This beautiful couple from Melbourne, celebrated their wedding day at Abbotsford Convent, Victoria, with the bride's Persian heritage intertwined into the day.
Wedding date: March 4th, 2018
Wedding location: Abbotsford Convent, Victoria
Number of guests: 120
Bridal party: Two bridesmaids and two groomsmen
Ceremony time: 5pm-5:30pm
Reception time: 6:30pm-11pm
Tell us about how you met and the proposal...
We met in the most unsuspecting of places, at work. But it wasn’t really at work. We didn’t really have any work related crossover. We worked in different fields and on different floors. We even had different work friends. We actually met through inter-company sports whilst participating in dragon boat racing. From the initial meet, we click, became really good friends, grabbed coffee together in the mornings, spent lunch times together chatting away. From here, we became besties. Damien was exactly the partner I wanted and despite initially being adverse to having a relationship with anyone at work, I thought why not? And as they say...the rest is history.
We were road tripping in New Zealand in April 2017. We were on a mission to get to Milford Sound by the end of our trip. We got up super early one morning eager to get the majority of the drive to Milford Sound out of the way and ensure we get a park nice and early. When we got there and parked, I proceeded to make a quick breakfast. Damien was off wandering outside and came back and said “you should come out and see how amazing this place looks at sunrise with no one around”. We went for a walk, surrounded by all the majestic fjords - and that’s when he proposed. The proposal didn’t end there as there was no ring. Damien wanted to make sure I picked the ring that I liked. Once I had chosen the style, he went away and had the ring made. One day, after a tough day at work, we went to enjoy a beverage on the rooftop of my apartment in St Kilda. As the sun was setting, I was distracted taking sunset pictures. Damien called out to me and in turning around, I realised he was down on one knee with my ring. I got to enjoy a double proposal and experience the feelings of happiness that rushed through me the first time.
Where was the location of your ceremony and reception?
Abbotsford Convent, Heritage Gardens and the reception was held on site, in the Rosina dining room at the Abbotsford Convent.
How did you find the location and why did you choose it?
The location kept coming up in photos. We hadn’t visited this venue yet but we loved what we saw in photos. A relaxed and chilled out vibe. One day, I went to the Collingwood children's farm with a couple of friends which is right next door to the Abbotsford Convent. My friends and I walked around the Convent grounds which gave me a good feel for the place. It was then that I had a burst of urgency to let Damien know that we go see the venue together promptly. We did and both fell in love with it. We loved how we could keep coming back and revisiting our day - this was important to us. We chose this location as it was a place we loved the feeling of. We loved the gardens and the heritage buildings, a blend of two things we both love. Bonus that we can often come back and relive our wedding day!
During the planning of your wedding how many times did you visit the location?
Several times to get a better idea of what we could do with the space, how we can arrange the tables and also where in the Heritage Gardens we would have our ceremony.
What was the theme of your wedding?
Sunday session vibes with a Persian twist.
How easy or hard was it to plan your wedding?
Damien was working interstate which presented some challenges in coordinating time to visit the various vendors. He, however did have frequent trips back. We used this time to carefully book meetings and make the important big decisions together. In addition, having my wedding planner and friend Najwa from Flower of the Lily Events by my side meant I was relaxed in the lead up to the day. She was always accessible and very quick to respond to any question. Najwa also liaised with the staff at the Abbotsford Convent, which meant one less thing we needed to worry about. All we had to do was come up with the ideas of what we wanted and left it to Najwa. If something didn’t work out, Najwa already had another alternative in mind.
What advice would you give a couple planning a destination wedding in this location?
Have a wedding planner that can also coordinate things on the day for you. This ensures you are stress-free in the lead up as well as on the day.
What did you like about having a destination wedding?
Start your plans well in advance. Time flies and before you know it, the day will be there. If you start early enough - you will thank yourself on the day when you are relaxed!
What did you like about having a destination wedding?
We loved that the Abbotsford Convent provided a blend of Heritage buildings and gorgeous surrounds including its Heritage gardens where we got married.
What was your favourite part of your wedding day?
Roxanna: My favourite moment was the ceremony, everything about it. It turned out perfect. I loved the moments Damien and I had to ourselves, to just take it all in. I also loved Damien’s speech during the reception. It was very sincere and heartfelt. Of course the music and dancing with everyone was fun too!
Damien: I did enjoy dipping Roxanna and going in for the kiss after we were announced as husband and wife. The weather was perfect, the band was outstanding and the atmosphere was wonderful!
Is there anything you would have done differently?
Roxanna: There isn’t a lot I would have done differently. I had the right support around me to make the day perfect.
Damien: The day was perfect, although I would have loved to have heard the acoustic set, which played when we were getting our photos done.
Did you have guest gifts?
Yes, the place cards were moroccan tile pieces. Each person's name was written by a calligrapher. The guests took these tiles home and could use them as coasters.
Did you use any transportation?
Damien used his brothers vintage BMW. Roxanna was driven to the Abbotsford Convent from her family home by Star Chauffeured cars We left in a friends white Range Rover.
Tell us about the unique and special moments from your wedding and reception...
We had The Tavares Brothers band who entertained guests in the Rosina Courtyard with an acoustic set during Canapes. They played soul and RnB classics (Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Al Green etc) .
We had practiced a routine for the first dance, but the dress meant there were a few challenges so at the last minute, we changed the dance and the song choice! The song was Stevie Wonder - you are the sunshine of my life and we danced with some twirls and shaking of hips.
A DJ was also provided by the band to play Persian music. The Bride’s cultural background is Persian. We wanted a fusion between Western and Persian cultures.
Tell us more about the cultural traditions you included in the day...
As part of Persian culture, before the cutting of the cake, the bridesmaids traditionally do a knife dance to a Persian song. The wedding ceremony was a Persian ceremony, delivered beautifully by our celebrant (Koren Harvey) in English. The Persian wedding traditions have their roots from Zorastrian times. The distinct feature of a Persian ceremony was the inclusion of a Persian ceremony spread ‘sofre aghd’, which has been practiced for thousands of years. Roxanna’s mum designed and set up the spread, each item symbolic of the couples new life and marriage together.
● the Ayeeneh (mirror) – which is positioned facing the couple to represent eternity and helps guide light and brightness into their future
● Shamdoon (candles) - symbolise energy and clarity in the couple’s life together
● Noon sangak (flatbread) - symbolises prosperity for the feasts in the couple’s future
● Meeveh (fruit) - represents a joyous and fruitful future
● Tokhmeh morgh (eggs) – a selection of nuts representing abundance and fertility for the couple
● There is also nabat (rock candy), shirini (pastries and sweets) and sekkeh (coins), which symbolises a sweetened life, wealth and prosperity for the couple
● Finally, the khoncheh (Assortment of seven symbolic herbs and spices) are placed on the sofreh to guard against the evil eye In addition to all these elements, the sofre aghd is complete with the love and support of family and friends.
Other Persian traditions that followed included: The bride and groom sitting behind the Persian ceremony spread with the two bridesmaids holding the cloth of unity above the bride and grooms heads. Two very close family friends were also involved in the ceremony: - One rubbed cones of sugar over their heads. Each sugar cone represented the bride and groom and this act is undertaken in the hopes that every interaction between them will result in sweetness. - Another sewed the edge of the cloth to symbolize the strengthening of Damien and Roxanna’s bond through marriage. The Persian ceremony continued with the celebrant asking the bride for her hand. Roxanna looked away, and someone from the audience called out, “Roxanna has gone to pick flowers”. The celebrant proceeded to ask a second time. Again Roxanna looked away and another person said “Roxanna has gone travelling around the world”. The celebrant asked a third and final time. Roxanna finally responded “with the permission of my elders and family, yes”. Everyone cheered and clapped! And Damien and Roxanna offered each other a taste of honey by dipping their finger in a small pot of honey, as a gesture of bringing extra sweetness to their lives. The ceremony and vows proceeded by Roxanna and Damien standing in front of the Persian ceremony spread. There was even a double kiss where Damien took the opportunity to dip Roxanna for a second kiss.
Photographer: Aleksandar Jason Weddings
Cinematographer: Nathan Kaso
Ceremony and reception: Abbotsford Convent
Event planner: Najwa Ercingoz
Celebrant: Koren Harvey
Florist: Miei Fiori
Entertainment: Tavares Brothers
Furniture hire: Chandelier Hire
Invitations and Stationery: The Right Invite
Engagement and wedding rings: Diamond Rings Internationale
Bridal gown: Martina Liana from Fairytales Bridal
Hair stylist: Hair by Amanda Audrey
Makeup artist: Hellana My Glow Room
Bride's shoes: Badgley Mischka
Veil: Made by Kristen Eadie from Dress Making and Such
Bridesmaid outfits: Bariano
Bridesmaid shoes: Jo Mercer
Groom's outfit: M.J. BALE
Groom's shoes: Aquila
Groom and groomsmen's bow ties: Jeff Banks
Grooming: Val from Manhor