Iza Dawkins & Ashini Gray
7th March 2020
HOW DID YOU MEET
We met through friends 9 years ago however we have circled around each other for years prior. As a teenager Iza stayed a few nights a week at family friend’s house on the same street from my family home. Our schools were close to each other and we knew a lot of the same people and always frequented the same events and parties. In 2012, Iza had just moved back from NYC and I was planning to move to Shanghai a few months later when we finally met. He encouraged me to still make the move as he realised the importance of living overseas so I still went as planned. Three weeks later, Iza came to Shanghai and we decided to give it a go. We spent a year in a long-distance relationship before I moved back to Australia and we moved in together.
YOUR ENGAGEMENT STORY
Iza asked me to marry him on his birthday in September 2019. He said he chose that day because it was the only day I wouldn’t suspect something was up. We had bought a house earlier in the year in our dream location that needed a lot of work. I had booked a lunch in a beautiful winery in Red Hill Victoria and on the way he asked to stop by our house to check out something in the garden. Although we were short on time, I agreed to make a quick stop as it was his birthday. In the garden of our house he started to talk about all the trips we had taken together and the adventures we’d had. I was trying to hurry him up as I didn’t want us to miss our lunch booking. It was only when I stepped though some weeds and was stung on my ankle by a thistle, Iza got down to check it out and pulled out a ring. I was completely speechless as I was not expecting that to happen on that day! We had an amazing birthday/engagement lunch at the winery and then that evening Iza had organised all our friends to meet for a celebratory drink, even my brother who had flown down from Sydney.
WHAT MARRIAGE MEANS TO YOU
Marriage to me is a commitment between two people to love, support, and respect one another.
My best friend and my brother both live in Sydney so I spend a bit of time there. Last August (prior to our engagement) we had a week in Sydney to escape Melbourne winter. We decided to check out the Northern Beaches so we went for a drive through the Ku-Ring-Gai Chase National Park and ended up popping out at the beautiful Pittwater at Church Point. We decided to get some lunch at a waterfront restaurant called Pasadena and as we both walked through the venue and saw the beautiful view Iza looked at me and said, “we could get married here!”. We met the event coordinator that day and discussed availability for March 2020. We joke now that after 8 years together it was the venue that finally got Iza to ask me to marry him!
We were married on the waterfront grass in front of the venue and then used the area for a Spritz Cocktail Hour before moving inside for the Reception and dinner. We chose to have a reveal and photos prior to the ceremony so we didn’t have to miss out on the fun!
• Ceremony - THEME & STYLE
The theme of our black-tie wedding was Tropical Luxe because I felt it suited the setting and our personal style. We used a combination of tropical foliage, bamboo lanterns, glass with brass inlay, linen textile, tones of green and lots of candles to create this look. The ceremony had rows of bamboo and white directors chairs for the guests to sit on. We had three white wooden panelled bars for the spritz hour after the ceremony that served a range of cocktails, freshly shucked oysters and charcuterie.
PREPARATION – COUNTDOWN BEGINS
The majority of our guests travelled from Melbourne to come to our wedding so we had all rented houses close by to each other. The night before I had dinner with my closest girlfriends and on the day my bridesmaids came over early for hair, makeup and champagne. Iza rented an amazing penthouse in Palm Beach the night before the wedding. His Best Man stayed the night and on the morning of the wedding about 15 of his friends went for a kick of footy and a beer prior to getting ready.
GROOM + GROOMSMEN ATTIRE
One of our best friends owns Anthony Squires so the groomsmen had custom made to measure tuxedos . Iza wore a double-breasted black tux with a white shirt and the date embroidered on his collar. He wore patent black shoes from Aquila.
JEWELLERY & ACCESSORIES
I wore large gold and pearl Isabella May earrings. My bridesmaids wore matching gold and pearl studs also from Isabella May.
HAIR & MAKEUP
I wore my hair half up with a soft wave. I wanted to feel like myself and also show off my amazing earrings! My makeup was fairly natural with soft brown toned shadowing on my eyes, a few added lashes and bronzed glowy skin with a soft pink lip.
I never imagined being a bride growing up and liked the idea of something simple and modern. I tried on many dresses but never quite felt like myself until I found the Genevieve Gown from Prea James Bridal. It was a modern style gown with diagonal seams and a centre split. It had a short train and simple straps in a V-shape. It was lightweight and comfortable to wear – and dance in!
I chose to wear gold Gucci Marmont sandals with my dress. Our Spritz hour was on grass so I wanted something with a thicker heel. The gold worked back with my earrings and the best part is I will wear the shoes again in the future.
Two of my bridesmaids wore dresses from Friend of Audrey. It was a simple fitted style that had a one shoulder sleeve. My other bridesmaid was 8 months pregnant so she found a dress in a similar style but super stretchy and comfortable material.
FLOWER GIRLS/PAGEBOY OUTFITS
Our flower girl wore a cute white lace Zimmerman dress paired back with white converse and a flower crown made from baby breath. Our Pageboy wore navy shorts, a white shirt and matching white converse. They both had cones of white petals that they dropped down the aisle before the Bridesmaids entered.
Planning from Melbourne meant lots of research on the internet to find the perfect suppliers. I came across Muir Photography on Instagram and really like the style and feel of the photos. I liked how we didn’t even feel like Josh was there with us on the day yet he managed to capture many special moments between us. Whenever we relook at the photos on the dance floor it brings us a lot of joy as we can see how much fun we were all having together.
My engagement ring is a six-prong solitaire diamond with a thin diamond band. Iza worked with a jeweller to design the ring. My Grandma passed away two years ago and always loved Iza . She lived in India but every time we spoke she always asked when were getting married! We decided to use a white gold diamond band she had given me for my 30th birthday as my wedding ring as it held great sentimental value to both of us.
Walking down the aisle – Fools Rush In (Elvis Presley) Acoustic by our band
Recessional - Signed, Sealed, Delivered Acoustic by our band
First Dance – we didn’t do a first dance but our exit song was Young Hearts Run Free – Candi Staton but sung by our band
Our celebrant was Catherine Coulson. She grew up in Melbourne and knew Iza and many of our guests, but had relocated to the Northern Beaches and was now a celebrant! We felt she was perfect for us as we wanted a ceremony that was personalised and not contrived and it was special that she had know Iza since he was a teenager. Catherine was wonderful to work with and we had many people say to us that it was one of the most memorable ceremonies they’d been to.
THE FLOWERS & BOUQUETS
As we planned our wedding from Melbourne we relied a lot on Instagram and recommendations from websites and wedding blogs. I had found a styling company I liked the look of called Little Lane Events. When I spoke to Kirra the owner on the phone we immediately hit it off and she recommended we go with Wild Lotus Florist based in Newport. The style of our wedding was Tropical Luxe so I found an arrangement I liked on their Instagram story featuring a white and green tropical arrangement with orchids, tropical foliage and white flowers. We had two stunning floral pillars that framed our ceremony and then similar beautiful arrangements around the Spritz hour and reception.
WEDDING PLANNER/ WEDDING STYLIST
My family owns a homewares company called Madras Link and I am head of the Creative Team so interiors are my thing! I knew what I wanted but needed a stylist to share my vision and not be freaked out by my many storyboards. I found Little Lane on Instagram and when I met the owner Kirra and showed her my boards I was so happy she loved them too. I had already designed our invitations so we used this as a guide for colour and style. Having a family homewares business meant I had access to amazing products that we could use for styling. Kirra and the Little Lane girls took my vision and ran with it creating the most incredible setting that was beyond anything I could have wished for and absolutely blew our guests away.
RECEPTION DÉCOR & DETAILS- THEME & STYLE
The theme of the reception flowed from the ceremony and spritz hour. Pasadena has a great large indoor space with floor to ceiling glass walls that open up and exposes the incredible waterfront view. We had 6 long tables for a shared feasting style three course meal. Iza and I are really big on ambience and lighting which were critical points for us when deciding on the styling of the reception. Pasadena has large exposed beams on the ceiling which featured large hanging installations of a mix of real and artificial tropical foliage. We used some dramatic bamboo lanterns that Little Lane suspended and lit from the beams. We had some great background lighting on the bar but the rest of the light was predominately from candles which created an incredible vibe. We had some custom linen tablecloths made that we paired back with linen napkins with embroidered green edges that matched our menus. We layered our plates on handwoven natural seagrass placemats and finished each setting with stunning gold cutlery. The tables had real tropical leaves that created a table runner for the shared dishes to sit on as well as a mix of glass and brass votives with plenty of candles. Each guest had a menu featuring the same motif as the invitation with their name and a personalised message.
Our wedding invitations and menus were designed by myself and printed by a local Melbourne printer. We used a linen stock and printed a tropical leaf sourced from old Biodiversity records that we used on our invite, RSVP and menus
Food is life in our family so we were really particular on what we served. Pasadena provided us with the charcuterie and shucked oysters and the ceremony but we used The Caterer Sydney for our canapes, shared feasting style dinner and roaming dessert. The food was sophisticated and delicious and matched our black-tie event. Our friends are foodies and we are always hosting dinner parties at home so we knew they expected a lot! Our caterer was next level- some items from our menu included canapes of summer fig with duck prosciutto, chargrilled king prawns, burrata, slow cooked lamb shoulder, Cone Bay Barramundi with salsa verde, duck fat potatoes, some great salads and finished with mango parfait and mini chocolate meringues for dessert. We served a Limoncello Spritz and Aperol Spritz for our cocktail hour alongside French Champagne and assorted beer and wine which continued into dinner. After dinner we had an open bar with a range spirits and roaming Espresso Martinis once the dance floor got going.
YOUR MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT
Our entrance into our reception was pretty fun. Our MC Richie, got everyone to swirl their napkins in the air while the band sung April in Cuba by Dragon. Everyone really got into it and it set the tone for the rest of the evening!
We weren’t really into the normal wedding traditions like a cake & first dance and instead opted for roaming desserts and espresso martinis that were passed around the dance floor.
We had a wishing well as we were renovating our home and wanted to furnish it with meaningful pieces of artwork and furniture from our guests. We also had a small registry with The Wedding List Co. in Melbourne for those guests that preferred to buy a present rather than give us money.
We had our heart set on a band that was located in Melbourne and convinced them to make the trip to Sydney to play for us! They drove from Melbourne the night before and played throughout our ceremony, spritz hour and reception. We had an acoustic duo for the ceremony and Spritz Hour and then a 9 piece live band for the reception which was incredible. Everyone was on the dance floor for hours! We opted for a mix of old classics and jazz for our Spritz Hour and left it to the band to get the dance floor going.
OTHER MEMORABLE MOMENTS
Seeing each other alone for the first time during our reveal was special. We had time to talk in private before we joined the rest of our bridal party for photos. If you aren’t super traditional, I would definitely recommend having photos prior to the ceremony so you don’t miss all the fun things you’ve spent so long planning.
HONEYMOON TIME BABY!!!
A week after our wedding Covid lockdowns hit and life was never the same again. We were supposed to go on our honeymoon to Europe last week. Our plan was to travel through Montenegro, Croatia, Hungary and Austria… maybe next year.
IF YOU COULD GIVE OTHER BRIDES ONE PIECE OF ADVICE…
Stay true to your own personal style! Enjoy the day as it really flies by.
PHOTOGRAPHY: Muir Weddings @muirweddings http://www.muirweddings.com/
BRIDE'S DRESS: Prea James Bridal @preajames_bridal https://preajames.com.au/
BRIDE’S SHOES: Gucci @gucci https://www.gucci.com/
BRIDESMAIDS DRESSES: Friend of Audrey @friendofaudrey https://www.friendofaudrey.com.au/
BRIDESMAIDS SHOES Billini @billinishoes https://www.billini.com/
FLOWERGIRLS/PAGEBOYS @zimmermann https://www.zimmermannwear.com/
GROOMS FORMAL WEAR @anthonysquires https://anthonysquires.com.au/
GROOMSMEN WEAR @anthonysquires https://anthonysquires.com.au/
JEWELLERY & ACCESSORIES: Isabella May earrings for bridesmaids & bride @isabellamay_au https://isabellamay.com.au/
HAIR: Lisa Fulginiti @lisa.fulginiti @thefuturemrs https://www.thefuturemrs.com.au/
MAKEUP: Lei Tai @leitai
STATIONERY/INVITATIONS/SIGNAGE : Invitations / menus by the Bride
Welcome sign/drinks signage My Creative Space @mycreativespaceau
FLORIST: Wild Lotus @wildlotusflorist https://wildlotusflorist.com.au/
WEDDING VENUE: (CEREMONY + RECEPTION) Pasadena @pasadenasydney https://pasadenasydney.com/
WEDDING STYLIST: Little Lane Events @littlelaneevents https://www.littlelaneevents.com.au/
CELEBRANT: Catherine Coulson @catherinecoulsoncelebrant
ENTERTAINMENT: Like This Band @likethisband https://www.likethiscorporate.com/
CATERING: The Caterer Sydney @thecatererersydney https://thecaterersydney.com.au/
HONEYMOON DESTINATION: Europe
GIFT REGISTRY: The Wedding List co @theweddinglistco https://www.weddinglistco.com.au/
OTHER: HOMEWARES & DÉCOR ITEMS & TABLE LINEN: Madras Link @madraslink www.madraslinkonline.com.au