Mela & Bryan

  • Photography by Martin Qafzezi

We initallly met at a hostel in Los Angeles in January 2014. We got along very well but didn't think anything of it at the time as I was moving to London from Auckland, travelling via North America. Bryan was on holiday from Perth at the time (he's an Aussie). However, fate had other plans for us. We then ran into each other a week later in a hostel in San Francisco and had a wonderful week together travelling California's Wine Country. From there, I had flights booked to Vegas, followed by Guatemala and Belize. Bryan was scheduled to go snowboarding in the opposite direction. I thought that was it for us.

We had made beautiful memories, but logistically it would never work. That was until Bryan surprised me by showing up in Vegas. Something he had organised with my good friend who I was travelling with at the time. From there we both changed plans and ended up exploring Mexico together for two more weeks. When the time came, I flew to London, and he went back to Perth. We kept in touch and Skyed often. We did six months of long distance. Then one day, he just bought himself a one-way ticket to London, and we never looked back. Four years later, we are happily married, have our own home, a puppy and a fantastic life here in New Zealand.

Mela & Bryan

Bryan’s proposal was a big surprise. He picked me up from the ferry on an ordinary Thursday – which he usually does. He told me that he had forgotten something at the house and wanted to stop by quickly. At the time, we were staying with my parents as our house was still not complete. To my delight, when I went upstairs, I was taken aback by the roses and infinite candles, John Mayer tunes and of course my partner on one knee. He had even brought the dog!

Mela & Bryan

We got married at the Lekursi Castle in Saranda Albania on the 7th of July 2018. This is where we had both ceremony and reception. There were three absoulte highlights of the day for me: The first was marrying my husband, the second was having everyone we love in one place, the third was throwing one epic wedding party that no one would ever forget.

Mela & Bryan

We chose Albania to get married – I'm an Albanian Kiwi and my husband is a Zimbabwe Australian, so we were never going to please everyone. Albania made sense because we both love travelling there and I wanted all my Albanian family to come. It also gave our NZ and AU friends and family for an excellent reason to finally go there. The Lekursi Castle had the right blend of authenticity and wow-factor even though it was far away from my hometown in Albania. Deep down, I had always wanted to get married there since I was a kid. My husband prefers more rustic style weddings over the more modern while I prefer a mixture of glamour and vintage and Lekursi fitting both our vision.

We wanted the décor to be very simple and elegant because the venue itself was so extravagant. We kept the decorations to a minimal. Each table had a flower runner made of dark maroon, white roses and greenery, and candles held in high copper candle holders. The chairs were almost a feature in themselves. The chairs were iron and medieval-like. Instead of table numbers, we had named each table after the cities we had travelled. We hired professional lighting people to accentuate the castles natural beauty and angles. We included rustic touches by way of industrial lights and barrels scattered around the castle as focal pieces. Instead of a guest book, we got our guests to take a picture using Polaroid cameras and placed them on several heavy frames we had scattered around the venue.

Mela & Bryan

I had three bridal looks because in Albania it's custom to have three dresses. Fun fact: Guests also bring a change of clothing and will often get changed halfway through the wedding. My first look and my favourite was a simple old Hollywood glamour look. The dress was the Rama gown by Pronovias from Modes in Newmarket. I complemented this dress with a simple headpiece, bling earrings and a light veil and wore my hair in loose waves. The second dress was also a Pronovias gown but acquired in Albania. The dress was lace and mermaid fit. I featured this dress with a tiara style headpiece and dramatic curls. The third was a pink glitter dress I also bought in Albania from a local bridal boutique. I paired this look with half-up, half-down hair with loose curls and wildflowers. To complement our theme the girls wore beautiful rose gold and maroon dresses I purchased online from Lulus.

Mela & Bryan

The groomsmen donned navy suits from Hallensteins and Bryan wore a lovely blue tuxedo from Tommy Gunn. The groom's party was made up of my husband's brothers and my brothers. As such we gifted them each special cufflinks with their titles on them "Brother of the groom", or "Brother of the bride". On the day I gifted Bryan a leather watch and cufflinks that said. 

Mela & Bryan
Mela & Bryan

We had a seven course sit down menu and a three-tiered caramel cake that was to die for. 

Mela & Bryan

Because we got married overseas, instead of the wedding being one day it was more like a three-day experience. Before the wedding, 30 of our closest friends, my husband and I hired a boat and travelled along the Albanian coast. After our wedding, we hung out with loved ones and family from all over the world that we hadn’t seen in ages. Tthe whole experience was incredibly memorable.

My advice to other brides out there is to relax and have a great time. Trust me, it doesn’t ever go 100% to plan. The way I see it is, you can either be upset about it or laugh about it and enjoy your special day. It goes so quickly. Just like life, don’t sweat the small stuff and remember to be in the moment and have the best night of your life. Like I did!

Mela & Bryan

THE DETAILS: Bride's gowns PRONOVIAS from MODES & GERALDINA SPOSA, SELINA BRIDAL; Bride’s shoes: ASOS; Bride’s accessories GERALDINA SPOSA; Groom's tuxedo from TOMMY GUN; Groom’s shoes HANNAHS; Groomsmen’s attire  HALLENSTEINS; Bridesmaids from LULUS; Rings MICHAEL HILL; Photography MARTIN QAFZEZI; Videography KELVIS JANINA FILMWORK 


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