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An Evening in Florence

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.