“The team at Raffaele Ciuca made me feel like I was the only bride in the world! I went to the VIP room in the Armadale store and it was such a special experience to have my parents, sister, and mother-in-law to-be, relaxed on the couch, sipping champagne and helping me find my dream gown. The whole team were amazing. No request was too big, no detail too small, and they were always ready with an idea or an accessory to make my dream look come to life.” #RCREALBRIDE CARLA RC – How did you meet Riley? Riley and I met 11 years ago in high school through a mutual friend. After chatting on MSN messenger (that’s showing my age!) he asked, hypothetically, how I’d feel if he asked me out. I said I’d be hypothetically over the moon. We then quickly dropped the thinly veiled pretence! We’ve been together ever since, over 10 years now. RC – How did Riley propose? Every year we take turns surprising each other with an anniversary date. It’s our little tradition to ensure we keep the romance and mystery of dating. It was our 9th anniversary, Riley’s turn, and all he told me was to take time off work and pack a bag for cold weather. Once we arrived at the airport, as he starts leading me to the domestic terminal, he makes a sharp turn and instead starts heading towards the international departure gate. He pulls out my passport and … we were off to Christchurch, New Zealand! He had booked a campervan to go touring around the country, and I was over the moon. The next morning, my birthday, he takes me to breakfast and points to a nearby boat shed. Casual, almost lazily, he asks me if I’d like to take a row boat up the Avon river. Underneath his jacked, behind a hidden ring and unbeknownst to me, his heart was pounding from nerves. While rowing up the river, he banks the boat, and as I turn around to see why, there he is on tw o knees (to stop the boat from flipping!), ring in hand and four words falling out of his lips, will you marry me. I of course said yes! RC – Is there a particular reason as to why you chose your venue? We wanted something that was a traditional finish, but not dated. Most venues we saw were either ultra modern, like Leonda by the Yarra, or highly period, like the Regent Theatre Plaza Ballroom. Finally we came across Quat Quatta in Ripponlea. It was a gorgeous classical little mansion, but with modern touches like a marble bar and freshly painted walls. Plus the fireplaces were a perfect addition for an autumn wedding. After our first viewing I literally starting jumping up and down in the courtyard. We didn’t need to look anywhere else. We knew where we were having our wedding. RC – Your favourite part of the wedding? To pick a favourite moment out of a day of perfect moments; holding my sister’s hand in the car on the way, dad beaming at me before the long walk down the aisle of St Patrick’s Cathedral, the impromptu fist-bump after our vowels, or walking in to a room filled with all the people we care about, as they applaud and grin at us as we enter the room; it’s almost impossible to choose. But in the end, seeing Riley waiting for me at the end of the aisle was the most unforgettable. I was almost crying from joy. Nothing will ever come close. RC – How did the dress make you feel? I may be an understated dresser normally, but on my big day I had to be princess! I found the perfect ballgown shape, but felt far too exposed in a strapless gown. The amazing consultants and dressmakers helped me fashion up a silk off-the-shoulder sash that was attached to the dress and made me feel like an old-world glamorous movie star. Then, once the formalities of the night were over, off it came and I was ready to really dance! It was absolutely perfect. I felt radiant! RC – How was your bridal shopping experience? The team at Raffaele Ciuca made me feel like I was the only bride in the world! I went to the VIP room in the Armadale store and it was such a special experience to have my parents, sister, and mother-in-law to-be, relaxed on the couch, sipping champagne and helping me find my dream gown. The whole team were amazing. No request was too big, no detail too small, and they were always ready with an idea or an accessory to make my dream look come to life. Carmela and Adelina were exceptional in helping me put together my whole look, as were the entire alterations team. Despite my many changes and requests, they made the whole experience effortless and so much fun! 7. Tips for brides-to-be! My biggest tip for future brides is to stop when you’ve found a dress you love. The more dresses you try on the more they get mixed up in your mind and it becomes really hard to feel like you’ve made the right choice. Also, when the day comes, let all your expectations go out the window. Some things you dreamed of for weeks will be a complete flop (hello, photos with sparklers), other things you didn’t even plan on will make your night (like your friends pulling you outside for a hilarious group photo). It can be very easy to think that everything has to be perfect, but if you end the day married and surrounded by joyful family and friends, then you will have had the most magical, perfect day. Broken L-O-V-E letters be damned!