Carla & Rakan

Timing wise, Carla and Rakan’s seriously fun and colourful Australian wedding could not have been better! Squeezing between the bushfires at the start of 2020, and being able to celebrate with all their international friends and family before Covid put an end to easy travel, our bride and groom put on a joy filled party with their nearest and dearest. Rachel May Photography captured all the goodness!

Meeting in America, Carla remembers, ”We met in a bar in Portland, when I was on a trip with my mum, and Rakan was there visiting family for the weekend. He was living in San Francisco, and mum and I were heading there next on our trip. We hung out in SF, then kept in touch when I came back to Melbourne. Rakan flew out to Australia to visit me a few months later, and we decided to give long distance a try. Two and a half years, lots of back and forth flights between Melbourne and SF, and many hours of facetime later, I moved to SF in 2017, and we still live in San Francisco today. We had our legal US ceremony at City Hall in San Francisco, a huge celebration in Portland, Oregon (in the hotel above the bar where we met!), and the grand finale was the wedding at my parents’ place in Melbourne.”

Although the ring almost escaped, Rakan proposed with an adventurous puppy in Melbourne. The bride tells, ”We were back in Melbourne for a visit. Rakan suggested a walk on the beach, and it was freezing and windy. Our family dog Chief ran down onto the beach with something tied around his neck. I thought he’d escaped from the yard, and we both tried to call him over. He ran the opposite way up the beach, and when Rakan panicked and started chasing him up the beach, I realised what was happening. He got down on one knee, then jumped back up to put his hat back around the right way – the most Rakan thing ever. We spent the rest of the afternoon drinking champagne, eating noodles, and watching movies with my family. It was perfect.”

Absolutely laden with Australian native flowers, the ceremony setup overlooking the valley below was stunning. Carla shares, ”The flowers were honestly the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. Emily from North Street Botanical is a literal genius. I just said I wanted lots of green, and all native Aussie floral’s to fit in with the Warrandyte vibe. I could never have imagined what she came up with; I knew it was going to be good, but she knocked it out of the park. I was planning this from the other side of the world and trusted her completely, and I am so glad I did. I think about those flowers every single day. It was just unreal. We had a sleepover with glamping tents the night before the wedding, after the rehearsal dinner at the Warrandyte pub. That was so special, so fun, and such a once in a lifetime experience to have all those people in that special place.”

Finding a dress for the Melbourne summer wasn’t easy, but Carla found a beautiful dress at Rue de Seine. She tells, ”I didn’t picture myself buying an actual wedding dress, and I tried on a few different ones that were beautiful but felt too fancy for what I was looking for. I wanted something that wouldn’t be too hot and that I could dance in. I tried this one on in Melbourne and SF, and loved how flowy it was. I also loved that I could take the top layer off and it was a simple slip that I could dance in! That worked well when we went out dancing after the reception was over. Rakan was very excited about his outfit. The guys all wore seer sucker jackets; Rakan’s was white, and the groomsmen all wore different coloured jackets. Rakan actually wrote his vows in the theme of the rainbow song – each colour stood for something in the vows, and he had each groomsman step forward as he explained their respective colour. All of the groomsmen (except my brother) were from the US, and one of them had his bags lost, with his groomsmen outfit inside. With less than 24 hours, and thanks to some panic shopping in Melbourne city, he somehow came up with an awesome substitute.”

Overlooking the bush valley, Carla and Rakan said their vows on the deck of the bride’s family home. The bride remembers, ”We actually lived in this house from when I was about 5 to 10; we lived in a number of other places (still in the Warrandyte area), but mum and dad always said they missed this place. When it came back on the market a few years ago, they bought it back! One of my good friends, Jessica Cook Celebrant, married us. I used to work with her when I lived in Queensland in my early twenties, and she is just a magical soul full of rainbows and love. We wanted it to be relaxed, and funny, and not too long. One of our best friends Jordan did a dramatic reading of ‘I Can Show You The World’ from Aladdin, and it was both hilarious and so beautiful. Our family dog, Chief, brought the rings out and did an awesome job (he was very nervous so everyone had to be very quiet so he would come out, but he did it!). I walked down the aisle with dad to ‘Fading’ by Valis Alps. We walked out to ‘Pursuit’ by Gessaddelstein.”

Photographer Rachel May Photography was the perfect fit for Carla and Rakan’s wedding day. Carla tells, ”Rach is amazing. I usually hate photos, and my main thing is I didn’t want to spend half the day taking photos. She was the perfect person to have there – she made sure I ate when I had the chance, understood and accepted my apology when I had a tantrum because I was hungry, and captured exactly how magical and fun the day was. I cannot thank her enough for capturing the best day ever.”

Wanting to include as many of their friends and family as possible, the bride and groom had a large wedding party. They share, ”We had a big wedding party, including my best friends from Australia, Rakan’s sister, my best friend in SF, and my maid of honour who I went to university with in Melbourne and who now lives in British Colombia. Shannon is one of my best friends from high school, and his amazing girlfriend Sam made him the most incredible flower beard and outfit. They wore whatever they chose, I just wanted people to be comfortable and feed good.”

From family home to Brunswick Mess Hall, the celebrations continued in colourful style! Carla shares, ”We rented buses to take people to the reception at Brunswick Mess Hall, which we chose because it was relaxed, colourful, and kind of weird, and they were happy to do an all vegan menu. Luke from Brunswick Mess Hall was amaaaazing. So helpful, hilarious, and flexible when I changed my mind three hundred thousand times. We didn’t really do a first dance, but we walked into the reception to ‘Up In Here’ by DMX. We’d always joked that would be our first dance, and I didn’t really want to do the first dance moment, so that was our compromise.”

Remembering some of their favourite details from the day, Carla and Rakan share, ”Our party favour bags were a mix of our Aussie and SF lives. We included sachets of vegemite and individually wrapped Australian snacks, and stickers from Muttville senior dog rescue (where we adopted hospice dogs from in SF). It was all vegan, from the vegan middle eastern snacks at mum and dad’s, to the food at Brunswick Mess Hall, to the vegan cakes from Vegie Bar. One of our very best friends, Mike De Jesus, was our MC for the reception. He also officially married us at city hall in SF and was one of Rakan’s groomsmen. And seeing our favourite people from all over the world at my family home. I almost passed out when I was putting my dress on and saw some of my best friends from SF get out of the bus and look around the property.”

Including some particularly heartfelt moments, Carla shares, ”After the ceremony, I realised my mum had hung a little picture of Stich, our old man chihuahua, in the flowers. He passed away late last year, and it was so nice to have him there. My family nickname is Larly, and growing up dad would sing Larly to the tune of ‘Volare’. That song always makes me think of him. I am super close to my parents, and living so far away from them is tough – I miss them so much! I didn’t really want to do any dances, but I did want to dance with dad to this song, even if just quickly. We did an impromptu dance to ‘Volare’; we’re both terrible dancers and had not practiced anything, and it was just perfect. The photo of dad and I dancing might be my favourite, actually.”

Thank you to our gorgeous newlyweds for sharing your stunning wedding day with us, and congratulations! Thank you also to Rachel May Photography for your beautiful images, and Jackie Dixon for your incredible filmography.