We both grew up in Melbourne and come from big families. We love spending time with friends doing activities like walks, frisbee, picnics, lunches and dinners. We are wine lovers and both currently doing wine education courses.
Tell us a little about yourselves, what you do, what you love…
Ella: I am a lawyer in Melbourne. I work with property investors and developers. I have a fantastic team, many of whom were very special guests at the wedding.
Al: I am a financial advisor working in Melbourne.
How/where/when did you meet – and what were your first impressions?
Ella: We were introduced by my bridesmaid Amelia in Berlin. I was living there on the back of a year studying in Paris and Al was doing a Euro summer trip with his best man Will, Amelia and some other friends. We hung out in Berlin for a few days, then I gate-crashed their trip to Octoberfest and Prague. We spent a lot of time playing cards, throwing frisbee and chatting.
I remember Al arriving on my doorstep in Berlin with Amelia and giving him a big hug. He just seemed so familiar and reminded me of home. I felt like I knew him even though I didn’t because after a year and a half of befriending people from other cultures, it was so comforting to see someone from home.
Al: We never really had any official dates. We would just hang out. Playing frisbee with friends, after a little while Ella was house sitting at her Aunty and Uncles and she invited me around. I think we actually played Call of Duty for a fair while. From that point, I thought wow this girl is pretty cool.
When did you first realise that this was someone you’d like to spend the rest of your life with?
Ella: I remember waking up at Al’s house one morning and just feeling so happy, content and secure. I knew that if Al and I stayed together forever I would be a very lucky girl. It wasn’t knowing that we were going to end up together, but it was knowing that I wanted us to.
Then there was the night we decided to buy a house. Al had set out to do it on his own, but we suddenly questioned, what if we did it together. We were both reluctant to do something so serious. In a moment of extreme clarity, I said to him “why aren’t we just doing this together, can you tell me that right now, you don’t think we’re going to spend the rest of our lives together?” and he laughed and agreed.
Was there a proposal? Tell us a little about it…
Ella: Best proposal ever – I had no idea. The night before I had been at work drinks and someone asked me if we would get engaged soon and I said it wasn’t even on the radar.
Al: I really did want to do something extra special for Ella. Naturally, the idea involved going to a winery – we’re both studying wine tasting and love wine touring. The idea was to invite a number of close friends and family to surprise Ella at one of our favourite wineries, Curly Flat in Macedon. I was pretty confident she would say yes and I wouldn’t be made to look like a fool in front of our nearest and dearest. I created the lie that we were going to Curly Flat for a VIP member’s tasting day and it was all mapped out and what I thought was precisely planned. The morning of I started to really worry though. Ella had been out with work colleagues the night before and essentially snuck into bed in the wee hours of the morning. I pretty much had to carry her into the car and she fell asleep as soon as we hit the road. This could be an issue…. It actually ended up being a blessing because it meant she was entirely unsuspecting. We were met by the winemaker and friend Matt Harrop who played along with the lie which led us to the barrel room where I eventually mustered up the courage to get down on one knee. Whether it was the hangover or the fact she wasn’t all that keen I didn’t know but she thought I was joking at first and it took some time to get her to take me seriously. All the people hiding in the other house must’ve thought it had gone completely pear-shaped.
Ella: When Al dropped a knee in the barrel room I thought he was joking until I saw that he had tears in his eyes. It was really special. Then we went into the room next door to have a celebratory glass of champagne and were greeted by 20 of our closest friends and family. An awesome engagement celebration long lunch then followed – unforgettable!
Tell us about the vision you had for the mood or style of your wedding…
Al: We wanted the wedding to be high-energy, joyous, light-hearted, untraditional, and fun. We didn’t want to get bogged down by having to do all the traditional things or follow a script. The main reason we wanted to get married at all was to celebrate the people in our lives who surround and support us and give our lives together richness and joy. We’d be nothing without our friends and family, so we were so excited to have them all there together, and we just wanted it to be lots of fun.
This flowed through to the decisions we made with things like cutting out the things that were focused on just us, like a first dance, cake cutting, long individual photoshoot and it helped us structure the day, like doing a first look so that we could spend more time with our guests once they arrived, and having a three-song dance set at the beginning of the reception to get everyone up and about right from the start. We tried to focus on keeping the energy high and keeping our guests smiling, making it about them as much as possible.
What was one element you were happy to splurge on?
The main thing for us was the venue and the guest experience, rather than things that only benefitted or mattered to us. It was so important to reflect that vibe of relaxed, fun, wild and abundant, but we also wanted it to feel personal rather than formal or corporate. We loved that Tanglewood was family run and intimate whilst also being so lush and abundant. Alex did such a beautiful job with the styling and flowers as well, she took a lot of time to understand our vibe and the way we envisaged everything looking. We were pretty vague but she nailed it!
Al: My mum designed our wedding invitations including a beautiful drawing of wildflowers. Alex used that to inspire the flower choices and we ended up including it throughout our stationery, which was very special. The styling and flowers really contributed to the atmosphere we wanted to achieve. All our vendors were so incredible and we didn’t feel like we had to cut or splurge on anything!
Did anything happen on the wedding day that you laugh about in hindsight (even if it was stressful at the time)?
The rain turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Tanglewood has such a beautiful area by the lake for cocktails and canapes and we really wanted to showcase that natural beauty, but the rain forced us into the chapel, which ended up being so special and stunning that I’m glad it happened that way! We think the rain ended up complimenting the carefree, fun, hedonistic vibe that we wanted.
Tell us about your main outfits, what was unique, is there a story?
Al: I wear a suit to work every day, so I wanted to wear something special on my wedding day. We loved the contrast of the tuxedos against the vineyard and woods backdrop of Tanglewood. Combined, with the rain, it really added to the special feel of the day.
Ella: The 2021 lockdowns made it hard to get to dress fittings and buying wedding dresses online is tricky, so I didn’t get to a fitting until the start of November, for a January wedding! The team at Bluebell Bridal were amazing though, they worked with the designer, Harriette Gordon, to get my dress made just in time (I picked it up the week before the wedding!)
Ceremony + Reception Location Tanglewood Estate / Photographer Jeremy Blode Photography / Celebrant Bridgette Kelly / Entertainment Jake Mason Trio, DJ Mikey Cahill / Styling + Flora Alex Wood / On The Day Coordinator Poni Studios / Hire Table Art / Catering + Beverages Finesse Catering / Cake Grooms Mother / Stationery Paper Point / Registry The Hint / Obelisks Durham Garden / Bride’s Attire Harriette Gordon / Bride’s Second Dress Meshki / Grooms Suit MJ Bale + Calibre / Ring/s Vosgi Jewellery / Bride’s Shoes Manning Cartell / Hair + Makeup Lovestruck / Fragrance Si by Georgio Armani Bleu noir Al by Narciso Rodriguez / Bridesmaids Attire Shona Joy