Chance Romance

 In Feature, Style

A globetrotting couples chance encounter at work takes them from Dubai to Singapore to STL to LAand back again to STL.


THEIR STORY The Australian and Englishwoman were living in Dubai and working for the same law firm when they met, but things stayed firmly in colleague territory—until a few years later, when they each happened to be living and working in Singapore. On a street neither had walked down before, they bumped into each other. Sparks flew, and “we just went with it—carpe diem!” Nick says, joking that “it was 50 percent me chasing her around the world, 50 percent fate.” 

Five years after they met, the couple and Claire’s parents celebrated Christmas at Nick’s parents’ place in Australia. Early Christmas morning, Nick persuaded a sleepy Claire to go out to a viewpoint overlooking the sea, where he proposed. “I had no idea … we spent the rest of the day on a huge high,” Claire says.

WORKING REMOTELY The engagement came with the promise of an imminent work–related relocation—this time to St. Louis. The two thought creatively, and Claire popped back home to find a dress at the UK’s largest wedding fair. “I had no idea what style I wanted, and I was under a lot of time pressure,” Claire says. “The second dress I tried on made [my family] cry, and so it was the one I purchased.” 

They left Singapore to travel through South America for three months as a “backwards honeymoon,” planning their wedding as they went. The location was the hardest part: They had to find a meeting place between England and Australia that could also turn into a vacation for friends and family. The solution: Maravilla Gardens, an hour from Los Angeles. They could only make two trips there: One for Claire to do hair and makeup trials, and the other to source wine and vendors, and sample cake—which happened to be on Nick’s birthday. “Turns out you can have too much birthday cake,” he says.

Once they landed in the States, they hit the ground running. Nick shipped suits to groomsmen in Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia. “There were a couple of sizing mishaps—thank goodness for flexible return policies,” he says. Claire’s mom made pocket squares as keepsakes, and Nick had tie bars made with each groomsman’s initials and the couple’s wedding date stamped on the back.

ON THE GROUND “One of our favorite parts was the view from the cocktail area,” says Nick of Maravilla Gardens. “There were mountains in the background and corn fields in front.” With all the flowers already there, they simply selected a few sprigs of seeded eucalyptus to honor Nick’s heritage and pink roses for Claire’s. The couple brought in rustic details to complement the venue’s antique barn, and they also kept kids happy with a teepee, chalk and lots of games, including giant Jenga and cornhole. They also added a dose of Americana with a yellow school bus to pick up and drop off guests—”to us it’s very American and novel!” Claire says.

When the ceremony began at 2pm, the flower girl surprised Nick with a soft toy dog Claire’s maid-of-honor had furtively knicked, a talisman the couple had brought on all their adventures together. In Australia and the UK, Nick says, it’s still traditional for that “first look” to happen at the aisle. “Seeing Claire walking around the hedge was the most exciting moment of my life, and I struggled to keep it together,” Nick says. “She looked more stunning than I could imagine, and she was beaming from ear to ear.” He was waiting with his two brothers, who, along with friends from Oz, served as his groomsmen. The officiant for the ceremony—Nick’s family priest, who had married each of his four older siblings and flew over for the event—led the couple through their vows.

During the cocktail reception, the 81 guests wrote notes on a “guest book” made of Jenga blocks (“So we can play in the future and read people’s comments,” Claire explains), then enjoyed chill bluegrass jazz and canapes of mini sliders, shrimp tacos and duck confit pancakes. At the bar was Pimms and lemonade, a stock of California wines and beers, and the couple’s go-to gin and tonics and “slutty lemonades.” The couple also snuck in a surprise by sourcing Nick’s dad’s favorite Australian reds and whites: “That went down a storm with the Australian contingent,” says Claire. Then, a sit-down dinner in the reception garden with cantaloupe wrapped in prosciutto, steak or lamb for mains and wedding cake. Kids (little and big) were fans of the candy table, too. 

After the meal, “we wanted everyone on the dance floor—and we got it,” Nick says. The couple also shared a special moment: “At one point, Nick took me to a path that overlooked the garden and we watched all of our guests dancing and enjoying themselves,” says Claire. “We soaked in all the love. Having our nearest and dearest from all over the world in one place was something that had never happened, nor is it likely to happen again—it was just amazing.”








Photo credit: Jenny Smith & Co.

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