Weddings

LAB lead singer Joel Shadbolt’s wet & wild wedding

After a heartbreaking fertility struggle, the chart-topping musician and his beautiful bride Alyssa wouldn’t let the weather spoil their ‘perfect’ celebration

Under a lightning-struck sky and with rain pattering on the roof of a rustic farmhouse in Lake Tarawera, LAB lead singer Joel Shadbolt and his partner Alyssa Stringfellow tied the knot.

But the romantic scene hadn’t exactly gone to plan for the Mount Maunganui-based couple. Just five minutes before their outdoor afternoon ceremony was set to begin at Black Barn, soaked guests were ferrying flowers and furniture off the lawn.

“It was one of those moments where you say, ‘Should we do it or not?'” singer, actress and screenwriter Alyssa tells Woman’s Day after their picturesque 5 March wedding. “It was thunder and lightning, then 20 minutes later as the ceremony ended and we hugged and kissed, Joel and I turned around to see a massive rainbow. It was magic.”

For Joel – who met his wife at a bar in Tauranga six years ago, after she returned from living in Sydney – seeing Alyssa walk down the aisle broke him.

“I started bawling,” laughs the Yes I Do singer, 31, whose band won four trophies at last year’s Aotearoa Music Awards, including Album of the Year. “It was just everything. I was about to make a commitment to her in front of all these people we love and that in itself is quite full-on.”

While 130 of the couple’s nearest and dearest gathered to celebrate their big day, special loved ones who’ve passed were honoured on a memorial tree. Among them were Alyssa’s beloved nana Fay and Joel’s late musician father Brian Shadbolt,

who he grew up playing music with.

“Although it was pretty hectic trying to organise getting everything indoors, the weather created quite a cool vibe and during my speech, a bolt of thunder rattled the barn house,” tells Joel, who ordered in crates of Lion Red for the reception as his dad used to drink it. “Aly and I feel the weather and storm was a spiritual thing, like our ancestors sending us a message, which is beautiful.”

Describing Alyssa as his partner in crime, a crazy cat mum and the yin to his yang, Joel began his vows by promising to encourage the keen surfer and animal lover to laugh, and to give her the best of himself every day.

“I know you don’t like riding on the back of my Harley because of the uncomfortable seat, so to you, I promise I’ll buy a second Harley with a comfier seat,” he quipped, before assuring Alyssa there’s nothing in this life they can’t get through together. “Ko koe, ko au, ko tāua. I tēnei rā. Ā mōwake tonu atū. (It’s you and I. It’s us. From today and forever more.)

Standing with her two sisters and three closest friends beside her, Alyssa called Joel her “cat daddy” and best friend, who she’ll always stand by, and willingly care for when he’s hungover and hungry.

“I can promise to never obey you, but to always sometimes listen,” joked the talented baker, who made their banana and chocolate wedding cake. “I do promise to always love you, even after Indian food.”

Made with love! Talented baker Alyssa whipped up the wedding cake – the couple’s favourite banana and chocolate recipe.

Following the instruction of their celebrant, The Hits radio host Will Johnston, Joel placed a ring on his bride’s finger, which was custom-made by Walker & Hall using reclaimed diamonds.

Alyssa’s passion for sustainability also saw her choose a second-hand wedding dress she had customised by White Silk, who also made her dream reception dress. Featuring a puffy tulle skirt and embellished floral low-cut neckline, the frock was a highlight for the bride, who plans to wear it again.

The bride says, “A beautiful, ginger, Joel-looking baby would be the icing on the cake.”

Of course, for self-confessed Harry Potter addict Joel, who has a tattoo of the Hogwarts castle on his right arm, incorporating his favourite fictional world into their big day went without question. Before guests enjoyed a beautiful grazing table and charcoal barbecue for dinner, they found Harry Potter trivia cards at their tables, while the seating arrangement board featured a quote from the books.

As everyone enjoyed hilarious speeches, before a long night of live music and dancing, it was obvious that Joel and Alyssa – who once appeared as a lead in one of singer Slash’s music videos – have a relationship built on laughter and friendship.

“I’m just glad I met somebody where it wasn’t about the fact that I was in a band because at the time we met, LAB weren’t even big,” enthuses Joel, who proposed to Alyssa with Nana Fay’s ring in the Coromandel in February 2021. “Aly has been on this whole journey with me by my side and goes out to do her thing when I’m away on tour. We’re both creatives and so we get it.”

Although the pair have had plenty of fun and adventure in their six years together, including adopting cats Dumbledore and Bahloo, they’ve also shared heartache. For the past two years, Joel and Alyssa have been through a rollercoaster IVF journey,

with her undergoing three egg collections and four embryo transferals.

“It has been really hard and, a few months ago, we decided it was time to take a break and focus on us, without that pressure in our relationship,” admits Alyssa, who stopped auditioning and modelling for two years to focus on her vigorous IVF schedule.

“I have to deal with some grief because we lost a couple of pregnancies and we had the two little embryos on our memorial tree at the wedding. I love being with Joel, we have really good lives, and having a beautiful, ginger, Joel-looking baby would be the icing on the cake.”

Her hubby says not having a child wouldn’t define their marriage, but they’ll continue looking into other options outside of IVF if they have to. “We’ve been watching all of our friends around us fall pregnant and some of them are on to their second baby,”

Joel says. “The wedding was something for us that’s beautiful, fun and happy.”

The bridesmaids find a novel way to take shelter from the rain!

With Australian and US tours lined up for LAB this year, the couple is looking forward to a trip to LA, which will end with a well-deserved honeymoon in Hawai’i. When they return from the tropics, the pair will have another go at trying for a baby, but for now, they’re relishing in the post-wedding comedown.

Joel with LAB bandmates (from left) Brad Kora, Ara Adams-Tamatea, Miharo Gregory and Stuart Kora.

“Everyone was there for a reason and it’s amazing seeing all those people together in the same room,” smiles Joel. “When else will you get that? As imperfect as the weather was, sitting back to watch everybody dancing and having such a great time was perfect, and exactly what we wanted.”

The newlyweds are cheered on by (from left) Jess Walley, Jon Baird,

Zoe Isles, Josh Geary, Ceri Wackrow, Nick Maybe, Amber Williams,

Jenna Meuller, Kusha Talele and Rachel Stringfellow.

Pictures: Rachel Hadfield, @rachel.hadfield. Hair: Nicole Bright. Makeup: Blush Club. Wedding planning: Wild & Whim. Catering: No Biggie Food.

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