone, their friends and family had been busy setting up the marquee, decorations, tables, lights, organising food and drinks ready for their wedding. Laura's Aunty had 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's community spirit. As much as my heart broke for Laura, this little country town really warmed my heart. Everyone did what they could to help out to make the day come together.
I met up with Laura and Jay the night before their wedding so they could show me around their venue and family property so 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.
I was blown away by how much Laura and Jay just adore, support and respect each other. Their story starts way back when they were just 11 years old, going fishing together, kicking a football outside the basketball stadium and playing 'miniball'.
At just 15 years old they started dating, and have been inseparable ever since! 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. But it's very clear their hearts belong in Glen Innes, surrounded by dear family and friends, where they plan to own their own property and build a house to raise a family of their own.
The day was all about the things that really matter on a wedding day - their love for each other and those around them. It was one that tugged on my heart strings and yet, it was so breathtakingly beautiful in so many ways.
We were blessed with the most amazing afternoon light out on location (which is pretty much my favourite thing ever!).
And Jay and Laura sitting in a row boat in the middle of a dam on her parents property, while the sun set behind them (with and audience of cows that watched on right beside me) was a moment I will never forget!
I left Glen Innes with a very full heart, new friends and a greater appreciation for community spirit and the simple country life.
Jay and Laura, I will be forever grateful you invited me into your world