By Elissa Friday

A day at the races leads to a wedding at Lorne and a life together in Torquay for Melbourne girl Nicki Filby and Geelong local Dane Baladois.

Interview: Elissa Friday
Pictures: Rebecca Hosking Photography

Nicki grew up in leafy Melbourne suburb of Glen Iris while Dane was raised in Highton. They now reside at Torquay.

“We actually met at the races at the Caulfield Cup,” Nicki says.
“Two of our married friends went to Dane’s 30th birthday dinner and they said they’d been thinking about Dane and I having so much in common, like our love of camping, surfing, the ocean, the outdoors and our same background values.”
Nicki and Dane couple are also “passionate AFL supporters”, she says.

“Dane proposed to me,” Nicki says.
Dane came home from work and soon after Nicki found him laying on the grass, hiding a Murray River retriever puppy.
“There was a note on the puppy’s collar saying marry me,” Nicki remembers
“We’d previously been talking about getting a dog but couldn’t decide what breed.”

Nicki and Dane did their own planning for a Lorne wedding.
The theme involved driftwood to style the tables and shells collected from the beach.
Nicki’s mum and bridesmaids helped with the wedding planning.
“The theme was beachy,” Nicki says.

Nicki and Dane celebrated with traditional separate parties.
“I had my hens with close friends with about 15 girls and we did soccer zorbing before lunch and then went to wineries in the Yarra Valley,” Nicki says.
The hens enjoyed wine tastings accompanied with cheese.
“The girls organised teal-coloured T-shirts and vests they’d designed for the bridal party and the other girls wore similar colours,” Nicki explains.
Dane celebrated his bucks’ party in Melbourne with about 20 friends and family. They enjoyed a poker cruise that departed Docklands, followed by a visit to Melbourne Bavarian restaurant Hofbrauhaus.
“Dane had to dress up in a traditional German costume, lederhosen,” Nicki laughs.

Nicki found her dress at Geelong’s Embrace Bridal Boutique.
“The collection was Allure Bridals,” she says
Nicki’s mother-in-law suggested she visit the boutique, which stocked exactly what she wanted.
Nicki’s dress was a “light gold-ivory colour and A-line with a V-neck”.
“The main feature was the patterning and lace detail on the back,” Nicki explains.

“They’re amazing and I love them,” Nicki declares.
She had four bridesmaids, with sister Bec as maid of honour.
“My sister is like my best friend. We’ve lived together and travelled together,” Nicki says.
Nicki’s other bridesmaids were longtime frineds Katrina Boltman, Claire Greenhill and Jo Vaneslow.
They wore teal-colour, chiffon heart-shaped strapless dresses.
“All the bridesmaids came shopping with me and we ended up ordering the dresses online,” Nicki says.
“They wore sandals and head pieces and carried baby breath bouquets”.

Dane had four groomsmen
“We wore suits and shirts from MJ Bale, a recommendation from my brother,” Dane says.
Dane had shopped at the store previously, so he knew he liked the range.
He chose suits combining blue and white to complement the beach theme, he explains.
Dane’s best man and best friend since high school, Andrew Buckis, went to university with him and they travelled in Europe and America.
Van Babiolakis, Dane’s other groomsmen, has been a friend from school days. They also lived and travelled in Europe together with Andrew.
Dane’s younger brother, Steen Balodis, was also a groomsman, along with “first boss” Simon Selves.
“He actually gave me my first job,” Dane laughs.

The wedding featured a “forest-meets-the-ocean ceremony,” Nicki says.
“Dane’s grandma and grandpa live in Lorne and Dane spent a lot of time there on holidays.”
“I worked down there a bit, down the coastline.”
Next to Lorne Surf Life Saving Club, guests stood under and watched the ceremony conducted against a beach backdrop, Nicki explains.
“Our celebrant was a family friend and he was also Dane’s headmaster at school, at Geelong College,” she says.
Nicki chose soft, apricot-coloured peachy tones for her flower bouquet.

“I’m friends with photographer Rebecca Hosking – we worked together at Anglesea,” Nicki says.
The couple had their photos taken at Lorne’s pool, its rocky intertidal area, a swing bridge and amid local Moonah trees.

Nicki’s ring holds both sentimental and symbolic values.
“It was my Nan’s ring. She’s unfortunately not with us anymore,” she says.
The emerald of the engagement ring symbolises Nicki’s birth month.
“I love it. It’s an emerald with diamonds surrounding it in a halo-style setting.”

“We had Mexican-Asian-Latin influence and huge paellas in pans cooked in front of us,” Nicki says.
Cocktail finger food was also on the menu.
“It was quite relaxed,” she says.
“Our guests had a drink on arrival.
“Dane’s friend, Ben Dew, was our musician – he’s from Barwon Heads.”

“My mum made our cake – she’s really talented,” Nicki says.
The result was a three-tiered masterpiece of white and brown chocolate, caramel mudcake and shells made from icing.
The couple used Nicki’s great-grandfather’s dirk to cut into their wedding cake.
“My parents cut their cake with that dirk, too – it’s a family tradition now.”

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