A lot of love stories have serendipitous beginnings, but when Wellington expat (and my sister) Robyn Daly met Albert Wolski six years ago, the timing was terrible. The two of them had spent the course of a week bumping into each other at various gallery openings around Melbourne noticing each other.
“We were drawn together and it immediately felt right standing super close and talking,” remembers Robyn, a photographer who had moved to Melbourne four years prior.
At the time, she was mentally preparing to pack up her life again and move to Paris in less than a month. Albert, a Sydney-born musician based in Melbourne (of the band EXEK), invited himself to Robyn’s going away party two weeks later. “That night at Monty’s Bar, Albert very uncharacteristically spilled his heart and professed he needed to see me again. We went on our first and only date the following night, hours before I went to the airport. That’s when we knew it was gonna be love.”
Boarding the plane for Paris was a Sliding Doors moment, “it felt heartbreaking and thrilling to fly out in that state, barely knowing each other. We talked every single day via Facebook messenger and after three months Albert joined me in Paris where I had been setting up my life.
"We travelled around Europe together for six weeks,” says Robyn. “Kind of a crash landing way to get to know someone, but it was so fun and felt pretty unbelievable. Eventually, (after some convincing), I moved back to Melbourne to be with him and we have lived in the city ever since.”
The couple were together for about two years before a romantic engagement at Shanghai Dumpling house in Chinatown. “Albert asked me to marry him in the loud bustling restaurant, I think we were both laughing in disbelief, but excited and very happy. We didn’t have rings but we agreed over some pan-fried porks.”
“At the end of the day I guess we’re both big-time romantics,” Robyn says when explaining why they decided to get engaged. “Getting married felt like the biggest gesture at the time for expressing our love. We have great intentions towards one another and we didn’t over intellectualise it but rather it felt right.”
The pair set about planning their late-summer wedding for March 2019, which ended up being one of the hottest days of the year in Melbourne. “The wedding was never going to be super fancy or formal, so it was really exciting to plan. Not to say it was all easy, you have to think about logistics and small details which as a spontaneous minded person was a challenge,” says Robyn. “I’m probably misremembering how stressful the planning actually was.”
Choosing the venue was the biggest - and most expensive - decision, but after finding a private 1930s Art Deco estate in Emerald, a small town in the Dandenong Ranges, surrounded with lush gardens on a lily lake - everything fell into place.
“We actually found the house on Airbnb which turned out to be a great resource (provided you get your host on board!) Our favourite feature was the yellow and white tiled terrace which turned out to be the perfect dancefloor. We loved the elevated house-party vibe it gave. The venue set the tone for the style of our wedding which was understated, glamorous and free-spirited.”
Spontaneity was also a running theme of the day. “My dress was designed and made by my best friend Kacy Heywood of Melbourne label KAHE (also a NZ expat). Kacy is a mad and talented woman who whipped up the dress the night before the wedding at about 10pm. It was slightly stressful for both of us!
“I didn’t have a backup option which caused some nervous laughter but I would have worn whatever she made me! It’s definitely the shortest dress I’ve ever worn and the most special,” she says.
The bride wore her ultra-mini dress with a 60s style heeled loafer in white patent leather, from Suzanne Rae New York. Kacy also whipped up a dramatic white veil and silk garter belt.
“Albert wore a dove grey suit and baby blue shirt - he was bleach blonde in those days haha. My hair and makeup was done by my beautiful sister, she made me look glossy and presentable.
Australian jeweller Seb Brown made the couple’s custom signet rings in white gold with reclaimed family diamonds, set in his signature playful style. “Albert’s is rectangular and mine is more curved. We love them so much.”
In terms of wedding traditions, Robyn and Albert “didn’t really know the ‘rules’ but we wanted it to be fun and drama free. We don’t like the whole centre of attention thing - we certainly didn’t want a ceremony with an altar or aisle so that formality was avoided. Organising a big classy party for our friends and family seemed like the perfect plan.”
With the party venue sorted, the couple arrived at Melbourne’s Town Hall registry for a low-key ceremony in the morning, and signed the papers in a tiny old room with close friends and family. Afterwards, everyone popped champagne on the steps before piling in a taxi van and driving to the venue an hour out of the city, to put the final touches on the venue and relax before the guests arrived.
Robyn bravely did the flowers herself, buying from a local farm. “Simple white lisianthus for my bouquet, and tall stems of white lilies surrounded the outdoor terrace - which looked great but didn’t open in time. At least our house was pretty post-wedding!”
“My lovely mum and sister organised a grazing table and cheeseboards full of fun things. We had a smoked beef brisket thanks to our friend Simon. (Don’t think Albert and I ate anything though!) For drinks we had Champagne, wine, beer, and negroni cocktails on tap. We had three cakes from Beatrix Bakes in North Melbourne, one pistachio lemon, a coconut shag, and a classic chocolate layer cake.”
After a quick outfit update - Robyn changed into heeled red Mary Janes, and red lipstick - car loads of chicly-dressed guests started to emerge down the forest driveway, many bringing a bottle of something special for the bar.
“We left the frills off for our wedding, we kept it simple and classy. The reception was surrounded by beautiful gardens and our incredible friends so we let it speak for itself,” Robyn says.
Albert was all over the music set-up to keep everyone dancing well into the night. “We made a few playlists together leading up to the wedding. It was really fun to compile a bunch of songs that are special to us and are just solid bangers. Some highlights were by the Gun Club, Happy Mondays, Stone Roses, Roxy Music, Bowie, Madonna, Psychic TV, 90s club tracks etc etc… Gotta revisit those playlists!!”
Despite being a photographer herself, Robyn says her wedding photography was an afterthought. “We liked the idea of having candid and informal snaps from different points of view throughout the evening. We had a bowl of film and many talented friends there to have fun shooting, which was great. Ended up with some pretty loose photos that still make us laugh.
“The best memories were the little moments speaking with friends and family on the day, seeing everyone’s faces glowing with love and support for us and dancing the night away. We chose not to do speeches because again they felt too formal and intimate for us, but we thanked everyone in our own ways.”
The following few days were spent with a rotating door of friends hanging out at the couple’s flat in Collingwood in a Melbourne heatwave, eating and drinking leftovers, and sharing stories and laughs with the friends and family who travelled far to be there.
“Everyone was so generous with their time and connections to make it as dreamy as it was,” Robyn says in hindsight. “We were very fortunate that our families helped with the costs of the wedding, and our friends contributed in many ways.
“It’s hard to say exactly how much we spent in total, but it was in the 10K ballpark. Our venue hire cost the most so without that it would have been much less. I don’t have any regrets except now that I work as a florist, I would probably do the flowers differently haha.”
With that, some words of advice for other spontaneous-spirited brides: “If you can help it, don’t go back to work for at least a week after! Enjoy the warmth for as long as possible."