The Special Couple: Anouska + Ryley
THE FIRST SIGHT
Ryley and I met through my grandmother! I had just moved to Sydney from London after having finished school, and I didn't know too many people in town. My grandmother invited me to a party for her partner's nephew, Matt, who was celebrating his 21st birthday with a "000" themed party, and that's where I met Ryley! He captured my attention immediately - he was charming and interesting, dressed up as a policeman! We kept in contact and met up a few times after that. Ryley lived in Canberra then, so he came up to Sydney quite a bit. A few months later, we decided to make it official!
Ryley went all out when he proposed on 12th December 2020, our 9th anniversary. After a crazy year of pandemic lockdowns, we were going to celebrate. I had wanted to book something for a while, but we had left it quite late. Ryley kept saying, " Don't worry about it, we'll sort something out, " but it was getting too close. I ruined the surprise by nearly organising something else! Ryley had booked us a weekend away to celebrate, although I didn't know where. All he told me was to bring two "nice outfits". So I packed my wardrobe because I had no idea what we were doing or where we were going!
We finished work on Friday afternoon, and he started driving towards the city - we were staying at the Park Hyatt - where we celebrated our first anniversary. That evening, Ryley said we had to be downstairs for sunrise. I love sunrises, and Ryley is someone that likes a sleep in, so I was very happy about this. He helped me choose an outfit because I didn't know what to wear, and it just happened to be one of my favourite white linen mini dresses. The following day we went downstairs and walked around the park with the opera house behind us. A breakfast picnic with red roses and champagne was set out for us! I was so excited, so I immediately sat down! Ryley grabbed my hands and asked me to stand up; I thought, "how rude. Of course, I should have waited". Ryley starts saying some beautiful words about us as a couple, and I thought this is a really special way to start our anniversary until he suddenly drops to one knee and asks me to marry him! Of course, I said yes! I was so surprised. We were both crying with happiness, and after a wild year of pandemics and recently buying our first place together, this was the last thing I was expecting! Then, someone walked up to us and introduced himself as Jeff. Ryley had organised a photographer and Jeff had captured everything!
THE INSPIRATION & VENUE
Our overall theme was "woodland fairytale" - we wanted a magical, charming, whimsical vibe that also felt a bit English. I'm from England, and it felt special to us. Our wedding was also going to be a black-tie event, so there was room for some structured elements and details, such as black grosgrain ribbon tied around the napkins. The colour scheme for our florals was white and blush with greenery. Our florist, Nikki, was amazing, and she created the most beautiful bouquet that complemented my gown perfectly. She even sourced the most beautiful blush peonies!
THE BRIDAL LOOK
I have always loved fashion and have nearly pursued a career in fashion design. When I was in school, I created a sculpture that was a female figure engulfed in 3D florals, inspired by the artist Anna Gillespie. When I started exploring bridal collections more, I just adored Galia Lahav's designs as they are so intricate and detailed. When I saw her Alegria collection, I immediately fell in love with the Fabiana gown. It reminded me of my sculpture, and something about Fabiana resonated with me - the texture and playfulness; I just loved it. I was nervous to try on the Fabiana gown at first because it looked so stunning in the campaign and on the model. I thought I'd be sad if I didn't like it on me!
SAYING 'YES' TO THE DRESS
My experience at Eternal Bridal was nothing short of amazing. I made an appointment to try Galia Lahav's gowns, and Brooke was my stylist. From my very first appointment, I felt very comfortable and at ease. I was also struggling with the fact that my mum and sister couldn't physically come to my appointments with me as they were overseas, so we had to FaceTime them. Brooke and the team were fantastic, and I included them in my appointment, so they felt as if they were there. I must have tried on close to 100 gowns if not more! I went to multiple trunk shows and also went to a designer to discuss a custom gown.
I love Galia Lahav as a designer, and the quality and craftsmanship of her gowns stood out to me. Especially after trying on so many others! Even though Fabiana was the gown I loved in the pictures, I kept an open mind regarding styles, shapes, and even colours when searching for my wedding dress. I tried on a range of silhouettes, but as soon as I tried on Fabiana, I knew that was the one. The Fabiana gown is so unique - I tried on many other dresses that had 3D floral embellishment, but they didn't feel like me. When I tried on my dress, I felt like me and comfortable. I didn't cry, but I had an overwhelming feeling of excitement. I could immediately envision myself walking down the aisle to meet Ryley at the other end, and I knew it was the one.
I tried on Fabiana a couple of times after my first appointment and went to a Galia Lahav trunk show to make sure this was the gown for me, and it was. After I made my purchase, the Eternal Bridal team was attentive and helpful. I feel like I was one of those brides with a hundred questions about everything, but all of my questions and queries were answered so thoughtfully. Eternal Bridal also helped bring my dream veil to life - I had an overall vision for my veil, so the team ordered additional matching Fabiana lace from Galia Lahav to create my custom 5m long veil.
THE BEST THING ABOUT OUR DAY
Each part of the day was amazing, but celebrating with (nearly) all of our family and friends in the same room was the best feeling! Many of my family, including my mum, dad and sister, live in London, and we were nervous they wouldn't be able to come over. Still, we were fortunate with the borders opening up just in time and restrictions in Australia easing. A few guests were missing due to overseas restrictions, but having my mum, dad and sister there was so special for us. Walking down the aisle with my dad was incredibly special. Ryley and I did a first look before the ceremony; it was the best thing we did! It was our highlight for us as a couple!
Enjoy the engagement period as a couple! Plan, make wedding decisions together and take it all in. Do your research into your vendors, ask all the necessary questions, and ultimately trust them! Don't stress if your tastes or style change throughout your engagement period (ours did), but that's why you choose your vendors because they work with you through every step. Also, all the admin and final decisions you must make in the 6-8 weeks leading up to your wedding! If being super organised doesn't come naturally, I'd recommend a planner or a coordinator!
Anouska wore Fabiana gown from Galia Lahav. See more gowns from Galia Lahav Collection here.
Cake: Faye Cahill
Ceremony & Reception Venue: Hopewood House