Now this is something different for you, folks. Ashlee and Niko eloped, before throwing this monumental wedding party in Melbourne (the groom’s hometown), in a junkyard of all places! “I’m really fucking proud that we built that damn venue, on my father-in-law’s junkyard, and that we pulled off a goddamn epic New Year’s Eve wedding,” says the LA-based bride. But “I don’t recommend the planning from a different hemisphere part,” she adds. Caught on camera by the lovely Jai from Free The Bird, tunes were provided by The White Tree, with some fun fooling around in the Heartbreak Hotel Photo Booth and one incredible film by Iconic Pictures. Scroll down now- you simply have to see this one…

THE PROPOSAL “We sort of got engaged a few times… The first time, I proposed to him, but we broke up about three months later and the second time, he asked me, but then we broke up again about two months later! The third time we just skipped the whole proposal thing and eloped.”

DIY “Our entire wedding was one massive DIY project. Almost everything was found or made on what became affectionately known as ‘The Block’. Niko, friends and family literally built roof decks on top of shipping containers, levelled and paved dirt for our ‘dining room’, strung lights, laid fabrics, affixed old rusty bicycles to fences, painted signs, built a stage for the band, found or fashioned tables and desks… An entryway was made out of metal rods and covered with carloads of greenery. An entire wall was pieced together out of old doors. The bar was created from a 1950’s washing machine, a claw foot bathtub, and a table saw frame with a leftover piece of plywood stuck to the top. One of the groomsmen spent six full days building the long benches we used at the ceremony and reception.”

THE DRESS “I tried on a million dresses (in LA and Melbourne) but found this gorgeous fabric from Mood Designer Fabrics and was able to use my industry knowledge and contacts to make my wedding dress…just! Literally, the damn thing was still being sewn at 5pm on December 22nd and my flight was at 10pm. One of my co-workers met me in a parking lot near the airport with it. I had no idea how much of it was finished or if it would even fit when I boarded the plane to Australia.”

REFERENCES “I spent a LOT of time on WedShed, where I found the band, The White Tree and our photographer Free The Bird. I also utilised the ‘friends of ours’ pages of a bunch of vendors in Melbourne, which was an unexpectedly useful tool.”

TALK ABOUT TRADITION… “This ended up being one of the most special things about our wedding. I’m very connected to my Mexican heritage, but a practising atheist. Nikolai is also very connected to his roots, and a practising Russian Orthodox. But, because we were already legally married, we were able to focus on what was most important to us in a ceremony. After our celebrant read aloud the names of all four sets of our grandparents, my father opened the ceremony with a Native American poem, honouring both my heritage and my love of nature over any god. Nikolai’s parents then brought their Russian Icons and joined my parents at the front of the ceremony for a Russian Blessing, as well as presented us with the traditional Russian bread and salt. Between that and the Mariachi band, we truly succeeded in blending our cultures.”

MARRIAGE MEANS… “Niko and I had a really tough run before getting married- we battled through what felt like endless separation and long distance (which did result in a few breakups) and some serious cultural differences. Marriage wasn’t just the next step for us, it was a privilege that we fought for and earned and do not, at all, take for granted. I had never been a very big fan of the institution of marriage, but sometimes you meet someone and you just you know that he/she is one of the few people in the world that is worth it. Marriage, it turns out, has been one of the best decisions I have ever made.”

STANDOUT VENDORSWe honestly had the best time with all of our vendors. Jai from Free The Bird was incredible, and even five months later, we are getting comments about how incredible the food and music by The White Tree was. Niko was set on Senor BBQ from the get-go. We didn’t even bother pricing with anyone else, and I’m glad we didn’t. He was so easy to work with and gave us amazing product for a great price.”

This wedding was originally published in Issue 22. If you’d like to check out more from this issue, limited copies are available via our online store. And if you’re keen to get in touch with some of their key vendors, check out our directory for epic wedding band, The White Tree, the Heartbreak Hotel Photo Booth and cinematographer, Iconic Pictures.

CONTRIBUTING VENDORS Photographer Free The Bird Cinematographer Iconic Pictures Ceremony Williamstown Botanic Gardens Reception Private Property Catering Senor BBQ Alcohol Swords Select Wine & Beer Popsicles Popstic Ice Cream Ice Cream Dairy Bell Terrariums Plant by Packwood Confetti Kaboom Sparklers The Wedding Sparkler Co Photo Booth Heartbreak Hotel Photo Booth Ceremony Entertainment Mariachi Los Romanticos Reception Band The White Tree Rings Weiss Jewelers Portable Toilet Black Tie Toilets BRIDE Shoes Lulus GROOM Suit & Tie Soho Workshop