Both Leanne Ashton and Ryan Mullally had just finished university when they first met in Liverpool. At the age of 22, Ryan studied Biochemistry and Forensic Science while Leanne’s degree was in Sociology and Criminology.
“I had recently picked up a new job working at Leanne’s favourite club in the city,” Ryan shares. “I was working as part of the entertainment in the club and on the night we met, I was wearing fancy dress to the tune of a matching pyjama set including vest and briefs, blue neon tights, leg warmers, a lampshade as a hat, and carrying a baby carrier containing a teddy bear.
“Leanne and Ryan felt drawn to the country’s glorious weather, turquoise waters, and incredible people.”
A bold look, some may say! To this image, Leanne was enamoured! We quickly began talking and the flame was lit. Eventually, I plucked up the courage to ask for Leanne’s number and there, the love story began.”
As it turned out, their love story wasn’t as easy as any young couple would hope. Ryan was already booked to go traveling the following February, and Leanne was set on making the move from Liverpool to London to pursue a career in fashion retail. After seven months together, the couple continued their romance across thousands of miles. Through endless emails, Skype calls, and text messages, they ensured their initial flame remained lit. Nine months of long distance later, both were ready to commit to long-term futures with each other.
“After being together for eight years, it was about time I proposed,” Ryan describes. “We had planned a trip to Cuba to celebrate our 30th Birthdays. I organised for us to take a vintage car tour of Havana with its culmination on a hilltop overlooking the beautiful city. I produced a rather large scrap book containing an A-Z of our time together.
The last page of the book then asked the all-important question; and as Leanne read it, I was down on one knee. Luckily, after some tense moments (mostly shock and not deciding her answer), Leanne said, ‘YES!’ We drank Cuba libres and mojitos and salsa-ed the night away in Ernest Hemmingway’s best Cuban Capital haunts. It was very much a night to remember.”
Having been to Croatia on holiday several times, Leanne and Ryan felt drawn to the country’s glorious weather, turquoise waters, and incredible people. They decided to host a destination wedding in Croatia, choosing the beautiful island of Bol as their location due to its rustic charm and laid-back ambiance. Despite having to wade through a long period of uncertainty and postpone their wedding date because of the pandemic, the couple and their wedding planner, Yerka, kept their plans fluid and found solutions to every conundrum that came their way.
The charming resort of Nono Ban, situated in the mountains of Bol, couldn’t have set a more idyllic stage for Leanne and Ryan’s dream wedding day. “The morning of the wedding, I think more than anything we had an overwhelming feeling of happiness,” recalls the groom. “We didn’t think about it until that exact moment, but we had actually made it to Croatia with all of our family and friends.
You are always told planning your wedding is stressful, but it becomes something so out of your control when there is a global pandemic happening at the exact same time. When we arrived at the ceremony, to say I was nervous was an understatement; but as Leanne walked down the aisle with her father to ‘Cannonball’ by Damien Rice, it was the most incredible feeling for not just the two of us but everyone who was by our side that day.”
The ceremony took place in the serene monastery gardens, right on the Adriatic coast. Décor was kept simple and romantic with flowers and candles scattered throughout the venue. As night fell, the resort was awash with fairy lights and pom poms, transforming the setting into something truly enchanting. Guests enjoyed a locally sourced menu of chicken, beef, and freshly caught fish that was all cooked on an open grill.
“Our first dance was to ‘There Will Be Time’ by Mumford and Sons,” says the groom, “and singer Gary brought the house down with ‘Proud Mary,’ accompanied by groom and groomsmen backing dancers donning Tina Turner wigs and dresses and rolling down the river – literally all the way to the pool’s deep end! And this was just the start of the celebration. It had been more than we had ever imagined, and we had so much to be thankful for.”
Dress: Riki Dalal Couture; Bridal Salon: Riki Dalal, Mayfair, London; Photography: Petar Jurica, Zagreb, Croatia