Met at only 14

Rachael and Joseph

Saturday, 2 December 2017

The Romance

Joe and I met at only 14 years old. The boys used to come and watch us girls play netball after school and he was there one day. He actually had his eyes on my best friend (maid of honour at the wedding) and they dated for about 2 weeks before we got talking. We had our first date at the cinema and he nervously leaned in to kiss me at the very end of the movie whilst the lights were off. We were together for about 10 months, before parting ways. Both of us ended up in long-term relationships that didn't work out. Joe decided to contact me one day out of the blue - we had always thought of each other but never acted on it. He was in Kapooka at the time, training for the army and was about to be posted to Sydney. Over the coming weeks we talked every day, he visited me in Tasmania and I came to Sydney. After a short time I left Tasmania for good and we got a place together. We eventually ended up in Brisbane - he was deployed to Afghanistan for 6 months in 2012 as a Combat Engineer - so we've been through not just ups and downs, but also a war. We didn't know it when we met, but Joe and I were born 3 days apart in the same hospital - almost like we were meant to meet again one day.

Bride, Samantha Dean   Bride & Groom, Rachael & Joseph McGee

The Proposal

Joe and I were visiting family in Tasmania, and he convinced me that he wanted to go to Mt Wellington to take some photos with his new phone. He seemed off that day and the day leading up to it - doing odd things like parking the car but pulling in too far so that he accidentally hit the wall. We stopped to get petrol on the way to the mountain and I was having issues with the petrol lever, so he quickly grabbed it out of my hand in an attempt to assist me, but managed to spill petrol all down my front. At the time I didn't realise that he was just nervous, so I was quite upset with him! I remember him looking extremely worried in the car on the way up and apologising profusely. Once we made our way to the top, the wind was out of control and I could barely walk to the lookout. I stopped to take a photo and then turned around to find him beside me on one knee. I started to laugh hysterically because I couldn't hear a word he was saying due to the wind but managed to nod so that he could understand that I was saying yes.

He told me later that he couldn't really propose at the cinema where our first date was - so he chose a place that we could see where we met and where we grew up, and he knew how special home was to me, so that's why he chose the mountain. His best friend and best man, Alastair Roberts (from 'For the Love of Gold' in Hobart), custom made my engagement ring, which makes it even more special for both of us.


Bride & Groom, Rachael & Joseph McGee   Bride & Groom, Rachael & Joseph McGee

The Planning

Planning a wedding from afar is stressful! Especially when you are commencing a Graduate Nursing Program in Intensive Care and your soon-to-be husband is also studying at uni. We spent hours looking online to make a list of potential venues to visit on a special trip to Tassie. We wanted a venue with enough character that we only had to do minimal styling - something different, with some history. Entally was absolutely perfect - built in the 1800's, with incredible grounds and buildings, all restored and maintained beautifully. We booked at the end of 2016 and the only date left was the date we wanted - talk about 'meant to be'!

We had just under 12 months to organise everything and we tried to do almost everything ourselves. We had considerable help from our friends and family to ensure everything went smoothly - not just on the day but throughout all of the planning. The boys suits, my wedding dress, hundreds of dollars worth of candles, an easel and all of our decorations were transported by my stepfather from Brisbane to Hobart, instead of via plane, which saved us so much money. My sister-in-law made our beautiful cake as a wedding gift. Joe's friend Gary restored the old easel for us. Our friend's Tyson and Sarah MC'd and made sure our music was played at the right times. Everyone played their part and we couldn't have done it without them.

Bride & Groom, Rachael & Joseph McGee   Bride & Groom, Rachael & Joseph McGee

The Wedding Day

It was windy and overcast - a typical day for Tasmania. Joe and the boys got ready at the Country Club, with the aim of having a round of golf prior to the ceremony starting. Unfortunately Alastair was given the wrong shirt by y.d. and instead of golf the boys spent the better half of the day running around Launceston trying to find a shirt the same as the other boys - a complete secret from me until after the wedding! They didn't find a shirt and after all their trouble, I didn't even notice it was different.

My bridetribe and I had exclusive use of the Governor's Wing at Entally House - which was absolutely stunning. The house has been completely restored and has beautiful regency furnishings, including an incredible four-post bed and full-length mirror (as seen in the photos).

Joe denied being nervous right up until the night before - we decided to invite all of our friends out for a 'meet and greet' dinner the night before the wedding, to break the ice before the big day. Once everyone had arrived he told me that he felt very nervous and even left early with the boys to have an early night. I had been nervous intermittently for months - mostly stressing about people not having a good time, or that I would fall whilst walking down the aisle.

Just prior to walking down the aisle I was EXTREMELY nervous - my heart was pounding and all of a sudden it was my turn to walk down - there was nowhere to run! (haha). We had decided during the planning that my dad would walk me to the edge of where everyone was gathered, then Joe would walk down to collect me so that we could walk down the aisle hand-in-hand. This wasn't traditional, but to us, it meant that we were walking into our new lives together. Once I saw Joe and I had his hand in mine, I felt huge relief.


Bride & Groom, Rachael & Joseph McGee   Bride & Groom, Rachael & Joseph McGee with bridal party

The Ceremony

Our ceremony was at Entally House, under an Atlas Cedar, which is approximately 170 years old. The enormous tree made our 85 guest wedding look like an intimate affair. I created a playlist for the guests to listen to whilst they waited, including songs by Sam Cooke, Frank Sinatra, Jack Johnson and Louis Baker. I walked down the aisle to an instrumental version of 'I See Fire' by Ed Sheeran. We got married under a beautiful driftwood arch, which Sue (our wedding coordinator) dressed with beautiful white roses.

We wanted our ceremony to be as modern as possible. I wrote our ceremony script and ensured that it was just about us - short and sweet. We had some beautiful friends do readings - Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis De Bernieres, The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman and a marriage advice column from Jane Wells in 1886. At the time, the vote for marriage equality had not yet gone through and our celebrant was legally required to state in our ceremony that marriage was between a man and a woman, however we then stated that we disagreed with this and hoped that one day ALL those who love each other could marry.

Bride & Groom, Rachael & Joseph McGee   Bride & Groom, Rachael & Joseph McGee

The Reception

Our reception was held at Entally Lodge, in the Reibey Room. We were nervous about our first dance, so once our photos were all taken, we were announced and commenced the first dance straight away. Our song was 'Into the Mystic' by Van Morrison and after a short time we invited our bridal party up, then all of our guests joined us - there wasn't a seat empty, it was such a special moment.

The room had three long tables, decorated by family and I with eucalyptus garlands and candles. The menus were designed and printed by myself, and I hand wrote all of the place cards. We chose not to have a bridal table so that we could sit among our guests and be close to our loved ones. Music is extremely important to me and I spent many hours putting together specific playlists for the day. Our music included anything from the 40's right up to today, and really created such a happy atmosphere.

We had a two-course, gourmet feast table, which was absolutely incredible. A large worry for me was that everyone would be fed well and enjoyed the food, and it was a big hit. EVERYONE raved about the food.

We had incredible speeches from the best man and maid of honour - who actually quoted a letter I wrote to her in high school, discussing my love for Joe and how much I missed him when we were apart. My brother and father spoke together, as my father had a stroke several years ago and his speech isn't what it used to be. They spoke beautifully and I was so proud of them both. Joe's dad and my mum also spoke - it's not common for the mother of the bride to speak, but another tradition I wanted thrown out. Afterwards we had cake and danced the night away! No one wanted to leave and we had so much fun.

Bride & Groom, Rachael & Joseph McGee   Bride & Groom, Rachael & Joseph McGee

The Honeymoon

We had booked flights to Bali for our honeymoon and the week prior to us leaving all flights were cancelled due to Mt Agung erupting. Thankfully, two days prior to our departure all flights were recommenced and we made it! We spent 9 days in bliss! We went to Ubud, Gilli Trawangan Island and Canggu, which were all quirky and fun in their own ways. A highlight was when we went snorkelling and swam with turtles.

Bride & Groom, Rachael & Joseph McGee   Bride & Groom, Rachael & Joseph McGee

Wedding Advice ...

Breathe. And remember you're marrying your best friend - you have nothing to worry about.

Bride & Groom, Rachael & Joseph McGee

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