Inside the regal walls of the Macedonian Orthodox Church of Sts Kiril & Metodi in Sydney, childhood lovers Tash and Declan exchanged sentimental vows. Married amongst walls adorned with artwork, ceilings draped by chandeliers and engulfed in candlelight, Tash & Declan wore gilded crowns.
A timeless ceremony that segued into decadent celebrations with friends and family, magic continued at one of Sydney’s iconic venues – The Grounds of Alexandria. A setting steeped in timeworn walls, dramatic ceilings framed circular tables and elegant white blooms exuding a mood of classicism.
Captured poetically by photographer Jack Henry, guests dined by candlelight sipping classic Italian aperitifs as they descended into an evening of dancing to live music.
Names / Natasha Stavreski & Declan Read
Wedding Date / May 29th, 2021
Guest Numbers / 200
How We Met
Declan and I met through friends when I was 16 and didn’t see each other in a long time since our meeting. By chance, we bumped into each other 6 years later that rekindled what we felt when we first met.
Our Engagement Story
It was the weekend of Declan’s birthday and I had forgotten to organize a gift! Thinking that my mum had come to the rescue, she told me she had booked a weekend away. I told Declan I had organized this as a present for him but little did I know that it was Declan that was the one that had organized the weekend away!
We were in Kangaroo Valley and he proposed to me overlooking a beautifully serene lake on the property through a beautifully crafted wooden door that he made on his own. Once he proposed, the surprises kept coming as our parents jumped out from hiding behind the trees! It will be a memory we will cherish forever.
Marriage To Us Means…
Spending the rest of your life having fun with your best friend and loving them unconditionally.
We got married at the Macedonian Orthodox Church of Sts Kiril & Metodi. The walls were covered with beautifully hand-painted icons and artworks, along with golden chandeliers and candles suspended from the ceilings. We were so thankful to have Declan, his family, and friends wanting to celebrate our special day in a place that signified so much to me and my family. Our celebrations continued at the incredible space – Linseed House at The Grounds of Alexandria. With such high ceilings and arched windows, I knew this party had to have confetti drops throughout the dancing!
I inherited my creative side from my mum, so I designed the wedding styling and planning myself with some help from Elly Sofocli and Silva from The Grounds.
I knew I wanted something to contrast against the golden and historical backdrop at the church and rustic/art-deco space at Linseed House.
I created a mood board and landed with a raw, avant guard, minimal, and modern style. Most of my inspiration came from The Lane along with mod fashion runway shows. I’m not a huge fan of color and patterns so I wanted to keep everything simple. White was the only ‘color’ and black – with a touch of gold and dark greens to balance out with the venue.
When searching for a photographer, we were both particular with the type of style we wanted captured. Also, someone that wasn’t so invasive since Declan doesn’t always enjoy having his photos taken! Along stumbled Jack Henry’s portfolio and we were instantly drawn into this style. His images were captured so organically and his colors had a modern aesthetic to them. His fashion editorial experience only added to his painting-like images since he was able to capture so many unique and fun moments throughout the day and night. Like my dress, I still receive compliments to this very day on both our photography and videography!
I had to invest some time to convince Declan we needed a videographer. The majority of my family lives in Europe and could not make it to our wedding so having a video to really document and capture all the different moments of the day was really important to me. This included having a somewhat long feature film which was extremely difficult to find. Marcus (Rusbourne Media) was honestly such a blessing to come across. His unique approach to capturing organic and raw moments of our wedding made it such a beautiful visual story to watch over and over again. Not only did he honour us with creating a 3 hour (yes 3 hour!) length feature film, but he also gifted us with a 7-minute love story clip AND an AWESOME short clip of our epic entrance into the reception!
I always knew I wanted something modern and edgy but with some elements of classic – the final inspiration expression I landed with was avant-garde. I knew Elly Sofocli was the PERFECT designer for me. She was incredible to work with and really did create the dress of my dreams – a cloud of the softest Italian tulle with an editorial edge with a gorgeous split at the front. She add another fabulous surprise where the bottom half of the ballgown was detachable, turning it into the perfect mini wedding dress to go with my sneakers! I still receive compliments on the gown to this very day – I was so lucky to have had her create it. She became a beautiful friend in the process of it all.
Christian Loubutin – Yes they were perfect!
Chloe Sneakers – To go with the cheeky outfit change!
I always wanted to keep the color scheme simple and wanted the girls in white/ivory. They all loved the Shona Joy silk slip dress – it was perfect for all of them to dance the night away and still look effortlessly gorgeous during the ceremony and reception.
Declan wore a slick three-piece slim cut black bespoke suit, a box-fresh white shirt, and a perfectly tied bow tie – so chic and all by C.R Tailors. The Groomsmen were dressed in a two-piece black suit all personalized by C.R Tailors too.
My mum has been a makeup artist for many years – although she was the only one that had ever done my makeup I wanted her to enjoy the day. This meant searching for my first ever makeup artist. I would look up bridal fashion week looks and get overwhelmed with all the options so I stripped it back to how I usually wear my makeup. Something matte, natural but with a slight hint of peachy tones to bring out my blue eyes. I was extremely lucky to book in with Nicole Hill and have her turn me into Natasha 2.0 with the makeup lasting for the entire day and night!
I couldn’t have decided on my hair and jewelry without the guidance of Elly Sofocli. She just knew my vision and helped me get there. We decided on simple luminescent white drop pearl earrings that were classic but still unusual.
I was stuck on whether to have my hair out or up, but once we trialed it up with the dress is immediately changed the entire look from romantic to mod fashion – there was no other option but to have it up in a low bun. Jocelyne Chidiac styled my hair that lasted throughout all the dancing and hours of the day and night.
Stationery & Invitations
Declan and I are extremely imaginative and wanted to subtly create as many things as we could ourselves to give to our guests. We designed our save the dates and wedding invitations ourselves, sourced the paper and envelopes, and with the help of my parents we hand wrote everyone’s names in the script using golden markers. Each invitation was sealed with a wax seal stamp that belonged to Declan’s grandfather with his crest so we could further bond both our families.
Flowers & Bouquets
My grandmother had passed away from COVID not long before our wedding. Her favorite flower was chamomile and I really did want a chamomile bouquet – unfortunately, there was no way to get that flower during that time. Silva was so compassionate and caring to work with – she sourced the most stunning green and white snapdragons to match my ‘unique’ vision and contrasted my look with classic short-stemmed roses for the bridesmaids. My bridal bouquet also had a deep blue ribbon which was owned by Declan’s late nan (that got stuck in the enormous chandelier when we did the bouquet toss!). Silva put together artworks – structural and exciting arrangements with white anthuriums and preserved amaranthus scattered throughout the tables and featured across the main table.
The night before, Declan stayed at Pier One where they surprised him with a giant igloo installation on the balcony. He had some friends over as a mini pre-wedding celebration. I myself on the other hand was a slightly larger pre-wedding celebration filled with Macedonian Traditions. Traditionally the night before, women come over to the bride’s house to bake bread and decorate the bread with lollies and sweets. The night was filled with teaching our friends traditional Macedonian dancing, laughter, and food. The rest of the night was spent with my bridesmaids as they slept over, ready for more food and dancing the following morning while we got ready.
Ceremony & Reception Décor
Our ceremony space at Macedonian Orthodox Church of Sts Kiril & Metodi was beautiful as is. It had a warm and historic atmosphere with its vibrant icons, archways and high ceilings, and intricate golden lights. We wanted to keep the styling super simple and had lush bundles of olive branches tied to the side of each pew, as we gifted each of our mums olive trees years prior, so we loved how it symbolized both our families coming together.
All our trust was left to Silva! After showing her our mood board we had a strong feeling she just knew how to bring our vision to life. It was really important to us to have something simple but interesting which could capture our personalities. When we walked into our reception we were blown away at the incredibly unique arrangements she made! It was just what I wanted, something raw and modern that contrasted the elegance of the space.
Our cake was made by The Grounds of Alexandria. We wanted something simple again but a little bit fun. The cake itself was white chocolate with raspberry buttercream filling inside fully covered in white chocolate buttercream. So delicious! It was also covered in the most beautiful red and plump raspberries to add the element of fun!
John Butler – Ocean (ceremony entry song)
Red Hot Chilli Peppers – Can’t Stop ( the perfect entry song to get the party started!)
James Vincent McMorrow – Higher Love (our first dance)
Johnny Clegg – Dela (right after our first dance we had all the guests up dancing to Dela and Send me on my Way)
Avicii – Levels ( for our confetti drop)
Semisonic – Closing Time ( our exit song)
We had a live Macedonian band called Grupa Bez Ime ( The band with no name) that played Macedonian Music with a modern twist – all 200 of our guests were up and learning the ‘oro’ the traditional Macedonian Circle Dancing – the atmosphere was thrilling. They also had their saxophone player learn English music which made it epic when playing the dance hits later in the night! We also had a super fun Dj (DJ Slavv) that was able to mix in all our favorite songs from indie to rock to a straight-out dance party! Seb from In an Instant photo booth was such a fabulous addition to our night! Forget about ordinary photobooths, Seb and Jess were the definitions of FUN! All our guests simply loved Seb and although Jess was not there on the night we created an awesome relationship with her. The best hype crew!
Before COVID Declan and I loved dancing at festivals, I had the crazy idea of having a huge confetti drop on the night. The vision was, to get everyone dancing and surprise them all during Levels – Avicii and have everyone relive the dancing days as Sydney had been in lockdown. It did not take any effort at all to have people dancing throughout the night, but it definitely kept the energy going when the explosion of confetti dropped from the 10 meter ceilings!! Sydney Fireworks & Pyrotechnics also gave us a mini confetti drop during our first dance which really eased the nerves for both Dec and me while dancing.
Food & Beverages
We chose to have a classic Italian aperitif with Prosecco and small bites before the formal sit-down meal began. This allowed the guests to really absorb the Italian culture and taste the local delicacies. Dinner was an authentic affair and included wine pairings with each course.
When we originally planned for and booked our wedding, we booked it in May so we could then fly to Macedonia in June and celebrate our wedding again with the rest of my family in Europe. Unfortunately, COVID meant our plans had to change. We were still fortunate enough to make it to Noosa and stayed in a retreat-like abode between the water and greenery – too bad there weren’t any waves for Declan to catch surfing on! When we came back we went to Billabong Retreat for a few nights – our regular go-to, to unwind even more.
A memorable moment…
There were honestly so many moments where we stopped and just took everything in thinking ‘wow.’ From the live band and dancing in the morning whilst getting ready, to seeing each other in the church, seeing all the smiles from our friends and family, and bringing everyone together to have a great time… the entire day was so special and one that will be dearly close to both our hearts.
One thing I wish I knew before I started my wedding plans…
Go with your gut and always say yes to confetti!
If I could give other Brides to be one piece of advice…
Enjoy every moment of the journey and don’t overthink it! There will be times where it might seem tough at times, but once that day comes everything will fall into the background and you will have a magical day with your family, friends, and your incredible soul mate. It is pure joy.
Photography / Jack Henry Photo
Bride’s Dress / Elly Sofocli
Bridesmaid’s Dresses / Shona Joy
Groom / C.R Tailors
Wedding Rings / Harry Georje Diamonds
Hair / Jocelyne chidiac hair
Makeup / Nicole Hill Makeup
Stationery & Invitations / Made by bride and Groom
Florist / Silva from The Grounds
Cake / The Grounds of Alexandria
Catering / The Grounds of Alexandria
Wedding Venue / Linseed House – The Grounds of Alexandria
Honeymoon Destination / Noosa and Billabong Retreat
Videographer / Marcus Rusbourne Media
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