Ashleigh + James

RC REAL Bride - Ashleigh + James Rosa Clara Soft Lori Raffaele Ciuca

Barwon Heads as been a popular holiday destination for Melbourians for decades upon decades. #RCREALBRIDE Ashleigh and husband James chose a stunning new location to tie the knot. The first wedding we have seen at At The Heads, Barwon Heads. Situated on the water’s edge with stunning panoramic views of The Bluff and beyond. Ashleigh looked sensational in her Soft by Rosa Clará gown in ‘Lori‘. This fit and flare gown is defined with its beading on this mermaid-style wedding dress that enhances the female figure’s natural beauty and comes with a halter neckline that exudes class. The hero of this gown is the phenomenal low back beaded detail.

Photography: Hails & Shine


RC REAL Bride - Ashleigh + James Rosa Clara Soft Lori Raffaele Ciuca

RC REAL Bride - Ashleigh + James Rosa Clara Soft Lori Raffaele Ciuca
RC REAL Bride - Ashleigh + James Rosa Clara Soft Lori Raffaele Ciuca

RC REAL Bride - Ashleigh + James Rosa Clara Soft Lori Raffaele Ciuca

THE FIRST SIGHT

James and I first met as awkward teenagers in Year 7 at high school. It definitely wasn’t love at first sight; in fact we barely spoke to each other for the first two years. In Year 9, things started to change as our friendship groups began to merge. By the end of the year, James and I were the best of friends – and nothing more. It wasn’t until we were just shy of 18, that our friendship turned in to something else. From that day on we’ve being doing life side-by-side, supporting each other through our ups and downs.

RC REAL Bride - Ashleigh + James Rosa Clara Soft Lori Raffaele Ciuca

RC REAL Bride - Ashleigh + James Rosa Clara Soft Lori Raffaele Ciuca

RC REAL Bride - Ashleigh + James Rosa Clara Soft Lori Raffaele Ciuca

RC REAL Bride - Ashleigh + James Rosa Clara Soft Lori Raffaele Ciuca

RC REAL Bride - Ashleigh + James Rosa Clara Soft Lori Raffaele Ciuca

THE PROPOSAL

The day of the proposal started out like most days do in our relationship; James impatiently waiting for me to get ready and then hustling me to get in the car so that we didn’t miss the ferry across to Sorrento. We were going away for the weekend and as usual, we arrived ridiculously early due to James’ uncontrollable need to be extra punctual.

After checking in to our accommodation in Rye, we decided to drive up to Arthur’s Seat Lookout to see what all the fuss was about. I was sending snapchats to my best friends of the amazing views and was receiving responses from them like “imagine if James proposed” followed by laughing face emojis. At this point we’d been together for over 9 years, so it was a running joke amongst our friends and family that the only way we would get married was if I proposed to him!

So, James absolutely took me by surprise with what happened next. He had been complaining about having sore legs and asked if we could stop at the beach on our way back so that he could walk in the ocean. Although I couldn’t understand why he needed to do this at 5pm in the evening when it was starting to get quite cold, I agreed and reluctantly got out of the car to sit on the deck of a beach box and wait. When he returned from the water he was carrying a glass bottle and told me that he had found it on the beach. It had a note inside and he asked me to open it. I refused several times, saying “I’m not touching that, I don’t know where it’s been”. Finally, I agreed to open it, read the note that said “Will you marry me” and instantly went to yell at him because I thought he had picked up someone else’s proposal. But when I looked up, he was down on one knee with a ring and I quickly realised it was for me!

RC REAL Bride - Ashleigh + James Rosa Clara Soft Lori Raffaele Ciuca

RC REAL Bride - Ashleigh + James Rosa Clara Soft Lori Raffaele Ciuca

RC REAL Bride - Ashleigh + James Rosa Clara Soft Lori Raffaele Ciuca
THE VENUE

We did lots of research and viewed over 10 venues before deciding. Choosing to have a winter wedding has its pros, but finding the right venue for what could be a cold and windy day was tough.  But it got even tougher – after a series of issues with our original choice, James and I found ourselves venue-less just 8 weeks out from our wedding date.

Two weeks later with Bridezilla on the brink of being released, we headed down to Barwon Heads for our weekend ritual of early morning beach walks and a caffeine fix. We dropped in to At The Heads with the intention of grabbing a takeaway coffee and walked out with a brand new wedding venue!

Although it was a stressful situation, we could not have been happier with the outcome. The venue was absolutely stunning, the food was incredible and staff made everything a breeze.

RC REAL Bride - Ashleigh + James Rosa Clara Soft Lori Raffaele Ciuca

RC REAL Bride - Ashleigh + James Rosa Clara Soft Lori Raffaele Ciuca

FAVOURITE MOMENT

Being a winter wedding I was a little worried about the weather, so waking up to see sunshine streaming through the windows and my sister walking through the door with coffee could not have been a better way to start the day.

We were staying in this beautiful 1960’s renovated beach shack, which I absolutely adored, and along with the sunshine and coffee this definitely set a very relaxed and magical tone for the day. We loved this place so much that we even used it as our first photo location!

Another one of my favourite moments was when my younger brother, who was also a groomsman decided he would carry one of my bridesmaids in to the reception on his shoulders. They walked in to 50 Cent’s ‘Candy Shop’ and were having so much fun entertaining the guests that they failed to see the low hanging ceiling rafter and she went head first in to it! Luckily she escaped without a scratch but it was certainly a jaw dropping moment for all of our guests!

RC REAL Bride - Ashleigh + James Rosa Clara Soft Lori Raffaele Ciuca

RC REAL Bride - Ashleigh + James Rosa Clara Soft Lori Raffaele Ciuca

THE DRESS

I tried on over 20 dresses and was starting to have serious doubts that this magical bridal moment of ‘finding the one’ even existed. Thankfully Maria and the RC team proved me wrong when they introduced me to Lori. This beautifully beaded, fit and flare style from Rosa Clara’s Soft Collection made me feel incredible. The intricate detail, the high neckline, and the perfect balance of fit vs flare were all the reasons I fell in love with this dress. I wanted to be comfortable on my wedding day, whilst still feeling a million bucks, and Lori absolutely delivered this for me.

RC REAL Bride - Ashleigh + James Rosa Clara Soft Lori Raffaele Ciuca

RC REAL Bride - Ashleigh + James Rosa Clara Soft Lori Raffaele Ciuca

FINDING THE ONE

My first experience was at the Brunswick store, where I was lucky enough to grab a walk in appointment with one of the dressmakers. She was amazing, selecting silhouettes that I would never have picked, but fitted my shape perfectly. After listening to what I wanted and narrowing down the style to fit and flare, she booked me in an appointment for later that day at the Armadale store where she thought the designs would be better suited to my taste. She was right! It was in Armadale that I met Maria – who was a godsend! She had fit and flare dresses already picked out for me on arrival and with her down to earth nature she made me feel so at ease. Together with my mum, we narrowed it down to two. A week later I brought my bridesmaids back and with Maria’s guidance we locked in Lori as “the one”. Maria is fantastic at what she does and I would recommend her to anyone looking to find their dream dress, no matter what style or fit they are after.

RC REAL Bride - Ashleigh + James Rosa Clara Soft Lori Raffaele Ciuca

RC REAL Bride - Ashleigh + James Rosa Clara Soft Lori Raffaele Ciuca

ADVICE FOR OTHER BRIDES

Get yourself a kickass Bride Squad, and let them help you. Planning a wedding can be stressful if you don’t have the support of others around you. My girls, along with my mum, kept me sane and grounded. I’d also recommend planning to go on your honeymoon straight after the wedding. It keeps the magic of the day alive and is a great way to relax and let everything soak in with your new hubby by your side!

RC REAL Bride - Ashleigh + James Rosa Clara Soft Lori Raffaele Ciuca

RC REAL Bride - Ashleigh + James Rosa Clara Soft Lori Raffaele Ciuca

VENDORS

Dress: Raffaele Ciuca Bridal

Photographer: Hails & Shine

Venue: At The Heads

Flowers: The Eleventh Flower

Cake: Butter Bali

Hair: Noir Hair Gallery

Make-Up: Jessica Makeup Artistry

RC REAL Bride - Ashleigh + James Rosa Clara Soft Lori Raffaele Ciuca