When whispers of a RUSSH proposal began to make their way through the team, there wasn't a chance that any of us were prepared to miss out on the romance.“We became engaged on November 19th, 2021. We had decided we wanted to get married a couple of months before, but I wanted the actual proposal to be a surprise,” shared Lola. “I roped the RUSSH girls into helping me distract Ella for the day while I set up at home. I proposed on the roof of our apartment. I knew Ella hated the idea of something public and we’ve made some really special memories up there, so it felt right.”
Our Brand & Fashion Features Editor Ella O’Keeffe, and her now wife, Lola Van Vorst, first met through a mutual friend, who thought it would be funny to set the pair up. Though they had only met a few times before that, it was clear almost instantly that there was something there quite early on – and it wasn’t long before the pair had become inseparable.
Having the pleasure of being in Ella and Lola’s orbit can only be likened to the feeling of a long-overdue hug from an old friend. Their energy is warm – the kind of embrace that stays with you even when they’re no longer around. To be their friend is to be a part of their family, and it was this very sentiment that was reflected on their wedding day.
THE LOCATION… A FAMILY HOME IN THE BYRON HINTERLAND
“I’d always wanted to get married at my parents’ house. They live in the Byron Hinterland and the garden looks out onto the rainforest. For me this was the only place to have the ceremony and reception,” shared Ella. Continuing, she explains that she wanted to share the magic of the land and the special place she grew up, with those closest to them on the day. As for their inspiration? The phrase “fast and loose” was certainly jokingly thrown around throughout the process, but ultimately, Ella and Lola’s goal was for every aspect of the day to feel really easy, fun and relaxed.
The result was an intimate celebration with 55 of their closest friends and family in her parents’ garden; beginning in the late afternoon with the warmth of the sun cocooning guests during the ceremony, before an evening of delicious eating and drinking through dusk and into the night.
THE MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT… “EVERYTHING FELT SO DREAMY, IT’S HARD TO CHOOSE ONE. WE BOTH WALKED DOWN THE AISLE WITH BOTH OUR MUMS AND DADS WHICH FELT SO SPECIAL AND EMOTIONAL.”
“We got married under a Moreton Bay Fig (half of which fell over the previous day, which felt like a bad omen until we realised how beautiful the view was of the Valley behind the century-old tree),” shared Ella. “We stood on the grass, and behind us was a crop of cosmos and daisies that my mom had painstakingly nurtured over three months to bloom in time for the ceremony. We planted them in place together the day before with my dad.”
THE STYLING…MISMATCHED TABLES, BORROWED CROCKERY AND VINTAGE CROCHET TABLECLOTHS
Ella’s mum, who was luckily an amazing producer in a past life, helped to drive the whole event forward from the very beginning; later working with Byron Bay-based event planner, Jane Magnus, to help with the final touches and ensuring the day ran smoothly.
“We didn’t have any florals aside from my bouquet – a mass of white tulips with a single purple stem in the middle, purchased from the flower markets and wrapped by myself and Jane – and our micro table arrangements which we picked from my mum’s garden and arranged in my dad’s handmade vases the morning of the wedding. This was one of my favourite parts of the day, standing in the sun in the early morning picking and arranging flowers,” shared Ella.
An array of mismatched, unique tables covered the front garden, illuminated by large paper lanterns overhead and the flickering of candle sticks nestled into vibrant yellow lemons – which also formed part of the tablescape. “We both just really wanted our friends and family to feel welcome and relaxed. The land is a really special place so sharing it was a very intimate experience. We have dinner parties all the time in Sydney and wanted it to feel somewhat similar – just a backyard party with everyone we love,” they shared.
THE FOOD… AN ITALIAN FEAST PREPARED ON THE PORCH BY BRUNO CONTI
“The food was one of the most important things for us as bad wedding food makes us feel very uneasy. There was nothing about Bruno’s (Terra Catering) food that brought depression on, except for when it was over. It was incredible,” reminisced Lola. Fatty tuna crudo laced in citrus nectar was the perfect refresh from the heat, followed by creamy burrata and a pasta that had guests scraping the plate for more. Right down to the wine, special memories celebrating Ella and Lola’s love were littered throughout the evening. “Winona Wine was responsible for wine, and they did an exceptional job pairing it with the menu. They chose a red Jauma for the mains as they knew we drank wine from them on our first date,” she continued
THE LOOKS… A BARELY BLUE GEORGETTE AND LACE GOWN; A CLASSIC BLACK SUIT WITH PIQUED SHOULDERS BY CHRISTOPHER ESBER
“Christopher Esber is a dear friend and kindly agreed to work on our outfits. We used to joke about it together, but when the time came, we both knew that he was really the only person we would trust with the job as he knows us both so well. We were beyond honoured when he actually agreed to it,” shared Ella.
“We began the process by figuring out the kind of things we both wanted to wear, as well as how we wanted to feel which is important to Chris and his process. When we got the first sketches, we barely had any changes. We did the first fitting all together, where we worked out any tweaks on the toile with Chris and his team. The whole process was extremely special to be part of.
“My dress was created with hand stitched layers of barely blue georgette and lace, I wanted it to feel relaxed and watery but also a little ethereal. The back was fastened with a delicate, draped silver chain which matched one that was threaded through the front of Lola’s shirt. Her suit was classic black with piqued shoulders, Chris had the idea to attach freshwater pearls to the jacket sleeves as a surprise detail. In our final fittings, Chris had created a veil for me (which we thought to do last-minute in our first fitting), and a lace scarf for Lola in place of a veil.”
AND TO END THE NIGHT… AN HOMAGE TO ABBA
The pair’s final looks (ripe and ready for the dance floor) saw Ella change into a black silk mesh dress with a built-in veil from Esber’s Fall 22 collection, while Lola kept her suit pants on and changed into a simple black tank top – both complete with simple, timeless jewellery by Sarah & Sebastian.
Lola’s mum and three godmothers took to the dance floor for one of the most unforgettable moments of the evening. A performance of ABBA’s Super Trooper, complete with a smoke machine and a pair of iconic metallic platforms, that had every guest out of their seat.
PHOTOGRAPHY Claudia Smith, Maxwell Finch, Kitty Callaghan and Natalie Cottee.
Looking for more romance? Here's a look inside our inaugural RUSSH Love supplement, courtesy of our Editor's Letter.