On April 17, 2013, news broke that the New Zealand parliament had voted to legalise gay marriage (more about that here) and the world watched as the entire congregation broke, emotionally, into Maori song to mark the historical moment.
It’s a moment which many of us in Australia are eagerly awaiting, but I shan’t get into politics right now. Because our gorgeous couple, bride and bride, Irene Angelopoulos and Vanessa Conte, certainly didn’t let the current state of affairs get in the way of their joyful nuptials and cocktail wedding at Meadowbank Receptions last October.
The Melbourne girls met through a love of sport – Vanessa played it and Irene was the star spectator. 24-year-old Irene says, “Vanessa seemed to be part of every sporting club going and when I would go to watch different friends play [soccer, basketball and indoor soccer] she would be there.”
She jokes, “I’ve been the cheerleader for over six years now. And the scorer. And the ‘soccer mum’.”
Irene says that after a few years dating, a wedding was the natural next-step to their relationship – the pair had already started building a house together – but they’d said, “When it’s legal, we’ll do it.” So for Irene, with no clue as to when the Australian government might change its mind, 27-year-old Vanessa’s proposal came as a complete shock.
She says, “Vanessa had laid out red rose petals in the shape of a heart on my bed and put the ring box in the middle… I freaked out when I saw what was going on and made her open the box just in case it wasn’t a ring! As we both started crying, no words were exchanged but we both knew what the answer was.”
Irene says their ceremony in front of 140 family and friends was essentially the same as any other (just without signing the papers), adding they wanted to “show everyone this is our decision, this is who we want to spend our life with and if it ever becomes legal in our lifetime we’ll go down to city hall and sign the papers.”
“We’ve done the fancy party, now all we want is the same rights as everyone else. We are over the debate. We just want the same rights.”
Photos courtesy of Whitepoint Photography.
The couple chose Melbourne couturier, and friend, Amaline Vitale, to create their respective (and totally unconventional) wedding gowns. “Everyone thought Ness would wear a suit,” says Irene. “Then she turned around one day and said she wanted to wear a dress. We were all shocked!”
The girls’ three bridesmaids included Vanessa’s two sisters (of which one is her twin) and Irene’s sister. Each girl wore a different dress to their own taste, the only rule being that it was not the same colour as the brides’.
“I knew I was always going to wear black,” says Irene. “It wasn’t a conventional wedding, so I was never going to wear white, and besides, I always wear black!”
The girls played a part in designing each of their gowns, taking ideas they’d scoured from the internet to Amaline to expertly piece together. Vanessa’s striking blue gown is a pleated silk satin design with shoe-string straps and Irene’s black silk, tulle and French lace gown features an amazing sheer high-neckline.
The couple wrote their own vows, however, celebrant, Lea Waszkinel (who is also Vanessa’s twin’s mother-in-law), did most of the talking as “Ness is not a public speaker,” explains Irene. “Lea added a great personal touch of knowing our history; she was also an invited guest!”
Irene explains the gumboots. “Ness doesn’t like heels and I actually had an injured foot so to make sure we made it down the aisle without falling flat on our faces, I came up with the idea of wearing gumboots and changing on the stairs. My sister suggested the striped socks to add some more fun into it.”
The black, blue and white theme was born from the colour of the girls’ wedding dresses and Irene created a beautifully-themed lolly buffet for the bomboniere. Vanessa’s father who is an Italian pastry chef added cupcakes to his repertoire just for the girls’ wedding.
Whitepoint Photography were the couple’s choice when it came to capturing their fabulous cocktail wedding. “They made us feel so comfortable,” says Irene. “Our meetings turned into a group of friends catching up for dinners and occasionally photo shoots.”
Bomboniere: DIY / Brides Accessories: Engagement rings / Brides Gown: Amaline Vitale (for both) / Brides Shoes: Mischka Badgley and Zu / Bridesmaid Shoes: Wittner and Green with Envy / Bridesmaids Dresses: Green with Envy and Cue / Celebrant: Lea Waszkinel / Ceremony Music: Friend's jazz band / Entertainment: Friend's jazz band, then own CDs / Gift Registry: Wishing well / Hair: Maria Baronessa / Honeymoon: USA and Europe / Invitations: Irene Angelopoulos (bride) / Makeup: Christina Bello / Photobooth: Whitepoint Photography / Rings: Ray Lingham / Transport: Bride's uncle / Venue: Meadowbank Receptions / Venue Decor: DIY