Leah & Vas

Wanting a relaxed and informal celebration, Leah and Vas had something special planned for their guests! Their romantic industrial surprise wedding had family and friends cheering as they partied the night away at Hawthorn Common in MelbourneCaroline Sada caught every joy filled moment.

Epic love stories can still be found outside Hollywood, as we hear from Leah, ”We met whilst working in Liberia, Africa during the Ebola Epidemic in 2014/2015. I was managing the nursing team at the make shift Ebola treatment hospital that Vasil and his company were running. I visited his family in Macedonia for two weeks after my post ended in Africa and from there we had a long distance relationship for a year. Vas visited during that time and moved here permanently in 2016.”

There was no doubt in Leah’s mind that Hawthorn Common was the perfect spot for their surprise wedding celebration. ”It’s just down the road from us and we often have breakfast on the beautiful green deck. The owners are really personable and relaxed and sat down with us a number of times in the lead up. They were really accommodating and able to cater to our needs and budget with no fuss.”

Hawthorn Common were able to dish up enough delicious fare to cover both stages of the romantic surprise, as Leah shares, ”The food was amazing! During the ‘engagement party’ guests arrived to a cocktail style event and mingled for an hour and a half as they served beautiful canapes, and after the ceremony we had a relaxed sit down meal with plates of slow cooked lamb and Barramundi.”

Once the engagement party was up and running, Leah disappeared to change from a red dress into her Grace Loves Lace gown and to have her hair re-done whilst Koren Harvey made a surprise announcement. Leah tells of the moment, ”She introduced herself as the MC and told our guests that tonight MC didn’t stand for Master of Ceremonies, but instead it stood for Marriage Celebrant. From the back room I could hear the cheers which gave me goose bumps!” Koren and Leah had known each other as children, and Leah tells how special it was to have her officiate their wedding, ”When I was googling wedding celebrants her name came up and I called her immediately – it was great to have an old friend who is so passionate about love marry us.”

Looking for a no fuss option, Leah ordered her stunning Grace Loves Lace SoHo gown online. ”It had an art deco pattern on the front and felt very relaxed yet elegant. I didn’t want to run around to different dress shops, plus I am really indecisive so this was the way for me. I decided to get it altered last minute and picked it up the night before – luckily it was perfect.” And having minimised dress shopping time, Vasil, Leah and Leah’s parents decided to visit Peter Jackson to pick up some new suits. ”We had an amazing sales assistant and it was a really fun couple of hours watching them try on different colour combinations and suit up!”

The engagement party guests were thrilled to discover they were now wedding guests, and Leah remembers, ”I walked down the aisle with my Dad and felt so calm and happy. It was so beautiful to see all my friends and family beaming at me with such happiness as I walked towards Vas. We wrote our own vows which were sweet and funny, and I said ‘I do’ in Macedonian.” The bride walked down the aisle to ‘Video Games’ by Lana Del Ray.

The bride knew she had found their photographer when she met with Caroline Sada a few weeks prior to the wedding and shares, ”I met Caroline at Hawthorn Common and instantly warmed to her. We came up with some awesome ideas about how to get great shots in the venue, and she was really excited and creative about the use of space and light. The results didn’t disappoint!”

Knowing very little about flowers, Leah trusted florist Faye Colls to come up with something stunning. She shares how thrilled she was with the result, ”I have never been more in love with a bunch flowers than I was with my bouquet! Faye was so warm and passionate about what she could do for us. The use of orange and blues is something I would never have thought of doing but it worked perfectly. I can’t speak highly enough of her!”

Trying to combine several cultures and bring family close, the evening held a surprise for Vas too, with Leah telling, ”We tried to include as many touches of Macedonia as possible as Vas’ family could not be there. My mum secretly liaised with Vas’ family via email and surprised him with a speech from them after dinner. There were tears galore.”

As newlyweds, Leah and Vas’ plans for a traditional first dance quickly changed once the music got rolling, as Leah remembers, ”Our DJ put on a Macedonian version of ‘I will Always Love you’, sung by a girl who won Bulgarian Idol. Our guests spontaneously formed a circle around us whilst Vas and I danced to the song, Macedonian style. He handed me his pocket square which I waved around whilst we did the Macedonian dance. It was all spontaneous and was by far the my most favourite part of the night!”

Congratulations to Leah and Vas on their beautiful wedding day, and thank you for sharing it with us! A special thank you also to Caroline Sada who captured this celebration perfectly!