The attraction was immediate for Instagram darlings Jake Snow and Marie Fe, but building a relationship and a shared business took nearly three years and hard work. That isn’t obvious to anyone scrolling through shots of the lithe and lovely couple, traveling in exotic destinations. But read their posts, and one thing stands out: What they are selling you is a genuinely heartfelt message. Life is short; love is all that matters.
Back in July 2016, Snow was doing just fine, playing Aussie-rules football in South Australia while working part of the year on a vineyard, and then taking time off to travel before repeating the cycle. He was single and actively not looking for a relationship when he went to Thailand’s Koh Tao island with a few buddies. Fe’s path to the popular isle was different. She had just come off a tough year—her father had died, and she had quit a fast-paced job at a fashion management firm in Germany to move to Barcelona for graduate school. She was traveling with a friend before starting her new life and was not looking for love when she met Snow while wading in the cerulean Gulf of Thailand. “I sort of nonchalantly swiveled my way through the water to her,” Snow says.
The 20-somethings bonded, rom-com style, talking about their biggest fears and secret dreams for many days—trying to fit it all in before Snow headed off to Cambodia and Fe to Vietnam. But once his plane touched down, he scrapped his plans and messaged her, casually asking what hotel she was at in Ho Chi Minh City. Six hours later, after a dusty bus trip, he surprised her there.
After he arrived, “we had these intense conversations,” Snow recalls. “Like ‘why does anything other than what we’re feeling matter?’ And we decided to see where it would lead.” Apparently, they traveled well together. That was August, a month after they met, and Fe and Snow haven’t been apart since. For the next two years, they took a page from Snow’s playbook—working at the vineyard for several months to save up money to travel. The two started posting their adventures on Instagram, mostly to let friends and family know what they were up to.
But then something changed. “People started messaging us, asking how we made this life for ourselves,” says Fe. “We realized people were inspired by our choices and finding the courage to follow love and make changes in their lives.”
Their followers continued to grow, and by mid-2018 they had an impressive number of admirers (and at last count 523,000) but weren’t keen on product endorsements. “Instagram was never about trying to get free stuff. It always has been a way for us to share our story and inspire others to go after the love and life they want,” Snow said. Still, they needed a source of income, so they did their research and came up with a photo-filter software that could be downloaded from their website.
While the financial success of that venture has allowed them a certain freedom, life isn’t without external pressures: Followers who have been with them from the beginning aren’t shy about pushing for a wedding. “Before Marie, I had never met anyone who made me even think about marriage, but within a week of meeting her, I knew I’d marry her,” Snow states. Last October, he proposed to her in the historic town of Göreme in Turkey’s Cappadocia region, where hundreds of hot air balloons take off at sunrise every morning. He popped the question with the beautiful balloons ascending in the background, as the now-viral video—complete with Marie swearing and thinking it was a joke—shows.
The lovebirds are in no rush to wed. But they have set a date for a June 2020 wedding in a villa on Seseh Beach, near Canggu in southern Bali. They will keep things small (around 100 guests) and local, working with a Bali-based wedding planner and on-island businesses for flowers, cake, and catering (all vegan). They will also make a donation to a regional charity in lieu of wedding favors. Of course the real question is where they will honeymoon; after all, they plan to hit at least a dozen countries before “I do”-ing in Indonesia. “I don’t know,” Snow says with a laugh. “But a cabin in the woods with no WiFi and zero possibility of Instagram posting sounds perfect.”
This story originally appeared in the August/September 2019 issue of Brides, on sale beginning July 2.