The Couple behind the Mask

From Improbable Beginning and Happy a Happy Ever After!

Our story began with quite an improbable beginning as I (Jess) was working at a local internet cafe in Motueka, New Zealand and Carl, a complete stranger was living and working in Virginia, USA. Our schedules with the time zones aligned and we chanced a meeting in a live online gaming channel. We soon became friends and found ourselves spending more and more cyber time together over the course of the next year. Our friendship grew and we were there for each other through thick and thin and finally admitted our love.  Carl decided to take the chance on romance and booked a trip to New Zealand and we both planned an amazing once-in-a-lifetime road trip in the South Island. We knew from our first real live hug that we were absolutely in love after all the times we hung out online and our trip helped seal the bond further. The day came when Carl had to return to America and the separation was just too difficult and the long distance relationship no longer was enough and inspired Carl to make the crazy decision to move to Motueka in NZ to build a new life with me.

Our son Felix was born in February of 2011 so we decided to take him to Virginia to see Carl's family for his first Christmas. It was a very special holiday and Carl loved showing me off to his family and taking me to all his old haunts. We went for a beautiful drive on Christmas day to a historic village where he popped the question and asked me to marry him! Without hesitation we went shopping for a ring the next day and celebrated with his family.

In October 2014 we booked and paid for flights to the USA and with the help of Carl's parents and sisters we planned a lovely little wedding at a historical home in Virginia. We were all set for our big day on April 8th however sadly, just before Christmas I received the devastating news that I had cervical cancer. Initially doctors seemed confident that I would still make my big day, but after several surgeries and complications, I was given the strict medical advice that travelling would be dangerous and that I should cancel all plans. With heavy heart we unravelled all the plans we'd made together and with the finances we lost through the cancellations we had no idea if we would ever hope to start again.

On an average day, I was looking at Facebook and saw a “Win a Wedding” competition named “The Couple Behind the Mask” and couldn’t believe it when I realised it was based in the Nelson region close to my home in Motueka.  The competition was a ray of hope for us in an otherwise difficult time, if nothing else it would take our minds off the reality and give us something to dream about.

We entered the competition on a bit of a whim. The on line competition required allot of effort and time, we stayed up late sending messages to all our friends and family and couldn’t believe the support from all over the world. Many friends pulled together for us and passed along our story including one guy called, Larry from Florida, who promised me at midnight NZ time the night before the competition closed, that he would keep fighting the good fight while we slept, urging people to vote for us!

On the day the competition results were due to be announced, we were waiting at Nelson airport to catch a flight to Christchurch for further tests and results on my cancer.  Coincidently we were expecting a phone call from the Golden Bay Radio station to be interviewed with the other finalists on the radio show in anticipation for the big announcement. Terri from the Dream Maker heading the competition called us to ensure we were in place and two minutes later completely unexpectedly she walked around the corner with flowers in hand and an entourage of fans, followed by the film crew from Mainland Television to hand us the prize of our dream wedding. The magic of that day foreshadowed our reason for being at the airport with all the excitement and planning of our big day as it unfolded.

With only a couple of months to plan we spent a couple of pleasant days visiting Golden Bay to meet and greet everyone involved and go over our plans. Everyone was so passionate about what they do and so knowledgeable within their team that everything ran completely smoothly from start to finish.

The wedding had a fun 1920s theme to fit the age of the heritage venue and our guests really came to the party; digging out old hats and fox furs, suspenders and pocket watches to really send us off in style. Even the local school children made loads of masks for our guests to wear on the day.

The Dream Maker was the grand overseer, pulling together a wonderful team of talented and generous providers who had all agreed to help make our dream come true from a stunning dress to our theme hair and make-up to really feel the part as well as beautiful vintage flowers and a delicious high tea and a beautiful lace wedding cake. To top all of this I arrived in a horse drawn cart to all my friends and family at the incredible historic Langford Store post office in Bainhem, a coincidence with our first planned wedding in America was to be held at a historic house scuppered filled the void.

The night before our big day was spent at a Lodge in Collingwood and the perfect peaceful start to our adventure, allowing us special time with our close family.

We couldn’t have asked for a better venue than the Langford Store. It suited our personalities to a “T” and was easily adapted to being a quaint, beautiful venue. Terri, the Dream Maker, had tailored a ceremony entirely to what we wanted. She really drew the guests in and left everyone feeling pretty loved up.

Surely ours story will add to the long history at the Langford’s Store for many years to come and will give us and our son Felix, (the ring bearer) fond memories for a happy ever after.

Follow the link for further advice and links of providers involved The Dream Maker

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