Stephanie & Daniil
Daniil and I met in at the bar in Estonia. No, not that kind of bar! The ballet barre! I had just signed my first ever professional ballet contract and had to attend my first company class, I stood next to him in the studio that day and continued to take the same place at work everyday. He was from Russia and I from Australia. We crossed paths often as we also lived in the same apartment block. After a couple of dinner parties with mixed friends, we both found we had a common interest in travel, food and wine. Daniil invited me over for lunch and dinner during our theatre work breaks, cooking delicious meals. Now…they do say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, but in this case it was the way to mine! He proposed to me in Lithuania on Christmas Day in 2013 and have we had a whirlwind of an adventure together since then!
We were engaged for approximately 2 and a half years before we discussed potential wedding dates. Struggling with the idea of money, the fact that our families lived on different sides of the world and figuring out how we could make it work while having a job in Europe, was definitely a hurdle we had to overcome. We eventually decided together that there’s never a ‘right time’, if we want to get married let’s just do this, so we agreed we would lock in a date and be wedded in Australia on the 27th January 2017.
This gave us a total of 8 months to prepare. That’s right, 8 months! We organised everything ourselves from overseas minus a wedding planner. We wanted our wedding style to be totally us! From our accessories to our dinner menu, we wanted to celebrate our joys, our love and every quirk of our personalities that made us, us!
As you can see Daniil really delved into his “Dapper” style teaming a navy blue checked custom fit Barbolini Milano suit with a deep red velvet bow tie, a Daniel Wellington timepiece featuring blue hands, a pair of decadent, yet refined Dapper England deep navy blue velvet English slippers with his initial “D” embodied on the toe and a custom fit white shirt also embroidered with his initials “D.K”. I gifted him the pearl and gold kangaroo cufflinks as a welcome to one day calling Australia home.
As professional ballet dancers we are performing fantasy stories and acting out roles for our audiences, that’s the reality of what we do everyday for a living. From the moment we became engaged, both knowing we were lovers of good food and wine, we knew we had to have our wedding at a picturesque winery with our nearest and dearest by our sides. With our date locked in, it was time to find a venue. We had come across a venue online which seemed to be the exact fit for what we were looking for. It had everything in one place, the ceremony, reception and accommodation options were all available on site, the native wildlife roamed around the grounds which was great for our overseas visitors to witness, and their food and wine choices seemed irresistible. We chose Wandin Valley Estate located in “Lovedale” area of the Hunter Valley (yeah, I know it also got extra points for the name, I mean who wouldn’t want to get married in “Lovedale”?).
With our invitations out, our venue locked in and our friends and family making arrangements to make it to our special day, it was time to get stuck into the planning. Long story short there were a lot of emails to and fro, Skype meetings while juggling timezones in different countries and battling not having easy access to wifi when travelling (during an important call in the middle of Russia our USB internet ran out!). We sent a few trusted friends and relatives to check out venues, seek out our options for vendors and basically just be our eyes and ears over there while we were absent!
I had 6 bridesmaids and it was suggested it may be “too much of a handful” but I really wouldn’t have had it any other way. To be able to have my best friends, each and every one of them their own unique character, standing by me, was priceless. We got together for hair and makeup, we toasted in our Bronte & Clyde robes, I helped my bridesmaids put on their ThePeachBox jewellery, shared laughs and reminisced over past stories.
We both share the same sacrifices of leaving loved ones behind to follow a career in the arts, having friends and family scattered all over the world and fond memories of past countries we’ve lived and worked in. I think that’s another reason why we support and understand each other so well. We wanted our wedding not only to be a celebration for us, but for our very special family and friends to come together and they too be celebrated. We don’t get the opportunity to see them that often due to travelling with our ballet and so we really cherish the time we get to spend in Australia.
Both Daniil and I worked a bit backward during our planning, we had our band picked out before the venue, we booked our venue before seeing it in person, I had my Jenny Yoo bridesmaids dresses ordered before I officially asked my bridesmaids and we both had all of our accessories picked out and sent to Australia before we had arrived and before we had even picked out a wedding dress or suit! Talk about risky business! It was just like Christmas opening our packages when we eventually made it to Australia to see everything in person!
The excitement and nerves started kicking in after being helped into my Bella Bell shoes, putting on my subtle, yet sophisticated Joya perfume and getting my Berta wedding gown from Brides by Francesca done up. I’m used to having a lot of people looking at me on stage when I’m dancing, but this much attention being a “normal” person is overwhelming!
We were down to 6 months left of planning and one of the things I was to and fro with was choosing my wedding dress. I had found a dress online that I liked, but I mean if you order anything online you can’t exactly try before you buy. I had emailed the company and they had told me it was close to the cut off time that I could order it, otherwise it wouldn’t be manufactured in time for my wedding day. I would be arriving in Australia with less than a month prior to the wedding, which would mean limited time for alterations if it wasn’t right! I let go of that idea, as I was feeling too pressured to order and started looking for my real dream dress. Friends and family thought I was crazy putting off choosing a dress, but I was confident I’d find the right dress for me in the right time.
I had been following a brand called “Berta” on Instagram for a very long while and decided to have a look online on where I might be able to find their gowns in Australia. I found out that they were a very exclusive brand and that the only place in NSW that had these gowns was bridal boutique Brides by Francesca. I sent them an email entailing my limited time I would have in Australia and if it would be possible at all in this time frame to wear my dream gown. I was so excited when they replied that under my circumstances they would be able to work out something. Choosing the dress, fittings, stylings and alterations were all in less than 30 days, I was honoured that they were able to fit me into their busy schedule and whenever I visited I was greeted with such warmth and kindness, I felt like part of the Brides by Francesca family.
So there we were, after all the emails, the meetings, the sleepless nights of planning, finalisations, we had pulled it all together! Daniil is waiting at the altar and I’m walking down the aisle with my Dad. Surrounded by family, friends and wine barrels. None of us had had a rehearsal, and in show business that’s a complete no no, but this wasn’t show business this was the real deal, this was real life and we were happy for it to go down that way. We were married by Tara Rennie who knew her stuff, we exuded our real emotions and brought out our humorous side and even though it was nerve-racking it was natural, it was us and it was just right!
Daniil’s mother was able to attend our wedding all the way from Russia, we were extremely proud of her as she has ever flown out of her own country and she doesn’t speak a word of English. Such a long and brave trip to make on her own! Daniil’s Italian best friend from England and very good friend who is like a sister from Lithuania were able to make it and be a part of the bridal party.
We had a short yet sweet ceremony with a few laughs and happy tears. Shortly after, my dad told Daniil that he hadn’t done up his 2nd button, Daniil expressed “it’s the fashion” I guess it must be a “Dapper” thing (haha)? Glad my groom knows his stuff, I had no idea! I caught up quickly with a few guests before rushing off to photos, one of who – my grandmother’s sister – who was absolutely over the moon to be there, and we were honoured she could make it. We shared a few special words and a hug, I know my grandmother “nanny” would have loved to be there, I’m sure she was looking over us on the day.
Daniil and I danced away through our photoshoot in and around Wandin Valley Estate. Our photographer from Siempre did an amazing job! We were so grateful to have our team there with us, my “Golden Girls”, Dan’s Navy Blue Team and we couldn’t have asked for a better flower girl dressed in her cute Tea Princess gown and Glitzerella shoes. She was gorgeous, polite and powered on from the beginning of the day through to the end of our reception while having a ball!
At this point we were all keen for something to eat and a comfy seat! The incredible Serenade Jazz Band introduced us with “I’m Walking on Sunshine” we did a little entrance spin on the dance floor and headed for our table in the Cricketers Pavilion, it was finally time for entree!
We’re so happy we went with a live band for our music, they really set the mood for our night and everyone was having a ball. On top of the band’s entertainment our photo booth from OMG Booths was a hit with the guests, I’d recommend it as a must have at any wedding! People had great laughs and took home instant memories with them.
Our theme was pretty simple, Wandin Valley Estate’s Cricket Pavilion has a natural beauty to it with a wonderful view so we decided to scatter tea lights inside crystal wear have simple white candle centrepieces and let the venue speak for itself. I think the phrase “less is more” works in this case, whites and golds were our focus with sprinkles of navy and our room was filled with love from our guests.
As the night was drawing to a close and we headed out to our sunset photos together, we realised that comments we’d heard from people during the planning phase like “it’ll go so fast” or “enjoy every moment, it’ll be over in a blink of an eye” were true. I hardly had time to finish a meal in between all the formalities! It really does fly by, so it is really important to just stop and take it all in!
Can you believe our cake was made by one of our guests? It looks like it was baked and decorated by a professional! “Jen Z” did a fantastic job incorporating our colour scheme, style and taste perfectly.
We got back for our cake cutting and first dance. I think people were expecting something professional or some sort of flash mob as all the guests had their phones and cameras out! But as Daniil suggested in his grooms speech “It’s my day off”; unfortunately it really meant we weren’t going to break out into any Swan Lake.
Our night was uniquely our night and we’re proud of what we pulled it off with only 8 months of planning from overseas. If we could go back in time and change anything we wouldn’t, it was a perfect night shared with our most favourite people. We’d love to do it all over again!
Ms Polka Dot says: What a stunning and happy day and all organsed from overseas! Thank you for sharing your day Stephanie and Daniil.
About Stephanie: I’m a professional ballet dancer who has just married another professional ballet dancer! We are both living and working in Europe – currently employed in the National Theatre Belgrade. My husband is from Russia and I am from Australia, so we’re always all over the place (travel wise I mean!) with friends and family everywhere! We were married in Australia, had a dream ballerina wedding which we both planned ourselves from overseas! We arrived in Australia less than a month before the wedding and crammed everything in from engagement shoots to wedding dress fittings!