Real Wedding – Helena & Nathan, Melbourne VIC
1089 days spent waiting to get married, 70 guests, 2 venues, countless date changes but boy was everything worth it to see Helena and Nathan’s day finally come to light.
Naturally with such a long time frame, your initial ideas and plans change but there were a few things Nathan and Helena were set on from the get go. Namely, having venues that reflected Melbourne’s culture and style – enter The George Ballroom in St Kilda and Alto Event Space. They wanted the styling and colour scheme to reflect their creative prowess – think toffees, yellows, pinks and subtle pops of orange. They wanted their day to feel warm and inclusive so they cast off any traditions that didn’t fit the bill, (like hiding away from their guests pre-ceremony), and they wanted their day to be shaped by music that they adore, with everything from a sax player to their live duos and bands.
Everything was captured exquisitely by Alex from Motta Weddings and Moon and Back Co, particularly those special moments which saw Helena’s jaw drop to the floor once she saw their whole vision in the flesh.
It was such a special occasion for such a special pair but take a look for yourselves!
We met through mutual friends! We sort of knew of each other, had met once or twice but eventually I gave Nathan my phone number and we have pretty much been inseparable ever since.
Nathan stands by the fact that he knew from our first date. I (Helena) also knew from very early on, and I now fully understand the saying ‘when you know, you know.’
Helena: This is and will always be one of our favorite stories! I’d gone away for the weekend for a camping festival with a girlfriend. On the day we were coming home, Nathan had been messaging me seemingly more than usual… ‘When are you coming home?’, ‘How long until you’re back?’, ‘How long now?’ and I just thought it was really sweet that he was missing me so much. When we pulled up home, I messaged him and asked him to come out and help with my bags. No response. Weird, considering he was pestering me for hours about my arrival home! I went inside, said hello to our housemate and went upstairs. I was exhausted and not feeling the freshest – a few nights of camping, dancing in the dust and not a lot of sleep will do it to you. I was wearing a baggy t-shirt and bike shorts, unwashed hair, no make-up, nails not done – so unglamorous it wasn’t even funny. I walked up the stairs and for a split second I remember thinking that maybe something was happening. We’d discussed getting engaged, and both knew that was next for us, but never did I expect a proposal to happen when it did. I opened our bedroom door and there in red rose petals on our bed was spelt out ‘Will you marry me?’ and there was Nathan on one knee holding a ring. The whole thing is a big, beautiful blur and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Props to Nathan for pulling off an epic, unexpected surprise. One of the first things that I said (after YES, of course!) was ‘Do not dare put that ring on my finger’ thinking how unfair it was on my beautiful ring to make its first appearance on my unpolished finger. Nathan didn’t care, the ring went on and we both cried happy tears. Without being able to wait to tell some of our closest family and friends, we made some calls and then enjoyed a really nice dinner in the city.
We ended up having 1089 days between the day we got engaged and the day we finally got married. That’s a lot of time for one to change their minds about what you want. It’s a LOT of time for Pinterest boards. Ultimately, we went back and forth between 2-3 styles, but looking back on it, they were all very much the same. Nathan and I are both born and bred Melburnians, so we did feel it was important for our venues to reflect this. Alto was the first venue that we visited and we didn’t need to see anywhere else – we were in love! Modern, blank canvas, stunning views of Melbourne and historic buildings. I believe this was the first thing that we chose and we went from there!
We ticked off the big ticket items first – for us this was the venue(s), photographer, florist and then moved onto everything else. There was obviously a big gap between when we locked everything in and the big day, so when the lead up was finally happening, it was surreal but we felt pretty organised.
We just wanted a wedding that really felt like us. We picked venues that felt right for us; Alto and The George Ballroom – both run by Damm Fine Food – one being a modern, sleek inner city venue while The George Ballroom oozes all sorts of classic, romantic, timeless vibes which we both loved. The best of both worlds.
Helena: I am a creative at heart – a constant maker and creator of nearly anything. I knew that I wanted some elements of our styling to be DIY and let our guests feel a sense of ‘us’ when they came into our reception. Hand painted vases, menu and stationary design, our favorite Glasshouse candles burning – all the little touches really counted. We paired a few DIY elements with incredible suppliers to give a really polished look, and we honestly could not have been happier with the outcome.
Another thing that was really important for us was the florals – our wedding went from May 2020 – March 2022 which meant warmer weather and a different feel. We ended up settling on a vibe for the florals that screamed ‘Spring in Autumn’ which really made the venue come alive. Styled alongside all white, rose gold and warm toffee brown tones – a dream!
We decided not to do the traditional ‘hide away in the bridal suite while your guests arrive’ – we mingled and greeted and enjoyed cocktail hour with our guests. We had a saxophone player which was another special thing for us as we both love jazz music. We wanted the wedding to feel really inclusive, alive, welcoming and overall just fun as we had waited so long for our big day.
Pinterest was our best friend. Styled shoots are definitely helpful to give an idea of what suppliers can do, and, often in styled shoots you really get to see each supplier show off new ideas, which we loved. Instagram has a lot of inspiration as well. In terms of selecting suppliers, it was really helpful to see if they were on a recommended list, or simply just to inbox / email them to see if we liked their vibe.
Our ceremony was at The George Ballroom in St Kilda. A romantic, speaks-for-itself sort of venue. We didn’t add any styling items as the venue was beautiful as it was. We had two live acoustic musicians play as our guests arrived to set the tone of the day.
Our ceremony was relatively short, we wrote our own vows and we were just over the moon to finally be there. It was surreal, and beautiful reliving it through photos by our amazing photographer, Alex Motta, was something we will never forget!
We chose Nathan’s Oma and Helena’s brother to be our witnesses, and Helena’s Mum to walk her down the aisle, which were two really special moments for us.
Helena: I worked with Megan at Marquise Bridal to bring to life my dream dress. Of course, after two years, I did change my mind a few times about the finish of the dress, but I had stuck with the same silhouette from the beginning, which was a rounded square neckline, thin straps and a fitted body. After a couple of fittings and back and forth we settled on a beautiful, full beaded dress. I wanted a little sparkle, reflection and texture without it being too over the top. What I ended up with was a stunning gown that fit me like a glove, felt like me and if I could wear it every day, I would. My dressmaker Jess was absolutely lovely to deal with as well.
Nathan: I knew that I wanted a classic shawl lapel tuxedo and as soon as I tried it on, I knew it was the right one for me. I love attention to detail and wanted to add something fun, so went for a black bowtie with small gold specks.
Helena: Aside from the obvious – walking down the aisle to see Nathan smiling back at me, my favourite moment of the day was walking into our reception to see the room styled. For a creative mind, after two years of thought, seeing it come to life was surreal. *Cue bursting into tears (and thank you to our brilliant photographer for capturing this precious moment)
Nathan: Helena’s reaction to walking into the reception.
Meaning of marriage.
Helena: Marriage to me means everything. It means I’ve found my person, and my person becomes my family.
Nathan: It means I become one with my soulmate.
Aisle: Can’t Help Falling In Love by Kina Grannis (performed live by Wilbury)
The Kiss / Finally Married Song: This Will Be (An Everlasting Love) by Natalie Cole (performed live by Wilbury)
Wedding Party Introduction: Walking On Sunshine by Katrina and The Waves
First Dance: At Last by Etta James
The one that got the dance floor going: September by Earth, Wind and Fire *Might I add, this played immediately after our first dance and quite literally everyone got up and ran straight to the dancefloor!
Funny stories or near disasters.
Does a global pandemic count as a disaster? Ha!
Honestly, no! The team at The George Ballroom and Alto were all over it in terms of addressing nearly every single detail possible, so nothing was really missed. The only thing that was surprising is that the lead up to the wedding (even though everything was organised) was more stressful than we thought it would be. Everyone tells you to enjoy the week before and be relaxed and pampered and fabulous but the reality is that we’d waited two long years for this day, and the anticipation definitely left us with some pre-party nerves. If you can feel fabulous, pampered and relaxed then power to you, but if you’re not feeling amazing then that’s okay too!
Words of wisdom.
Do absolutely everything YOU want to do. If that means going against traditions, do it.
Invest in the big things that matter to you, whether that’s florals, boujee stationary or furniture.
A great photographer is extremely important.
You can’t control the weather. Definitely organise a back up plan if you’re having an outside ceremony, but if you’re an avid weather checker and you know you’re going to stress about it (like Helena) then book an inside ceremony at a stunning venue. Potential crisis averted.
Helena & Nathan adored and raved about their suppliers and we couldn’t agree more on choosing suppliers that you love! Head over to our directory here and check out some of Ivory Tribe’s most beloved vendors in the industry!
HELENA & NATHAN’S VENDORS
Instagram was our biggest and most useful tool when finding our suppliers! Don’t underestimate the power of hashtags to find what you’re looking for as well.
Ceremony venue: The George Ballroom
Reception venue: Alto Event Space – Caroline from Alto and Ashleigh from TGB were both absolutely heavenly to work with. Extremely helpful, organised and they just know what they’re doing.
Celebrant: Lee from Lovelee Ceremonies – We loved Lee! She was so bright, happy and bubbly and wrote us the most beautiful ceremony. She was very easy going, relaxed and easy to work with.
Photography: Alex Motta – We will never stop recommending Alex to anyone and everyone who wants to hear it. We could not recommend him more highly and were absolutely stoked with our photos. We wrote a full Google review of Alex and stand by our words that he is amazing!
Videography: Moon and Back Co – We had Dannika as our videographer on the day who was so lovely, and basically like an invisible ninja. She was there but you definitely didn’t feel that you could always see her (in the best way possible) and we are so looking forward to seeing our video!
Florist: Lulu Bird – We loved working with Lucie! She was very accepting and open to all and any updates or changes that came over the two years of planning. She absolutely knocked it out of the park with our florals – evident once again with bursting into tears seeing the room styled. Lucie was fantastic.
Hair: Greta Jean Keddie
Make Up: Danielle Ebeyan, May Vern Lee – I was so happy with all of our artists for hair and make up. Both mine and the bridesmaids hair and make up lasted beautifully (even through the scorching heat) and looked gorgeous. Danielle was especially patient with me as I can sometimes be nervous having other people do my make up, but was so easy to work with and took onboard all of my feedback.
The Dress and Veil: Custom Marquise Bridal
Shoes: Naked Vice
Bridesmaid’s dresses: Petal and Pup
Bow ties: Louis Vuitton (Groom)
Catering: Damm Fine Food
Cake / Cake topper: www.bakesbyher.com.au – Helena: I made my own cake! I wanted something simple, classic and timeless alongside a beautiful floral arrangement, and was so happy with how it came out.
Stationery / Signage: Bride designed alongside Danger and Moon – Annette from Danger and Moon was a dream to work with to bring our stationary to life.
Décor: Southern Lights Candle Co
Hire: Wishing well, plinths, some vases from Bentleigh and Bobbi
Chair Hire: Dann Event Hire
Linen Hire: Table Art Event Hire
Honeymoon: We jet off to Sydney for a few days for a quick escape, stayed at the new Crown hotel which was phenomenal but we are off to Europe in June for our ‘real’ honeymoon!
Other: We loved every single one of our suppliers and would highly recommend them all.