Today's real wedding is one of those ones that you just know, was a truly special event to be present at.
Marc & Jo married on a Tahitian mountaintop, with an unplugged ceremony, muddy feet, and decor collected and created by the couple themselves.
And there to capture their intimate island celebration, were the wonderful Samuel & Virginie of SV Photograph.
Marc and Jo describe their wedding as “international, mountainous, and tropical-but-not.” And that's a pretty perfect way to sum it up.
Despite their French Polynesian backdrop, the couple avoided anything overtly tropical, with stylish bridal party attire (Jo's Grace Loves Lace gown is so pretty!), gorgeous garden greenery, and cool signage.
But really the most special thing about this wedding, has to be the bride and groom. From their epic public proposal, to their perfectly secluded ceremony, and their Tahitian party into the night, we've fallen as hard for Marc & Jo as we have for their gorgeous wedding.
Wedding Day Snapshot
How We Met
Marc is French-born but half Spanish and half Vietnamese by origin. He was raised in French Polynesia his entire life.
I am New Zealand born but Taiwanese by origin. I was raised in Australia my entire life.
Marc was offered a scholarship to study in Australia. Of all places, Marc chose my hometown, the city of Wollongong to do his studies.
We met in church, and discovered that we both shared a love of hiking and nature. We started to hang out from doing some group hikes with friends, and eventually began dating.
We fell in love, but there were of course some challenges to come. Overall we have gone through one year of long distance relationship. First it was six months when I moved to Norway for exchange studies. Then it was another six months when Marc moved back to Tahiti as he had finished his scholarship in Australia.
I think long distance was the ultimate test for us. If we could go through that, we could go through anything.
After all the long months spent apart, our love for each other was not shaken. We knew we wanted to spend a lifetime together.
As of February this year, I moved to Tahiti, and now need to learn French and adapt to the new culture and lifestyle. We got married at the end of April, and will be living here in Tahiti for an indefinite amount of time.
The proposal story is very romantic. Marc had been devising a complex plan for a long time coming. I honestly had no idea.
It happened on a Tuesday night (random) 12th May 2015 after I had finished work. Marc and I had planned that we would watch Pitch Perfect 2 at the cinema on this night. At the cinema, while the trailers and ads began to play, Marc told me he was going to go to the candy bar.
While he was gone, the cinema screen began to play another video starting with the MGM lion roar. I figured it was another trailer, however I realized the lion face was in fact Marc’s head… This confused me completely.
The video continued playing, and there was a close up of Marc’s shoes. I thought to myself “Hey that’s Marc’s shoe!”. Then Marc appeared in the video and he said, “Hey Jo, the star of the movie tonight… it’s you”.
I was so shocked at this. At this point I didn’t know what was happening, why the video was playing on the big screen, in front of so many other random people who were there to watch Pitch Perfect 2. I even heard a random girl sitting behind me say to her friend “did we walk into the wrong cinema?”
Halfway through the video he begins saying things about “taking the next step together”, and then I suddenly realized “Oh my gosh, I think he is going to propose”.
When the video finished playing, I heard a crowd of cheers and wolf whistles. Marc comes back from the ‘candy bar' dressed up in nice clothes, gets down on one knee and proposes to me in front of everyone. I said yes.
Then after realizing what was happening, I realized that an entire section of the cinema was a huge crowd of all my friends and family. They had witnessed the entire thing.
He had made a private Facebook event of the proposal night (without me in it of course), so basically everyone in my life knew about it. It took months of planning and I was completely oblivious to the whole thing.
The wedding theme was rustic, nature, woods, forest. The colours were mainly neutral whites, off-whites, textured brown of wood, greens of foliage.
You would think having a wedding in Tahiti means beaches, coconut trees and the sea, but honestly we were trying to stay away from that.
I always dreamed of a mountain wedding, so we didn’t give up looking for a venue until we found exactly that.
Over the Rainbow Park was nestled in the mountains (escaping the tropical heat), and full of tall pine trees. One side of the mountain overlooked the magnificent valleys and waterfall, the other side overlooked the city, ocean, and the island Moorea in the background.
It was perfect and we didn’t need to try hard to make the venue look beautiful. Not a coconut tree or beach in sight, you wouldn’t expect this to be a wedding on a tropical island.
We both come from very mulicultural backgrounds. We had guests from Australia, France, New Caledonia, Netherlands, and Tahiti.
The fact that our entire wedding had translations from French into English made it pretty unique. There was one point where there was three interpretations in French, English and Tahitian.
The fact that our wedding was in the mountain was very ‘us’. It had been raining that morning, and there were parts that were quite muddy.
We told guests to wear comfortable shoes, so people had gumboots or thongs. Some were even barefoot with muddy feet.
Marc and I were walking and running through dirt and mud and we didn’t care. I loved that.
The fact that no one was caring about being fancy, even at a wedding. We don’t mind getting a bit dirty, and really the whole day was filled with laughs and joy.
The ceremony was nestled in a magical spot, with a backdrop of tall pine trees and overlooking Papeete and the ocean.
We spent days refurnishing some old slices of tree trunks which served at benches for the seating. Hessian cloth was used for the aisle with flower petal scattered along it. We had small logs lining the aisles with mason jars filled with flowers on top of them.
We made it an unplugged ceremony which meant we wanted the guests to put away their phones during the ceremony and enjoy the moment with us.
It was the best choice, and I’m so glad our wedding photos aren’t full of guests with phones covering their faces.
Walking down the aisle: ‘Mango Tree' by Angus and Julia Stone
Walking up the aisle: ‘You’re On' by Madeon (The same song that was used in our proposal video)
They stood out to me with their contemporary style of photography so we contacted them, and it just led to a conversation. They are great communicators. We are very happy with the amazing photos that came out.
For the cameraman, we contacted Marc’s friend, Georges Tobella, and he agreed to simply film and give us the raw footage so we could edit the video.
We haven’t watched the footage yet but we are sure that he has done some great shots.
I wore a simple but beautiful dress by Grace Loves Lace called Clare. It was so comfortable that I could run around the bumpy terrain of the mountain with ease.
I wanted a dress that I could wear again in the future, so Clare is a dress I can cut to knee length and wear it again for other formal occasions.
For the bridesmaids, I requested that they wear a dress that was around knee length and white/offwhite/ivory/cream in colour. Apart from that, they could wear anything they liked.
I didn’t want them to be matching, but rather choose something they wanted themselves, which they could wear again in the future. The guys in the bridal party wore attire by ASOS.
Being in Tahiti, you pretty much only find tropical flowers. I wanted to steer away from tropical, so flowers was a real dilemma.
Flowers that you would find cheap in Australia cost a fortune in Tahiti since they are all imported. I also found that in Tahiti, there was only a small selection to choose from.
With what we had, I chose gerberas, roses, and alstroemeria.
We went to several florists and they didn’t have the leaves I was looking for, so in the end we managed to find the beautiful leaves of olive trees from Marc’s sister’s backyard. We actually used these leaves, took them to the florist, and asked them to use the leaves in the bouquet.
We gave them reference photos of the type of bouquets I was looking for, and emphasized “Imperfect” and “messy” bouquet. The florist pulled it off well. I even used olive leaves to make my own crown, and for decorations at the wedding. The leaves were even used to decorate our cake!
The food at our reception was what we call a Ma’a Tahiti. It basically means a Tahitian feast, and is the traditional Tahitian way of cooking, where the food is cooked in a firepit dug in the ground.
The food is often wrapped in banana leaves and consists of things like pork, fish, veal, breadfruit, po’e. And of course the feast is served with lots of coconut milk. The feast should be eaten with your fingers.
We had Champagne, organic rum, and red and white wine provided by Millésime. Marc had done a video job for the company, and requested that rather than being paid in money, that we be paid in alcohol for the wedding.
Advice for Other Couples
Pinterest is always great for some DIY ideas. DIY weddings are a good budget tip, but they do require a lot of work!
We planned a lot of the wedding with an online Google sheet specific for weddings so we were able to share all the info with all the people involved with the preparation.
The Decor & Details
Pretty much everything was DIY. We didn’t need to try hard to decorate the venue, because the venue itself was already beautiful.
But as a graphic designer and lettering artist, I was able to create a bunch of signage for the day. With the help of my brother-in-law, we spent the few months earlier making wooden framed chalkboards and easels which I then chalk-lettered.
Little wooden picket signs painted with the words “Watch your step”. Hand painted directional signage. We made a giant feature chalkboard which could be used as a backdrop for photos.
We foraged for leaves to use as foliage decorations for the wedding. I spent hours taking off the labels off empty beer and wine bottles to use them as flower vases. I collected rocks from the beach and drew on them.
The wedding arch was a cool DIY project which we made out of foraged branches and leaves.
Our main costs went into venue hire, photographers and of course the big one, catering.
There were a lot of things that were essentially cost-free for us. We saved a lot on the designs and decorations. The wedding was pretty much all DIY. I’m a graphic designer and hand/chalk letterer so I was able to create all signage, designs and most decorations.
But again, a huge thank you to all family and friends who helped set up and covered a lot of the costs for us.
Yes, we went to Vietnam and Taiwan for a honeymoon. We wanted to discover both of our origins. I would recommend it.
Taiwan is totally underrated. No one really knows about it, but it’s one of the most beautiful countries with friendly people. About 80% of the island is mountain, so if you’re into hiking and nature, I would recommend it.
Vietnam is super cheap so if you’re on a budget, it’s a great place to go. It’s also got very beautiful scenery. We would recommend you go to Dalat for a French influenced city, Sapa to see the rice fields, and Ha long bay.
Fire dancers, mountainside piggy-backs, and vows in the mud – what a cool celebration! Make sure you watch their proposal video too!
Thanks so much to SV Photograph, and of course Marc & Jo for sharing their gorgeous wedding in Tahiti with us!
Be inspired by more unique real weddings.