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An Evening in Florence

In the last instalment of our ‘Weddings and Pandemics’ feature, we’d like to introduce you to the lovely Claudia. She’s been working in a lab in Munich, Germany, studying the COVID-19 virus, while also navigating a long-distance relationship and planning a wedding! To thank her for the work she is doing, we gifted her with our MARION headpiece and DAHLIA veil, her favourite pieces from our collection. In return, Claudia shares her story with us. From her lab studies, to a very sweet ‘meet-cute’ story and tips for managing a a long distance relationship, Claudia lifts our spirits with her anecdotes and insights.

Highschool sweethearts

Claudia and Andres became friends in high school, initially bonding over a shared interest in the cello.

“I used to play the cello back then, so I carried my instrument around during classes. Most of my classmates were making jokes on what I had inside my instrument case, most of them going for an abnormal guitar,” says Claudia. “One day, in the middle of the hall, I heard someone yelling “look! A cello!” and I couldn’t hide my smile. It was Andres, a guy from my class that I hadn’t talked to before. He rushed over and started walking with me to our next course. He added me on messenger “for school purposes”, but we ended up spending all afternoons talking about whatever came into our minds. We became best friends in no time. One year later, he told me he liked me. As my parents were not happy with the idea of me having a boyfriend in high school, we remained friends but very much in love. Two years later, once we were in our bachelors, he officially asked me to be his girlfriend.”

In total, Claudia and Andres have been in a long-distance relationship for almost 6 years. They have lived in 12 different cities, in Mexico, Germany, Sweden, Russia, USA and the Netherlands. Andres is currently a paediatrician in Saalfeld, Germany, while Claudia is four hours away, in Munich, Germany.

“We are very lucky that Germany allows visiting couples that live apart, so we have continued to see each other a couple of times during the lockdown. Nonetheless, traveling imposes a risk for ourselves and everyone in contact with us, so when we do not see each other as frequent as we want to,” says Claudia.

The couple have found many ways to stay positive and connected during this time a part.

“We talk over the phone, schedule video calls and watch series or movies online (we are masters on synchronizing screens, way before Netflix party!). We make sure we include each other in our daily activities and projects, and use the other as our accountability partner for long term projects, including exercising,” explains Claudia. “We share our post-workout stats from Fitbit, and challenge each other to beat the mark. We are also re-reading the Harry Potter series, which brings back old childhood memories and I am thrilled to share that with him. On days when everything feels overwhelming, we focus on a ‘post COVID-19’ bucket list, talking about the places we want to visit, and the people we want to meet again. Lastly, we plan our days together. Our wedding will celebrate the beginning of no more long travels to see each other, and we can’t wait for that!”

Claudia's bridal look

Andres had organised a special getaway to celebrate their anniversary. He asked her to leave work on time for the their special weekend, however Claudia had to stay back late.

“He picked me up and I noticed he was stressed, but I assumed it was because I was late,” says Claudia. “I spent the whole ride talking about work, without realising we were arriving to the Nymphenburg Palace, a gorgeous baroque palace in Munich. We walked through the gardens until we came to an old-looking bench and we sat down. He started recounting our previous anniversaries, each one on a different city, at different stages in our career, and asked me what I would think if in our next anniversary we were soon-to-be husband and wife. At that point, I saw swan on a nearby lake sinking its head under water, and started rambling on how I don’t know what swans, nor ducks, eat. After some laughs, Andres got us back to the conversation, pulled the ring box out, and asked me if I wanted to marry him. We hugged and laugh, and he made me promise that I will not be asking what different birds eat during our wedding ceremony!”

Claudia's bridal look

Claudia is drawn to ethereal, flowy fabrics and natural makeup. In line with this aesthetic, she plans on wearing our chapel length DAHLIA veil, featuring soft and floaty fine netting, paired with our intricate  MARION headpiece, to her wedding.

“Shortly after the engagement, I created a Pinterest board to explore ideas for our wedding. I was captivated by a headpiece that was very soft and delicate, and saved different pieces similar to that. After looking for more details, I realised all these pieces came from Tania Maras, so I looked for more of their products (the first headpiece I fell in love was the MARION!). I soon followed their Instagram account and started reading their blog. I love how soft and delicate their pieces look!”

We’d like to do all we can to show our appreciation of our healthcare workers. Not only are they treating patients affected by an unfamiliar virus, but they have the extra challenges that come with being fully gowned, with face masks and visors, and caring for patients at a time when they’re isolated from loved ones.

As thank you to some soon-to-be brides who are contributing to the community and dealing with the heartache of postponed or modified wedding plans, we’re gifting them with a special piece to wear on their wedding day. Last month we shared Gillian’s story and today we’d like to spotlight the wonderful Maria, a Dublin nurse who has been relocated to the COVID-19 wards.

Challenges in the ward

Maria is normally based in the surgical wards looking after patients who are recovering from surgeries, but she has now been moved to an increasingly pressing area of treatment. “My usual routine had to change rapidly to care for COVID-19 patients,” says Maria. “In surgical nursing you generally expect the patient to make a good recovery and be discharged as long as there are no complications but on a medical ward, especially COVID-19 wards, it can be very different. You sometimes care for end-of-life patients, which can be quite upsetting especially knowing that their family cannot always be by their side. I used to work on a respiratory ward so thankfully I had some experience in this area to look after COVID-19 patients, but it is still a completely new side to nursing that we have never experienced before.”

Looking after COVID-19 patients is a new and unfamiliar territory and Maria says it’s important to be on the lookout for any changes in symptoms. “Like any respiratory illness, COVID-19 patients can get very sick very quickly so you have to be on alert at all times and pay attention to any little change in the patient’s symptoms.”

To help counteract the stresses at the hospital, Maria is keeping physically and mentally active. “Switching off from social media now and again and reading a book instead, has definitely brightened my mood,” says Maria. “I’m also doing a lot of online yoga classes that my cousin (@yogawithmaura) teaches. Getting out for walks and exercise make such a difference too.”

Love outside the hospital

The proposal to her fiancé Dave was completely unexpected; it began with a casual walk around their local park. “We watched the sunset and when I turned around Dave was down on one knee. I loved how natural it was, away from any crowds, where we could enjoy the moment ourselves,” says Maria.

Planning her upcoming wedding with Dave has given Maria something positive to look forward to. “Once I found my dress, I knew my theme was going to be quite classic and understated with a little bit of vintage thrown in.”

We’ve given Maria the antique silver FLEUR crown, featuring floral details and ivory pearls, to enhance her classic style. “I had been browsing for so long for the perfect headpiece and couldn’t find anything I was looking for,” says Maria. “I wanted something delicate with a vintage style to it, so once I found Tania Maras and saw how beautiful and intricate the designs were, I knew it was the perfect place for me.”

For our next ‘Weddings and Pandemics’ feature, we’ll introduce you to Claudia. She’s been doing lab work in Germany – studying the COVID-19 virus and finding ways to prevent its spreading. Claudia and her partner Andres also have a very sweet ‘meet cute’ story to share.

Weddings are in their essence a demonstration of love and hope for the future. Given the current situation, we could all use a little more love and hope. The year so far has brought local bush fires, a global pandemic and protests in cities across the world. It’s been a wake-up call to some of the big issues facing us; climate change, public health threats and racial inequalities that are still alive today. The repercussions of these events will no doubt be felt for many years to come and will hopefully lead to many changes for the better.

During the peak of the Coronavirus outbreak in Australia, the Tania Maras team did a call out offering a headpiece and/or veil to three soon-to-be brides who have been impacted by the current circumstances. We wanted to provide something positive and beautiful to three special people for their wedding and bring them some joy during a difficult time.

We received many applications with stories of physical, economical and emotional hardships. Everyone who wrote to us was deserving, which has made our decision very difficult. But there were three lovely people who stood out.

To begin with we’d like to introduce you to Irish nurse Gillian Holland, who has been working 12-hour shifts treating and caring for Coronavirus patients. We were close to tears reading about her experience as a front line nurse, while her recount of her proposal to partner Tom brought a big smile to our face.

Treating COVID-19 patients

Treating patients with the virus is one of the hardest tasks to date in Gillian’s nursing career. At a time when patients are frightened, unwell and isolated from love ones, treating and also emotionally supporting patients is more important than ever.

“Care, compassion and commitment are some of the main values underpinning the nursing profession. Ensuring every patient I look after is treated with care, compassion and commitment is fundamental to me as a professional. This mindset did not change during this pandemic,” says Gillian. “Taking time to truly support each patient and listen to their fears and concerns was paramount. Holding their hand at their most vulnerable times was so important. Being their support system during a period of huge uncertainty and a potential life-altering illness was never so crucial.”

Despite the uncertainty and fear, Gillian is inspired by how the community have united to support each other.

“There is a huge sense of teamwork, goodwill and comradery both within the hospital and also the wider community. The kind gestures and goodwill of local communities is what helped keep the momentum and spirits going on the dark days.”

The Proposal

Gillian and Tom met on a dance floor at nightclub over nine years ago and are now building their first home together and planning their wedding. The wedding proposal was a complete surprise for Gillian. Tom picked her up from the hospital at the start of a bank holiday weekend and they made their way up north to where some of Gillian’s relatives live by the beach. They would often make this trip, each time passing a beautiful hotel resort and commenting on how much they’d like to stay there when they have extra money.

“This time Tom suggested that we stop off and stay there one night on the way up to my relatives. I agreed at the time however, when I checked the price for the night, I almost cancelled the booking. I told Tom we didn’t need to go this time, it was peak season and too expensive,” says Gillian. “I was completely and utterly unaware of what he had planned and I really wasn’t making this easy for him, little did I know. We laugh about this now but at the time Tom tells me he was so nervous that I was going to just refuse to go.”

After some coaxing, Gillian and Tom arrived at the resort and went for a drink at the bar followed by a walk around the lake.

“We were so in awe of the place (and Tom was so nervous) that we walked out of the bar without paying for our drinks. Half away along our walk we had stopped and sat down on a large rock to take in the view. I then remembered we hadn’t paid and insisted that we rush back to the hotel to fix the bill, again totally unaware of what was about to happen. That’s when he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. The ring was the most perfect thing I had ever seen and fit almost perfectly. I was so surprised and overwhelmed that I started crying. It was the most special moment.”

The wedding

Gillian and Tom don’t have a particular theme in mind for their wedding mid next year, but they do have three essential elements for the day – good food, good music and a relaxed atmosphere.

“Our venue has a very rustic and homely feel to it. There are lots of fairy lights, greenery, candles and floral accents everywhere which we both loved. We want to give ourselves and our guests something to remember so making sure the food is good quality and that the music will fill the dance floor is key. The finer details we aren’t too fussed about. We want our wedding to be a huge party enjoyed by each and every one of our guests.”

The Accessories

When Gillian was first engaged and began pulling together ideas for her bridal look, the intricacies and unique beauty of Tania Maras designs caught her attention and admiration.

“Each piece tells its own story and can be styled in a multitude of ways which I loved,” she says. “Each piece has the ability to completely transform and elevate a bridal look. I have never seen bridal accessories quite like the pieces in the Tania Maras collection.”

Gillian has selected the dramatic Georgette veil for her bridal look. She also loves the Lyric headpiece in silver and the pearl and crystal flowers featured in the Lucille design. We’re combining these two styles to create a bespoke headpiece for her.

Up next, we’ll be sharing the story of our second bride, the lovely Maria.