When Joshua Breakwell and Joshua Starr won a $50,000 wedding giveaway, little did they know what a phenomenon this Whitsundays’ celebration of marriage equality would become.

By the time of their wedding on August 3, the couple were unofficial ambassadors for the region where they would say ‘I Do’ and their story had catapulted the Whitsundays into the national spotlight.

The efforts behind those results were rewarded with ‘The Joshuas’ Whitsunday Wedding Campaign’ winning Gold for destination marketing at the Whitsunday Tourism Awards.

As well as the 17 wedding suppliers gifting their products and services to the couple’s big day, the Joshuas had worked closely with creative consultant Jo Sweeney and multi-media publicist Sharon Smallwood.

Together with Jess Lawrence from The Wedding Planners Whitsundays and peak industry group WeddingsWhitsundays.com, the team hatched a plan to position the Whitsundays at the heart of Australia’s destination wedding map.

Captured on camera by Deb Savy from Tropix Photography and videographer Phill Gordon from Riptide Creative, the Joshuas invited 12 celebrities to attend their wedding and took a tour of some of the Whitsundays’ most iconic hotspots.

Images of the couple enjoying champagne on Whitehaven Beach, snorkelling pristine reefs and gazing over Hill Inlet, were beamed to the world via a targeted traditional and social media campaign.

The Joshuas had journalists from some of Australia and New Zealand’s best known wedding publications attend their nuptials at Paradise Cove Resort, along with Carly Saunders and Tresne Middleton from Channel 7’s MKR.

Paradise Cove Resort co-owner Julie Telford, who initially came up with the idea for the wedding giveaway, said to see its name up in lights at the Whitsunday Tourism Awards had been nothing short of amazing.

“It was an honour to be involved in this campaign – there were so many contributing suppliers that on the night it felt like being part of a big group hug,” she said.

“For me personally it was also an honour to be able to market the destination by doing something we really believed in.

“Welcoming same-sex marriage to the Whitsundays and winning an award for something we are so passionate about is great recognition for the hard work we all put into the giveaway and especially Jess.”

Jess Lawrence said the award showcased the part destination weddings played in tourism and what a difference they could make.

“And it wouldn’t have been the success it was without the all the suppliers we had on board,” she said.

“You couldn’t do this with just one, or two, or even five suppliers – it was all 17 of us who made it what it was.

“We were also incredibly lucky with the winners; the Josh’s were just so deserving of this giveaway and although I’ve been to a lot of weddings theirs will always stand out for me because of the love they have for each other and how grateful and genuine they are.”

Joshua Breakwell said the couple was thrilled to see the efforts of the team behind their wedding recognised at the Whitsunday Tourism Awards.

“Words cannot describe the gratitude we have for this stellar line-up of wedding professionals and we are so pleased to see we are not the only people who are grateful for all they have done for the Whitsundays,” he said.

“These people worked around the clock to bring our dream day to life and at the same time also make sure the buzz surrounding this extremely generous giveaway was recognised nationally.

“We were definitely lucky to win the competition and we were also so enthused to give back as much as we could by showcasing the region through as many media platforms as possible.”

Joshua Starr said the couple was glad to have helped spread the word that the Whitsundays was the perfect place for both straight and gay couples to wed.

“We know several couples and families that are already making plans to get married, elope, holiday and visit the region – all because of this campaign – and it won’t stop with them,” he said.

“We’re sorting out our plans for our anniversary as we speak and we cannot wait to head back to our new second home.”

The companies involved in the Whitsunday wedding giveaway were: Paradise Cove Resort, Red Cat Adventures, D’Vine Catering and Events, Air Whitsunday, Pinnacles Resort, Azure Weddings & Events Whitsundays, Teepee Events Whitsunday, Whitsunday Baked Creations, Airlie Beach Hair and Makeup, Loll Doll Makeup by Lauriely, Flower Hut, The Wedding Planners Whitsundays, Annie Lloyd Lewis (celebrant), Total Entertainment, Sunsail Whitsundays, Tropix Photography and Riptide Creative.

For more information follow The Wedding Planners Whitsundays on Facebook and Instagram and Paradise Cove Whitsundays on Facebook and Instagram.

Images courtesy of Robyn Bonner / R Jean Photography and Deb Savy / Tropix Photography