Bella + Toby
How did you meet?
They say life happens when you’re busy making other plans and that’s exactly what happened in the summer of 2014. I was 26, about to move to London to chase my dreams and on a mission to have one final hot girl summer in Sydney before my departure. I always knew who Toby was as he had mixed in similar circles growing up but I didn’t have much to do with him.
But back to my hot girl summer. I was hosting pres before the annual Field Day festival at the Domain. To cut a very long story short, that morning I woke up in my Surry Hills terrace, unknowingly put on the top-half of my mum’s wedding dress outfit after recently raiding her closet merely thinking it was a cute boho chic look, and hosted a group of friends for some rooftop drinks before the festival. Our beautiful mutual friend and Toby’s groomslady, Nell, brought Toby along that day and we hit it off.
For the next two months, it was the ultimate summer of love as we packed in as much as we could before I moved to London. The timing couldn’t have been worse but looking back on it now, maybe it was perfect. With an ever-looming deadline hanging over us, we made the most of every single second we had. Everything with Toby was just so uplifting, refreshing and FUN. There were no games. No playing hard to get. We were both IN and IN hard from the get-go.
So when summer turned into autumn and it was time for me to hop on that plane, we decided that what we had was so much more than a summer fling and gave long-distance a red-hot crack. We sent each other love letters in the actual mail, traded mix tapes on CDs and in a pre-Zoom world, spoke several times a day on Skype.
When did you know they were the one?
When he came and visited me in London. We both dropped the L bomb in front of Tower Bridge and haven’t looked back since.
What are your three favourite attributes of your partner?
His infinite reserves of energy. While I sleep in or try and sneak away for naps, Toby is always giving our daughters 110% – throwing them up in the air, chasing them, and playing with them! It’s insane.
He is wildly intelligent. He jokes that he’s a “jack of all trades, master of none” but really he’s an expert in a million different topics.
He is an eternal optimist. Even after we’ve had the worst night of no sleep with the girls, he is always smiling and handing me an extra large coffee.
Who proposed and how?
After 9 years and 2 kids, Toby proposed in November 2022. That morning, we’d dropped the kids off at daycare and had coffee with some friends who were asking us why we weren’t married yet. We explained it was always going to happen one day but we wanted kids first and our wedding would be more like a party. Unbeknownst to me, Toby already had the ring for about a month and was waiting for a quiet, child-free moment to present itself (very rare!) One unassuming Thursday, we were both working from home, the sun was shining and he asked me if I wanted a quick coffee break and a dip. I was so busy but I thought, why not?
We took our mugs of coffee outside and wandered down to The Bower in Manly for a quick swim.
As we were sipping our coffee, he pulled out the ring and asked “want to have a party?” I was caught so off-guard and just screamed my head off. The best surprise ever.
Where did you fall in love with your dress and why?
I had done some research online, looking at the MWL collection and narrowed it down to Georgia and Parker. I was getting married in just 3 months’ time so wasn’t even sure if I’d be able to get either dress made in time but booked in for a fitting in the St. Ives shop.
Georgia was the first dress I tried on and much like a human soul mate, so too with wedding dresses, when you know, you know! Georgia was The One. She just felt right and was a dream to wear. I love the simple sexiness of the dress, the heavenly French crepe, the buttons down the butt, the neckline… Honestly, my absolute dream dress. I will keep it for my daughters in case they ever want to wear it if they get married. Failing that, they can pass it onto their kids!
What was the best moment for you at your wedding?
The speeches and the dance floor! They were always the 2 most important elements of the day and they delivered in spades. We laughed, we cried, then we danced til our feet were sore and we needed a midnight kebab from all the dance floor shenanigans.
Also having my two little girls there to watch mummy and daddy get married is a memory I’ll treasure forever.
What were your favourite details?
The ‘disco’ arbour we created to get married in front of with bright yellow, orange and metallic streamers. It was such an entertaining part of the ceremony, our celebrant got some streamers in her mouth a few times and we were all in fits of giggles. Our three-year-old daughter was mesmerised by the streamers too, and quietly watched them as she held onto Toby’s leg. Better than an iPad!
What advice would you tell other brides?
You do you! Figure out what elements are important to you and lean into them. I don’t really care about tablescaping and menu designs but you better believe I’m going to be curating and editing the music and words for the day.
Any standout vendors?
All of them but especially Em from Days Like These Events for helping us pull off a whirlwind wedding in just 3 months.
Also our musician/DJ extraordinaire Alec Brinsmead for not only playing all the live music at the ceremony (his rendition of My Girl by the Temptations that I walked down the aisle to was stunning) but also delivering the best DJ set of all time for our dance floor. Being the music control freak that I am, I gave him a playlist and he then downloaded every song individually so he could DJ it live on the night. I’ve had friends ask me if they can have a copy of his mix but sadly it wasn’t recorded.
Hunter Manuel // Days Like These
Made with Love Bridal Sydney Boutique