Justina and Wes
Wes and I got engaged after six years of meeting each other through mutual friends. We both share a passion and enthusiasm for travel and have been lucky enough to visit many beautiful places around the world together during our relationship, with NYC being our favourite city in the world. However, we had never been there together until January 2014 which is when Wes proposed to me in Central Park.
He got down on one knee at a special place in Central Park called ‘Cherry Hill’. It was the perfect spot, with the beautiful frozen lake and Manhattan sky line in the background. There was no one else around at the time. He gave me a beautiful Harry Winston ‘Belle’ engagement ring that I had eyed off many years ago and couldn’t believe he remembered the exact one and bought it for me! It has a stunning geometric bezel that is hand-set with diamond micropavé, which frames a round brilliant cut centre stone.
I always knew who I would have as my bridesmaids long before I got engaged. I was always going to have my bestie who I met at Uni, my two dearest friends from school who I had known forever; and my cousin who is the closest person to a sister I have. I wanted to ask them all straight away as soon as Wes proposed, but he made me wait a couple of months which was so hard for me to contain. They were the best bridesmaids I could ever ask for. They are all gorgeous girls inside and out and I loved having them beside me every step of the way.
They were always there for me when I needed them, and there for me even when I didn’t – their love, support and kindness are things I will always remember about my wedding. The all wore my favourite colour on my wedding day; purple. And because we were having a black tie wedding, my only other request was that they wear something long but other than that I was happy for them to choose what they wanted to wear. We came across a New York based evening wear designer called Amsale and we loved her elegant tulle and chiffon gowns. It was perfect for our wedding and all four girls looked so perfectly gorgeous in their bridesmaid dresses.
Wes’ four groomsmen were his two brothers, my brother and my second cousin who is also Wes’ best friend from school. They wore a dark navy suit and white shirts from Oscar Hunt. Their accessories included black button studs and black braces and a black bow tie. We also had two adorable Flower Girls who wore white satin dresses and soft gold ballet flats, and their brother was our Page Boy who wore a matching mini suit to Wes and the cutest Julius Marlow dress shoes.
The girls and I got ready at the Grand Hyatt Melbourne in Collins Street. On the morning of the wedding, we all had breakfast together in the suite before the hair and make up artists arrived. It was a nice time for all of us to be together and get excited for the big day ahead. Our hair was done by Lauren MacKellar who I had met on a couple of occasions before. Lauren has the most beautiful way of colouring and creating hair styles that look effortless and relaxed but still elegant, which is exactly what I was looking for.
Our make up was done by Merton Muaremi who specialises in high-end make up in the fashion industry. I don’t wear make up at all so I didn’t want to look overdone and different to what people usually see me as. Merton understood my concerns and used a very natural palette that made me look fresh, camera and wedding ready, but still very natural at the same time.
My dress was created by the super talented Jacob Luppino and Anthony Pittorino from J’Aton Couture. I have always loved their work and am always in awe of everything they create. Before I met with them, I went to a few different bridal designers around Melbourne to get an idea of what styles I liked and what suited me, and what didn’t. When I had my initial consultation at J’Aton, I still didn’t really know what I wanted but after a brief discussion, Jacob sketched me up a design in front of my eyes and I was so impressed and happy to run with it.
From then on, I basically just left it all up to ‘The Boys’ to design my gown. I loved how it was always a work in progress so it was always a surprise, even to me, and it was so beautiful and special watching my gown evolve during each fitting. My gown was made out of organza and mesh with Valentino lace embroidery cut out and strategically applied all around the bodice and neckline, with cameo appearances on the skirt. I had a long train with ‘WJ’ embroidered at the end of it which could be seen when the dress was both down and bustled up. J’Aton Couture truly are the masters of their craft!
I was also given extra lace and organza that was used in my dress so my Grandma could make four pocket squares for the four most important men in my life, to wear on our wedding day. Wes, my father, my grandfather and my father-in-law all wore a small piece of my dress in their pockets and have a sentimental gift to keep.
Since our engagement began in NYC, we decided to run with this as a theme for our engagement party and our wedding. We wanted the venue for both the ceremony and reception to remind us and our guests of this spectacular city. Our ceremony was held at The Dome at 333 Collins Street, Melbourne. Not only is this the building that Wes works in, but the architecture and ambiance also reminded me of the New York Public Library. Ever since watching the ‘Sex And The City’ movie I have always said to Wes that my dream would be to get married in the NYPL like Carrie! It also has the beautiful detailed and ornate architecture of a church without it being a church, and the ceiling is one of the most beautiful and impressive sights I’ve ever seen.
Our reception was held at Luminare in South Melbourne. Wes and I had both been to a couple of weddings there before and fell in love with the venue, service, food, location, view and feel of it straight away. It also felt very New York with the huge balcony overlooking the city lights and the full height glass windows that floods the room with beautiful natural light.
Also because our wedding was on Easter Sunday, we wanted to acknowledge the day so we asked the staff to wear bunny ears and greet our guests with a basket of chocolate Easter eggs when they arrived. We thought it was a fun detail to include for the kids, and adults too!
The amazing Kate Hill from Kate Hill Flowers did our flowers. Wes and I loved her from the very first moment we stepped into her beautiful shop in High Street, Prahran. Kate is so creative and passionate about flowers that we basically just gave her a very short brief and she did the rest. We told her we wanted a mainly all white colour scheme and to draw inspiration from Jeff Leatham. I have always loved Jeff Leatham’s floral work – his placement of flowers always looks so effortless but also impressive and I love how he makes an asymmetrical installment look symmetrical and so interesting. The truckloads of floral that she provided for our special day was incredible!!!
The bridal bouquets and corsages were perfect. Kate placed giant vases of varying heights at the front of our ceremony filled with all white Hydrangeas, David Austin Roses, Mokara Orchids, Phalaenopsis Orchids and Tulips and used those flowers also for the reception where she filled 12 metres of acrylic boxes with whole bunches of those flowers – this was one of my favourite details of the reception.
Kate made us a custom-made vertical hanging installation that hung over the dance floor at Luminare full of floral, foliage and LED tealights and decorated our giant W &J wire letters, which we hired from Place Settings, with beautiful florals. For all our guests’ tables, Kate designed the most magnificent bunches of flowers as the table centerpieces with vases of varying heights similar to the ceremony. Rose petals and candles were scattered around the vases. One of the other things we loved about Kate was she made sure there was more than enough flowers to go around so at the end of the night each guest could take home a couple of bunches of flowers each. This was a huge hit with our guests and we received messages for weeks saying how nice it was to take home a reminder of the wedding and how long the flowers lasted – some up to six weeks after our wedding!
One of our favourite parts of the wedding process was choosing our cake! This meant lots of time spent cake tasting which was so fun and delicious. We asked Helen Chapman from Kiss My Cakes to create our wedding cake. We loved how she is a scratch baker and not only cares about what the cake looks like from the outside, but also how it tastes on the inside and this was so evident when we sampled her cakes. We spent quite a bit of time designing the cake as we wanted it to be not only look nice but to tie in beautifully with the other elements of our wedding.
The end design was a four-tiered cake with each tier in a different flavour; salted caramel, coconut, raspberry and hazelnut chocolate mud. The outside was painted in a subtle white pearly luster and adorned with handmade sugar David Austin roses to match my bouquet. Helen also used icing to replicate the embroidered lace and mesh pattern from my dress that featured on different tiers of the cake. Another sentimental touch was the inclusion of Wes’ grandma’s fruit cake – which we both love! Wes’ grandma kindly made us one of her famous fruitcakes and Helen decorated it respectfully and beautifully so both cakes matched. Wes and I displayed them both on the cake table at our reception. Helen’s cake was served to the guests, whilst we have kept Wes’ grandma’s cake for the special milestones in our married life.
I adore scented candles as much as I adore flowers and we wanted to have something handmade to give to our guests. So we decided the perfect favour which was both meaningful and appropriate for our wedding were scented candles. Making them was also an activity I could do with my bridesmaids which was so much fun! We all got together one Saturday morning at my house and we had a candle making session over a champagne breakfast. I bought all the supplies from Natural Candle Supply and we chose ‘Coconut Lime’ as the scent for all the candles. We tied swing tags on top of all the lids of the candles which also acted as name tags for our guests. We thought this was a nice and unique alternative to name cards.
Our wedding invitations were also very reflective of NYC and our engagement story. We asked The Hungry Workshop to design our wedding invitations. We had a good idea of the type of design we wanted – a pop up invitation that featured hand drawn illustrations to tell the story. We left it up to the creative geniuses at The Hungry Workshop to do the rest – and we loved what they came up with! They worked together with the very talented fashion illustrator, Mekel who drew all the artwork for the invitations.
The end result was a pop up invitation with four different layers, with each layer featuring illustrations on one side and information regarding the wedding on the other side. The first layer in the foreground was an illustration of Wes and I in Central Park just after Wes proposed, with the lake in the background. The second layer is a row of shops on Fifth Avenue including Chanel, Hermes, Bergdorf Goodman and Harry Winston which all have significant meaning to us. And the third layer is of the Manhattan skyline including the Metropolitan Life North building where the Eleven Madison Park restaurant is; this was where Wes took me for dinner the night of our engagement.
We loved the designed for the invitation so much that we asked The Hungry Workshop to design the rest of our stationery for us, which consisted of the ceremony booklet, swing tags with guests names for the candle favours, a seating chart and menus for the reception.
Our photographer was Ben Swinnerton. We had seen a lot of his wedding photos before we were even considering a wedding photographer as he had photographed some of our friends weddings that we had attended. We loved how discreet he is! As guests at previous weddings, we never noticed him at all yet he captured such amazing moments throughout the day and night. We also love Ben’s documentary style shooting and his use of landscapes and scenery. His editing style is also beautiful – Ben retouches photos but does not take away the emotion or reality of the picture. He is able to capture the most incredible emotions and facial expressions which is so special to look back on long after the day is over.
I came across our videographer, C2 Video, from a friend. She had been to a wedding which they captured and she showed me the video that they produced. I watched it over and over again and was so emotional from watching it even though I didn’t even know the couple. From there, Wes and I spent hours on the C2 website watching wedding videos they had created and loved them all so we knew we wanted them to capture our special day. Marcus Theodore did an amazing job filming our day, and like Ben, he too was so discreet yet was able to capture the most beautiful moments. Marcus is also very hands on and is always willing to help out whenever he can; he even helped the bridesmaids with my dress when they were having trouble putting it on me! It was also great that Ben and Marcus had worked with each other many times before so they knew each other and complimented each others style. They are the perfect duo for photography and videography.
We also had a Smile-O-Matic photo booth at our reception which we mainly at first got as entertainment for the few kids that were at our wedding, but we later found out it was also a huge hit with the older guests too. Almost everyone at our wedding had a turn in it and the photos are hilarious! It is so funny to have those informal photos of our guests having fun with the props. The photo booth was placed near our guest book so we had people sticking the photos into the book and writing messages to us which was both really nice and entertaining to read back on. We were also able to get all the photos compiled into a photo book which makes for a fantastic book for the coffee table! Such wonderful memories of a perfect day!
Ms Chinoiserie Says: Congratulations Justina and Wes; such a beautiful wedding; very chic and very ‘New York’! The flowers are just amazing!!!
About Justina: Hi, I’m Justina and I’m happily married to my beautiful husband! I love traveling, trying new things, flowers, fashion and champagne! French wine, friends and family are at the top of the list too!