“My experience was very special. Jo at the Armadale emporium was my consultant and she was wonderful. Every interaction I had her was great, she made me feel comfortable from the get-go and was very supportive and understanding as I worked my way through the many gowns on offer at Raffaele Ciuca”.

RC – How did you meet Justin?
Justin and I met by chance within days of my move to Melbourne in 2013. I had moved to the city for new job opportunities and didn’t really know anyone and never in a million years would have thought I would meet my future husband here.

I was out at a local pub in Richmond with a friend visiting from home and it was one of those cliché encounters where he saw me from a distance and there were seats available next to me so he came over and struck up conversation. A few days later we went on our first date and that was that, we were married three years later to the day at the Abbotsford Convent in Melbourne.

We actually went back to the same pub on our first date and later celebrated our marriage with family and friends back there the day after our wedding.


RC – How did Justin propose?
I am a big Notting Hill fan and it is a movie that Justin has patiently watched with me on many occasions. Justin knew that he wanted to do something different for the proposal and also catch me off guard, which he achieved in impressive detail.

We both work in the city, so one Friday lunchtime we agreed to meet in Federation Square for a quick bite. After lunch Justin insisted we quickly look at a painting in the National Gallery of Victoria’s (NGV) Ian Potter Centre.

There’s a great scene in Notting Hill of a movie featuring Julia Roberts walking around an art gallery with her love interest who is pleading with her to smile. When this doesn’t work he sits her down on a bench and tells her in 7 seconds he is going to ask her to marry him….a big smile across Julia’s face soon follows.

Taking inspiration from this scene Justin took me a quiet spot within the gallery and asked me if I remembered that scene. He then followed with “In seven seconds I am going to ask you to marry me” and started counting slowly while he got down on one knee. He then presented me with the most beautiful ring which I very gratefully accepted after I recovered from the momentary shock that he had just proposed!

The surprises didn’t end there as Justin had secretly arranged with my manager that I could have the rest of the day off and he whisked me away to the Yarra Valley for a lovely weekend of wine tasting. He then surprised me with tickets to see John Legend at a Day on the Green in the Yarra Valley which was really special as we both loved John Legend’s song All of Me and played it repeatedly when travelling together earlier that year.


RC – Is there a particular reason as to why you chose your venue?
Justin grew up in Tasmania and I grew up in Canberra so we both wanted a location that was easy for family and friends to travel too. Given we met in Melbourne and have built our lives here we knew it was also where we wanted to get married.

The Abbotsford Convent was the only venue in Melbourne that we looked at. We wanted a venue that was easy for our guests to get too and close to a church, as we knew we would have our service within a church. Anyone that has visited the Abbotsford Convent will understand why it was the perfect choice – there is a gorgeous chapel (the Good Shepherd Chapel) on the grounds, beautiful gardens for photos and a large and private function space (Rosina function space) with an adjoining courtyard operated by Bursaria.

The venue is also a blank canvas which allowed us to add as much of our personal style and flair as we liked. I am great lover of flowers (honestly this was one of my favourite parts of organising the wedding) and the Rosina function space has these gorgeous exposed beams that allowed us to hang a series floral installations. Our florist, The Botanics of Melbourne were amazing to work with, creating a number of floral installations to hang from the ceiling, across the front of the bar as well as styling gift tables and the chapel for the wedding ceremony.

Bursaria are also brilliant caterers and it was important to us to find a venue that provided plenty of good food and wine for our guests. Bursaria did not disappoint and we have had many guests tell us that it was the best food they have ever had at a wedding.


RC – Your favourite part of the wedding?
It is almost impossible to pick one moment as the whole day was perfect. Having all our friends and family together in one room and feeling the love from everyone is just the most amazing feeling. We were lucky to have family and friends travel from across Australia as well as San Francisco, Scotland and London for the wedding. It is truly special to have those people that mean so much to you witness you declare your love and commitment to each other.

I think seeing Justin at the of aisle and being overcome with emotion is a feeling I will never forget (I’m even getting teary thinking about it now). I have never been so happy in my life than taking those first few steps and seeing him smiling at the end of the aisle. All the stress and time that goes into organising a wedding is absolutely worth it when you have that moment.

I also must call out our cheese tower wedding cake. My friends will attest to my somewhat extreme love for cheese and a cheese tower as a wedding cake was a must have for the wedding. We worked with the lovely Celia from the Richmond Hill Larder to build the most divine cheese tower which served in place of dessert on platters for guests to enjoy following dinner.

The late addition of espresso martinis to help keep guests energised on the dance floor were also a hit and a great memory for all. I know that a highlight for Justin was our whiskey bar which included six unique and rare whiskies from Melbourne, Ireland and Scotland. Whiskey is something that we loved and wanted to share with everyone and were surprised by how many of guests enjoyed tasting the varieties from across the world.


RC – How did the dress make you feel?
Like a movie star!! From the moment I put the dress on I felt like I should have been walking a red carpet. I definitely had one of those WOW moments and knew it was the dress for me.When trying on dresses I thought I had an idea of what I wanted but that soon changed once I saw what suited me and the look I was going for our big day.Sophisticated elegance was really what I was after as well as a dress that would stand the test of time and I really feel like I achieved that with my beautiful gown by La Sposa

A dramatic train was also a must have for me as well as a gown that would suit a cathedral veil and I was so happy with my choice which was picked out by my brilliant bridal consultant Jo. We all cried when I put the dress on and there was no going back after that.

Real Bride Danielle wears La Sposa gown

RC – How was your bridal shopping experience?
My experience was very special. Jo at the Armadale emporium was my consultant and she was wonderful. Every interaction I had her was great, she made me feel comfortable from the get-go and was very supportive and understanding as I worked my way through the many gowns on offer at Raffaele.

I bought my sister with me to try dresses and it was a very emotional experience for us. We lost both our parents in recent years and missed being able to have them involved in all the dress searching and wedding excitement. Jo was really understanding of this and put us both at ease.

The dress experience is something I won’t forget. It was really special and I am very grateful to Jo for all her help. I’ve told every future bride I know about the team at Raffaele and the great level of service they can expect.

RC – Tips for brides-to-be!
Enjoy every minute. It is all over so quickly on the day and is absolutely worth all the planning and organisation. I wish I could live it all over again and am so grateful I had a brilliant photographer to capture so many of the special moments for us to look back and remember.In the early stages of planning I read a lot and sought inspiration from Instagram and pinterest. I started following a lot of local suppliers, florists, wedding photographers, designers and bridal stores (Raffaele Ciuca included). This really helped me to see what other people did and compare that to what was important to us for our special day.I think it is also really important to discuss with your partner your list of ‘must haves’. There is so much information and opinions out there that it can be easy to get overwhelmed but if you stay true to what you both want and what is important to you as a couple then you can’t go wrong.

Photographer – john@warrenphotography.com.au