It was one of the most anticipated proposals, and as the now engaged Jessica Wilson prepares to become the future Mrs. Moritz Gastl, she talks about their love connection, plans for the big day, and all the fun bridal details in between.

“Everyone was asking me left and right, ‘When are you going to get married?’” reveals Jessica Wilson, a very different girl to the one before September 14, 2019 (The Proposal). As we atelier-hopped, there’s a contentment to her demeanour, a disposition that says everything is going according to her plan. “It’s not a question I had the answer to,” the British-Filipina beauty says with a shrug. “Someday soon? I couldn’t answer more than that. And then my cousin got engaged the same year, earlier in January, and people started asking us even more,” she continued, her voice trailing off into what is happily now a non-issue. 

The couple had planned to wed in Salzburg, Austria, on September 26 this year, but of course plans have changed. This 2020 they will be celebrating eight glorious “we just knew” years together. And the meet-cute? It is so adorable it could be an episode in How I Met Your Mother. Jessica “Jess” Wilson, co-founder of mega make-up brand Sunnies Face, met the German-born Moritz Gastl, VP of Growth, First Circle (a Philippine-based SME lending startup) in September 2011 at a student bar in Maastricht, Netherlands. At the time, Wilson was an exchange student from Sydney University, and was based in the country for three months. “I didn’t understand a lot he was saying because his English wasn’t as good as it is now but we talked the whole night,” she fondly recalls. Five hours later, long after all their friends had left, they reluctantly said their goodbyes and exchanged numbers.

While his intentions were known by all, it still took “steady Eddie” Moritz some time before he popped the question. A mere week prior to the proposal, the couple had just returned from a Euro vacation and Moritz had taken the liberty to book every beautiful five-star hotel in every romantic Italian city they visited. “I thought, ‘Oh my god, this guy is preparing!’ The tricky part was, I never knew where he was going to do it because every single spot was as beautiful as the next. We had the most beautiful dinners, the most beautiful days…But when we got back to Manila, I couldn’t believe he hadn’t proposed. I was like, ‘Do I hate him or do I not?’” she laughingly shares. 

Fast forward to the weekend after, Jess and Moritz were set to meet her sister Georgina and her husband, Arthur Burnand, in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea (where Arthur works). While Jess thought she was in full control, having booked the tickets and everything else in between with her sister, little did she know that the whole thing had been planned out to a tee. On a secluded beach, seven years after they met and when Jess least expected it, Moritz got down on one knee.

“You dream of this European proposal,” starts Jess, her eyes lit up more than usual, “but when it happens, and it’s personalised to you—well, that’s exactly what I wanted without knowing it.” The engagement ring itself is everything Jess could have ever hoped for: a platinum eternity band with a round-cut solitaire diamond. “When he proposed, I asked, ‘How did you know?!’ And he said, ‘You told me! You showed me photos!’” She pauses to giggle then adds, tongue in cheek, “I have no recollection of this.” 

During this two-day cover shoot, the future Mrs. Gastl was soaking it all in, relishing every second of the experimentation. “I’ve always had this one silhouette in mind and it was a taffeta spaghetti strap gown, similar to what I tried at Vania [Romoff]’s with a thin strap in the back and just a simple, clean cut. For the longest time that was my dream silhouette and I don’t know how I came up with that but I just knew that was the shape I wanted.”

While Jess wasn’t entirely certain about what she wanted in terms of bridal, she did, however, know what she liked and didn’t like. “For the ceremony, I didn’t want anything like an over-the-top cupcake shape. I knew somehow I wanted stark white, not off-white, blush or peachy. I knew I wanted lace. And I knew I wanted something romantic and timeless. I knew I didn’t want fitted or beaded or any fancy silhouette.”

When designer Monique Lhuillier posted a photo online of a bride in one of her confections, that was that. “I thought…that’s it! That’s my dress…I remember I was flying from Copenhagen back to Manila and I took a screenshot of it before boarding and I just kept staring at it the whole flight. It was nine hours of agony…I was just obsessed with this dress!” 

Later, Jess would then book an appointment at Lhuillier’s LA atelier with her sister to authenticate said obsession. “When I tried it on I thought, ‘Oh my God…this is my dress. It was even better in real life.’ My sister was crying and she said it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever worn.” To cover all bases, more styles were brought out, but in the end, everyone agreed her initial choice was the one. While Jess is all set with her Monique Lhuillier choice, other than that she says, “I only need my dream team make-up artist and hair stylist!” 

Following all the glamorous destination weddings of her sister, cousins, and even friends, it’s a curiousity whether the couple feels any pressure to go big. Not so. “Our cousins’ weddings were big in the sense that they were destination weddings and no details were overlooked, but we all have relatively the same size of about 150 guests. So in that sense, it still feels intimate on the day of the wedding. We just love destination weddings because we all love to travel together.” 

 real family girl at heart, she is, more than anything, excited to get together with everyone from around the world who are dear to her and Moritz. The pair originally wanted to get married in Maastricht, but the venue she was eyeing (an opulent three-storey heritage opera house where the couple had attended parties in the past) wasn’t available due to renovations. “I went through a depression for two days but I picked myself up and let it go.” 

She then messaged her friend who goes to beautiful weddings all the time in Europe for some big-ask requirements: “I wanted a small town that still excites with good hotels and good restaurants, and an amazing venue; I didn’t want everyone to travel all the way to nowhere; and I wanted it to be a destination wedding and new to everyone. But it has to be somewhere that had meaning to both of us.

Clearly, the friend delivered and recommended Schloss Leopoldskron, the iconic setting to the Sound of Music in Salzburg. “I researched everything in minutes and hardly anyone has been!” Everyone speaks German there so it will still have that German touch. “Everyone,” she says, referring to their 140-strong guest list, “will be wearing traditional lederhosen and dirndls for the welcome party and then formal for the reception.

Things are going to get hectic over the next several months, but looking to the calm after the storm, as partners in life, having lived and travelled together for some time now, Jess and Mortiz have laid a solid foundation. “It’s so cliché, but really the mutual trust and respect is the most important thing for us. I think it’s from that foundation that we were [and are] able to experience all the love, happiness and fun together.” And what of adding to the Moritz brood? “I’m so excited to build a family with Moritz and see him as a dad. He’s really good with kids.

  • Photographyshaira luna