How this groom pulled off the perfect pandemic proposal
When it came to proposing to the love of his life, Harry McAlpine was not going to let a pesky pandemic get in the way.
In May last year - at the height of the COVID pandemic - McAlpine, 30, surprised his bride-to-be Jane Farrugia, 32, with a lunch and a night away for her birthday at Spicers Hidden Vale.
The retreat was only open to a small number of guests at the time.
"Harry had organised a special picnic in a beautiful part of the retreat and as soon as we arrived and I spotted the very expensive vintage champagne I knew something was up," Jane says.
"Harry got down on one knee and the rest was history! A very beautiful and special moment."
The couple, who live between Toowoomba and Brisbane, met five years ago trackside at Derby Day in Melbourne, with Harry working as a horse racing bloodstock agent.
They married on March 26 this year in front of 160 guests at The Pavilion at Gabbinbar Homestead, Toowoomba.
Jane, who runs consultancy Farr and Co, thought she would be able to handle the events planning, but says even she was overwhelmed by how much work it took.
Their first dance was John Paul Young's Love is In The Air.
What was the standout moment of the day?
Standing at the altar seeing all our family and friends who had travelled so far to be with us. It was nerve-racking having such a large wedding with all the uncertainty of COVID.
Most of our friends and family don't live in Queensland so travelling to Toowoomba was a really big deal.
What would you do differently?
We would potentially reconsider having Jane organise and manage the wedding.
We also had a large celebratory function the day after at my family farm for over 200 people that Jane also organised, so that added stress is something we may have reconsidered, but all of the details across both days were executed perfectly so it was definitely worth the punishment!
What would you spend more or less on?
Things that guests remember about the day is what we would spend more on. All of the little details and surprises have made such a big impression - so we would focus on spending more on all of those things.
For example, we wrote a book called Gabbinbar Gossip that was part of our place settings and in the book we had a little paragraph about every guest so people got to know them and we could have a bit of fun among the guests.
This took us months but it was worth every moment.
Best advice for other couples planning a wedding?
Try to get as much done in the first few months of your engagement.
If you get a lot of the big things sorted, then you can have a bit of a breather and enjoy being engaged before things ramp up again closer to the date.
Where did you honeymoon?
We were due to go to WA but on the Sunday when we woke up WA had revoked our visas because of the COVID outbreak, so we ended up making a last-minute change and spent the next two weeks touring from Sheraton Port Douglas to Halcyon House in Cabarita, Intercontinental Double Bay Sydney and finishing at Spicers Hunter Valley.
Originally published as How this groom pulled off the perfect pandemic proposal