Alicia and Ryan recently celebrated their one-year wedding anniversary, but their love story stretches back a good deal further–decades, in fact.
“Ryan and I actually went to school together, but didn’t become friends until a year later when we started working together and our friendship groups had merged,” says Alicia. “We hit it off instantly but it took almost a year of friendship before it developed into a relationship.”
From there things quickly became serious, and Alicia knew before long that she had found ‘the one’. However, as they were both still young and focused on their studies at uni, getting married wasn’t yet on the radar. Over the next six years, though, the two began to discuss marriage, and had already taken steps towards planning their lives together.
“I knew a proposal was imminent, but it was still a wonderfully romantic surprise when it did!” says Alicia. “He proposed with my late grandmother’s ring, which he borrowed from my mum; we then chose a ring together.”
Although Alicia and Ryan have been partners for years, Alicia found that she learned a good deal about herself as she prepared for their wedding. “A few months before our wedding, I was going through a period of soul-searching in terms of my career,” she says.
“For the record, quitting your job, starting a business and losing an income while planning a wedding is not something I recommend if you value your sanity! It was definitely a crazy time, but I learned a lot about what I wanted from life and that my husband is even more supportive and amazing than I could have imagined.”
Alicia notes that while it’s inevitable that some issues will arise between a couple when planning a wedding, being organised and maintaining open communication is key when it comes to minimising stress.
Both Alicia and Ryan have strong ideas regarding what constitutes a meaningful relationship, and aimed to ensure that their wedding reflected these values and priorities as well.
“Personalising our wedding was very important to us,” says Alicia. “At our ceremony, we had a choir sing some of our favourite songs and we wrote our own vows. We also had our rings engraved: ‘Then. Now. Forever.’”
Alicia, who is a graphic designer and stationer, designed the wedding programs to resemble books. The programs incorporated silhouettes of the bridal party and a glossary of terms relating to the wedding. The couple further exploited Alicia’s graphic design skills to create a giant cryptic crossword with Ryan and Alicia trivia to keep the guests entertained during the cocktail hour, and the tables were named after the qualities that they valued in a relationship.
Including their loved ones was also important to the couple. “At the reception, we displayed photos of our parents and grandparents at their weddings, and each bridal party pair was introduced with a different song. Rather than have a long bridal table on show, we had our bridal party and their partners seated at a round table in the centre of the room, surrounded by our loved ones.”
The reception venue, the State Library of South Australia, also held a good deal of meaning to the couple, who are both lovers of language and books.
“We weren’t going to get married in a church as we’re not religious, but we still wanted it indoors in a building that had a sense of history and grandeur. We instantly fell in love with the State Library as our wedding venue. It’s so stunning on its own that it didn’t need too much decoration and I love the contrast between the airy, sun-drenched ceremony compared to the moody ambience of the reception.”
Alicia points out that the building is also home to South Australia’s genealogy collection, making it the ideal place to join their families.
Looking back, only one element of the wedding held any real surprise for Alicia–the fact that she wasn’t at all beset by nerves.
“I’m not the world’s most outgoing person, so I expected to be really nervous before our wedding, but I was not at all. I was just so giddy with excitement and happiness,” she says. “Walking down the aisle I was completely overwhelmed by the love and support surrounding me. It was the first of many unforgettable moments that day.”
Having lived together for two and a half years before the wedding–”with joint finances, the works,” says Alicia–there was no tricky transition period into married life.
“We started how we intended to continue–I don’t even iron my own shirts, so there’s no way I’m doing someone else’s, thank you very much–so neither of us got any nasty surprises. We’re not perfect, though, and after eight years together sometimes we do need to remind ourselves not to take each other for granted. It’s also important to remember that you’re on the same team, so when you fight, do it to resolve a situation, not to win.”
Photography: Luke Simon Photography
Bridesmaids: (chose their own dresses)
Suits: The Suit Co.
Ceremony venue: The Institute Room at the State Library of South Australia
Reception venue: The Mortlock Chamber at the State Library of South Australia
Hair & makeup: La Bella Sposa
Ceremony choir: Adelaide University Choral Society
Day-of coordination: Mary & Gabrielle Events
Cake: Cake Stories (no longer operating)