Brisbane couple Jean and Dean opted out of having a hot summer wedding in their Aussie homeland, instead having a magical winter wonderland wedding on the other side of the world in Japan. Like something out of a fairytale, the two wed in an ice chapel with their six children by their sides.
Wedding date: January 13th 2018
Wedding location: Tomamu Ski Resort, Hokkaido, Japan
Number of guests: 20
Bridal Party: Three flower girls and three page boys
Ceremony time: From 5pm
Reception time: From 6.30pm
Tell us about how you met…
I met Dean when I was eight and he was ten. He played cricket every summer with my brother for eight years, so I would sit under the trees and watch this blonde haired, extremely cute, extremely talented, left-handed cricketer play. By the 3rd summer, our families were having barbeques, and at one of these, Dean and I shared our first kiss. As teenagers, Dean took me on my first date on my 16th birthday, however after this, our school and sport commitments, plus growing up caused us to drift in different directions.
After school, we lost touch with each other, despite both of us at different times trying to find the other. Fast forward 20 years, we both came out of our first marriages, with 3 children between us, and were fortunate to find each other again in January 2015.
And about the proposal...
Dean and I learned that in the interim 20 years, we both developed a strong love for snow skiing, martial arts, and the outdoors. We have enjoyed 5 ski trips together since, and on one of these trips, Dean proposed. It was Christmas Eve, and we had just watched a beautiful fireworks display and flare run down at Big White Ski Resort in Canada. We went to a lodge for a Christmas feast, and with heavy snowflakes falling on gingerbread cottages around us, Dean asked me to marry him. It was magical, and perfectly suited to both of us.
Where was the location of your wedding ceremony and reception?
Our wedding ceremony was held in an Ice Chapel in Tomamu Ski Resort, located in Hokkaido, Japan. The Reception was held at Club Med Tomamu.
How did you find your location?
Being in the travel industry, I knew about Club Med’s new ski resort opening in Japan in December 2017. This was a big drawcard, as I have skied at Club Med resorts previously and believe they offer everything you could ask for, for a family ski holiday. When I saw that Tomamu Resort builds an Ice Village each winter, complete with an ice chapel, this became a perfect combination for us.
How easy or hard was it to plan your wedding?
There were parts that were very simple, and a few logistical challenges which we worked through. The Ice Chapel uses a wedding planning company who looked after the details. This made the entire ceremony quite simple.
Trying to source winter suits and dresses for the children from Brisbane was challenging, as well as a winter-styled dress for myself. In the end we focussed on layering for warmth.
Ensuring we could travel with everything, including all of our ski gear, was very important. I chose an airline that offered 30kg baggage per person, and then packed and labelled each bag so I knew where everything was in case anything went missing. Fortunately it all turned up perfectly. I also arranged private transfers in vehicles that could store 10 bags as well as the 5 of us. This meant we weren’t stressed with buses or trains while travelling heavy, with 3 children in tow.
Where did the majority of your guests stay?
All of our family and friends stayed at Club Med Tomamu with us.
What are you glad you did on your special day?
Dean and I knew that if it was at all possible, we wanted to ski on our wedding day. It was a bluebird day, and there was fresh snow from the day before. We asked permission to ski from Club Med, and timed it for lunch when the slopes were quite empty. We did a stunning super trail from top to bottom, to familiarise ourselves with the different clothes (no helmet, no goggles), and then enjoyed a speed run down a freshly groomed blue run. It was exhilarating to have this adrenalin rush, and be dressed to the nines with my best friend by my side!
Was it hard to plan your destination wedding?
The only part I found difficult was the apparent lack of inspiration online for snow weddings. I understand it may be an odd idea to many, but it was quite hard to find a variety of photos to learn from. A lot of what we did we had to make up ourselves, and fortunately it all tied in together on the day.
Describe the reception space...
Club Med were wonderful in organising our reception. We didn’t want a traditional reception with speeches etc, however after the delicious meal where Club Med surprised us with snow crab and French champagne, we joined other guests in the Theatre/bar, and we settled in and celebrated. This allowed our children to stay with us in a fun and safe space, but also allowed the adults to relax properly.
Unbeknownst to us, my sister-in-law Anna had been collaborating with one of the Club Med Team and the Chef de Village Merlin to create a beautiful video montage of our life together, which was played to Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect” for all guests in the Theatre. This very touching tribute was very emotional for us, sharing all of our magical moments with so many people, many of whom we’d met over the past week at the resort.
Did you have an itinerary or planned activities for guests on either side of the wedding?
We didn’t want to take over everyone’s family ski holiday by making it about us. What we loved about our trip was that each family had the ability to enjoy their own family break, and we all came together for meals to share our days’ adventures.
In saying that, my sister-in-law did arrange a “Hen’s night” at Club Med, two nights before the event. This was so much fun – we had a private dining room, copious champagne, and went to the bar for a dance afterwards. Again, this was so easy, and with families in-house the men could take the kids back to the rooms, so we could have our night “out” uninterrupted.
What advice would you give a couple planning a destination wedding in this location?
Understand that a wedding in Japan will adhere to a number of beautiful Japanese traditions, which can be a little different to Australian traditions. This requires a little flexibility on the part of the bride and groom. For example, photography is done prior to the wedding, not between ceremony and reception. Also, for obvious reasons, fresh flowers aren’t an option due to the cold, but silk ones look just as good and last afterwards.
These aren’t a big deal, but if someone has rigid ideas on how they want their wedding to be, there may be better places to ask that flexibility from.
What did you like about having a destination wedding?
We were able to share a truly magical experience that was true to who Dean and I are.
What was your favourite part of your wedding day?
When we came out of the Ice Chapel to our families’ cheers, Dean was given a bell to ring. We stood at the bottom of the ice steps and as Dean rang the bell, fireworks exploded over the chapel. It was the perfect finish to an amazing event, and felt straight out of a Disney movie.
What standout vendors from your chosen wedding destination would you recommend to others?
The experience of buying my Anna Campbell dress from Babushka Ballerina was easy and emotional, in a good way. I tried on seven dresses and knew from the moment I put my dress on that it was a winner. The ladies at Babushka Ballerina were patient, excited and genuinely happy while helping me.
Likewise, while shopping for his suit, Dean was given a full styling session from Hugo Boss. The gentleman assisting Dean was informative and pulled the pieces together perfectly for a cold wedding, dressing him from top to toe.
Club Med were utterly exceptional in the day’s execution, as mentioned above. They assisted with our skiing photography, arranged taxis throughout the day, and helped finish off the perfect day with the video montage.
Is there anything you would have done differently?
As the sun dropped, 30 minutes prior to the ceremony, I would have kept hot chocolate for the children on hand to keep them warm. If that’s my only way of making the day more perfect, then it’s easy to see the day went smoothly!
Photography: Sun n Sea
Ceremony: Sun n Sea
Reception: Club Med
Wedding Rings: Wallace Bishop
Engagement Ring - Antique
Bride’s gown: Anna Campbell from Babushka Ballerina
Bride’s shoes: Snow boots
Bride’s accessories: Lovisa
Hair stylist and makeup artist: Part of the Sun n Sea Package
Groom’s suit and tie: Hugo Boss
Groom’s shoes: Windsor Smith
Flower girl dresses: Ollies Place
Flower girl capes: Made by a friend
Page Boy suits: Ollies Place
Page boy jackets: Marmot
Event planner/stylist and celebrant: Sun n Sea
Any other vendors you’d like to share…
Brazilian Beauty for a good skincare regime leading into the event, and the right products to use in the snow to keep my skin hydrated