Leah & Oliver by Meaghan Coles

Tell us a little about yourselves, what you do, what you love, what is unique about you and your relationship… Oliver and I met one evening through a mutual friend at Pink Moon Saloon on Leigh Street; it was supposed to be a girl’s night but Oliver text Bec asking if she was out in the city because he wanted to escape a Buck’s Night!

We met at midnight and after a while Bec quickly became the third wheel – which she never lets us forget!

We fell in love with each other when we realized we both had an appreciation for the same things. Oliver is a high school teacher who specialises in History, English and Humanities, and I am a Fine Arts graduate majoring in Sculpture. We love stories and literature, art and culture, food and travel. Our conversations can be deep, but our laughter is deeper.

Adelaide is a small place and although we met that night for the first time, after much discovery we realised we had both been at the same high school parties, same concerts, lived in the same area and even shared friends, but we never had formally met.

Tell us about your special day, was there a specific theme or style? Tell us a little about the setting, the styling and some of your favourite details … It was actually Oliver who set the tone for our wedding. He knew he wanted Black Tie, so everything shifted to fit the aesthetic he had always imagined; but we both wanted it to be classic, romantic and a little bit magic! Much of the wedding became about ease and accessibility, with a lot of custom creativity thrown in.

The Church is so ornate we decided to leave the styling minimal so guests could enjoy the splendor of the space and focus on the traditional ceremony.

The reception is where we let our imaginations run a little wild! The Adelaide Town Hall Auditorium is a large opulent space with incredibly high ceilings; but we wanted to create a sense of intimacy and togetherness, which was a bit of an oxymoron as we had 190 guests! We opted for 6 long banquet-style tables for our guests, with no bridal table; we wanted to be seated amongst our family and friends. 

Our Florist Alice is a professor of fantasy and folly. We spent hours talking inspiration while her French Bulldog Rocco snoozed on his bed at her shop. She knew I had a love for the dramatic and whimsical, so we played around with a few ideas. Oliver and I both knew that the Town Hall needed something spectacular on the tables to help draw the eye upwards. It was then that I was reminded of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding where they had an ‘avenue of trees’ placed in Westminster Abbey. I posed the idea to Oliver and Alice and both agreed that was the direction we wanted to take. An outdoor wedding, indoors!

We had 6 magnolia trees brought in and placed amongst the tables, with added foliage arrangements and glass bell-jar terrariums as an added layer to the whimsy. But it was Alice’s idea to install the door. The door was an interesting but effective element to add drama to the space. We wanted the trees to be a surprise, so as you entered the Auditorium we blocked the view by creating a foliage curtain and brought in a vintage door fame to separate one area from the other. All guests were required to go through the door to get to their seats; sort of like a hidden door in a secret garden.

We chose classic white bentwood chairs and tablecloths to highlight the greenery of the magnolia trees, foliage and terrariums, whilst being surrounded by the warm glow of the lights that showcased the spectacular organ.

Tell us about your main outfits:

Oliver was very excited to have a dinner suit, it epitomises elegance and formality. The suits were bought from Peter Jackson but we took them to Thanh at Unique Menswear & Tailoring to have them completely customised. As a gift to Ollie on the wedding day I bought him all his accessories. His bow tie was from Dolce & Gabbana and his cufflinks were a vintage set of diamonds and onyx set in platinum.

I have always loved Paolo Sebastian and worn many of their gowns in the past, but it was clear that this one had to be special and a little bit unique. I met with Paul Vasileff the designer, who is my best friend and was our Best Man (Koumbaro) at the wedding, and we discussed our ideas.

A winter wedding definitely dictated the style of gown and I knew very early on that I wanted a coat. Having always loved the golden age of Hollywood Paul and I both have a true appreciation for the 1940’s and 1950’s design and aesthetic. 

It was then that Paul and I fell in love with the idea of an Opera Coat, it had a grand sculptural presence. We looked at a selection of fabrics and settled on an Italian makardo silk, as it offered the structure and drama we needed. 

The play on texture by having an opulent coat meant we could go quite feminine and soft for the gown beneath. Paul sketched a full skirted illusion neckline gown with sleeves that would contrast the crisp structure of the coat. We decided to layer different tones of tulle to create more depth of colour and highlight the embroidery. 

Oliver hand drew beautiful ink illustrations of magnolias which we used for our wedding stationary, and as a surprise Paul took the illustrations and applied them as a base for my embroidery artwork. The end result was a beautiful and delicate magnolia blossom design, hand embroidered using metallic thread and Swarovski crystals. Each petal was hand painted and stitched to create 3D flowers which were also used in my hair. 

It was wonderful to see it come to life and a great surprise for Oliver to see his illustrations used to help create my gown. 

There were other elements of the day were also custom. My wedding band was created to compliment my antique Art-Deco ring from Gerard McCabe. Oliver designed and had it made for me, I didn’t see the final design until it was on my finger at the Ceremony. It was a wonderful surprise! 

Another beautiful and precious element to our Ceremony was our hand crafted Stefana crowns. Yohannah Westbrook, an artist and jewellery designer, creates handmade pieces cast from natural flora. She designed a pair of leafed crowns cast in pure silver, then dusted with 24 carat gold leaf.

What were some of the most memorable/unique moments from the day? Our whole wedding was quite unique in many ways. Many elements were custom, well thought out choices with a lot of creative flair. However the most special memories come from the people that were with us on the day.

Our priest Father Ioannis was lots of fun and had us giggling through the ceremony, in Greek and in English! Our bridal party was a close group of family and friends who have all known each other since we were in school, they had us laughing all throughout the day. We had my very good friend Emma Clonan Short sing our first dance for us, her voice is pure silk. And having both our grandfathers able to celebrate with traditional Greek and Italian dances are such special memories that will be with us forever.

There were other fun and silly moments too. Our entrance into the reception aided by the Star Wars theme, which no one saw coming and made the whole room burst with laughter! The speeches were wonderful and sincere, my dad played on a personal joke of a dowry and wheeled in a red wagon with a menagerie of plush farm animal toys, including a donkey!

Any advice for other couples planning to spend the rest of their lives together?

We are both very family orientated, and it’s clear we both have the same values.  For us marriage is about having a partner who is on the same side as you, becoming a team and lifting each other up. We want the best for each other and made it our promise to inspire one another to be the best version of ourselves.

We are still very new to this marriage thing, but now looking back the wedding made us stronger. Planning can be a tough gig, and most of the time it’s about compromise. But if you can remember to centre yourselves and focus on what is truly important then you are on a sturdier path into the beginnings of your marriage journey.

Ceremony location: Nativity of Christ Greek Orthodox Church, Port Adelaide | Reception location: Adelaide Town Hall | Videographer: Dylan Starczak | Photographer: Now and Then Photography Second photographer – Alexis Fergusson | Priest: Father Ioannis Choraitis | Entertainment: Nick Apostolou | Styling: Leah Metaxas & Alice McDonald | Planner: Leah Metaxas | Hire: Olympic Party Hire & White Marquee Event Hire | Flora: Alice McDonald | Catering + Beverages: EPICURE | Cake: Pasticceria Reggina | Stationery: Hunter Bros. Printers | Bride & Bridesmaid Outfits: Paolo Sebastian | Groom & Groomsmen Outfits: Peter Jackson | Tailor: Unique Menswear & Tailoring | Ring/s: Gerard McCabe | Shoes: Jimmy Choo | Bride’s Earrings: Catbird | Makeup & Hair: M&Co. Style Bar