This guest blob is by the brand, brand new Jess Jackson, Dee’s bestie and my fellow ginga! You may remember I blogged about her wedding way back when. So I recently asked Jess to give me some insight into how she pulled this off. (And plus all this wedding stuff looms upon Dee and me soon). And here it is…Enjoy!

On 18 August I married a pretty awesome guy.

James proposed when we were in New York in December 2010. To be honest, I was completely shocked! Sure, we’d talked about getting married, and I knew James was the guy I wanted to spend the rest of my life with…. But I guess I’d only ever thought about ‘being married’, as opposed to the act of ‘getting married’.


I was never the type of girl who sat around planning her dream wedding, but when James presented me with the opportunity to plan a wedding, I was pretty freaking excited.

We didn’t set out to intentionally have a non-traditional wedding. We just did what felt right to us, and that’s how it turned out.

Our wedding criteria was thus: nothing lame, nothing stuffy – just a whole lot of fun in an environment conducive to maxing relaxing and some serious partying.

I’m also a total control freak, so I wanted the whole thing to be DIY… Crazy! We managed to pull it off with the help of our amazing friends and family. More on that later!

So this is the story of how we planned our vintage inspired pizza party barn wedding!

The non-bridal party

I’ll kick things off by explaining that we didn’t have a traditional bridal party. There were a few reasons for this, but it was mainly because we liked the idea of our wedding being just about the two of us… I hope that doesn’t make us sound like selfish A-holes!

In place of a bridal party, we decided to involve all of our ridiculously talented friends in ways that would exhibit their incredible creativity. It worked out amazingly. Here’s a list of our suppliers (all our dear friends!):

Save the date and invitation design – Ben Breitenstein
Celebrant – Paul Voge
Cake maker – Tegan Travers
Ceremony music – Lloyd Budd and Andy Martin
Photographers – Bayleigh Vedelago and Chris Proud
Videographer – Paul Voge (multi-tasking extraordinaire!)

It meant so much to us that we were able to pull together pretty much an entire wedding with just our network of friends. Amazing!

The venue

Kenilworth Homestead was the first and only venue that James and I looked at. We knew straight away that it was perfect.

After a few trips to the venue, our plans really started to take shape. The barn was to be the focus of the wedding. With two distinct areas, a huge fireplace, and plenty of space for dancing… It was perfect.



We decided we would use the big tree next to the barn as the focal point for the ceremony, and pre-reception drinks would be held on the lawn in front of the barn. We figured this was the best use of the space, and would allow the whole day to flow nicely.



Please refer to the barn floorplan below for further illustration. (This floorplan was my pride and joy in the wedding planning process… It’s to scale!)


The greatest part about the venue was that there was accommodation on site for over 100 guests! We offered free accommodation to all of our guests, and to our delight, most of them accepted! I drew and printed maps of the venue and individually tagged them for each person staying the night… On the day of the wedding, we had a ‘self-serve’ check-in area set up, with the maps displayed in alphabetical order for collection… It worked flawlessly!


The styling

Styling the venue was always going to be a mammoth task… It’s a huge space, and I’d seen photos on their Facebook page of weddings that had tried and failed to achieve that worn-in rustic barn feel. In order for it to work, the space needs to be filled well.

My ‘wedding vision’ ended up driving James and my parents crazy… I was so particular about what I wanted and how things should look, that it made the acquisition of decorations a nightmare. I wanted nothing swirly, nothing that screamed “love” (when trying to explain this to my dad one day, I told him it was because “love is gay”), nothing that looked remotely modern, and everything within a neutral, earthy colour palette. Lots of wood and glass. White flowers only, with lots of greenery. This = wedding vision.

I think it’s super important to decide on a wedding vision early and champion it throughout the whole process. Everyone involved needs to be on board with wedding vision!

Our friend Paul gave us a piece of advice that proved to be invaluable in the styling process – whatever you’re doing, do it big. And so we did.

After a year of collecting and crafting, our styling inventory contained:

800m of fairy lights
70m of handmade bunting
12 couches
5 coffee tables
5 floor lamps
2 sideboards
6 A-frame chalk boards
1 bolt of hessian
~50 assorted vases
100+ glass jars
100m of twine
1 custom stamp
100 mix CDs as wedding favours (branded with our custom stamp)
150 lolly bags for the candy bar (also branded with our custom stamp)
A whole lot of confetti
+ other miscellany



Plus, we needed a few feature items. We went with three cardboard deer heads for the barn (from Cardboard Safari), and a giant red wooden love heart for the ceremony (drawn by me, cut out by my dad, and painted by James).

My amazing dad also made us the arbour that formed the entranceway to the ceremony.

The only items we hired were the trestle tables, dry bars, Americana chairs and bar stools. And the pews for the ceremony were owned by the venue.

We bought the flowers from the Rocklea Flower Markets and made the arrangements ourselves.

The Wedding Dream Team

With so much STUFF, we needed some serious help to a) transport everything to the venue, and b) set everything up!

And so, The Wedding Dream Team was born:

Jess Jackson (nee Kearney) – bride, director and visionary
James Jackson – groom, lighting expert and sound technician
Judy Kearney – mother of the bride, chief style consultant and voice of reason
Steve Kearney – father of the bride, executive producer and slideshow guy
Dee Spink – pseudo bridesmaid, style consultant, BFF
Jess Jardine – pseudo bridesmaid, style consultant, BFF
Andy Martin – MVP, all round awesome dude
Michael Job – MVP, all round awesome dude
Michael Kearney – uncle of the bride, licensed heavy vehicle driver

The Wedding Dream Team assembled at my parents’ house at 8am on Thursday 16 August. By noon, we had loaded a ten tonne truck, two 4WDs, 1 van, and 3 cars with all our wedding finery, and we were on the road to Kenilworth.



We spent the next two days stringing fairy lights, placing furniture, arranging flowers, hammering stakes and filling jars with candy.

It was so rewarding to see everything fall into place. I loved the two days we spent setting everything up. After a year and a half of planning, collecting and crafting, we were finally ready to get married!








The big day

When the big day arrived, I was surprisingly calm.

The morning seemed to drag a little, and by the time the ceremony came around, I was super anxious and excited.

The ceremony was my favourite part of the day. James and I wrote our own vows, and in place of a “reading” we had our two oldest friends (Ben and Dee) write and recite something anecdotal about us. It was super special.



Reception format, et al

Something I’ll note about the reception is that we didn’t have a seating plan. It worked really well to create more of a relaxed party vibe. All we did was reserve a table for us and our parents to sit at during the speeches, and the rest was a free for all!


We kicked off the reception by going straight into speeches. We wanted to get the formalities out of the way so we could all get dancing. We had five speeches, which totalled about 45 minutes, and then dinner was served.

My darling husband is nutritionally challenged. He’s seriously the most fussy person I have ever met. So what do you serve at a wedding where all the groom eats is meat and bread?… Pizza!

We hired a guy to come to the venue and make woodfired pizzas on site. We had these served to tables banquet-style, so people could help themselves.

Loaves and Fishes took care of the rest of the catering. They prepared two antipasto feasting tables for pre-reception drinks, complete with local Kenilworth cheeses and olives. They also prepared salads to accompany the pizzas, and took care of the beverage service.

Not many people stayed at their tables for dinner, which was what we had hoped would happen. We wanted people to enjoy the venue, and not be stuck at a table for the whole night.

And after dinner, the dancing started! I’m a firm believer in maximising time allocated for dancing at weddings… Very important!

The rest of the night consisted of dancing, drinking, and eating cake and candy…










All in all, a perfect day and night!


DIY weddings are GREAT fun, but a lot of hard work. For any couple out there planning a DIY wedding, I’d give this advice:

1. Decide on a wedding vision early and stick with it!
2. Take any help you can get from friends and family!
And 3. Whatever you’re doing, do it BIG!

8 thoughts on “GUEST BLOG “DIY WEDDING”

  1. So neat great idea what magazine are you in I have some amazing pics for you to look at will forward them rather unique out of Germany

  2. When Paul & I arrived the day before the wedding, Jess showed me the barn, and I cried … Like real tears..!. In front of Jess…! 🙂
    It was breath taking. It was perfect. I was in awe.

  3. Pingback: Confessions of a ‘Pump’ Addict | DJ GLAD RAPPA

  4. Hello,
    I was wondering if Jess could kindly contact me via email. I am getting married at the same venue in May and I would really, really love a little advice.
    Thank you kindly! 🙂

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