~ As featured in Queensland Brides Spring/Summer 20/21 ~
Not even a pandemic could stop these doctors celebrating their love.
Carolyn and Sasha knew that navigating their wedding during the time of coronavirus might mean a few twists and turns, but they were determined that nothing would stand in their way.
Perhaps it’s because the couple are adventurers at heart. Life brought them together when Carolyn left her home in the United States and headed for the beautiful, open lands of Australia to study medicine in Cairns. Sasha, making his own leap from professional sports as an Olympic silver medal-winning rower to the medical world, decided to pursue his studies in Townsville. As fate would have it, the two met at a rural health weekend in Emerald, where they bonded over their passion for providing medical care to rural communities – and Sasha serenaded his future bride on the dance floor with Bob Dylan songs.
Since then, their life together has only continued to flourish. Carolyn now works as a doctor while Sasha is finishing his medical degree, and as often as possible, they escape into nature. “We spend most of our free time bushwalking through the rainforest and getting chased by cassowaries and crocodiles in Far North Queensland,” shares Carolyn. It was on one of these adventures, when Carolyn quickly puzzled out that Sasha was taking her away to their favourite place in the world, Hinchinbrook Island, that she sensed something big was coming. Not only did they sail around the entire island, spotting sea turtles and dolphins (a bucket-list item of theirs), they hiked from the ocean to the top of Zoe Falls – where Sasha proposed high above the island they consider their second home. “I knew this was coming as soon as we were going to Hinchinbrook,” admits Carolyn, “but I still bawled and bawled.”
Sasha knew that the only ring for his wife-to-be was one that held a Boulder opal, which can only be found in the place where they met and fell in love, Queensland. And, adding more sentimentality to the special piece, the diamonds that surround the main stone came from a collection of jewellery that Sasha’s father had given his mother when Sasha was born. “I am so in love with my engagement ring,” says Carolyn. “I love how it goes electric in natural light.”
After realising that all their original wedding plans would have to be rescheduled when COVID-19 hit, Carolyn and Sasha quickly nixed the idea of postponing their nuptials – instead, they brought their date forward to 23 May, 2020. It was a risky move – Carolyn’s dress almost missed the deadline, and they were faced with a cold, wet forecast – but it ultimately paid off. Their new venue, Hedlow Creek, was an enchanting find they had stumbled upon months before. “We were taken by the beauty of the creek, with its dark water, eucalypt-lined banks, and the backdrop of volcanic plugs,” Sasha said. “We knew it was our perfect place.”
Carolyn got to work crafting handmade invitations featuring her own design of watercolours of native Australian flowers, a personalised stamp of the happy couple and a luxurious wax seal to top it off. Despite tight guest restrictions, Sasha’s siblings and parents were still able to come along for the ride, and when the rain stopped just in time for the nuptials and a spectacular sunset lit up the sky with fiery colours, Carolyn and Sasha knew that going through with their ceremony had been the right decision. “It was as if the weather gods were rewarding us for committing to the record low temperature, and the love gods were rewarding us for committing to each other,” Carolyn smiles.
The newlyweds then went back to Sasha’s home to video chat with Carolyn’s parents, and enjoy speeches, toasts… and vodka! “Sasha’s Russian,” Carolyn says, explaining their celebratory drink of choice and the tradition that followed: their guests gave them advice and threw money on the ground that the couple then swept up!
The couple’s best wedding advice is to know that things will not always go as planned, and the best way to move forward is to let it all go and enjoy what happens. The newlyweds spent their honeymoon “staying in the bush” and camping around Northern Queensland. They relished the opportunity to support rural businesses and were excited to be able to bring their pup, Dolly, too. For this couple, it was the perfect way to begin the adventure of a lifetime.
[Little Black Book]
Photographer: Jessica Turich Photography // Wedding planner: Ashla Doherty // Celebrant: Zac Garven // Ceremony venue: Hedlow Creek, Yaamba // Reception venue: The Rudd Residence // Dress: Willowby by Watters via Bridal Palace // Suit: Ralph Lauren // Accessories: Peggy & Twig earrings // Hair & makeup: Chamay Brown // Florist: Shannon Hawkes Artisan Florals // Cake: Nicky Svensen Cake Design //Stationery: Carolyn’s original design