The Icon Bar in Cleveland was the place, Matt approached with a big smile and a whole lot of charm to introduce himself to Dani. His opener was what sealed the deal immediately, “Hi, my name is Matt, I’m on the dole and I drive a VL,” accompanied by a hand out to shake. Now for those of you that know Dani, you’ll know it definitely wasn’t the VL that made her think this man could be her future; it was his pure honesty and that smile. It was a short conversation that led to Dani giving him her number before going their separate ways; him enjoying a night out with the boys, and her a quiet drink with a friend. Just minutes after sitting down Dani received a text that simply said “Hi, it’s Matt, how are you?”. When she responded with “Hi Matt, I’m good and you?” he immediately said, “you replied”, to which she told him “of course”, and that moment of uncertainty is what had her dreaming big.
It wasn’t to be that Dani and Matt would start dating straight away. Matt didn’t want to be tied down being the tender age of twenty-one. It was chance meetings and the crossing of paths at pubs every now and again, plus the occasional chats on Facebook messenger, that made Dani realise. She knew he frequented the Sands every Friday night, so what did she do? She convinced her friends to go there too. From there grew a friendship where the chats became more frequent. Their laughs became louder – but Matt kept telling Dani that he wouldn’t date her, and she didn’t know why.
Then he sold his VL to buy what he believed was an upgrade worthy of Dani’s attention. It was a supercharged VY Commodore. He also got himself a job selling Isuzu trucks.
It took some time, but Dani eventually learned why Matt kept saying no… and to this day she’s not sure what he was thinking selling his VL to have a car he thought would be good enough to take her on a date. Especially considering they drove separately to their first date!
Pretty quickly they realised that their combined love of cars, albeit his for Holdens, and her Fords, would create a foundation for their journey. After six months of them becoming good friends, and approximately twelve months since they first met, Dani bravely asked Matt out – and he said yes!
Within two weeks of them officially dating, Matt met Dennis (Dani’s Dad) as he was driving them to Dani’s best friend’s 21st. They shook hands and in only a few sentences Matt had quickly and proudly announced he drove a Commodore, to which Dennis’ hilarious response was “don’t worry, you’ll mature”.
Things moved quite quickly from there, and within six months Matt brought home his first classic car, his HQ Premier, which Dennis helped him find. A few months later Dani and Matt moved in together. Their goals were always aligned – the dream of owning acreage and their combined love for classic cars. After two years together, almost to the day, Matt 24, and Dani 23, purchased their first home – their stepping stone. The next six years they spent working hard, renovating, buying, and selling cars, while taking the odd holiday when they could. During this time their family had grown by one; with gorgeous girl, Galaxie – their precious spotty dog. They quickly came to realise that if they didn’t make a move soon their dream may never come true.
They drove past a place they knew they’d love but thought it was out of their reach. A few months later they made an offer, and it was accepted the same day, while their house was still in pieces. A quick rush of renovations included anyone that was willing to help! There were a lot of late nights before their house was finally finished and perfect; it was listed and sold within the week. At 31 and 29 their dream became a reality as they collected the keys to their new home, only to start more renovations. Not long after settling into their new home, their family grew again by one – baby boy Comet came barreling home.
Over the years many had asked when they would get married – but for them, they were just content building their life together, having many dreams still to fulfil. Tying the knot was not a topic they spoke of, nor one that felt important at the time.
Driving home early Jan 2021, after picking up some craft beer, a general conversation lead down the marriage path. It ended in Dani saying “we should really think about getting married”, to which Matt agreed. After continuing the conversation, Matt called a jeweller as soon as they arrived home and booked an appointment for the next day to get the ring designed. Realising money, however, was an issue for this spur-of-the-moment decision, on arriving home from the appointment, he decided it was time to dust off the VK Wagon and list it for sale. The VK was being sold to bring home yet another blue oval. Within a day the car was sold for the amount needed to pay for the ring, and six weeks later Matt had it in his hand. Of course, he asked her dad and brother and their instant answer was yes! (No grudges held that he hadn’t quite matured yet – but faith the day would come).
Months went by with no mention of that day back in January when plans were put in place. It wasn’t until their holiday to Fraser Island in September 2021, that the ring would see the light of day. Matt made tea, coffee, and bacon and egg burgers, wrapping them in foil and when Dani woke, he told her to get dressed quickly if she wanted to get the sunrise photos she’d been asking for all week. Rushing to the beach it soon became clear that the sun would stay behind the clouds that day. She packed up the camera and went to turn off the video when Matt jumped behind her calling out her name. Turning, she found Matt down on one knee in the sand asking “Dani, will you marry me?” She responded straight away “really?” and he was quick to tell her “I’m not going to wait for another sunrise darlin’, you’ve waited long enough”. An emotional moment was shared with the waves crashing down, but neither can remember – so, did she say yes?
Since that first meeting, there have been many cars bought and sold, jobs taken, and many ups and downs, but one thing has remained the same to Dani, Matt’s big smile and that charm. Moments in time over the past twelve years have led them on this journey; one with so much joy, love, and laughter that can never be undone. They won’t stop buying or building cars; they won’t stop dreaming big; they won’t stop supporting one another, and their journey will be endless.
It was then the journey began to plan a wedding. Saying they were planning “the wedding of Dani and Matt’s dreams” would not sit right in this scenario, as the dreams they shared were for everything except this day, that they both never honestly planned for, or dreamt of. They knew the time was right. After visiting many wedding venues, the decision was made. The Valley Estate was the one neither Matt, nor Dani, could walk away from. The date was selected, 18th August 2022, and the wedding venue was booked. Then began the journey of planning the wedding. Although Dani and Matt were both very busy at work, Dani’s perfectionism didn’t allow outside assistance. Every detail had to be just right.
Photographer, Videographer, Celebrant
The wedding photographer was already selected. Mario had been expecting this day from when he first met Dani and Matt at Matt’s sister’s wedding. Mario Colli was handpicked by Dani back in 2016, as she considered him the best photographer around. He saw them a couple of times at other friends’ weddings, so when Dani told him the date and place Mario locked it in. True to form, Mario and the wedding videographer Geoff, from Motion Art, worked together seamlessly on the day ensuring no detail was left uncaptured.
Selecting the wedding celebrant, Clarah Luxford, to officiate the wedding meant changing the ceremony time, but Dani and Matt were set on Clarah from the first time they spoke to her, so this was a quick decision. The genuine heartfelt, personal, and relaxed ceremony that they were after is exactly what they received. They both handwrote their own wedding vows, having so much meaning to each other, and their journey.
The Wedding Rings
When designing the engagement ring, Matt knew Dani wanted something completely unique. Something that encompassed the women who came before her, weaving her past, present, and future together. So, when designing the engagement ring, photos of Dani’s Great Nana, Nana, Nonna, and Mum’s engagement rings were shown to the jeweller. The team at A. G. Designer Jeweller used these as inspiration to design the perfect engagement and wedding set for Dani, and when the time came to design Matt’s wedding band, Dani took the lead. Using part of the design engraved within her own, to create a one-of-a-kind wedding band for Matt, became the perfect compliment. Both their wedding bands shared eight sets of notches that matched those on Dani’s grandparent’s wedding bands, and Matt’s ring had arrows following down each side of his band that met at a point on the bottom, symbolising Dani and Matt coming together. Something that, even though worn by two people separately, will forever be a set that belongs together, just like Dani and Matt.
Every other detail was made with every thought considered. Matt wore his custom suit with his full name embroidered inside, including the first letter of his two middle names; given names from his two deceased granddads.
There were matching RM William’s boots and belts for the groom and groomsmen.
Flower Girls and Paige Boys
Bride and Groom’s Parents
The bonbonniere was handmade in Sicily where Dani’s Italian heritage lies, that was then assembled for the guests by Dani, her maid of honor, sister, and Mum.
Wedding Guest Book, Dani Style
The thirty-four hand-selected fabrics, which Dani individually cut into 140 different squares for each guest to share their advice, warm wishes, and words of encouragement, form part of the wedding quilt Dani plans to make in place of a more traditional guest book. This craft was learned from her Nana.
The aquamarine necklace and earrings were Dani’s Nonna’s engagement set that she borrowed from her Aunts, and Mum, to wear for the day. The diamond ring, worn on her right hand was Nana’s engagement ring. The black obsidian cufflinks that Matt wore were Dani’s Nonna’s engagement set that was gifted from her Aunt.
The four pendants, with a photo of each set of grandparents on their wedding days, were attached to Dani’s bouquet and Matt’s lapel.
The blue suede Manolos were not available in Australia, so were purchased and posted from Italy by a friend, and were made when arranging the bonbonniere. There were matching personalised robes, pajamas, and slippers for the bride’s tribe.
The stunning bridal floral arrangements by Floral’s & Co were chosen for their bright spring romance feel, with plenty of free-flowing bounce. A very romantically-styled wedding indeed.
The beautiful floral-covered wedding cake by Sweet Art Creations formed part of the inspiration behind the whole day. Jo, the cake designer, did not disappoint, as every cake tier was mouth-wateringly delicious.
The classic cars included Matt’s gold Holden HQ, Dani’s Dad’s pastel pink Ford Mercury, and Dani’s blue Ford Mainline (which her Dad built back in the 80s), that rounded out the vision perfectly.
The day could not have come together more flawlessly with every little touch working in perfect harmony to create a romantic luxurious setting, that made for one great big celebration with family and friends, which is exactly what Dani and Matt were aiming for. No matter how big or small a wedding, this shows the smallest of touches that can be included to create the everlasting sentimentality of a couple’s special day.
They say when you know you know, and that couldn’t be truer when talking about the first time I met with Helena to discuss designing my wedding dress.
Helena took all of my inspiration photos and explained to me the elements that would best suit my figure. She took care in making sure to understand what I loved most about each dress so she could truly appreciate what I would love to see come to life in my own dress.
I took with me a dress made for my Aunt by my Nonno’s sister in Italy that was never worn and that would never fit me and explained to Helena my wish to use the lace from the dress for my own. I explained to Helena that I am a perfectionist and after all my research to fund the right designer and creator to make my dress, she was the only option.
Throughout every fitting Helena explained the process, from why I was wearing a calico bodice the first time through until the day I collected my completed dress. She took on the task of dying my family lace and incorporating it into my dress in the most perfect compilation of old and new. She took photos to show the progress and made sure I was happy at every turn. She fussed over every intricate detail that were continually perfected right up until the time I walked out the door dress in hand.
Helena makes magic with her mind, hands, heart and fabric, there is no other way to explain the artistry she creates other than to say she is a true magician.
Written by Dani
Venue: The Valley Estate
Photographer: Mario Colli Photography
Videographer: Motion Art
Makeup Artist: Brklyn Collective
Hair Stylist: Luxx Loxx
Nails: Bewitched Nails and Lashes
Jeweller: A.G. Designer Jewellers
Ring Box: CCoolArt
Dress: Helena Couture Designs
Shoes – Ceremony: Monolo Blahnik Shoes
Bridesmaid Dress: Couture Candy
Suits: Groom & Groomsmen: Black Jacket Suiting
Shoes – Groom & Groomsmen: RM Williams
Bow Ties: Bowtie by Sofia Kitsul
Cart: Hopa Hopa
Celebrant: Best Celebrant Ever
Band: Nick Trovas Band
Florist: Florals & Co.
Memory Charms: Our Heavenly Hangers
Cake: Sweet Art Creations
Cake Topper: Etched With Love Xo
Bomboniere: Sicilia Bedda Capaci
Signage / Stationery: Elefont Boutique Stationery
Transport – Coach: Currumbin Valley Bus & Coach
Car: Top Shelf Transfers