Raea & Alex by Bayly & Moore

Tell us a little about yourselves, what you do, what you love, what is unique about you and your relationship…

We met many moons ago when I first moved to London. Almost fresh off the plane, I met Alex while at work.

Being a friendly Kiwi, I innocently asked him out for a drink which inadvertently turned in a date. Very quickly we established a deep friendship and not long after that fell in love. We’re both creative, but in completely opposing industries. I’m an event designer & stylist and Alex is a software architect. I think what makes our relationship unique is how far from each other we grew up (including our decades), yet how remarkably similar our values are. I was born and raised in NZ, to a Kiwi Mum and Greek Cypriot Dad and Alex was born and raised in Nigeria to an English Mum and Nigerian Dad. Being mixed race gives you a different perspective on the world & perhaps because of that, we’ve been able to fully embrace and cherish each other’s very diverse cultures.

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…

The one thing Alex didn’t want was a big wedding, at a church. And that is exactly what I gave him. To be fair though, it was as low key as it could get. The style I was after was purely based on the surroundings. I wanted it first to be sympathetic to the area and second to create a beautiful but relaxed atmosphere that also incorporated both our heritages. The village sits at the foothills of the mountains completely tucked away where no one expects to find it. The streets are narrow and winding, there is an old ruin and just beyond the village, where the road takes you out into the fields at the base of the mountain. It’s a little piece of unspoilt paradise. I think you can say that for much of Cyprus, it’s a little wild and a little rough around the edges but has endless hidden gems most people never see. One very special element was that the fields and road edges still had flowers (which only weeks later would have been scorched by the sun) so we were able to pick most of our flowers directly from the land. This meant so much to me, especially given my family and closest friends made my floral table pieces for me. Wild and unstructured was the brief.

Tell us about your main outfits:

My Mum made her dress when she married my Dad in Olympia, Greece, and though I didn’t start out with her in mind to make mine, after numerous failed attempts to find what I was after and a deep feeling of sadness that I couldn’t share this decisive fashion moment with her, it felt like the most natural thing to ask her to make it for me. I had been admiring an Anna Campbell dress online, but she wasn’t selling internationally at the time. After speaking with Anna, she agreed for us to buy a large section of lace to build a bodice similar to one of her dresses. It was hand delivered to New Zealand and over several months, with Mum sending toiles to London every other month for me to try on, adjusting the fitting then sending back, she had handmade me the most beautiful dress. A girl might cry when she puts on ‘the’ dress in the shop, but this one, it was the ultimate act of love from my Mum. It is one of my most prized possessions. To top it off, she handmade me a garter & horse shoe with pieces of jewellery she had been collecting from my many grandmothers since I was little, refashioned my late Nana’s clip into a hair comb and let me borrow her emerald and diamond earrings to match my engagement ring. My outfit wasn’t a fashion statement, it was a celebration.

What were some of the most memorable/unique moments from the day?

There are so many! One though was the Zomata I had before the wedding ceremony. It’s a traditional fertility ritual in Cypriot culture. The bride is met by members of her family who wrap a red scarf around her waist and across her chest, then shroud her head with incense. It’s super emotional and very intimate. Some of my closest girlfriends from New Zealand were there and blessed me in the ritual. Then at the end the smallest baby of the family was rolled over the bed. It was my dear cousin Frances’ daughter who was only just two weeks old! Seeing so many loved faces from all over the world. They came from far and wide to be there and the celebration was epic. Many of us didn’t speak the same language and were far from home, but we all danced and celebrated together like one giant family. It is the true reason a wedding is the greatest party you’ll ever host. One other moment was my friend’s parents from NZ who stopped by Cyprus on their journey through the Middle East. They had secretly brought a New Zealand flag with them and tied it to the church bell cord by the reception. I wasn’t in NZ, but NZ certainly came to me.

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

It takes effort enough to get along with ourselves sometimes, so remember that a life with someone else is going to take effort too. So, my advice is laugh with each other every day. It can make the dullest moments brighter. I can’t tell you the thousands of days I’ve laughed with my best friend and how much more I love him today for keeping a smile on my face all these years.

Photography and Videography: Bayly & Moore | Ceremony location: Saints Konstantinos & Eleni Church | Reception location: Tochni Village Square | Bride’s gown: Made by the Bride’s mum | Dress lace: Anna Campbell Bridal | Groom’s suit: Ralph Lauren Purple Label, Spencer Hart shirt | Rings: Beverly Hills – Hatton Gardens | Shoes: bride wore Jimmy Choo, groom wore Russell & Bromley | Other jewellery and accessories: Garter handmade by Mother of the Bride, late Nana’s clip made into hair comb, borrowed Emerald earrings from Mother of the Bride | Makeup: Products by Laura Mercier | Fragrance: Lily, Stella McCartney | Flower girls: Monsoon | Styling and Planning: Bride (S I X F O U R) | Hire: Creations Catering | Catering and Beverages: Creations Catering